Learning Blade

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“The Learning Blade program is a tremendous asset in my STEM program. Learning Blade exposes students to real-life applications of math and science with problem-based missions to complete.  After trying different supplemental curriculum, Learning Blade is by far my students’ favorite”.  – Jennifer Ferebee- Kenwood Middle School, Tennessee

Program Type

Curriculum/Instructional Materials

Target Audience

All Students

Location

Nationwide

Grades

Grades 6 - 8

 Accomplished link

Program Impact

Learning Blade is a complete interactive toolbox that has been  proven to increase STEM career awareness and interest while practicing academic skills. Students learn about over 100 different careers and technologies while working on 12 different virtual "missions." The missions engage all students, including girls and minorities, by organizing the content around real-world issues that focus on helping people and communities. Components include online lessons, hands-on activities, coding activities, design thinking exercises, 3D printing resources and parent engagement handouts. As of the end of December 2019, students have completed over 3,000,000 activities in the system in over 20 states, including Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama, Kentucky and South Carolina.

 

Program Overview

The program is designed to create a STEM context for all academic classrooms including English, math, social studies and science. Students solve the missions while learning about associated STEM careers and technologies by completing short online lessons that demonstrate the connection between the STEM topics and academic skills. As students complete the lessons, they answer questions tied to specific academic standards. Each mission also includes hands-on activities, design thinking exercises, 3D printing resources and parent engagement handouts. Reports available to the teacher provide detailed information on student and class performance by individual academic standards.

Learning Blade is web-based and includes complete student management and reporting tools. This allows teachers with no STEM experience or specialized equipment to be able to create a STEM context for supplemental academic instruction. Learning Blade is also an ideal way to provide a broad STEM career awareness to students in career development classes or after school programs. Currently Learning Blade is designed to address middle school standards and is used in grades 5 through 9.

How To Get Involved

Learning Blade is available on a site-license basis making it affordable for any size implementation, and particularly attractive for large and statewide adoptions. Sponsors have found value in supporting Learning Blade due to its ability to scale and reach all students. Additionally schools have collaborated with area businesses to have professionals visit in tandem with certain “missions” or provide field trips to coincide with careers being discussed. Site-license fees start at $3,000 per site and can be discounted depending on volume. 

Funders and Partners

Tennessee statewide deployment is funded by the state’s Department of Education through the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network. Arkansas deployment is funded by the Governor's Computer Science Initiative through the Department of Education and the Arkansas Public Schools Resource Center. Missouri is funded by the MO Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Funding in Alabama is a joint venture of the Alabama Department of Commerce, the Governor’s Office and The Boeing Company, and is partially funded with Federal Funds made available to the State of Alabama Department of Commerce by the U. S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration as the Grantor.

Additional support has been provided by TATA Consultancy Services, the Federal GEARUp program, Berea College, KY, the Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) Institute, Battelle, and district funding, corporations and foundations.

Contacts

Sheila Boyington, President
sheila@thinkingmedia.com
423-521-2309

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Design Principles

The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.

  • Accomplished
  • Developing
  • Undeveloped

Overarching Principles

  • Need

    Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.

  • Evaluation

    Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.

  • Sustainability

    Ensure work is sustainable.

  • Replication and Scalability

    Demonstrate replicability and scalability.

  • Partnerships

    Create high impact partnerships

  • Capacity

    Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.

STEM Principles

  • Challenging and Relevant Content

    Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience

  • STEM Practices

    Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.

  • Inspiration

    Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.

  • Under-Represented Groups

    Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.