How Online Games Are Helping Prepare Local Students For STEM Careers

By Kendi A. Rainwater
Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Middle schoolers in Chattanooga are using an online program called “Learning Blade.” The program has a game-based format intended to engage students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects.

Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.

Marlea Maddox sat in front of a computer screen Thursday morning solving real-world public transportation problems.

Using Newton’s laws of motion, the Signal Mountain Middle School eighth-grader calculated the force exerted on a train when it travels at certain speeds. Sitting at the computer next to her was Kylie Fox, busy reading and answering questions about the damage hurricane winds can cause.

The girls were using Learning Blade, an online program with a game-based format intended to engage students in science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM subjects. The program allows students to choose among a wide variety of activities based on societal problems, exposing students to more than 100 different STEM careers and technologies.

“It gives you a lot of real-life situations,” Marlea said.

Learning Blade was developed by Chattanooga entrepreneurs Shelia and Dane Boyington, both chemical engineers, and it is being used in most of Hamilton County’s middle schools and more than 525 schools statewide. Thanks to the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network and through the support of lawmakers, Learning Blade is now available to any middle school in the state at no cost.

Shelia Boyington said she and her husband developed the program to meet a need, as many students across the state are graduating high school not prepared for the increasing number of well-paying STEM jobs in the region.

“This program exposes them to those jobs,” she said, adding that interesting kids in STEM fields at a young age is one of the best ways to strengthen the workforce.

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