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Public-private partnership brings Alabama STEM and computer science career awareness system

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Uniquely through a public-private partnership, Alabama students now have access to the validated STEM career awareness system – Learning Blade. The funding is a joint venture of the Alabama Department of Commerce, the Governor’s Office and The Boeing Company. As part of its 2019 global engagement grants, Boeing awarded $525,000 to Alabama communities in support of educational STEM programs for students and workforce development programs for transitioning military, veterans and their families. As one of the four community grants announced October 17 in Huntsville, Boeing outlined its joint initiative with the Alabama Department of Commerce to offer Learning Blade® to WIOA youth serving organizations and schools throughout the state. The project is also funded in part with federal funds made available to the State of Alabama Department of Commerce by the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Trainings Administration.

“Providing access to college and career exploration is key to developing career pathways for all Alabamians,” said Kay Ivey, Governor of Alabama. “It is difficult to know what you want to be when you grow up if you have never been exposed to the various options that are out there. Furthermore, it’s extremely difficult for Alabamians in many rural areas, and even some of our largest cities, to strive towards the career pathway the best suits their interest and aptitudes because they do not know what is available to them. That’s why I am so proud of the public – private partnership between the State of Alabama and Boeing to provide access to high-quality career exploration through the Learning Blade platform. Through Learning Blade, students of a variety of ages, interests, and aptitudes will be able to explore career clusters and high demand career pathways. This exposure will help individuals persist in academic coursework and workforce training programs.”

This initiative offers all Alabama schools with grades 5-9, access at no charge. Learning Blade’s successful tool kit exposes students to the high demand STEM and computer science careers in an entertaining manner in an effort to increase student interest in these fields.

Schools and organizations serving these age groups can sign up for this program at www.LearningBlade.com/AL. Educators will then unlock more than 200 hours of interactive online activities and teacher lesson plans that engage students in human-centered problems that illustrate more than 100 careers and technologies in industries such as IT, Cybersecurity, Advanced Manufacturing, Bioengineering, Energy, Robotics, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture, and more.

“Boeing has been in Alabama for more than a half a century, with its engineers and researchers playing key roles in developing the innovative aerospace technologies of tomorrow,” said Tina Watts, Community Investor for Boeing Global Engagement. “It is essential to expose students in the state to the critical skills that will make them successful in STEM — unlocking their futures to opportunities through emerging technologies.”

In addition, schools can work toward winning a 3D printer if students complete 5,000 online lessons in a single school year. Learning Blade is proud to have 3D-printer sponsor, FlashForgeUSA, providing a free 3D printer (Adventure 3) to such successful schools.

“We are grateful that so many leaders including the Governor’s office, Department of Commerce and others who came together with The Boeing Company to provide resources that will inspire students to envision their future,” says Sheila Boyington, President and CEO of Learning Blade. “It is really exciting to be a part of the process to enhance career awareness in the state, and to provide tools to teachers who will show students the many opportunities in STEM and computer science fields.”

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Although new to Alabama, Learning Blade has had impact on student’s goals and future aspirations in many other states. Nationally, students have completed over 3,000,000 online lessons in Learning Blade and have seen heightened STEM and computer science career awareness.

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