The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is using a grant from the Governor’s Emergency Education Response (GEER) fund program to make Learning Blade software available to all middle schools statewide free of charge.

In a press release, USM said that Learning Blade is a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and computer science careers online software platform. USM hopes that Learning Blade will develop students’ interest in high-demand jobs by increasing awareness of the careers and relating the academics to helping solve social issues that affect young students.

“Learning Blade is a valuable resource for Mississippi middle schools as it will expose students to the possibilities in computer science, cybersecurity, and other STEM careers and help develop computational skills necessary for any vocation in our digital society,” said Dr. Sarah Lee, director of the School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering (CSCE) at USM.

The software includes more than 400 online lessons, teacher lesson plans, and printable at-home activities, and covers topics including cyber encryption, wireframing apps/app design, and drag and drop coding.

“Learning Blade is a great addition to our initiatives to help improve student achievement in Mississippi, especially as they support core academics which helps increase proficiency,” said Carey Wright, Superintendent of Education in Mississippi.

USM noted that the source of the grant – the GEER fund – allows local education agencies to access emergency funds to support STEM and other education that are struggling due to Covid-19 effects.

Tying specifically to the impact of COVID-19 on middle school education, USM said that Learning Blade is especially useful for providing quality STEM engagement in both classroom and blended learning settings in states across the country.

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