Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi expanded its partnership with EverFi, a leading education technology company, to add a web-based Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) course to the digital literacy and financial education resources it has provided to Mississippi youth for three years through its Community Digital Scholars program. The STEM course, known as Radius, is available to all schools in northwest Mississippi at no cost to the school.

The launch event for Radius took place at Byhalia Middle School in Byhalia. Photos from the event are available online here. Students provided a live demonstration of the Radius course, followed by remarks by Byhalia Mayor Phil Malone, Byhalia Chamber Executive Director Sarah Sawyer and Community Foundation President Tom Pittman, regarding the importance of STEM education in developing Mississippi’s workforce. Additionally, Mississippi Treasurer Lynn Fitch shared her support for the foundation’s Community Digital Scholars program in a video address.

“The industries that will power Mississippi’s economy require a workforce skilled in STEM disciplines,” said Community Foundation President Tom Pittman. “We are committed to opening the door to careers for Mississippi youth, starting right here at Byhalia Middle School under the leadership of Principal Landon Pollard. We want to light that spark in students, and help them make the connection to the possibilities provided through STEM education.”

The state of Mississippi is projected to create nearly 50,000 new STEM-related jobs in the next five years, yet only 57 percent of eighth-graders scored proficient or advanced on the Mississippi state science test.

The Community Foundation is taking this opportunity to change the course of action for Mississippi students and guide them to a path of success through STEM education.

The foundation’s commitment echoes the Mississippi Department of Education’s (MDE) emphasis on career pathways, including STEM education. MDE currently prescribes two years of ICT (Information, Computers, and Technology), followed by one year of STEM.

Developed by EverFi, Radius is a highly interactive digital STEM program that uses online gaming and simulations to teach critical technology and coding skills, ignite interest in STEM, and expose students to STEM career opportunities. Designed for 8th-10th grade students, Radius course content maps to the new Common Core math standards adopted by 45 states.

The web-based course features 16 modules covering STEM-focused topics ranging from the real world application of algebra to basic computer science. Engaging, interactive lessons focus on building skills and highlighting career possibilities that a STEM education could unlock. While working toward a goal of completing a “secret agent mission,” students must demonstrate their mastery of STEM skills as they are presented with various real-life scenarios.

“The Radius curriculum provides an opportunity for young people to apply concepts they’re learning in math and science to real-world situations — thereby making these subjects more relevant,” said EverFi founder and CEO Tom Davidson. “The Community Foundation’s Community Digital Scholars program can truly change the equation for students across the state by opening their eyes to career possibilities they might never have thought were within their reach.”