By Liz Wimmer

Long ago, before formal schooling, young people learned from people in the village. Maybe they apprenticed with the farrier or the tailor, learning to shoe horses’ hooves or sew clothes.

Today, businesses can use the Internet to reach young people all over the world and teach them about their fields. Through Microsoft, students can learn to code games and apps. Through Toyota, teens can calculate the real cost of driving and take a quiz on safe driving. Through Boeing, students can learn about the science of flight and solve engineering challenges on flight-related themes.

Sources at The Boeing Company explained why they chose to help develop videos and other resources highlighting learning activities for students to try at home and at school. To mark their centennial and 100 years of innovation, Boeing was interested in motivating people to become engineers. They knew that offering opportunities to solve real-world problems was one way to ignite interest. So in 2013, Boeing began talking with education partners to develop hands-on K-12 learning activities.

Boeing lent more than 80 of its engineers to the effort to design activities for what became the 100 Days of Learning campaign. Through it, you can discover how to Build a Plane Powered by Stored Energy on partner website Curiosity Machine, learn about CubeSats: Big Science in Small Packages, or small satellites sent into space, on partner website the Teaching Channel, and examine the forces that act on an airplane in flight with the interactive program the Challenge of Flight on partner site PBS Learning Media.

Finally, Boeing’s interactive flight traveling exhibit “Above and Beyond” continues to move around the country. It will be at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago through Jan. 8, 2017, and at The Witte Museum in San Antonio, Texas, starting in February 2017, should you be in those cities then.

What else are companies sharing? This list of 10 more companies and their learning resources is just a beginning. Check out a company in a field that interests you!

  • At Microsoft’s YouthSpark, young people can choose computer science skills to investigate. These include “make a game,” “build an app,” and “come up with a new idea.” Also included are free programs to help people build digital skills and uncover opportunities in computer science.
  • Toyota’s Teen Drive 365 prepares teens for driving and includes an interactive tool that allows new drivers to virtually experience the results of distracted driving. In addition, the site has tools for parents on how to coach new drivers to make safe choices.
  • Try Google for Education, which includes Google Cultural Institute, a virtual museum showing art and culture from around the world, and computer science and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) tools. Some of the offerings are: links to open-course computer science course materials; a guide to improving your technical skills through self-paced, hands-on learning; and information to support the development of after-school computer science clubs.
  • Whole Foods Market, through its Whole Kids Foundation, offers some downloadable Kids Club sheets promoting healthy foods, plus related recipes and activities. All these are geared to kids and families’ health and wellness. Included are a list of movies on issues related to food and health and an app where kids can sort garden produce and recyclable products. Want to start a school garden? That information is there too.
  • Global security company Northrop Grumman describes a documentary film, “Into the Unknown,” to be released at the end of 2016 on the development of the James Webb Space Telescope, which is 100 times stronger than the Hubble Telescope. The web page also highlights some interactive tools and at-home activities exploring aspects of the telescope. The company has gathered resources for students on math and science topics, with an emphasis on space exploration.
  • Apple offers opportunities to learn to code. You can use Apple’s own coding language, Swift and Swift Playgrounds, available on iPads, to help you get started.
  • Honeywell works with NASA to bring science education to middle schoolers with its FMA Live! presentation focusing on the science of motion. This fall the touring group traveled in the East and South of the country. The 45-minute live show features hip hop music, music videos and interactive science demonstrations.
  • Anheuser-Busch has information about The Great Kings and Queens of Africa based on 30 paintings commissioned by the company starting in 1975 and painted by African-American artists. You can view the paintings of the African leaders, brief summaries of their lives, and an accompanying documentary describing them.
  • While one could argue that most of a newspaper is educational, The New York Times has a special section called The Learning Network. This includes a weekly news quiz and ideas for students based on current news, such as articles on how to have a political discussion without a lot of rancor and service learning possibilities.
  • Finally, Vanguard offers interactive lessons on a variety of financial topics. You can learn about handling college debt, managing financial emergencies and how much to save, plus other financial best practices.

In addition to providing direct learning resources, many companies partner with organizations already offering education in communities or fund those who do so. The companies highlighted here are just a few of many that invest in education. Find one and investigate.

This blog is part of our “Place-Based Education” blog series. To learn more and contribute a guest post for the series, check out the PBE campaign page. Join in the conversation on social media using #PlaceBasedEd. For more on Place-Based Education see:


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