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Tamia House has spent nearly two months assembling a robot through the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga STEM Academy.

Now, thanks to a check from Unum, more students will be able to join the program.

"I think this program is very important because some students may want to participate in something like this to get a little more training for when they grow up and they can prepare for life," said the 11-year-old, who joined the program this year.

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Academy, which the Urban League started in the county last year, received a $150,000 commitment from Unum over the next three years.

"The quality of education affects every aspect of a community," said Tim Arnold, vice president of Unum during a news conference Tuesday at Dalewood Middle School. "This is an opportunity for students to build careers in science and technology."

At the conference, Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Jim Scales and Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey emphasized the importance of preparing young students for the jobs of the future.

"The jobs are coming here. Now is the time to train young people," Mr. Ramsey said.

"You have to get an education and it has to be a good one," he told a group of nine Dalewood students currently in the program who will compete with their robots on Thursday.

Tamia said the program has taught her a lot about science and mathematics.

"It can help you in your future career because it's giving you a sense of engineering, like a beginning lesson," the Dalewood sixth grader said.

Her ultimate goal, she said, is to be a pastry chef.

The STEM Academy served 141 students in grades sixth through eighth this year and is open to anyone who likes hands-on activities, said James McKissic, chief operating officer at the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga.

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