Inspired by the Educate to Innovate Campaign, President Obama’s initiative to promote a renewed focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education, the National STEM Video Game Challenge is a multi-year competition whose goal is to motivate interest in STEM learning among America’s youth by tapping into students’ natural passion for playing and making video games.
The Challenge was first launched in September of 2010 at the White House by President Obama and the first year winners were announced by Aneesh Chopra, Chief Technology Officer for the United States at the Atlantic’s Technology in Education Forum in Washington DC in March of 2011.
The inaugural Challenge featured three competition categories: a Middle School Prize, Collegiate Prize and Developer Prize and had over 600 entries from students, teachers, collegiate developers and professional digital game makers. Several of the games produced by applicants in the collegiate and developer categories were commercially published and the Challenge received strong media attention from major outlets such as CNN, Forbes, Education Week and Gamasutra as well as local and national press for the student winners. Over one third of the student winners came from Title I schools.
The 2012 Challenge
The 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge was launched in partnership with Digital Promise, a new initiative created by the President and Congress, supported through the Department of Education. The initiative is designed to unlock the promise of breakthrough technologies to transform teaching and learning. The 2012 Challenge built on the success of the first year by:
- Reuniting the original Challenge Sponsors (AMD Foundation, the Entertainment Software Association, and Microsoft’s Xbox 360) and adding the CPB-PBS Kids Ready-to-Learn initiative as a new Sponsor.
- Reuniting the original Implementing Partners, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media.
- Convening the original Founding Outreach Partners, (American Library Association, American Association of School Librarians, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the International Game Developers Association and BrainPOP) and adding the George Lucas Education Foundation, Girl Scouts of the USA and One Economy Corporation as new Outreach Partners. Together, these partners reach over 10 million children between the ages of 5-18, with reach into the nation’s most vulnerable communities, where advancing STEM skills is a key national priority.
The 2012 Challenge featured four competition categories:
- The Middle School Category aims to motivate and engage middle school students (grades 5 through 8) in STEM learning, 21st Century Literacy Skills and Systems Thinking by challenging them to design original video games.
- The High School Category aims to motivate and engage high school students (grades 9 through 12) in STEM learning, 21st Century Literacy Skills and Systems Thinking by challenging them to design original video games.
- The Collegiate Category challenges emerging game developers at the graduate and undergraduate levels to design video games for children (grades pre-K through 8) that teach key STEM concepts and foster an interest in STEM subject areas.
- The Educator Category challenges educators to design video games for children (grades pre-K through 12) that teach key STEM concepts and foster an interest in STEM subject areas.