National STEM Video Game Challenge Opens for Submissions

(Image: WikiMedia, Creative Commons)

(Image: WikiMedia, Creative Commons)

The National STEM Video Game Challenge is now open for submissions, with judges accepting original, playable video games and game design documents from United States middle school and high school students in grades five through twelve. The deadline is August 15th, 2016.

The annual competition, now in its fifth year, is open throughout the summer months for the first time. Originally inspired by President Obama’s Educate to Innovate Campaign, the program reached nearly 4,000 students last year. Last year’s winners can be found in a blog post by Katy Svehaug of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center.

Students can enter as individuals or in teams of up to four other students. Games can be made with any platform, including Gamestar Mechanic, Unity, GameMaker, and Scratch, or as a written game design document.

Winners will receive a $1,000 prize, as well as game design and education software. They will also be invited to a special event at National Geographic in Washington, DC in November.

The competition is sponsored by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, E-Line Media, and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

The National Geographic Society is sponsoring a new prize stream called Nat Geo Explore, which encourages students to bring the spirit of exploration to their video game designs. The winners will have their games or documents featured on the National Geographic Education website. Supporting sponsors of the Nat Geo Explore prize include the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Grable Foundation.

Kathleen Schwille, vice president of curriculum at the National Geographic Society, said:

For more than 128 years, the National Geographic Society has been a pioneer in exploration and storytelling, and has educated future generations to be responsible global citizens. Our participation in the National STEM Video Game Challenge allows us to help kids create and explore through their inspiring game designs, and re-emphasizes our commitment to education.

The competition’s goal is to encourage student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields through video game creation. According to Jordan Shapiro on the Joan Ganz Cooney Center’s blog, video games have a wide variety of benefits for kids, especially when they get involved in the creation process.

Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, said:

Video games inspire and improve the lives of millions of our nation’s students. We look forward to an outstanding competition and to experience remarkably innovative video games. We are also delighted to partner with National Geographic and its outstanding creative team and legacy of remarkable, mesmerizing entertainment content.

The STEM Challenge also offers game design and mentoring workshops in 20 cities at which students and their mentors can receive guidance from professional game designers and industry professionals.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center is an independent nonprofit organization that collaborates with educators, media producers, policymakers, and investors to develop digital media that will help children learn.

E-Line Media publishes game-based educational products and services, as well as working together with foundations, academics, non-profits, and government agencies.

The ESA offers services to interactive entertainment software publishers, including consumer research, legal analysis, representing video game industry interests, and owning and operating E3.

The STEM Challenge website includes a calendar of workshops and events, submission rules, game development and design tools, and resources for participants and their mentors.