Winning the Future With STEM Video Games

Last week I had the honor of announcing the winners of the first annual National STEM Video Game Challenge, in which students and designers prototyped or sketched out games to help folks develop skills in and apply concepts from science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Sponsored by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at the Sesame Workshop, E-Line Media, Microsoft, the AMD Foundation, and the Entertainment Software Association, the competition was inspired by the President’s Educate to Innovate Campaign.

First up in the winner’s circle were the students in the 5th-8th grade Youth Prize category. While the kids couldn’t join us in person, the winning dozen (out of a pool of over 500 contestants) shared their stories via home-made videos accessible here.

Next up were the winners of three Developer prizes. In the spirit of collaboration, a trio of graduate students who had never worked together before—Derek Lomas of Carnegie Mellon University, Dixie Ching of New York University, and Jeanine Sun of the University of California at San Diego—took home two prizes, the Collegiate and Impact Prizes.  Inspired by the competition, the three came together to build a winning prototype collection of four games that help elementary school students develop number concepts.

Finally, the Grand Prize went to the entrepreneurs at Filament Games, an early-stage company based in Madison, WI. Co-founders Dan Norton and Dan White built “You Make Me Sick!” in which kids deploy viruses and compete to spread them throughout a target body. Yuck and Yea!

These entrepreneurs are part of a growing ecosystem of learning-technology companies we’ve been celebrating and encouraging through the President’s Startup America initiative. Two weeks ago, I met with 30 or so of these companies and considered questions like, “What are the attributes of a school that thoughtfully utilizes technology to improve student performance?” What do you think?

As the President noted earlier this month when announcing the new ARPA for Education, this Administration is committed to harnessing the best ideas from  the public, private, academic, and philanthropic sectors to deliver an educational system that ensures we can win the future. Initiatives like the STEM Video Game Challenge inspire all of us to live up to the hopes and dreams of our next generation. Congratulations, again, to all of the participants and winners. We thank you.

Aneesh Chopra is U.S. Chief Technology Officer

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