National STEM Video Game Challenge Open for Students and Educators

Last week, the National STEM Video Game Challenge officially opened, aiming to motivate interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning by tapping into students’ natural passion for playing and making video games. This competition is the culmination and continuation of a two-year effort among the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the White House, the Department of Education’s Digital Promise Initiative and other public/private partners and co-sponsors.

The annual competition is accepting submissions of original video game concepts and designs in four different categories: the Middle School Category, High School Category, Collegiate Category, and Educator Category.  This year, there are also new sub-categories available to entering designers: the PBS KIDS stream and the Sesame Street stream.  For more information and rules, click here.

This challenge is precisely what President Obama had in mind when he launched the “Educate to Innovate” campaign to improve the participation and performance of America’s students in STEM education. As President Obama stated when he launched this initiative:

“...Our nation’s success depends on strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of discovery and innovation.  And that leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today -- especially in science, technology, engineering and math.” 

The National STEM Video Game Challenge is an exciting example of creative ways we can use innovative technologies to excite students about learning in these areas.  The lessons taught through developing video games will ultimately allow students to grow their interest in STEM using a medium that may not typically be associated with learning in the classroom.  The challenge recognizes that learning is not just in schools, but takes place outside – in afterschool programs, enrichment activities, and at home.  As President Obama stated when he first launched the “Educate to Innovate” effort:

"…Our success will not be attained by government alone.  It depends on teachers and parents and students and the broader community.  It depends on us restoring an insistence on excellence in our classrooms and from our children."

The National STEM Video Game Challenge asks children and educators to use the technology that students love to help them learn the subjects they need to become the global innovators of tomorrow.  Entries are accepted from November 15, 2011 through March 12, 2012. Complete guidelines and details on how to enter are available here.

Bess Evans is a Policy Analyst at OSTP

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