By Caroline Curtin, Policy Counsel, Microsoft U.S. Government Affairs
Yesterday was an exciting day for 16 talented young game designers from across the country as the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media announced the middle school and high school student winners of the 2013 National STEM Video Game Challenge. Microsoft is pleased to support this initiative for the third year in a row. Inspired by President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate Campaign,” the competition aims to motivate interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) among students in grades 5-12 by tapping into their enthusiasm for playing and making video games.
Nearly 4,000 middle school and high school students submitted video games to the Challenge this year. While many students chose to create games using platforms such as Kodu, many students chose to learn to code manually and use more complicated programs, such as Unity, a professional grade game design software package.
Last year's National STEM Challenge Winners at the Award Ceremony in Washington, DC.
The number of entries and sophistication of the games are not the only record-breaking aspects of the 2013 Challenge – this year, the Challenge also invested a significant amount of time and effort to expand the impact in several key areas:
- This year’s top original video games and game design concepts were selected in 14 categories and 68 percent of games had an educational component. Though this is not a requirement and it is not a factor in the judging process, we are pleased to see that so many students have chosen to integrate educational material into their game designs.
- One-third of the games were submitted by girls, demonstrating success of the Challenge’s efforts to increase the participation of girls in the competition.
- Over 56 percent of competitors designed their game with a teacher as his or her mentor. One entrant noted how his teacher related the design process to his STEM subject material.
Microsoft congratulates all the STEM Video Game Challenge participants on their innovative and exciting game designs. We are proud to help empower young people to imagine and realize their full potential as part of our YouthSpark initiative, including supporting efforts like these to encourage interest in STEM education across the country.
The complete list of 2013 STEM Challenge winners can be found here.