Middle and high school students are bringing their video-game development dreams to life through a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) contest.
The 2014–2015 National STEM Video Game Challenge kicked off in October. Now in its fourth year, the challenge is presented by the Smithsonian Institution, in partnership with E-Line Media and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center.
Gaming has become a familiar pathway for educators to engage students by speaking a language kids already are comfortable with and associate with fun. The challenge is designed to spur students' interest in STEM subjects "by tapping into their passions for playing and making video games," according to the news release.
Students in grades 5–8 and 9–12 will create games or design game concepts that will be judged by the platforms they were made for. Winners will be given computer hardware and software, and each winner's sponsor organization will get $2,000.
"It's bringing kids together who are excited about the development of video games — something they can make a real career out of is very exciting," said Bert Schmidt, president and CEO of WHRO, a public-school broadcasting station, in a YouTube video.
Workshops for the challenge will be hosted in 20 cities across the country, where video game industry professionals and educators will help students develop their game ideas.
Entries will be accepted until Feb. 25, 2015. Full guidelines and details are available on the challenge's website.