Third annual National STEM Video Game Challenge winners offer a taste of the future of gaming

The game developers of tomorrow are being applauded by the United States government as part of President Obama's "Educate to Innovate" initiative. The third-annual National STEM Video Game Challenge winners were announced this week, with all fourteen receiving an AMD-powered laptop packed full of "game design and educational software." Teams also get a $2,000 cash prize, which either goes to the creators or their sponsors. Unfortunately for us, we didn't see any of the familiar faces from the local STEM workshop we visited earlier this year.

Many of the games focus on education in some form, though the overall goal of the contest is simply to help spur STEM education in the United States -- part of the country's initiatives to elevate science, technology, engineering and math education in the US. We've dropped just one example of the fourteen winners' games below, Pixel Star One from budding game dev (and California high school student) Sooraj Suresh, because it's a totally sweet old-school shooter.

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National STEM Video Game Challenge Names Winners Of Third Annual Competition

NEW YORK, July 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media today announced the names of 16 middle school and high school students as the winners of the 2013 National STEM Video Game Challenge. 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. The top original video games and game design concepts were selected in 14 categories from nearly 4000 entries.

The 2013 STEM Challenge winners are:

Middle School (grades 5-8)


Name Title Platform City, State
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Seong-Hyun Ryoo Rare Earth Gamemaker Johns Creek, GA
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Angel Martinez-Acevedo The Arcade GameStar Mechanic DeRidder, LA
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Nicholas Cameron Math Rocks Kodu Sayville, NY
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Nicolas Badila Stemville Construct 2 (Open Platform Jonesboro, GA)
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Bradley Schmitz Pixel Jet Scratch Glandorf, OH
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Henry Edwards and Kevin Kopczynski (Team) Etiquette Anarchy Multimedia Fusion 2 Durham, NC
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Lexi Schneider Head of the Class Written Dresher, PA
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High School (grades 9-12)


Name Title Platform City, State
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Sooraj Suresh Pixel Star One Gamemaker Campbell, CA
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Kieran Luscombe An Untold Adventure GameStar Mechanic Thorton, CO
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Cody Haugland The Amazing Game Kodu Sanger, CA
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Aaron Gaudette Crystal Physics Unity (Open Ramstein Air Base, Platform) Germany
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Brianna Igbinosun I F.L.Y Scratch Lawrenceville, GA
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Noah Ratcliff and Pamela Pizarro-Ruiz Fog C# with XNA (Team) Pickerington, OH
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Janice Tran Little Green Planet Written Palmdale, CA
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Each winner will receive an AMD-powered laptop computer with game design and educational software. The individual's or team's sponsor organization will receive a cash prize of $2000.

"Youth are natural inventors. They are increasingly shaping their own education by making things," said Michael H. Levine, Executive Director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. "We are delighted by the record-breaking interest in the National STEM Video Challenge this year and congratulate all of the winners on their superb creative entries."

The 2013 STEM Challenge is presented by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media along with title sponsors the Entertainment Software Association, the AMD Foundation, Microsoft's Xbox 360 and national community sponsors the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in The New York Community Trust. National outreach partners are BrainPOP, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting PBS KIDS Ready To Learn Initiative, Global Kids, Learning Games Network and Edmodo.

The IMLS and Hive were new sponsors this year. Together, they funded a series of STEM Challenge game design workshops to empower young people to utilize creative problem-solving and STEM skills to learn how to build video games. IMLS is a federal agency whose mission is to foster libraries as community centers and to innovate the array and depth of programming to serve the needs of communities. The Hive Digital Media Learning initiative awards grants to bring kids, teachers, scientists and artists together to learn and create beyond the classroom.

The National STEM Video Game Challenge was inspired by President Obama's "Educate to Innovate Campaign." Twenty-eight youth were selected as winners in 2012 and three of those winners participated in the 2013 White House Science Fair in April.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center (www.joanganzcooneycenter.org) is an independent nonprofit research and innovation lab that focuses on the challenges of educating children in a rapidly changing digital media landscape. The Cooney Center conducts research on emerging technologies in education and collaborates with educators, media producers, policymakers and investors to put this research into action. The Cooney Center's research and programs primarily focus on three areas: games and learning, intergenerational engagement and literacy. The Cooney Center is a co-founder of the Games and Learning Publishing Council and co-presents the annual National STEM Video Game Challenge.

E-Line Media is a publisher of game-based learning products and services that engage, educate and empower, helping to prepare youth for lives and careers in the 21st century. E-Line works with leading foundations, academics, non-profits and government agencies to harness the power of games for learning, health and social impact. Find out more at www.elinemedia.com.