ALA, AASL joins Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media in support of first-annual National STEM Video Game Challenge

For Immediate Release
Tue, 10/12/2010


John Amundsen

CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) and the American Association for School Librarians (AASL) are joining the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media, in partnership with sponsors AMD Foundation, Entertainment Software Association and Microsoft, to support the first annual National STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Video Game Challenge competition.

Inspired by President Obama as part of his “Educate to Innovate” campaign, the National STEM Video Game Challenge aims to motivate interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning by tapping into students’ natural passion  for playing and making video games. 

Additional founding partners include the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, BrainPOP and The International Game Developers Association. The first year of the National STEM Video Game Challenge features two complementary competitions, the Youth Prize and the Developer Prize, that address the supply-and-demand issues surrounding STEM learning games.
“ALA is excited to be a part of this great initiative,” said ALA President Roberta Stevens. “The National STEM Video Game Challenge encourages the development of these essential 21st century skills. America’s libraries are ideally positioned to assist students as they learn more about STEM skills. Librarians are, after all, the original search engines.”
Game-based learning has emerged as one of the most promising areas of innovation in making STEM topics more engaging for America’s youth. The seminal report, "Game Changer: Investing in Digital Play to Advance Children’s Learning and Health" (Joan Ganz Cooney Center, 2009), demonstrates that both playing and making video games can foster the development of critical STEM skills, including systems thinking, problem solving, iterative design and digital media literacies, as well as build a strong motivation for STEM related subjects and careers.
"AASL is excited to be a part of this collaboration with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and E-Line Media," said AASL President Nancy Everhart. "Digital, visual, textual and technological literacies have now joined information literacy as crucial skills for this century. Complex and innovative video games touch upon many of these 21st-century literacies, providing students the necessary skills to compete in a global workplace."

The Youth Prize aims to motivate and engage middle school students (grades 5 through 8) in STEM learning, 21st century literacy skills and systems thinking by challenging them to design original video games. The Challenge will be open to students from any U.S. school, (including international schools operated by the Department of Defense), with a special emphasis on reaching students in underserved urban and rural communities. All students entering the contest must receive grade verification from a teacher, school administrator or parent.   The total prize pool will be $50,000, which will be allocated across multiple prize streams.  The winners will receive educational laptops, game design books and other tools to support their skill development. Cash prizes and educational software will also be awarded to the winning students’ schools, with additional prize money for Title One schools.

The Developer Prize challenges emerging and experienced game developers to design mobile games, including games for the mobile web, for young children (grades pre-K through 4) that teach key STEM concepts and foster an interest in STEM subject areas. The target audience for entrants in this competition is game developers, including undergraduate college students, graduate students, early career professionals and seasoned professionals. The competition will feature a special prize stream for developers actively enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program in the U.S.  A special emphasis will be placed on technologies that have high potential to reach underserved communities, such as engaging games built for basic mobile phones that address urgent educational needs among at-risk youth. Developers will be competing for a grand prize of $50,000. Two smaller prizes of $25,000 each will be awarded to the top entry submitted on the collegiate level, as well as the top entry for reaching underserved communities.
Both competitions will be open for submissions, starting Oct. 12th, 2010. Winners will be announced in early spring 2011. 
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About ALA
The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 62,000 members. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and to ensure public access to information for all.
About AASL
The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.
About the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop
The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop is an independent, non-profit research center that is fostering innovation in children’s learning through digital media. The Cooney Center conducts and supports research, creates educational models and interactive media properties and builds cross-sector partnerships.