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National STEM Video Game Challenge Recognizes 12 U.S. Students

National STEM Video Game Challenge Recognizes 12 U.S. Students

March 30, 2011 | By Leigh Alexander

Twelve U.S. students in grades 5-8 have been awarded the Youth Prize for original game designs by the government's National STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Video Game Challenge, announced United States chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra.

Science-themed game You Make Me Sick! was awarded the Grand Prize in the Developer Prize category, and a collection of math games called NumberPower: Numbaland! received both the Collegiate and Impact prizes.

The winners of the Grand Prize, Filament Games' Dan Norton and Dan White, will receive $50,000 for their game, which is designed to teach children about the spread and structure of bacteria and viruses.

Grad students Derak Lomas, Dixie Ching and Jeanine Sun of Carnegie Mellon, New York University and the University of California at San Francisco receive $500,000 in total for winning the Collegiate and Impact prizes with NumberPower : Numbaland! a four-game collection aimed at kids in kindergarten through grade 4 to help them develop a sense of number concepts.

The competition was aimed at driving interest in STEM learning by appealing to young people's natural passion for video games, and winners were selected from a group of over 500 entrants judged on their ability to use STEM concepts -- with special recognition for those that incorporated STEM themes.

"Three cheers for the National STEM Video Game Challenge for catalyzing this entertaining and educational approach to harnessing American ingenuity, all for the cause of science, technology, engineering and math education," said Chopra.

"It is efforts like these that will ensure our nation's continued economic and technological leadership well into the 21st century," he added.

The 12 student winners are as follows:

Geoffrey Wang, Your Adventure, Grade 5 (Claypit Hill School, Wayland, MA)
Rhys Wynn Wilkinson, Untitled, Grade 5 (Ecole Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Manor, TX)
Joshua Schoen, The Quest, Grade 5 (Georgia Cyber Academy, Canton, GA)
Tate Welty Outstanding Math Game, Grade 5 (Orono Schools, Orono, MN)
Bailey Sperling, Extreme Depths, Grade 6 (Suffern Middle School, Montebello, NY)
Jacob Cothrun, H.E.L.P. Earth, Grade 6 (Sepulveda Elementary, Sparks, NV
Shireen Zaineb, Discover..., Grade 7 (Milwaukee Montessori School, Milwaukee, WI)
Jasper Hugunin, Robot Commander, Grade 7 (Islander Middle School, Mercer Island, WA)
Kendall McGowan, Green Island, Grade 7 (William H. Lincoln School, Brookline, MA)
Muhammad Al-Fatih Ridha, Zuff's Adventure, Grade 8 (Homeschooled Student, Beaverton, OR)
Annie Jacobson, Alien of My Own, Grade 8 (The Nightingale-Bamford School, New York, NY)
Mark Fretheim, Deity Grade 8 (Austin Academy for Excellence, Garland, TX)

The winning students each get an AMD-based laptop with educational software, and a $2000 cash prize awarded either to their school or to a non-profit charity of their choice.

"The innovation and creativity in these games are the hallmarks of our industry," says Entertainment Software Association president and CEO Michael Gallagher. "As these great kids show us, video games can affect societal change. They can inspire and educate a new generation of leaders ready for 21st century jobs."

The ESA, along with AMD's charitable AMD Foundation arm, and Microsoft, supported the competition, which was implemented by Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media's Joan Ganz Cooney Center. The American Library Association, The American Association of School Librarians, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, The International Game Developers Association and BrainPOP were all outreach partners.

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