You have one more month! The National STEM Video Game Challenge is open and ready to receive original video games and game designs from students in grades 5-12 until the deadline of April 24. The challenge is presented by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media, and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is one of the title sponsors. It is free to enter the challenge and one middle school and one high school winner will be selected for each game creation platform, including Kodu.

Why STEM?
With our world becoming increasingly complex, science, technology, engineering, and math are playing a larger role in our daily lives. Soon, having an understanding of these subjects could be as much of a requirement for employment as knowing how to use basic computer programs like Excel and Microsoft Word. In short, STEM knowledge will become a part of every professional field. People who build innovative products and services using STEM knowledge will have considerable influence over the global economy.

Why use video games to teach STEM skills?
One of the best ways to engage children with technology is through games that are fun to play and teach them important skills like reading, writing, language development, design, systems-based learning, creativity, and collaboration. The National STEM Video Game Challenge hopes to motivate STEM learning by leveraging students’ natural excitement to play and make video games. With these skills in their back pockets, they will not only have a better understanding of the world around them but will be able to shape the world in which they wish to live. They will be empowered to build strong, healthy communities and they will be able to connect with, learn from, and share their experiences with people across the globe.

More than 3,700 middle and high school youth participated in the 2012 Challenge -- a 650% increase over its inaugural year. Twenty-eight youth were selected as winners last year and two winners were invited to showcase their games at the White House Science Fair in February 2012.

What kind of impact does the Challenge have on students?
The STEM Challenge’s goal is to pique student interest in STEM-based skills and careers. In three years, the Challenge has been able to reach thousands of kids and show them the opportunities that await them in professional STEM fields.  At Microsoft, we’re proud to be a part of such an important initiative.

"I consider winning the STEM challenge to be one of the best achievements of my life. Creating the game opened my eyes to the world of computers, which I had never even considered to be interesting before,” said Julia Weingaertner, Middle School category winner, 2012 National STEM Challenge.

How do kids create games and enter the Challenge?
Details on how to enter, game design resources, and a calendar of upcoming workshops on creating games are available at www.stemchallenge.org. Among the game design resources are video tutorials, links to open-source game-making software that can be downloaded free of charge to any computer, and toolkits for parents, teachers, librarians, afterschool program facilitators, and mentors to help kids create their games.