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Check out what the Cooney Center staff are covering in the realm of digital kids’ learning. Do you have an idea you’d like to see covered? Let us know!

Olivia presenting at the Games for Change panel

National STEM Video Game Challenge Inspires a Winner’s College Studies

by Olivia Thomas
August 3, 2017

Olivia Thomas was one of the winners of the National STEM Video Game Challenge (2015-16). Now studying computer science and games, interactive media, and mobile development at Boise State University, Olivia recently shared her experience with the STEM Challenge in the “Youth-to-Industry Pipeline: How Challenges and Game Jams Create Career Pathways” panel … 







Meet the Winners: Saida Woolf

July 31, 2017

Saida Woolf, age 13, created Twisted Petals in hopes of producing a game that she and her friends would enjoy playing together. The point-and-click adventure integrates a unique soundtrack, original art, and engaging animations that accompany players as they attempt to escape from the mysterious game world. Built using the Adventure Game Studio engine, the Tehachapi, … 







Meet the Winners: Sam Raymond

July 31, 2017

Explore an alien world and solve the mystery of your missing crewmates in The Trappist Incident, an original side scrolling shooter game created by 14-year-old Sam Raymond of Midlothian, Virginia. Inspired by his love of Star Wars and Star Trek, Sam’s engaging storyline and exciting gameplay won him the Middle School Unity category of … 







Meet the Winners: James Nguyen

July 31, 2017

Journey to the majestic “Aisle of Fish” in 14-year-old James Nguyen’s original video game, Ultra Fishing. From colorful character profiles to a strong catch-and-release message, the Portland, Oregon-based designer drew inspiration from his love of fishing and passion for playing video games in conceptualizing the 2D strategy game. James’ attention … 







Meet the Winners: Zoe Plunkett

by Katy Svehaug
July 31, 2017

Can you stomach the fun of playing a video game while learning about science and the human body? In 10-year-old Zoe Plunkett’s original game, The Digestive System, players learn about a new step in the digestive process as they move through each level. With well-executed mechanics and thoughtful graphic design elements, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based designer … 







Meet the Winners: Connor Shugg

July 31, 2017

Hot on the heels of his 2016 National STEM Video Game Challenge win for the music-themed game Allegria, 18-year-old Connor Shugg was even more ambitious with this year’s submission. Inspired by his experience in the classroom, Connor’s new platformer game The Calculus Test utilizes word problems as themes for each level, with test-taking stress manifesting as enemy … 







Meet the Winners: Himani Chonkar

July 31, 2017

Aspiring movie director Himani Chonkar, age 11, from Waukesha, Wisconsin, shows a clear sense of cinematic vision in her original video game concept, STEM Obstacle Course. Positioned as the “ultimate challenge” in gaming, the players are offered a preview of upcoming levels at a distance and the opportunity to select the avatars and abilities best suited … 







Meet the Winners: Lucas Armand and Shrey Pandya

July 31, 2017

The dynamic developing duo is at it again! In 2016, 14-year-old Lucas Armand of Malvern, Pennsylvania and 14-year-old Shrey Pandya of Exton, Pennsylvania wowed STEM Challenge judges with their science-themed game, Outbreak: Cellular Warfare, winning them the Nat Geo Explore Middle School Playable Game title. This year, the teammates took home their second National STEM Video Game Challenge victory, earning the … 







Meet the Winners: Jude Morey

July 31, 2017

Inspired by a wide variety of movies and games, the top-down shooter game Keeper is an ode to classic 16-bit era video games featuring vibrant graphics, music, and sounds. Created by 16-year-old Jude Morey of Beech Grove, Indiana, Keeper took home the High School Open Platform title in the 2017 National STEM Video Game Challenge. “I started … 







Meet the Winners: Geneva Heyward

July 31, 2017

Inspired to create a video game that would engage young people while fostering ecological responsibility, Geneva Heyward from Corona, New York, developed Green Hero. “The idea came to me when I was researching different ways to stop climate change and better the environment,” explains the 17-year-old. “To make it more appealing for children, I decided the …