Educational Video Game Challenge Now Open For Entries

Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media Launch Second Annual National STEM Video Game Challenge


New York, NY, November 15, 2011 – The National STEM Video Game Challenge opens today, aiming to motivate interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning by tapping into students’ natural passion for playing and making video games. The annual competition, held by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media in partnership with sponsors AMD Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting/PBS KIDS Ready To Learn Initiative, Entertainment Software Association and Xbox 360, is accepting submissions of original video game concepts and designs from students and educators in four categories at

The 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge features the following categories for individuals and teams:

  • Middle School Category – open to students from any U.S. school in grades five through eight.
  • High School Categoryopen to students in grades nine through 12 from any U.S. school.
  • Collegiate Category open to undergraduate and graduate students to design original games for children in pre-K through grade 8 that teach STEM concepts and/or foster an interest in STEM subject areas.
  • Educator Category– open to licensed professional educators at the pre-K-12 level, and individuals who are currently teaching or engaging children through a youth serving, non-profit organization as designated by their status as defined by the IRS (i.e. a 501(c)(3). Educators are invited to design games for youth (grades pre-K through 12) that teach key STEM concepts and/or foster an interest in STEM subject areas.

New sub-categories being introduced this year are the PBS KIDS stream and the Sesame Street stream. The PBS KIDS stream invites entrants from each of the four categories to design math-based video games for children in pre-K through grade four that are inspired by the Ready To Learn Initiative’s math curriculum framework. The Sesame Street stream, open only to the Collegiate and Educator categories, calls for entrants to design a STEM-based learning video game for pre-K through first grade inspired by Sesame Street’s curriculum and footage.

“The National STEM Video Game Challenge will channel the potential of a new generation of game creators to develop innovative tools for learning,” said H. Melvin Ming, President and CEO, Sesame Workshop. “We are delighted that the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and E-Line Media are responding to the critical national priority to ignite children’s interest in STEM.”

Entries can be created using any game-making platform including, but not limited to, written concepts, Gamestar Mechanic, Microsoft’s Kodu Game Lab, GameMaker and Scratch.

The Middle School and High School Category winners will each receive AMD-based laptops, game design software packages and other tools to support their skill development. Each winner’s youth sponsoring organization will receive cash prizes and educational software (there will be a total of $80,000 in prizes for youth and youth sponsoring organizations). A prize pool of $30,000 will be awarded to the Collegiate Category winners and a prize pool of $40,000 to winners in the Educator Category.

The National STEM Video Game Challenge will accept entries from November 15, 2011 through March 12, 2012. Complete guidelines and details on how to enter are available at

Outreach partners this year include the American Library Association, American Association of School Librarians, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, BrainPOP, George Lucas Education Foundation, The Girl Scouts of the USA, One Economy, and The International Game Developers Association.

“We are deeply grateful to our sponsors and outreach partners who have aligned their resources to respond to the National STEM Video Game Challenge,” said Alan Gershenfeld, Founder and President of E-Line Media. “Together we can activate a network of thousands of school-based and extended learning programs to harness the power of games and youth game design to make STEM engaging, relevant and empowering to students throughout the country.”

Outreach partners for the National STEM Video Game Challenge will be hosting educational events and providing assistance to entrants throughout the submission period. Listings and information about events will be posted at

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. The Cooney Center is named for Sesame Workshop’s founder, who revolutionized television with the creation of Sesame Street. Core funding is provided by the generous support of Peter G. Peterson, Genius Products, Mattel, Inc. and Sesame Workshop.

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