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President Obama Announces Video Game Contest

President Barack Obama yesterday announced a video game competition that he hopes will promote education and learning through game design. Dubbed the STEM Challenge, Obama said the contest is an effort to tap into students' passion for video games and use it to promote an interest in science, technology, engineering and math.

"Our success as a nation depends on strengthening America's role as the world’s engine of discovery and innovation," said President Obama.

"I applaud partners in the National STEM Video Game Challenge for lending their resources, expertise, and their enthusiasm to the task of strengthening America’s leadership in the 21st century by improving education in science, technology, engineering and math."

The competition is actually split up into two smaller divisions: the Youth Prize and the Developer Prize. The former will see students in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade compete for a total of $50,000 in prizes (including computers and educational software as well as cash prizes for the sponsoring schools). Students' games can be either paper-based or produced on a platform that will allow the judges to play the game for free.

The Developer prize is a little bit bigger. Devs must design a mobile game aimed at young children (pre-K through to fourth grade). They are competing for a pool of $100,000 in seed money for the refinement, research, marketing and distribution of their game; the help of the Cooney Center research team in determining potential scalable outcomes of the game; advice from experts skilled in mobile gaming R&D; publicity; an invite to participate in the next Cooney Center Leadership Forum and other prizes.

Check out the STEM Challenge website for more details.