Students' video games explore a variety of STEM topics.

Twelve students in grades 5-8 are winners in the first-ever National STEM Video Game Challenge, a competition to motivate interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education by tapping into the natural passion of youth for playing and making video games.

The award program’s first year offered competitions for students and developers.

(See “U.S. ramps up efforts to improve STEM education.”)

The Youth Prize winners were selected from more than 500 entries and stood out for their ability to use STEM concepts to design engaging, innovative, and well-balanced games, with special recognition for those games that also incorporated STEM education and themes.

Students could create a written game design document or a playable game using creation tools like Gamestar Mechanic, Scratch, and Gamemaker.

For more on STEM education:

Solving the STEM Education Crisis

For more on educational gaming:

Can gaming change education?

Competition seeks ways to transform learning

Va. tests video games as teaching tool

The students each will receive an AMD-based laptop computer and educational software. A cash prize of $2,000 also will be awarded to their school or a nonprofit organization of their choice.

Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, announced the winners of the National STEM Video Game Challenge on March 30 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

“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.”