National STEM Video Game Challenge Announces Winners of Fifth Annual Competition

National-STEM-Video-Game-Challenge-Announces-Winners-of-Fifth-Annual-CompetitionThe National STEM Video Game Challenge announced today the winners of the 2016 competition. The 24 middle school and high school winners will be recognized at an award ceremony at National Geographic in Washington, DC, with top original video games and game design concepts selected in 18 categories from nearly 3,000 entries. Presented by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media, with founding sponsor the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the STEM Challenge aims to motivate interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) among youth by transforming their natural passions for playing video games into designing and creating their own video games.

This year National Geographic honors game designs that feature the spirit of exploration. Winners in four Nat Geo Explore prize categories will have their games or design documents featured on the National Geographic Education website, which reaches more than 1 million visitors a month.

The STEM Challenge conducted nearly 60 game design workshops and events across the country in 2016. The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has sponsored more than 20 workshops at libraries and museums nationwide for students and mentors. One of this year’s winners was inspired to begin her game design document at a workshop hosted by the Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa, Florida. The Grable Foundation provided generous regional support in Pittsburgh, where the STEM Challenge facilitated 19 workshops and events that yielded four winners.

Each winner receives a cash prize of $1,000, as well as a subscription to Gamestar Mechanic from E-Line Media and Curiosity Boxes from Vsauce. STEM Challenge winners can also designate $2,000 to a school or non-profit organization as an institutional award recipient.

“The National STEM Video Game Challenge promotes vital new skills like coding and systems design that all young people will need to compete and collaborate in a digital and global world,” said Michael H. Levine, Executive Director, The Joan Ganz Cooney Center. “We are thrilled to honor these students and their outstanding games.”

Among the 24 winners nationwide, Sanja Kirova, age 15, a student at Portage High School and a member of Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County’s Portage Club received a Nat Geo Explore Prize for her high school game design document titled “Around the World.” Sanja is no stranger in receiving national recognition for her STEM related projects. During the 2013/2014 school-year, she earned double national recognition from Boys & Girls Clubs of America for a stop motion animation film she created and in game design. In 2015 she was named a National STEM Video Game Challenge winner. In 2014-2015, Sanja was named Youth of the Year for Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County and placed 5th at the Indiana State Youth of the Year level. At the local level, ArcelorMittal is a strong sponsor of Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County’s after-school STEM activities.

For more information on each of the winners and their video game designs, please see and follow @stemchallenge on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The National STEM Video Game Challenge was inspired by President Obama’s “Educate to Innovate Campaign.” Previous winners have showcased their games at the White House Science Fair, the Smithsonian Institution and Games for Change Festival.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center investigates the potential of digital media to help children learn, and collaborates with educators, media producers, policymakers and investors to put this research into action. An independent nonprofit organization, the Center addresses issues of digital equity and aims to strengthen connections between formal and informal learning environments. Learn more at

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

Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County has been opening doors to GREAT FUTURES for Porter County’s youth since 1971. Clubs are open after school and provide a great place for youth in grades K-12 to meet friends and have fun while in a safe, supervised environment. When school is out, our Clubs are in! Clubs are open during holidays and in the summer. Annual membership is only $35.00. Financial assistance is available to those who qualify. For information on membership, volunteer opportunities, or to make a tax deductible donation to Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County, please contact your local Club, call (219) 464-7282 or visit Great Futures Start HERE.