December 11, 2014


Giuliana Bullard
IMLS Press Contact

Jodi Lefkowitz 
Sesame Workshop 

Mark German
E-Line Media

STEM logoWashington, DC—The National STEM Video Game Challenge will kick off its series of workshops this week at the Free Library of Philadelphia as the flagship event during Computer Science Education week. Recently the library received an IMLS National Leadership Grant for its Maker Jawn initiative to support STEM programming to multi-generational audiences. The STEM Challenge workshop will fuel the momentum for the year to come. 

The National STEM Video Game Challenge, presented by the Smithsonian in partnership with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media, is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) as the National Community Program Sponsor. The STEM Challenge aims to motivate interest in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) learning among youth by tapping into their natural passions for playing and making video games. Now in its fourth year, the National STEM Video Game Challenge was inspired by President Obama’s "Educate to Innovate" campaign, an initiative to promote a new focus on science, technology, engineering and math education. This year’s STEM Challenge will be accepting entries from youth in grades 5 – 12 through February 25, 2015.

As community anchor institutions, museums and libraries offer the right mix of staff, technology, and facilities to serve as ideal venues for creative game design learning. With IMLS’s support, the STEM Video Game Challenge will host youth game-design workshop and staff webinars for museum and library professionals. Workshops will be held at museums and libraries across the country.

The Guggenheim workshop in New York, NY (February 7, 2015) will use the museum’s exhibit on architecture and design to teach learners how Frank Lloyd Wright turned a challenge into a creative, unique experience for visitors. A Guggenheim teaching artist will give the kids a 45-minute architecture tour, and a video game industry professional will discuss game mechanics and the overlapping design principles with the youth. 

After coming off a successful workshop in 2013, the Parmly Library in Billings, MT will host a series of workshops this year, one teen-facing and two librarian-facing, to make a deeper investment in year-long STEM programming.

Workshop Events and Online Resources

The first 14 workshops have been confirmed at the following locations and times:

  • December 13, 2014, 1-4pm: Free Library of Philadelphia, Lillian Marrero Branch
  • December 20, 2014, 1-4pm: Science Museum of Virginia, Richmond, VA
  • January 3, 2015, 1-4pm: Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ
  • January 14, 2015, 4-7pm: City of New Braunfels Public Library, New Braunfels, TX
  • January 24, 2015, 10am-2pm: Museum of History & Industry, Seattle, WA
  • January 25, 2015, 12-4pm: Port Townsend Public Library, Port Townsend, WA
  • January 26, 2015, 10am-1pm: Port Townsend Public Library, Port Townsend, WA
  • February 5, 2015, 6-8:30 pm: Billings Public Library, Teen Game Design Workshop, Billings, MT
  • February 6, 2015, 1-3:30 pm: Billings Public Library, Librarian Workshop, Billings, MT
  • February 7, 2015, 1-3:30 pm: Billings Public Library, Librarian Workshop, Billings, MT
  • February 7, 2015, 1-4pm: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Teen Workshop, New York, NY
  • March 6, 2015, 9am-2pm: SciTech Days, Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh, PA
  • March 7, 2015, 1-4pm: Carnegie Science Center, Teen Workshop, Pittsburgh, PA
  • March 7, 2015: Carnegie Science Center, Teacher Workshop, Pittsburgh, PA

Check the home page of the new 2014-15 STEM Challenge website ( frequently to see updates and details for these events. The STEM Challenge website also features a mentor resource kit, a hands-on workshop guide, guidance for museum and library staff, and news and resources on game design and STEM skills. 

Contest Details and Prizes

The National STEM Video Game Challenge is accepting entries from U.S. students in grades five through twelve, through February 25, 2015. Students can enter as individuals or in teams of up to four students. Entries can be created using any game-making platform such as Gamestar Mechanic, ScratchGameMaker, Unity, or a written game design concept document. Entries will be judged on engaging gameplay, innovative/creative vision, and well-balanced game play.

Judges will select winners for each game creation platform in the Middle School and High School categories. Each winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000, as well as game design and educational software. Each winner’s sponsoring organization will receive a cash prize of $2,000.

Nearly 4,000 middle and high school youth participated in the 2013 STEM Challenge. Fifty-four percent of participants received support and mentorship from their teachers and one third of the entries received were created by girls. Previous winners have showcased their games at the White House Science Fair.


The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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