Interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among children has been in decline over the past decade. If these trends continue, there could be a possible shortage of STEM graduates and careers in computer programming and software design may go unfilled in coming years. The Imagine Cup Kodu Challenge launched by Microsoft in collaboration with the Joan Gantz Cooney Center hopes to curb these trends and spark an interest in coding among children ages 9-18.
The experience kids have creating their own video games with Kodu represents a strong, multidisciplinary approach to learning and skill development that harnesses kids’ natural love of play with creativity, technical abilities and a deep immersion in fascinating topics,” said Michael Levine, executive director of the Cooney Center.
Students that enter the competition will utilize the Kodu platform, a programming toolkit, to design video games for Windows PC’s. Children involved in the competition will acquire valuable skills such as critical thinking, storytelling and programming. The video games being created during the competition will focus on the relationship between water and people. The Kodu challenge will run from March 19 – May 17, 2013, prizes range from $1,000 to $3,000. To learn more about the Kodu Challenge read the full press release below.
Today, Microsoft launched the Imagine Cup Kodu Challenge, a new competition that offers students as young as nine years old the chance to build a game with Kodu, a visual programming language. Microsoft collaborated with the Joan Gantz Cooney Center, an organization that studies how kids learn from and use digital media, and Mercy Corps, a nonprofit NGO that saves and improves lives during crisis, on this Challenge an effort to address the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills gap by helping more kids get excited about coding.
Due to the shortage of STEM graduates, careers including computer programming, software design and technology platform development may go unfilled in coming years. Microsoft created the Imagine Cup Kodu Challenge as part of the nationwide movement to change that trend; students who compete, will build videogames for Windows PCs with the Kodu platform, an easy to use game-creation toolkit and programming language available for free download and translated into a dozen languages. With nearly half a million downloads since its release and more than 16,000 kid-created games currently available for download, Kodu has proven an effective way to teach programming to young students.
According to the Cooney Center, game design holds promise to change the way students learn STEM subjects. “…The experience kids have creating their own video games with Kodu represents a strong, multidisciplinary approach to learning and skill development that harnesses kids’ natural love of play with creativity, technical abilities and a deep immersion in fascinating topics,” said Michael Levine, executive director of the Cooney Center.
The Kodu Challenge runs from March 19 through May 17, 2013. Students in two age brackets (9–12 and 13–18) will design games on the Kodu platform that explore the relationships between water and people through the medium of Kodu video games. While acquiring valuable skills such as critical thinking, storytelling and programming, students in both age brackets will compete for first-place prizes of US$3,000, second-place prizes of US$2,000 and third-place prizes of US$1,000.
To learn more about Imagine Cup, part of Microsoft YouthSpark, or the Kodu Challenge, you can read the full press release, or the Microsoft on the Issues blog.