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Nov 18, 2016 10:45 AM EST

IMLS Competition Inspires Students to Learn STEM Through Video Games

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Video games have long been thought to distract students from studying and excelling in school, but it's not that way anymore: video games are now used to teach kids science, technology, engineering, and math principles.

In collaboration with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center and E-Line Media, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a government agency aimed at inspiring libraries and museums to bring about advancements in innovation, learning, and cultural and civic engagement, has announced the winners of the 2016 National STEM Video Game Challenge.

The 24 winners, coming from middle and high schools, were among the 3,000 entries for the annual competition. The list of winners can be seen here.

The STEM Challenge takes advantage of the youth's natural desire to play video games by telling them to create and design their own video games using STEM principles. IMLS has been sponsoring the STEM Challenge since 2013, and for this year the Institute has sponsored more than 20 workshops at libraries and museums nationwide. In all, the STEM Challenge conducted nearly 60 game workshops nationwide.

Kimberly Do, designer of winning entry "Escape Velocity," was one of the attendees in workshops held at the Glazer Children's Museum in Tampa, Florida. Her game inspires players to learn the physics behind space travel as they try to rescue a lost shuttle crew.

"The STEM Challenge gets at the core of some of our key goals: inspiring creativity, sparking innovation and cultivating a love of STEM among our young people," IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew said in a press release. "IMLS congratulates each of the winners, and I hope that this challenge is the beginning of a long passion for STEM among the thousands of entrants who participated."

Winners for the 2016 STEM Video Game Challenge are divided into 18 categories, including categories for middle school, high school, team and individual entries. Each winner receives a cash prize of $1,000, a subscription to Gamestar Mechanic from E-Line Media, and Curiosity Boxes from Vsauce. Winners can also designate a nonprofit organization or school that will be given $2,000 as an institutional award recipient.

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