Yesterday saw the launch of the National STEM Video Game Challenge, a competition that aims to stimulate interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning by embracing the popular students’ pastime of playing and making video games. The 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge, held by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media, features the following categories for entrants: Middle School Category - open to students from any U.S. school in grades five through eight. High School Category - open to students in grades nine through 12 from any U.S. school. Collegiate Category - open to undergraduate and graduate students to design original games for children in pre-K through grade 8 based on STEM subject areas. Educator Category - open to any licensed professional educators at the pre-K-12 level, and individuals who are currently teaching or engaging children through a youth serving, non-profit organization to design games for grades pre-K through 12 based on STEM subject areas. And for the first time, new sub-categories have been introduced: The PBS KIDS stream invites entrants from each of the four categories to design math-based video games for children in pre-K through grade four that are inspired by the Ready To Learn Initiative’s math curriculum framework. The Sesame Street stream, open only to the Collegiate and Educator categories, calls for entrants to design a STEM-based learning video game for pre-K through first grade inspired by Sesame Street’s curriculum and footage. We are deeply grateful to our sponsors and outreach partners who have aligned their resources to respond to the National STEM Video Game Challenge,” said Alan Gershenfeld, Founder and President of E-Line Media. “Together we can activate a network of thousands of school-based and extended learning programs to harness the power of games and youth game design to make STEM engaging, relevant and empowering to students throughout the country.” AMD-based laptops, game design software packages and other tools to support skill development are up the prizes for the Middle School and High School Category. There will be $80,000 worth of cash prizes and educational software for youth sponsoring organizations. A prize pool of $30,000 will be awarded to the Collegiate Category winners and a prize pool of $40,000 to winners in the Educator Category. The National STEM Video Game Challenge will accept entries from November 15, 2011 through March 12, 2012.