Amazing Busy Kids: STEM Video Game Challenge Winner Gustavo ZacariasPosted by MomOnMars on August 07, 2012
Meet an amazing San Antonio Busy Kid with gaming on the brain.
Earlier this year, middle schooler Gustavo Zacarias participated in the second National STEM Video Game Challenge, bringing together students from across the U.S. to compete over something that seems to be universally loved by middle school and high schoolers alike….computer games.
But he didn’t just participate…he rocked his gaming skills in the competition. Gustavo’s game was selected as on one of 28 winners from among 3,700 entries.
Winning the Kodu (a coding program, for those of us with less gaming knowledge) category for youth between 5th and 8th grade, Gustavo’s game “The Dark Labyrinth” takes the player through a maze which must be navigated while avoiding obstacles and solving multiplication problems. The tricky part, Gustavo says, is that “players only have four minutes to complete the maze,” leaving little room for mathematical error.
Gustavo, along with the other student winners, walked away from the competition with a laptop, educational software and game design tools, as well as a $2,000 donation for their school or non-profit of choice.
Gustavo’s favorite part of the Video Game Challenge? “Getting to meet the designer of the program I used.” Gustavo had an experience that he is not soon to forget, thanks to one of his teachers who he says “talked about the competition. That’s how, he said, “I got interested in it.”
Zip, bam, boom, Gustavo enters the Challenge, wins, and is whisked away to Washington, D.C. for a special event honoring the winners at the Smithsonian Museum. Inspired yet? Playing games since he was just four years old, Gustavo plans to pursue professional game design as a career.
Here’s what I find awesome about this contest. Kids are going to play video games. Why not get them to design them instead? Not only because of the wealth of skills it teaches…critical thinking, logic, reasoning, creativity, literacy skills and system thinking. But because of the way unique competitions like this foster innovation in children’s learning through digital media, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.
You’ll see my passion in this as SA Busy Kids brings you San Antonio’s first ever Summer Youth Code Jam later this month. In fact, one of the National STEM Video Game Challenge sponsors – E-Line Media (Gamestar Mechanic) will be one of our presenters at the code jam. Yep – that totally rocks!
Maybe next year will be the year for your gamer to compete. In the meantime, here are some awesome resources to get him or her started….Game Making Platforms.
The National STEM Video Game Challenge is organized by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media in partnership with sponsors the Entertainment Software Association , AMD Foundation, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting/ PBS KIDS Ready To Learn Initiative.