Let the G.A.M.E.S. Begin!

The best learning often takes place when it is presented as a form of play – which is why out of school activities and programs are the ideal venue for engaging young minds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Nationally, many efforts are underway to encourage and support STEM programming; however only 14.5 percent of girls show an interest in STEM at the critical ages between 4th and 8th grade. In many fields, men and women have closed the gap, but in computer science and engineering careers women represent approximately 25 percent of the workforce. At the same time, one of the fastest growing job sectors in our nation and around the world is in science and engineering.

A collaborative national project is kicking off today at Northeastern University’s Seattle campus to a sold-out group of leaders in game development, research, education and advocacy for young girls to do something about it. They call it G.A.M.E.S.

G.A.M.E.S. (Girls Advancing in Mathematics, Engineering and Science), is an ambitious, broad-based effort to use the power of gaming to engage girls, grades 4 through 8, in science, technology, and mathematics. The specific mission: to launch, by fall 2017, three commercial-quality video games that will capture the interest and engage girls in STEM.

This is not the first effort of its kind, but this one promises to be different. Unlike a number of past efforts, this initiative proposes a realistic game development timeline and private funding sources to help ensure that the winning games are not just professional, but also scalable.  A unique and innovative partnership between Northeastern, Seattle, the Institute for Systems Biology and the National Girls Collaborative project provides the infrastructure for a network that connects industry, academia, government, and community-based organizations from across the nation.

While G.A.M.E.S. doesn’t claim to be THE solution, it will be an important tool to affect change.  You can participate in today’s event by contributing your ideas via a live tweet-up taking place at the same time using hashtag #Games4STEM.

http://www.northeastern.edu/seattle/northeastern-university-university-seattle-to-host-sold-out-national-interactive-event-building-a-game-for-girls-to-close-the-gender-gap-in-stem/

Karen Peterson, is the Principal Investigator for the National Girls Collaborative Project.