ESA, Sony, Microsoft partner on science, math push

Trade organization, console makers back President Obama's Educate to Innovate initiative with Little Big Planet, Web game design challenges.

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President Obama today announced Educate to Innovate, his administration's latest initiative to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The program seeks to address America's poor performance in the areas of math and science literacy, as identified by such international comparisons as the 2006 Programme for International Student Assessment and the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Sony's Little Big Planet is at the heart of Game Changers.

The White House will be teaming with a number of different organizations to realize its mission of increasing awareness of and interest in STEM subjects, including various science organizations and media companies. The game industry will also play a prominent role in the Educate to Innovate program, as the Entertainment Software Association announced a pair competitions aimed at supporting the president's initiative.

In collaboration with the Information Technology Industry Council, Sony Computer Entertainment, Microsoft, and the MacArthur Foundation, the ESA's STEM initiatives include two game design challenges. The first, called Game Changers, is one component of the MacArthur Foundations' 2010 Digital Media and Learning Competition, which boasts $2 million in annual funding.

The competition centers on Sony's acclaimed puzzle platformer Little Big Planet, and competitors will be measured on how effectively their submissions support STEM sciences. Sony also said that it would be donating 1,000 PlayStation 3s, as well as copies of Little Big Planet, to various libraries and community organizations based in low-income areas. Winners of the competition will be announced in 2010.

The second contest, called the STEM National Video Game Competition, challenges students with creating ideas that can be turned into Web browser-based games. The competition has been divvied up into three age-based categories: 4- to 8-year-olds, 8- to 12-year-olds, and 12- to 16-year-olds.

The STEM National Video Game Competition carries with it a $300,000 prize, which will be funded by the ESA, ITI, and their member companies. The organizations will also provide judges, mentors, and technical expertise to the winning teams to build out their creations. Official details on the competition will be announced in early 2010, with winners to be revealed during the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo, which will take place in LA June 15-17.

President Obama's Educate to Innovate program isn't the first time he's tapped into the game industry for assistance. In the lead-up to his election in 2008, President Obama spent approximately $44,500 on in-game advertisements promoting his candidacy, with promotional spots appearing in games such as EA's Burnout Paradise. However, since then, the Wii-owning chief executive has repeatedly criticized gaming in general, urging parents to start "putting away the Xbox [and] putting our kids to bed at a reasonable hour."

Discussion

180 comments
tyco_ex
tyco_ex

@Cabal23 The problem is the fact that teachers aren't fired for sucking at their job. They have tenure so they have to practically molest a kid or their job is safe. This is shown easily by my an example of my physics class. At the same school, there were two different physics courses, taught by two different teachers. The material, tests, homework assignments, ect, were the same, only difference was the teachers. One class had an average grade of 55-65%. The other class had B averages. If this was any other job the incompetent employee, who performed far worse than his colleagues, would have been fired. But since he is a teacher, he gets to go on doing a terrible job.

Cabal23
Cabal23

@ kamizuka You can't make blanket statements like that. First of all as a teacher, kids learn at all different levels. If your theory was right, whole classes of inept students would be produced and that just isn't the case. I would say I have 1-5 difficult students out of every 20. That has zero to do with the educational system and everything to do with learning styles, disabilities, and bad home situations. Frankly, once a kid goes home it is on the parents. We provide the material in an interesting way and the student provides the aptitude and effort. Are there bad teachers and bad schools? For sure, but every school despite hiccups produces successful students.

Neomaniac15
Neomaniac15

@Zidaneski I see. I'm sorry that you have to deal with those kinds of teens. Buffalodude is right though, about the study and about expecting more from us. Do you remember Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium? In the story there's a "magical" object called the concreve cube that held all the answers. In the end it provided the main character with the means to do away with her inhibitions. In order to do that she had to believe that this cube, literally a block of wood could not only move but fly of it's own acccord; and fly it did. A fictional story with a true moral: If you believe in something, in ANYTHING, it can deliver and exceed it's expectations (the cube was only supposed to move but the main character literally made it fly). Don't, under any circumstances, give up on those teens. You WILL become part of the problem. @HerbalVideogame if that's the life you want so be it. no ambition, no drive, no point. its that simple. Laugh and grow fat doesn't work in reality.

CyberPenguin88
CyberPenguin88

Wait, first video games make you fat and depressed, and now they're good? Not hypocritical at all.

CyberPenguin88
CyberPenguin88

It already is educational it deals with physics, the whole game is a physics engine. No need to change an already educational game right?

AlphaCommando
AlphaCommando

I don't want my LittleBigPlanet to turn into some stupid child's game. Screw dumb kids ruining video games for everyone else. Video games are not meant to be educational, they're meant to be fun!

Spiritwolf99
Spiritwolf99

@Rinoflow Definitely agree there. I really hope ClimateGate gets some attention to try and stem the tide of these elitists.

maverick_76
maverick_76

I like anytime that entertainment partners with education to make some really good and worthwhile ideas, Schoolhouse Rock anyone?

Zidaneski
Zidaneski

@Neomaniac15 I go to a different school almost every week day. Sometimes elementary, sometimes middle schools, and sometimes high schools. From time to time I stay at the school for extended periods of time (substitute aid) and it hasn't even been 5 years since I was in High school. I completely agree that teenagers shouldn't be thought of automatically as lazy bums but its obvious its the majority (at least here in Southern California). Everything is influencing everyone just look at the media, the videogames, the music. I'm telling it how it is. Nowadays adults are surprised if a teenager actually listens to their parents without giving them lip. Hearing that you actually want to learn something in school is amazing and makes my job that much more enjoyable, cause most of the time the student doesn't want to learn and so I need to help them at least appreciate what I'm trying to teach them.

galerian86
galerian86

Where is Nintendo in this story? The money is clouding their eyes?? :P

theone332
theone332

@mamad_rais actually this site is a xbox fanboy as everyone else states. Your clearly an incompetent angry fanboy jealous Sony is being unleashed.

kamizuka
kamizuka

@Buffalodude education is based on your teacher. most of them are doing a half-ased job. i have to believe that it is a scheme because they want to "grade" ppl so we can just fight over our differences. if you dont believe me then why are those "fanboys" fighting over a machine, not realizing that they different by console but alike in gaming

psx_warrior
psx_warrior

He's actually doing something Constitutional? Oh man, somebody pull out the champagne.

maxwell97
maxwell97

Ah, thank heavens our leader is helping show us the way out of our folly! If a neophyte socialist Chicago politician can't inspire us to improve ourselves, who can? Seriously, the feds should get out of education. Everything they touch turns to trash. Leave it to the states, like the Constitution says.

Buffalodude
Buffalodude

@Zidaneski What I meant was that society needs to start expecting more from teenagers. Just because they are something doesn't mean we should expect it from them. Yes some are bums but if we expect the majority of them to be bums then guess what? The majority will be bums. There was a study done with two classes of students. Both groups of students were equals at the time. They told one classes teacher that she was teaching a gifted class. The other teacher that the students weren't that good. Well guess what happened? The teacher that expected great things from her/his "gifted" class and as a result challenged the students more. The other let things slip and went easy thinking the students were just having a off day. Well guess what? The "gifted" class did great while the "Not so gifted" class lagged behind. Now do you see what I am saying?

mariostar0001
mariostar0001

The government involved in gaming? What is this country coming to?

SinfulTorture
SinfulTorture

The one thing in this article I have an issue with is the last sentence. Pointing out he has a Wii and that he has an issue with kids excessively playing games and staying up late doing so, is not hypocritical [as they seem to try and make it]. That's like being against drunk drivers and at the end of an article it says "However the car-owning-and-occasional-wine-drinker has been urging parents to stop their kids from drinking and driving" It's possible to do things in moderation. Now if he misses a State of the Union address because he's playing RE4 wii edition, then say something.

jamesseda
jamesseda

@ mamad_raiss- Hah! I remember how it was a Nintendo and Microsoft spot.com when Sony was really behind during 2007 and beggining 2008, my how things change! Also It was Sony who dominated the headlines when the PS2 was the leader, so its just a matter of who is making news..and well...SONY is next in line to make the news, its their turn and if you ask me..its about friggin' time dude! PS- I own all 3 machines..LOL

mamad_raiss
mamad_raiss

Why don't you change gamespot.com to sonyspot.com ,then you can easier advertise sony in your site ... I told you before this website has totaly changed to a fanboy community for sony . don't believe me ? just look at news and advertisements. shame on you gamespot ,shame on you...

payne6705
payne6705

sounds good on paper but lets see if it works when I think math the last thing I think of is sack boy I am not saying math should be boring but math in a video game just doesn't work I remember when I was a kid I played math blasters and just lost interest and went to a mindless game but hey at least they are trying

iucidium
iucidium

'Sony also said that it would be donating 1,000 PlayStation 3s, as well as copies of Little Big Planet, to various libraries and community organizations based in low-income areas' And lo, they shall be stolen to support a meth habit

HerbalVideogame
HerbalVideogame

@Neomaniac15 Your comment is completely relative. What's wrong with wanting to smoke weed and have sex all your life? If it makes someone happy, isn't that what life is all about, the pursuit of happiness? "I don't understand some people's drive, let's just F**k and drink and be alive, not just survive." -FatMike

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

Yeah, good move. 'Cause at the rate the deficit grows every day all these kids today are going to HAVE to be good at math to try and figure out how the hell they're going to pay that money back.

FF_fan2004
FF_fan2004

Nice to know that America is getting with the times.

rinoflow
rinoflow

We've already had the Jim Henson cartoons telling kids how wonderful vaccines are (They truly truly aren't ed.). Now video games are going to get the official brainwashing stamp of approval from government. Expect kiddie games to promote big brother, grassing on your parents, man made climate change, microchipping and world government. This is just another example of government encroaching on free enterprise from a degenenrate marxist elite of both political persuasions.

Neomaniac15
Neomaniac15

@enoslives7 considering math, science, and engineering are pretty much an integral part of our daily lives this project is ideal for getting people those jobs you speak of. @TheMadSpin i feel your pain. truly @Zidaneski I don't know where you're from or what high school you attended and it's a stretch to say i care. What i do care about is your biased slander of teens. How many high schools have you actually been to? How long has it been since you stepped into one? Here, where i live, we WANT to learn things, we care about and look after each other and we look at people like you who slander and label us as bums, criminals, thugs and any other malcontent that's come out of people's mouths for the past several decades. Now you DO have a point, but you have it backwards: SOME teenagers are bum morons who just want to smoke weed and have sex all their life but MOST actually have their acts together (for the most part, no one's perfect, especially me) get their degrees and move on to become moderately to immensly successful in life. I dunno who the people are that teach us not to care about anything but i've never met them and i don't care to. Now then...who wants to try telling me videogames are ruining the minds of teenagers? Anyone?

lukas1051
lukas1051

LittleBigPlanet's pretty damn impressive, it's amazing the things you can do on there. I mean someone made a calculator, a working calculator.

bonzoso21
bonzoso21

@ Zidaneski I'm practically a cranky old man trapped inside a late twenties body, myself, but I have a couple of kid sisters who are just finishing up high school, and I've actually observed the exact opposite of what you said: many kids today are FAR from lazy and seem to be involved in way more extracurricular activities than my graduating class ever were. They seem busier than their parents most of the time, going to school earlier than their parents leave for work and often hopping from one activity to the next all evening long, leaving just enough time to grab a quick bite in between and hopefully finish their homework. Kids often irriatate the hell out ot me, as well, but maybe, just maybe, they act so crazy on their own time because they have a lot of pressure on them the rest of the time.

snarl2
snarl2

If theres a controller in my hand and a picture on the tv screen, hey, I don't mind!

Zidaneski
Zidaneski

@Buffalodude Our society treats teenagers like lazy bums because most of them are. Not all, I know but a really really high majority. I help out at many schools and while middle school students can be annoying and vulgar they at least make some effort to actually learn. However, High school kids these days (and even in my high school years) not only are they annoying and vulgar, but generally just don't care about anything other than themselves. But I don't attribute their shortcomings for a lack of character on their part it really is what they are being taught. Its very difficult to teach them to care about anything if everyone else in their life teaches them to not care.

TheMadSpin
TheMadSpin

I saw this story and I was excited about it, but then I felt the immediate soul-crushing fear that the comments section would be full of negativity and cruelty. It's good to know that even when Microsoft and Sony work together to help people, we can put fanboyism aside and still find a way to be petty, negative and angry. It makes me want to cry sometimes.

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

The ESA, Sony, and Microsoft are doing this to promote video games as a source of educating the youth. This competition is to promote the gaming industry as something that assists in educating children. They want to get rid of the image that video games make children dumb. Whether the companies "care" or not is not a concern. They're going to get some tax breaks from this "generosity" anyway. But still, it gets children involved with making games, which will encourage them to be a part of the industry when they're older. It puts games into libraries, which gives people access to games when they might not have that access otherwise. It promotes educational gaming and gaming on the web. How can any of this be a bad thing? _

kws1065
kws1065

When I saw LBP first time, I thought about it would be a good homework problem to implement some physics-involving problems or demonstrate the physics result in LBP instead of writing a bunch of formulas on a blackboard. This game is capable of doing them. (No, I am not a teacher)

StarvingPoet
StarvingPoet

Yeah, lets ignore the real problem - unqualified teachers teaching children subjects they know nothing about. There's no way you're going to motivate a kid into math and science when all their teachers could care less about it.

Terrencec06
Terrencec06

At least they get to play a fun game

Kruegmeister
Kruegmeister

Cats and Dogs... Living Together... The End is Near!!!

darkfox101
darkfox101

blahblahblah why are you even writing about this GS? They just want in to make themselves look good and advertise. Its alll business. You really think they care?

xXZak-ataKXx
xXZak-ataKXx

Hmmm. Another dumb move by our "awesome" president. He doesnt care about America at all. Everything he does is soo staged

enoslives7
enoslives7

What a waste of taxpayer dollars. People need jobs!!!!!!!!

brendanhunt1
brendanhunt1

"there it is considered offensive (highly offensive to some) if you call for example an English or Scottish man British. This is because it doesn't represent any of their heritage" some people do some people dont, personally i prefer being called british, it sounds better than english

ImAConsoleGamer
ImAConsoleGamer

@Aero5555 I think you're slightly confused. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland consists of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It doesn't contain Ireland (or the Republic of Ireland) as that's a seperate country from the northern part. As for offending people from here I can't say many people from the UK would be offended by being called British (as technically we are). The only offence comes from being called a different nationality. So you can't call a Scot "English" or vice-versa. The main problem is when (and it's generally the Americans) call Britain "England", or everyone "English". We're each individually each country or just British. Also don't call an Irishman "British". And Media Molecule is based in the UK (or specifically Guildford, England) and so is a British company.

Nobri
Nobri

...Umm...I don't think this will work. Assassin's Creed just isn't the game where you can explain the physics to jumping from large buildings into haysacks without gettingn hurt at all and still maintaining the same affect...

Janpieterzun
Janpieterzun

rofl @swamptick it's good to have a cause isn't it to have someone or something to blame for the pathetic nature of our lives. Keep seeing bogeymen, government, aliens, Latino's or whatever your soup-du-jour is. I see nothing wrong with this...children should be in indoctrination camps iMO wearing army-fatigues being trained to serve the empire better. Worthless fat children.

Yuck_Too
Yuck_Too

Lets face it...planet is borked. This ride is over, everyone off and exit to your left.

ParisSun
ParisSun

Actually he wasn't criticizing gaming. He was critcizing parents for letting television and gaming raise their children. He's right. Kids should have balance and should not be playing games all day long. Get outside and play, study and socialize. Gaming is fun but if you are a student, it should not make up 50% or more of your daily activities.

mirriorman
mirriorman

why put in a 4 to 8 category? its gonna be some game designer or an artist who wins