Game Changers: Get Ready

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Can Facebook, Twitter and mobile phones be transformed into tools that make boring subjects like math and science fun? The White House and others sure hope so. As part of the Obama administration’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign launched last month, a new MacArthur Foundation-funded competition will soon seek proposals to advance the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills of youth using video games, social media and mobile networks.

The 2010 Digital Media Learning competition – set to start inviting proposals Dec. 14, officials say – will provide $2 million for multiple awards in two categories: 21st Century Learning Lab Designers and Game Changers. Both categories, according to a news release, will seek “designers, inventors, entrepreneurs, researchers, and others to build digital media experiences – the learning labs of the 21st Century – that help young people interact, share, build, tinker and explore in new and innovative ways.”

Other aspects of the campaign are public-private partnerships to direct private resources to inspire students to “be the next generation of makers, discovers, and innovators,” the White House said, touting $260 million in financial and in-kind support pledged so far. Various luminaries and business people, such as former astronaut Sally Ride and Antonio Perez of Eastman Kodak, are part of a coalition to recruit private-sector STEM champions at the state level.

The White House will also host a conference to showcase student winners of national science, technology and robotics competitions.

Follow GrantsToday for details and deadlines related to the $2 million competition.