Making Learning Games

Here at the STEM Challenge, we believe that the process of designing and making games itself creates a wonderful opportunity for STEM learning. For the STEM Challenge, you can make your game about anything you want: whether or not it is a STEM subject or is designed to be a ‘learning’ or ‘educational’ game. Making a good, fun, entertaining game with no STEM or learning content is just fine.

That being said, we know many young designers, parents, and teachers are interested in making games with STEM themes or specific learning goals. Making a good game that also achieves learning goals isn’t easy: Making fun games is hard. Helping people to learn is hard. Doing them together is hard squared! It’s also incredibly rewarding; it’s why the partners behind the STEM Challenge make learning games ourselves and study what makes for effective learning in games.

Getting Started

To make a good learning game, you need to understand the basics of game design. We recommend checking out the Resources and Mentors sections of the website for tools, information, and resources to help you learn game design.

Introduction to Learning Game Design

The team behind Gamestar Mechanic has prepared this introductory webinar covering the basics of game design and how to approach designing learning games.

The Next Generation Science Standards

The National Resource Council’s Next Generation Science Standards provide a unifying framework for K-12 Science Education and are routed in three fundamental dimensions

  • Practices that describe behaviors that scientists engage in as they investigate and build models and theories about the natural world and the key set of engineering practices that engineers use as they design and build models and systems.
  • Crosscutting Concepts that have common applications across different scientific fields.
  • Disciplinary Core Ideas that are central to the learning in one of four key domains: physical sciences, life sciences, earth science and engineering.

To learn more about the Next Generation Science Standards and find particular standards, please visit the Next Generation Science Standards website.

The Common Core Math Standards

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.

To check out the Common Core Standards in Mathematics click here.

PBS Math Framework

The PBS Math Framework maps out key mathematical building-block skills such as numbers and operations, shape attributes, and data collection and analysis for young people ages 2-8. The framework informs the design of the many early learning math games you can find at at PBS Kids.

To check out the PBS Math Framework click here.


College and Career Pathways

STEM Challenge Founding Sponsor the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is the U.S. association exclusively dedicated to serving the business and public affairs needs of companies that publish computer and video games for video game consoles, handheld devices, personal computers, and the Internet. They have many resources of interest, including the 2015 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry report, and a listing of more than 400 US. U.S. College Video Game Programs.