8th Grade Girls to Develop Math Learning Video Games for 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge Games Will Be Submitted to PBS KIDS Stream in National Game Competition

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Stuart, a K-12 all girls school in Princeton, NJ, announces that all 8th grade girls will take part in the PBS KIDS Stream of the 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge to develop video games for children ages 4-8 that focus on early math skills. School brings in young women from Princeton University's Princeton Women in Computer Science to mentor students in class.

Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, recognized for its bold and innovative education for girls, has announced that all students in Grade 8 will take part in the PBS KIDS Stream of the 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge, developing video games for children ages 4-8 that focus on early math skills. To help inspire students across the country to take part in this exciting challenge, Stuart will document and follow the design and educational process of the class through photos and a Stuart teacher’s blog.

Stuart recently announced the formation of a STEM Advisory Task Force, which includes some of the nation’s leading thinkers and educators, to help conquer the so-called “Girl Gap” in STEM fields. According to a recent New York Times article, women are earning only about 17 to 18 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in computer science. The School is developing a computer science curriculum for the class around the PBS KIDS competition and using it as a real-life opportunity to integrate project-based learning into the classroom. In addition, Stuart is taking advantage of its all girl focus and proximity to Princeton University to bring in mentor students to visit the class from the group Princeton Women in Computer Science.

“We are excited about introducing the PBS KIDS project to all Grade 8 students in a required class,” said Dr. Patty L. Fagin, Head of School. “Video game programming is a field typically associated with males, but we want our girls to know that with persistence, they can do it too - and it can be fun. The young women from Princeton University are remarkable role models for our students.” Dr. Fagin continued, “We know that seeing the relevance of work in STEM fields helps to keep girls interested. By designing a math video game that helps younger children develop math skills, these girls will learn hands-on how computer science can be used to make a difference.”

Computer Science Teacher Alicia Testa agreed to take on this project for her class and is excited to participate in the challenge, encouraging her students to excel in STEM subjects. “My students will be working in groups of two or more, so in addition to computer programming, they will need to use many important 21st century skills as they work towards a common goal, such as collaboration and communication,” said Ms. Testa. “Technically, they will be required to do sequential planning and develop computational thinking skills. Stepping out of their comfort zone and challenging themselves in this way will help them to build confidence in dealing with very complex tasks.”

The National STEM Video Game Challenge is an annual competition to motivate interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning among America’s youth by tapping into students’ natural passion for playing and making video games. The 2012 Challenge features four entry categories: Middle School, High School, Collegiate and Educator. Within each category, PBS KIDS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) are challenging participants to develop educational games for children ages 4-8 that focus on specific math skills, based on a curriculum that PBS KIDS developed, aligned to Common Core Standards. At the end of the competition, the winning games for the PBS KIDS Stream will be featured on the PBS KIDS Lab and PBS LearningMedia websites.

Entries to the challenge will be accepted through March 12, 2012 at http://www.stemchallenge.org and contestants can find insights and more information about the challenge on pbskids.org/stemchallenge, including resources that help guide game production for young children and interviews with top PBS KIDS game producers.

For more information on Stuart’s participation in the PBS KIDS Stream of the 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge or Stuart’s STEM Task Force, please contact Risa Engel, Director of Communications at 609-921-2330 x253 or rengel(at)stuartschool(dot)org.

About Princeton Women in Computer Science: Princeton Women in Computer Science (PWiCS) was formed in May of 2010 by two Princeton University female computer science undergraduates who wanted to find a way to allow the small number of women in the computer science department at Princeton to meet each other and encourage other women to see how much fun it is to be a computer scientist. The group started out holding course advising study breaks for younger students, and now has grown into hosting many other kinds of events.

About Stuart: Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart is the only all-girls school in Princeton, New Jersey, and as such, is uniquely positioned to provide an environment where girls put academics first, are willing and able to take risks, and explore every opportunity. Stuart offers a challenging and innovative curriculum, superb teaching, and individualized attention grounded in the Sacred Heart Goals. Celebrating 48 years, Stuart enrolls girls in Kindergarten – Grade 12 and has a co-ed Pre-School and Junior Kindergarten Program. Stuart is part of an international community of Sacred Heart schools and is an independent Catholic school that embraces students of all faiths and backgrounds, helping them to become accomplished and committed leaders with the confidence and passion for justice to transform the world.

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Risa Engel

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