Two Milwaukee Montessori students win national STEM video game challenge

Two Milwaukee Montessori students are getting national attention after winning a national competition for the video games they created.

Ten-year-old Zoe Plunkett and 12-year-old Himani Chonkar of Waukesha beat out thousands of other kids from around the country, to win middle-school divisions of the National STEM Video Game Challenge.

They designed and created their own video games utilizing their knowledge and skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Art and Writing.

Zoe designed a Scratch game that allows players to learn about the digestive system, while Himani’s game design is a STEM obstacle course, that challenges players to journey through a land filled with trolls, a castle and a giant mountain. To view Zoe and Himani’s work and learn more information online go to www.stemchallenge.org.

Each of the girls won $1,000, a consultation with a game industry professional, and a subscription to a game design magazine.

To participate in STEM, students developed original video games and game design concepts in platforms including GameMaker, Gamestar Mechanic, Scratch and Unity. The competition started in 2010 through the White House’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign, per STEM organizers. STEM motivates youth by harnessing their natural passion for playing video games and inspiring them to design games of their own.

"I was so excited to found out that I won," Himani said. "It took a lot of work to come up with the idea and make it a reality. But I love doing stuff like this."

"I jumped up and down!" Zoe said. "The future is bright for girls in the tech field. Anybody can do anything they want, they just have to put effort into it."
 

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