Today, Microsoft launched the Imagine Cup Kodu Challenge, a new competition that offers students as young as nine years old the chance to build a game with Kodu, a visual programming language. Microsoft collaborated with the Joan Gantz Cooney Center, an organization that studies how kids learn from and use digital media, and Mercy Corps, a nonprofit NGO that saves and improves lives during crisis, on this Challenge an effort to address the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills gap by helping more kids get excited about coding.
Students who compete will build videogames for Windows PCs with the Kodu platform, a game-creation toolkit and programming language available for free download and translated into a dozen languages.
The Kodu Challenge runs from March 19 through May 17, 2013. Students in two age brackets (9–12 and 13–18) will design games on the Kodu platform that explore the relationships between water and people through the medium of Kodu video games. While acquiring valuable skills such as critical thinking, storytelling and programming, students in both age brackets will compete for first-place prizes of US$3,000, second-place prizes of US$2,000 and third-place prizes of US$1,000.