The GAMES Initiative (Girls Advancing Math, Engineering and Science) enters 2014 with a lot of positive momentum. The three co-founders, – Northeastern University, the Institute for Systems Biology, and the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) – are thoroughly behind this initiative. The specific initiative is to launch, by fall 2017, three free, commercial-quality video games that engage middle school girls in STEM fields, where they have been historically underrepresented.
We are now going to raise the resources needed to hire staff and help build the GAMES Network across the nation, tackle the Game Jam, research, and Game Development specific steps needed to make our vision a reality.
Just last week we submitted, through Northeastern University, a major NSF AISL Grant Application. If funded, the grant will essentially design the GAMES Community, referenced in this GeekWire article, which we hope girls participating in our games will become engaged with. The GAMES Community will be our pathway to lead girls into a wide range of other great STEM programs, activities, mentors, and other like-minded girls — all of which are essential steps to try and keep girls excited about STEM careers.
On another front, we are starting to organize cohorts of middle school- aged girls in this region and at NGCP organizations across the country. We want to involve and engage young girls early on, and in each phase of our journey, so that the GAMES process itself creates all kinds of value, at each stage, for participating girls. As we invite their input and ideas, brainstorm ourselves and design solutions for each step this initiative has become a constantly evolving process.
Finally, we are starting to plan a springtime community event where we invite middle school girls and their parents to come and share their ideas and stories for possible video games. We plan to include in this community event a tour of a science lab nearby, and use this as a foundational step in creating community excitement for this initiative.
We are adding new volunteers every week to our Advisory Working Groups, which focus on gamers, researchers, networkers, fund-raisers and girls identity and advocacy foundations. We encourage all to check out our website and use it to sign up.