MacArthur Foundation Works With White House to Spur Math, Science Education

MacArthur Foundation Works With White House to Spur Math, Science Education

As part of a White House-sponsored campaign to improve math and science education in the United States, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced a $2 million digital media competition designed to generate ideas with the potential to transform learning.

Supported by a grant to the University of California at Irvine and announced in partnership with National Lab Day, an initiative designed to revitalize science, technology, engineering, and math in schools, the Digital Media and Learning competition will seek to identify designers, inventors, entrepreneurs, researchers, and others to construct digital media experiences that help young people interact, share, build, tinker, and explore in new and innovative ways.

Sony Computer Entertainment America, in partnership with the Entertainment Software Association and the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, will team with MacArthur to support Game Changers, which will provide awards for the creation of new game experiences using PlayStation's popular video game LittleBigPlanet. SCEA also will donate a thousand PlayStation3 systems and copies of the LittleBigPlanet game to libraries and community-based organizations in low-income communities.

According to the New York Times, the White House campaign, Educate to Innovate, will focus on activities outside the classroom, with television stations such as the Science Channel providing commercial-free afternoon scheduling geared toward middle school and programs such as Sesame Street adding a two-year focus on science. In addition, Time Warner Cable has set up a Web site,, that provides a searchable directory of local science activities.

"Digital media, including games, are the learning labs of the future, and this open competition encourages people to consider creative new ways to use digital media to create learning environments that are engaging, immersive, and participatory," said Connie Yowell, MacArthur's director of education. "This competition will help ensure that the new and highly engaging approaches to science, technology, engineering, and math find their way into schools, libraries, museums, and other spaces for learning."

Kenneth Chang. "White House Pushes Science and Math Education." New York Times 11/22/2009. "$2 Million Competition Seeks Ideas to Transform Learning." John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Press Release 11/23/2009.