Monday, May 10, 2010

The Power of Imagination

KidReporter: Audio (Click To Listen To Brennan LaBrie's Report): Cell phone podcast direct from Washington DC #imaginecup #ICUS10 #trottr

Every day, people across the world are working hard to find solutions to major world problems such as poverty, hunger and pollution. Can technology offer a way to solve these problems?

This is the challenge Microsoft Corporation posed to students across the nation in an event called the Imagine Cup, which was held in Washington, D.C., on April 26. Microsoft asked college and high school students to use their creativity and imagination to come up with video games and software programs that could, in some way, help solve one of these pressing world problems.

Many teams jumped at the chance, and 4 game design teams and 4 software design teams were chosen from these entries to attend the U.S. Imagine Cup Finals held last week in Washington, D.C.

The finalists explained their goals in helping to solve one of the world issues, then demonstrated their products to an audience that included a panel of judges. One winning team from each of the two categories was selected to represent the U.S. in the world finals in Poland this July.

The winning team in the video game design division was team To Be Announced. (“To Be Announced” is the team’s actual name,) Their game was about a boy who lives in a third-world country slum and has to overcome obstacles to meet his basic needs: finding food, water and shelter.

The name of the game is Sixth, based on the fact that one in six people in the world live in slums. The team said that it’s a fun game that was created to raise people’s awareness of poverty, and can be played by people from any country.

Other games include one where the player is a robot, and the robot tries to pick up as much trash as he can in a race against time.

Photo: Grand Prize Winnters - Anthony Salcito, Microsoft vice president of Worldwide Education, poses with the two grand prize winners at the U.S. Imagine Cup Finals. Standing from left to right are Will Isenhour, Danny Helms, Jonathan Mead and Nic Colley, of Team To Be Announced, the grand prize winners in the game design category; Salcito; Mark Hindsbro, Microsoft’s general manager of the Developer and Platform Evangelism Group; and Helena Xu, Kavon Gaffari, Wilson To, and Audrey Lee of Team Mobilife, grand prize winner of the software design category.

Nic Colley, a member of the winning team, stated that having a competition made participants push themselves further than they might have otherwise to make their ideas a reality.

Carol Pahr attended the event and was enthusiastic about what she saw. “Technology has amazing possibilities, and what better use than to use them for positive change while having fun?”

Many teams mentioned that they wanted to continue exploring technology and its possibilities, and even if they did not win, would continue to use their skills and projects to help the make the world a better place.