Game Jam

Are you looking for a way to inspire curiosity, creativity, collaboration, optimism, and problem-solving skills in your students or youth group? Educational Game Jams do that and more! Games can help address real-world challenges, encourage systems thinking, and promote active engagement, making them particularly well suited to conservation education.

Congratulations to these Game Jam 2024 Teams!

This year 10 teachers / schools participated and their grade 3-12 students submitted 41 games!

Grade 3-5 Analog First Place

  • Forest Defenders – Colin and Hudson, Aldo Leopold Intermediate, Burlington
  • Animal Habitation – Philip and Maria, Decorah HSAP

Grade 3-5 Analog Second Place

  • Save the Endangered Species – Haley L, Haley K, Rebecca; Edgewood-Colesburg Elementary School
  • Save the Savanna – Eliza, Stella, Ariyah, Brantley; Cedar River Academy at Taylor, Cedar Rapids

Grade 3-5 Analog Third Place

  • Trash Dash – Kimberly and Charlotte, Aldo Leopold Intermediate, Burlington
  • Windmill Construction – Bella, McLane, Ethan; Edgewood-Colesburg Elementary School
  • Population Project – Knox, Keegan, Adijan, Jackson; Orange Elementary, Waterloo

Grade 6-8 Analog

  • First Place: Invasion – Ramona, Kate, Emma, and Reagan; Holmes Jr High, Cedar Falls
  • Second Place: Farmer’s Invasion – Ryder and Ella, Aldo Leopold Intermediate, Burlington

Grade 9-12 Analog

  • First Place: Eco-opoly – Ian, Grayson, Colton; Wilton Jr-Sr High School
  • Second Place: Fish Attack – Marshall, Logan, Evelina; Wilton Jr-Sr High School
  • Third Place: – Beeland – Ellie Khloe, Ryleigh; Wilton Jr-Sr High School

Digital Winners

  • 3-5: Catch and Release – Henry and Tanner, Aldo Leopold Intermediate, Burlington
  • 6-8: Awesome Aces – Ethan, Tommy, Olin, Garrett; BCLUW Middle School
  • 9-12: Fish Adventures – Donovan, Zak, Karter; Harlan Community School District


Educational Game Jams provide opportunities for students to develop games around a theme. They can inspire curiosity, creativity, collaboration, optimism, and problem-solving skills at any grade level.

An informational webinar was held on November 16, 2023. Watch the recorded webinar here (YouTube video).

The Iowa Environmental Game Jam is sponsored by ICEC and will highlight conservation topics of interest in Iowa. Click a button below for information, videos, and other resources to help you and your students.

Iowa Endangered Species Iowa's Prairies Protecting Iowa Waters

Iowa Invasive Species Renewable Energy Soil Health


game board

Details for the 2024 Game Jam

  • Open to students in grades 3-12 (Grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12)
  • Games can be analog (card games, board games, role playing games) or digital
  • Teams should be 2-5 students

All student teams must submit their game description and up to a 4-minute video by March 31, 2024 to be included in judging. A link to the submission form will be shared with all educators after they register.

  • Games will be judged and winners selected in April, 2024.
  • Winners will be selected for the following categories:
    • Grades 3-5, analog; Grades 3-5, digital
    • Grades 6-8, analog; Grades 6-8, digital
    • Grades 9-12, analog; Grades 9-12, digital
  • All topics will be combined for judging.

Getting Started

  • Introduction to Game Jam Webinar, YouTube video from November 16, 2023 Zoom session – Learn how to get started, tips for creating fun, educational games, and the rules for submitting your game to be entered in the statewide contest.
  • Game Formats
    • Analog game – The game should only use non-digital components. Typical examples include board games, card games, or role-playing games. Games must be in a playable form at the end of the event. The category is useful for either short or long events and is suited for locations with limited technology.
    • Basic digital game – Games can be remixed from an existing game in the community or use a digital game platforms (e.g., Scratch, Gamestar Mechanic, Pixel Press’ Floors and Bloxels, Roblox, or GameSalad). Minecraft can be used if there is a clearly designed game experience within a Minecraft World and there is a clear goal for a player to achieve within the Minecraft world with clear constraints. Teachers can also use interactive fiction tools to create a text adventure based on the theme (e.g., Twine, InkleWriter, Episodes).

Topic Resources

Iowa Endangered Species

Iowa’s ecosystems and dominant prairie landscape have changed greatly since Iowa achieved statehood. Many changes to the state include prairie reduction, deforestation, channelization of streams and rivers, soil erosion, urbanization, and the increase in production agriculture. Changes to the landscape impacts the plants and animals that depend on that landscape – both for the good and bad.

Threatened species are any plant or animal at risk of becoming endangered in the near future. Endangered species are any plant or animal at risk of becoming extinct in their natural environment or specific range. The population decline may be due to changes in habitat quality, poaching (illegal hunting), invasive species competing for the same resources, and human impact to the biosphere. There are state and federal lists of threatened and endangered plants and animals, as well as state and federal laws for protection.

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Iowa’s Prairies

Introduction: Iowa was once a land covered by vast prairies. While thick woodlands bordered the many rivers and streams and covered much of northeast Iowa, prairies still dominated the landscape.  Prairie grasses and flowers covered approximately 85 percent of Iowa.  Wetlands dotted the prairie landscape, and a large variety of wildlife lived in Iowa’s prairies and prairie wetlands. Only 0.1% of the original Iowa prairies remain. Many people are working to reintroduce prairie species back to help Iowa’s soils, provide wildlife habitat and protect water quality.

Protecting Iowa Waters

Water is something everyone encounters everyday. Most people don’t realize how big a role water plays in their lives. We drink it, use it to clean ourselves and our things, and many other things. What happens if our water isn’t clean? Iowa is a farming state. Crops rely on water. The water on Earth is not forever, it is cycled out through the water cycle. Even though the water cycle cycles water out, it is not always clean because of water pollution.

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Iowa Invasive Species

Invasive species can be seen all over the globe and are defined as a species that is not indigenous, or non-native, to the area in which it has been found. Species listed as invasive can be very damaging to native species and can be a driving force in species decline. An invasive species will outcompete native species for water, food, and shelter. Invasive species can also become a new predator or even an apex predator in an environment/habitat.

The zebra mussel is a perfect example of an invasive species that were introduced from areas of Russia and Ukraine. In the United States, zebra mussels dominate freshwater by filtering the algae that is needed as food for native mollusks. Zebra mussels are also known to attach themselves to native mollusks essentially suffocating and incapacitating them. On top of harming native species, zebra mussels also attach themselves to boat propellers and be transferred to another water body. There are signs posted at many boat ramps to check for zebra mussels and to remove them.

Another example of an invasive species is garlic mustard. This plant is non-native to Iowa but can currently be found everywhere in Iowa. When introduced into the state, garlic mustard began spreading at a rapid rate and overtaking land. If found, the Department of Natural Resources recommends pulling the garlic mustard and its roots out of the ground and dispose of it away from the rest of the vegetation.

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Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is energy derived from natural sources that are replenished at a higher rate than they are consumed. Sunlight and wind, for example, are such sources that are constantly being replenished. Renewable energy sources are plentiful and all around us.

One example of a renewable energy source is the wind. Iowa is the second-largest wind power producer in the United States, after Texas. In Iowa, renewable energy produced by wind turbines provides 62% of the power needed in the state. Wind development in Iowa began more than 25 years ago, and supports thousands of Iowans employed in manufacturing, construction, operations and maintenance, and more.

Renewable Energy Works for Iowa

The strongest winds occur in northwestern Iowa, and although there are wind farms across the state, most are in the state’s northern and western areas. The potential for further wind development in Iowa is great.

About 3% of Iowa’s in-state electricity generation in 2022 came from renewable energy resources other than wind, with hydroelectric power, solar energy, and biomass each contributing a small amount of the state’s electricity. The largest of Iowa’s four hydroelectric power plants, the Keokuk plant, is 110 years old. It is the largest privately-owned and operated dam and hydroelectric plant on the Mississippi River. The state’s biomass resources include landfill gas and agricultural biodigesters that both produce methane gas as fuel for electricity-generating facilities. Iowa is the top fuel ethanol-producing state in the nation and has about one-fourth of the nation’s total fuel ethanol production capacity.

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Soil Health

Soil is critical for life. Soil acts as a water filter and a growing medium. It provides habitat for billions of organisms,contributing to biodiversity. Soil provides many of the antibiotics used to fight diseases. Humans use soil to filter wastewater and is the foundation for our cities and towns. Finally,soil is the basis of our nation’s agricultural systems providing us with food, fiber and fuel. Soil is a nonrenewable natural resource. Soil organic matter filters and cleans water, helping with water retention and storage. It can lessen the impacts of extreme weather events. Good land practices can improve the soil, reducing erosion. It can provide habitats for microscopic life which serve as the start of important ecosystem food webs.

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Contact ICEC for additional questions!