I worked on a bunch of AAA titles back in the 90's, but I'm pretty much out of touch nowadays and I'm trying to figure out the best approach. The requirements are that it has to be one of either Windows/XBox or Android, since those are the platforms that I am current on. It has to be relatively simple for the kids to get up and running quickly, and it needs to be as close to free as possible. Teaching them to use stuff like Blender, C#, C++, Java, XNA, OpenGL and the Android SDK is probably a bit much.
I was thinking of something like the Torque Engine, but they want $1000 for an academic license, which is never going to happen. I simply don't know what's out there nowadays and could really use some suggestions."