STEM & STEAM

High Schools Add Esports Teams and Compete Regionally

Sioux Center High School in Iowa has added an esports club, which is being run by Assistant Technology Coordinator Ben Morley. According to local reporting, the club has chosen to join the High School Esports League, which runs several seasons of competitions each school year, which last for seven to eight weeks.

Morley said the biggest challenge so far has been coordinating time zones for gameplay. The team, which has a dozen students, has played against schools in Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas. Twelve is the magic number because that's how many computers capable of supporting gaming that the school has -- six borrowed from yearbook design work and another six built by the club from grant funding.

Right now, the focus is on Blizzard's Overwatch, which has two teams of six players facing off.

Another Iowa school, Newman Catholic High School in Mason, launched its esports playing as a senior capstone project. Senior Alan Fry kicked off the program at the behest of Principal Tony Adams. The project included building six gaming computers from components Fry and a couple of teammates specified and the school purchased. Local reporting also noted that the team had to "rearrange" the school's tech room to accommodate practice sessions.

Now the eight team members play League of Legends, Rainbow Six Siege and Rocket League, led by Coach and Technology Director, Lindsay Neuhring. The competitions are streamed on Twitch.TV and overseen by the Iowa High School Esports Association.

Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, KY is adding an esports program to its sports rundown. Sanctioned by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, the school has joined 40 others around the state that are already competing. The team will be coached by Dan Able, a science and robotics teacher and moderator of the Computer/Console Gamers Club, and Tyler Spears, a math and statistics teacher and competitive gamer.

"Gaming competitively is similar to a lot of other sports and competitions in the sense that it takes a considerable amount of time, practice and skill to do well," said Spears in a statement. "I look forward to sharing some of my past experiences in gaming and to spending the time necessary to make sure our students are some of the best in the state of Kentucky.

Representatives from five high schools from the New York City boroughs met this weekend to duke it out in a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Tournament with a Latin beat. Hosted by HITN-TV, a Spanish-language media company that offers educational and cultural programming and MediaPro Group's UBEAT, a multiplatform esports and gaming distributor of Liga de Videojuegos Profesional competitions, the event offered participants the chance to vie for a $2,000 grand prize, among other prizes, including gift cards and t-shirts.

The competition was live-streamed globally. The winning school in New York will face the winner of another tournament taking place in Chicago this month. The final tournament between New York City and Chicago will be held in May 2020.

"In the last decade we’ve seen esports grow from streamed underground events to worldwide, televised programs," said Michael Nieves, HITN's president and CEO. "However, we also noticed not enough Hispanic gamers and young women who enjoy video games are participating in this growing sport. That’s why HITN and UBEAT made sure to include young Hispanics and young women with this tournament."

Pennsylvania is pulling pulled together top high school esports players for an esports competition that normally draws collegiate teams. For the first time, players from the state's Interscholastic Esports Association will play in a series of matches for League of Legends and Overwatch. The contests begin on Mar. 10 and run through Mar. 28, when a grand finals challenge will take place in Harrisburg.

A teacher in a Texas district has begun developing a course called "Esports Careers and Technology," which will be used in two high schools in the fall. According to the Houston Chronicle, Humble Independent School District's Samuel Huston is basing the course on an existing one, to offer students the option of taking a career and technical education class that ties to their after-school activities.

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