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Gilbert, Arizona Public Schools Channel Esports Program as a CTE Pathway

May 16, 2023

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Through the use of esports, Robby LaPlante, a teacher at Gilbert Public Schools, has begun utilizing his esports classroom as a CTE pathway for students.

Video games have become an increasingly popular medium for enhancing learning and preparing students for future careers in STEM, coding, marketing, and other related fields. As technology advances, countless schools are finding new innovative ways to incorporate video games into education to promote engagement, motivation, and retention of information.

For Desert Ridge High School in Gilbert, Arizona, this comes in the form of an esports classroom. Once, a center for students to have fun and play games as an extracurricular opportunity. Now refocused, as a CTE pathway and a way to enhance learning by connecting coding, STEM, and other fields, allowing students to surprisingly have fun and learn at the same time.

A student at Desert Ridge High School plays the popular title “League of Legends”, a game known for its emphasis on teamwork, communication, and quick thinking to win.

I’ve been thinking about getting into technological stuff for a while. Esports has opened my eyes to more, profitable ideas, such as working the [backside] of esports. I could [work in] IT, with sound, or I could be a player.-Jovan, student at Desert Ridge High School

Using video games in education offers numerous benefits. For one, games are incredibly engaging, which can help students stay motivated and interested in the material being taught. Additionally, video games can improve students' retention of information by providing hands-on learning experiences and feedback mechanisms that allow them to learn at their own pace.

But video games offer more than just engagement and retention benefits. They can also help develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills, all of which are crucial for success in future careers. At Desert Ridge High School, many students participate in group projects, creating their own games, while learning the different career paths in video games and esports and furthering their skills in game-making tools such as Unity, a game-making platform, and Blender, used in 3D modeling. Both of which rely heavily on knowledge of computer science and coding. Classrooms find success in use of the USAEL’s Game Development 1 courses, teaching the fundamentals of game-making through breaking down how student’s favorite games function and operate.

I do a simple board game project with students to show that there is complexity to strategically mapping out the assignment and what it takes to make a game with rules and be creative. Some of the skills that my kids have really advanced themselves in [is] a lot of communication.-Robby LaPlante, esports instructor

In the realm of STEM education, video games can be particularly helpful in teaching complex concepts in a fun and accessible way. For example, games like Minecraft can be used to teach basic coding skills, while Rocket League can be used to teach physics concepts like motion and force. Both of which are included within our partner, Mastery Coding’s, Camps and Clubs offerings as an addition to the USAEL. Connecting fundamental lessons like societal functions, physics, and engineering through a medium students understand and have developed a passion for.

There are many ways video games can apply to learning and the USAEL looks forward to the continued success of Desert Ridge High School’s esports program. With goals of providing students with pathways to industry-recognized certifications, job opportunities, and in-demand skills, the students at Desert Ridge High School are equipped to pursue their dreams and be successful in their future careers.

About the USAEL

We channel students’ passion for video games into career and college readiness. Our turnkey curriculum, competitive extracurricular opportunities, and career/college exploration provide an engaging environment for students to learn of the many opportunities in esports, video games, and STEM futures.

For more information visit https://usacademicesports.com/


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