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 Students Connect During Esports Tournament

About 150 students recently got together virtually to build skills related to collaboration, strategy, and leadership through online video games as part of an esports tournament.

The Oct. 3 esports tournament was hosted by the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) as a way to give students the opportunity to compete and work as a team in a safe manner during the pandemic. The students worked together in online breakout rooms to discuss strategy and teamwork.

"The tournament was a big success," said Dr. Alicia Gallegos Butters, director of educational technology for SDCOE. "All of the students did a fantastic job."

The free tournament was split into two sections: a Minecraft build challenge and a Fortnite challenge.

For the Minecraft challenge, students had 90 minutes to create a visual representation of a modern-day hero through the online game. Some of the heroes included doctors, firefighters, and superheroes.

In the Fortnite challenge, students worked together to defend their characters and objects from zombie-like creatures.

"It was amazing being a coach," said Dr. Erin English, executive director of innovation for SDCOE, who coached her grandson's team. "I was able to watch how excited all the kids got because they were involved in something outside of their school. This gave them a chance to interact."

Esports are about more than just video games. The North American Scholastic Esports Federation has curriculum and other learning resources that teachers can use to augment students' participation in the leagues. This includes free curriculum that SDCOE and the esports federation created that focuses on social and emotional learning within the context of positive gaming.

"We are excited about the opportunities that esports bring to our students," said Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County superintendent of schools. "It's important to give our students as many ways as possible to connect with school in a meaningful way."