Message from a Grant Recipient: 

Originally, we had a Robotics club that met after school once a week.  We were struggling to keep members in the club interested in the club as we did not have the funds or the time to become a competitive team in robotics.  Competing schools have classes on robotics (rather than just clubs) making it very difficult for us to keep up.  We also did not have the funds to buy what we needed even though we did have two robots.  So this is when we reached out for a Heartland Grant.

However, at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, students approached us about starting an Esports Gaming Club.  After some research, we found that there were new esports clubs all over our state and learned about how many colleges had esports clubs as well.  There is a group in Nebraska under NSESA to determine gaming seasons, rules, and matches.  Games are played on Nintnedo switches and on PC Gaming Computers.  With all of the student interest, we decided to change our club to an Esports Club. We then used the Heartland STEM grants (including the teacher grant) to buy two Nintendo Switches and two Mario Kart games.  We now have 10-12 students that meet at least twice a week after school to practice or compete. 

The students most interested in a video gaming club are students that are not normally involved in other high school extracurricular activities. They tend to fall into a demographic that spends hours of time gaming at home either alone or with people online they do not even know. Bringing these students together to create teams, practice with peers, and learn how to strategize together is teaching many of these students skills they may not have yet developed.  They are also improving their communication, sportsmanship, and social skills. These are all skills that will impact them throughout their life in both their careers and relationships which is why we feel this is so important.

As our club continues to grow and as we move to the PC Games as well, we will be applying for more grants.  At this time, we are extremely thankful for the Heartland STEM grants and would not be where we are today without them!