SAWYER, N.D. (KXNET) — Sawyer Public Schools is starting its first year of drone racing and e-sports, and nine students are participating in the e-sports and drone racing program.
“Me and my dad we would fly drones all the time so I wanted to kind of get more experience for when we do it again,” said Kaytin student at Sawyer School.
However, students of all skill levels can join the team.
“We began looking into it because we were having such low participation in some of our co-op extra-curriculars and we really wanted to expand the options and availability for our students here on campus,” said Ryan Stockie, a physical education teacher and athletic director at Sawyer Public School.
Helping them work together this program is teaching kids how to work as a team.
“I like the fact that it is a lot more hands-on and the coach is great. I like the fact that there is a lot of team engagement in it,” said Nathan, a student at Sawyer School.
They recently got $5,000 from SRT Communications to help kick-start their new sport.
“We have five basically gaming spec computers they are kind of mid-tier. And they run simulators, we have the transmitters that actually control the drones that run the simulator. And then we also have four drone kits with VR goggles so they can practice flying the actual drones,” said Stockie.
However, equipment is not the only way the money is being spent.
“Some of the money goes towards registration and program fees and it also gives us the opportunity to offer the program at a variety of registration costs for the students so we can offer sponsorships if they need it,” said Stockie.
Participating and competing in this also helps prepare students for their future endeavors.
“What we see is there is a lot of availability in the drone field and so that’s everything from software to program design to actually flying the drones as well as repairing the drones. Some careers we have been exposed to through different expos and stuff are in the agriculture field there is a lot in the energy sector, safety inspections, photography for real estate,” said Stockie.
One student says it’s not only fun, it’s also hard.
“I think it is challenging to fly the drones in the simulator because the jump from beginner to intermediate was really far apart,” said Charli, a student at Sawyer School.
KX News Corbin Warnock got to try the drone simulator and it was not easy, he was having a difficult time flying these air vehicles.
Not only does this program help students learn how to fly drones it helps them in other aspects of life as well.
“We believe that students interacting with each other in a positive productive way can really help to improve their social skills and kind of understanding group dynamics and seeing how teamwork can work, how you can help each other out. Also teaching them in teachable moments how some of the things they might say can be hurtful or derogatory to others. And ways they can help to boost each other’s confidence and self-esteem,” said Stockie.
“Hanging out with my team, some exercise, and just being able to hang out and have fun,” said Jahmal, a student at Sawyer School.
And although the state tournament was canceled, come this March they’ll hold another one.
Drone racing is only one part of this program they also have e-sports.