When Cory Robertson was a kid, he would rush home after school and spend the evenings playing The Legend of Zelda and Mario Brothers games on his Nintendo gaming console. His parents, like most of those in his generation, insisted that he turn off the games and focus on school; they thought gaming would never lead to a well-paid job. Today, Cory is the Director of Digital Education Services at the Anaheim Elementary School District where he and his team are pioneering the first elementary eSports curriculum in the nation- quite possibly the first in the world.

The eSports industry, also known as gaming, is the largest economic sector in the entertainment industry and generates more than $108 billion a year. Many higher education institutions have taken notice and currently 940 universities throughout the United States offer degrees in gaming, with many also offering scholarships and opportunities for students to compete on elite collegiate teams.

But most gamers are first exposed to the world of eSports years before they set foot on a college campus, often starting to develop their gaming skills in elementary school. With this context in mind, AESD is now offering the Nurturing Positive Competitors curriculum which, in addition to providing the opportunity to advance their gaming skills, provides students with the framework to explore career opportunities, establish healthy habits, and develop positive citizenship values that are applied in the eSports world and in their daily life.

“We are excited to once again be at the forefront of innovative educational programs that prepare our students for success in the 21st Century,” said Dr. Chris Downing, Superintendent of AESD. “Our students live in the epicenter of where the top technological and gaming companies are located, and our schools are committed to preparing them with the skills and knowledge to be ready for those coveted jobs.”

Southern California is home to many of the world’s top gaming companies, and UC Irvine offers one of the premiere college degree programs in the field. As part of the program, students get to engage with industry experts, both with in-person mentoring sessions, as well as with online sessions. They get to see first-hand the variety of jobs available with gaming companies, and what college and career pathways can get them there.

The program is being piloted at 8 AESD schools and includes 9 weeks of instruction. Participating students will be putting their skills on display this Saturday, May 18, 2019 at the Play. Code. Compete. event, which is a district-wide showcase of AESD students’ work in coding, robotics and eSports. Also at the event will be the debut of MOBA (Mobile Online Bus of Anaheim), a mobile tech bus filled with Nintendo Switches, Nintendo LABO kits, and other activities that will take STEAM activities and internet connectivity out to the children of Anaheim in their own neighborhoods.

Who: Anaheim Elementary School District
What: Play.Code.Compete. eSports, Coding, and Robotics Showcase Event
When: Saturday, May 18, 2019
Where: Betsy Ross Elementary School, 535 S. Walnut St., Anaheim, CA 92802

About Anaheim Elementary School District

The Anaheim Elementary School district serves more than 16,000 students at 23 campuses in the City of Anaheim, making it the largest elementary school district in Orange County and the second largest in the State of California. AESD is committed to providing engaging and equitable learning opportunities for all students through STEAM, Dual Language, and music education programs in TK through 6th grade. Award-winning schools, innovative programs, and one-of-a-kind community partnerships make AESD an educational leader in the region that prepares students for success in the 21st Century.