Watch now: Mattoon High School to add drone soccer program – Journal Gazette and Times-Courier

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MATTOON — Mattoon High School students will soon be able to compete on a drone soccer team after receiving funding from Consolidated Communications.
“My personal goal on it was more about giving our students an opportunity to be involved in something different,” said Chris Brown, Mattoon High School career technical teacher. “Whether it be with drones or with aviation or just technology, it’s giving our students another opportunity to find their passion in life through technology.”
The high school was awarded $5,000 in funds from Consolidated Communications’ Consolidated Connects educational grant program to start the drone soccer team.
The Consolidated Connects grants support school and district initiatives within the company’s service area that advances creative student learning, develop 21st century skills, promote critical thinking and utilize innovative technologies.
“Our mission is to turn technology into solutions to connect people and enrich how they work and live,” said Shannon Sullivan, corporate communications manager at Consolidated Communications. “We’re really committed to supporting students in embracing a range of STEAM and STEM educational opportunities.”
A total of $42,000 was awarded to 12 schools, including Mattoon High School, as well as Eastern Illinois University’s Education for Employment system and the Effingham School District.
Sullivan said the grant program was started in 2020 and awards funds annually through an application process that sees a variety of pitches from virtual and augmented reality opportunities to remote learning solutions. Though the drone soccer program was something they have not seen before.
Brown, who submitted the application, said he learned about the sport at a professional development program in October in Colorado where they visited a school district that had their own drone soccer program.
After further research, Brown said he learned more about the United State Drone Soccer League and how it’s gained traction in states like Colorado and New York. The game is played in an enclosed arena between two teams composed of at least three players and each player controls a drone with only one player on each team allowed to score with their drone.
Each team member controls a drone fitted with a protective cage to prevent any collisions and are given time between periods to repair their drone, change out batteries and make adjustments, Brown said.
“The best way to describe to someone who’s never seen it is mention quidditch from Harry Potter,” Brown said. “The objective is to keep that drone from scoring and the arena has a ring on each side and if a drone flies through the ring, that’s a point.”
Brown said the equipment needed has been ordered and the next step is to have another professional development program to train coaches to teach students how to assemble and program the drones.
Although the hope is to get other schools in area involved, Brown said they are planning to have students from the high school create their own teams and go up against each other in tournament that would be held at the end of the school year.
“I hope that it grows into something that the kids are interested in and withstands the test of time and becomes a sport like football where it’s been around for a while,” Brown said. “Hopefully it catches on in the area and we have other teams to compete with.”
Ground is broken for the Mattoon High School building trades 2021-2022 house construction project in the Meadowbrook Court neighborhood southwest of campus.
Students look over newly installed foundation concrete for the Mattoon High School building trades 2021-2022 house construction project in the Meadowbrook Court neighborhood southwest of campus.
The floor starts to take shape for the Mattoon High School building trades 2021-2022 house construction project in the Meadowbrook Court neighborhood southwest of campus.
The framework is in place for the Mattoon High School building trades 2021-2022 house construction project in the Meadowbrook Court neighborhood southwest of campus.
Exterior walls are being erected for the Mattoon High School building trades 2021-2022 house construction project in the Meadowbrook Court neighborhood southwest of campus.
Mattoon High School building trades student Kaden Junge has been taking photos to chronicle the 2021-2022 house construction project that he and his classmates have been working on in the Meadowbrook Court neighborhood southwest of campus.
Ground is broken for the Mattoon High School building trades 2021-2022 house construction project in the Meadowbrook Court neighborhood southwest of campus.
Students look over newly installed foundation concrete for the Mattoon High School building trades 2021-2022 house construction project in the Meadowbrook Court neighborhood southwest of campus.
The floor starts to take shape for the Mattoon High School building trades 2021-2022 house construction project in the Meadowbrook Court neighborhood southwest of campus.
The framework is in place for the Mattoon High School building trades 2021-2022 house construction project in the Meadowbrook Court neighborhood southwest of campus.
Exterior walls are being erected for the Mattoon High School building trades 2021-2022 house construction project in the Meadowbrook Court neighborhood southwest of campus.

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