Pretty cool, actually.
Jessica Dunegan watched her high school students fly drones through a maze of hula-hoops, cardboard and chairs last year for an end-of-year assignment in robotics class.
The San Antonio-area teacher was amazed by the teamwork, engagement and drone-flying skills the teens developed during the project.
“I had other students that I had never seen look at the drones and be like, ‘Oh, this is so cool,’ ” she said. “So then that got my thoughts spinning … How can I open this up for even more people?”
She is now petitioning the University Interscholastic League to add drone racing as an academic competition for any Texas high school students who wish to participate. Sanctioning the activity would make it more uniform and help schools get funding, she said.
In October, the council will vote on proposals from the public, including Dunegan’s request, and then send them to the education secretary for final approval, according to the league.
If approved, a pilot drone competition would be added to the state’s academic programs beginning next August, according to Dunegan’s proposal. The first contest would be held in spring 2023 for high school students in any district that wishes to participate.
Drone racing involves participants navigating through obstacle courses with drones. Dunegan said it helps kids learn about mechanical engineering, software engineering, physics and algebra as well as teamwork, innovation and critical thinking.
Although it remains a fledgling sport, some people compete at a professional level. The Drone Racing League holds international competitions in which pilots control drones equipped with cameras to navigate a complex race course.
For now, Dunegan is working to drum up interest around Texas to back up her proposal to the UIL.
As the story notes, water polo was added in 2019. I’m looking at the UIL website to see what the process is for requesting a new sport, but I don’t see anything obvious. Probably just best to contact them and ask. You might do that as well if you like this idea and want to support it. I’m rooting for them.