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STEM Summit

Esports and Games As a Way to Reach and Motivate Students

This session aired at ScIC6 Science is Cool Virtual STEM Summit on Thursday, August 5, 2021.

Games are a critical resource for reaching and motivating students. This session will dive into the benefits of using games and esports as a way to reach and motivate students.


Elizabeth Newbury  Director of the Serious Games Initiative | The Wilson Center

Elizabeth M H Newbury is the Director for the Serious Games Initiative for the Wilson Center, leading Wilson's use of games in engaging the public around policy research. As lead of the Serious Games Initiative, she leverages games as a tool for the public communication of science and policy research, as well as amplifying research and initiatives on game-related fields, such as esports. She holds a B.A. in anthropology from Bryn Mawr College, and a Master and PhD from the Department of Communication at Cornell University, where her research interests revolved around understanding multiple dimensions of gaming audiences and the surrounding culture of those who play video games in the context of esports.


Mark "Garvey" Candella Director, Student & Education Programs | Twitch

Mark "Garvey" Candella is the Director of Student and Education Programs for Twitch and leads the Twitch Student Program. The Twitch Student Program is dedicated to creating gaming and esports opportunities for students and universities around the world. From humble beginnings as a Magic the Gathering professional player in 1993 and an avid pen and paper role player prior to that, he has been involved in the esports industry in various ways ever since. His message of inclusiveness, diversity, and collaboration is a personal philosophy deeply ingrained in every project he works on.


James O'Hagan  Founder and CEO | The Academy of Esports

James O'Hagan is a leader in connecting and promoting esports in education. He has had a role in starting and growing esports teams in two large urban school districts. He actively promotes esports as being a medium to something more for students beyond the games. His podcast, The Academy of Esports delves into topics surrounding esports and education and connecting into powerful ideas to increase student agency, motivation, and college and career pathways.


Lisa Milenkovic  Supervisor, STEM+Computer Science | Broward County Public Schools

Dr. Lisa Milenkovic is a STEM+Computer Science Curriculum Supervisor at Broward County Public Schools, the nation’s sixth largest district. Dr. Milenkovic is the lead for the District’s Regional Partnership for CS, the K-12 STEM Olympiad and robotics, environmental stewardship, and several other grant funded programs to engage students and teachers in STEM. She has a doctorate in Analytical Chemistry, with experience as a consultant in laboratory automation and training adult learners in technology applications. Dr. Milenkovic has elementary classroom experience as a K-5 science resource teacher and 5th grade classroom teacher. She is a grant recipient and awardee for innovative programs, currently leading a National Science Foundation CSforAll project to develop a model for integrating STEM and computer science in K-5 through problem-based learning, a Hewlett Foundation funded project to spread deeper learning practices, and several programs to support STEM for social good (#STEMpathy). Dr. Milenkovic believes EVERY student should find their STEM identity through experiencing an ever changing, diverse set of fun and engaging opportunities (including gaming, spatial computing, and citizen science) that provide  #STEMforALL.


Erik Leitner  STEM and Computer Science Instructional Facilitator | Broward County Public Schools & Chief Strategist | Florida Scholastic Esports League

Erik Leitner is a STEM and Computer Science Instructional Facilitator at Broward County Public Schools, the nation’s sixth largest district. Mr. Leitner is a facilitator for and a district co-coordinator for SECME, the county's K-12 STEM Olympiad. He is certified in both K-6 education and K-12 Computer Science.  A graduate of FAU, Mr. Leitner has worked for Broward County Schools for eighteen years; serving previously as a school-based science educator, science coach, and STEM coach.  For the past year, he has served as the Chief Strategist for Florida Scholastic Esports League focusing on statewide and global Minecraft program development.

Notes and Resources:

Esports Teminology Cheat Sheet 

Teaching Historical Concepts with Red Dead Redemption - The Academy of Esports Podcast Episode with with Dr. Tore Olsson

Pew Research on Gaming

Hour of Code Minecraft: A tale of two villages - for students 8+

Esports Teacher Academy - Free program running Augst 16-19 for teachers to learn how to build your K12 esports program, level up your coaching skills and grow your esports community

Esports & Education: How HBCUs are Leveling the Field 

Games Round Up: Artificial Intelligence 

Games Round Up: Quantum Computing 

Board Games Geek - List of games to use in the classroom or at home


Esports: Health and Safety at the Collegiate Level - article from The Wilson Center

Minecraft in Education 

The TEACH Symposium - A free virtual technology-focused professional learning opportunity

Esports: The Chess of the 21st Century - article on Frontiers in Psychology 

Esports Skills are People Skills - research paper from Academia

Esports Gaming and You - Educational Technology Journal article


ScIC6 STEM Summit Video Library


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