U.S. Drone Soccer is aerial combat at its most combustible—with a little bit of STEM baked in.
If you’re looking to excite kids, aerial wrecks are not a bad place to start. U.S. Drone Soccer, Colorado’s newest youth league, checks that box—and more. “It looks a lot like Quidditch,” says Kyle Sanders, vice president of education and development for U.S. Drone Soccer. “I would have called it drone hockey, because it’s a fun, physical game.” The rules are simple: Two teams of three to five drones apiece enter a caged arena, while pilots are just outside the field of play. Each squad’s designated “striker” tries to pilot her drone through the opponent’s goal (a hoop suspended at the opposite end of the “field”) while the rival side’s drones try to stop it—that is, smash it into oblivion. But the game’s technicalities are, well, technical, and part of the appeal. Masquerading as aerial combat, U.S. Drone Soccer is actually a STEM strategy, dispensing curriculum for sixth to 12th graders on how to build, program, and fly drones. Sanders is beginning in Colorado, where Atlanta-based U.S. Drone Soccer is partnering with Denver’s Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum to launch its first league this month. Westminster High School and Colorado Springs’ Coronado and Mitchell high schools will serve as test pilots, ushering in a new generation of top guns.