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The University of Utah is Offering Scholarships to Video Gamers

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Video gaming has evolved a lot in the more than four decades since home consoles became available. Once dismissed as empty entertainment, games have become the fulcrum for big-money league tournament play, rehabilitation therapy, and have even taken up residence in the Smithsonian. Thanks to the University of Utah, they’ll also be a portal of entry into a college education.

Bloomberg reports that the school is prepared to offer partial scholarships for competitive video gamers beginning in fall 2017, with full scholarships for up to 35 students possible in the near future.

The University of Utah plans on organizing a “varsity e-sports team,” a squad of players to jump on the competition circuit backed by Riot Games, makers of the popular League of Legends title. There are also plans to form teams for other games at a later date. Scholarships will be awarded following tryouts, with $1000 awarded to those who make the cut.

While colleges have recruited gamers in the past, the University of Utah’s move is notable due to its status as a “Power Five” athletic conference, a financially-sound school that places a strong emphasis on athletics. Their endorsement of gamers as part of a competitive population could signal a new era for collegiate sports—one where pixels replace grass and participants never have to get up from the bench.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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Tulane University Offers Free Semester to Students Affected by Hurricane Maria
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As Puerto Rico continues to assess the damage left by Hurricane Maria last month, one American institution is offering displaced residents some long-term hope. Tulane University in New Orleans is waiving next semester’s tuition fees for students enrolled at Puerto Rican colleges prior to the storm, Forbes reports.

From now until November 1, students whose studies were disrupted by Maria can apply for one of the limited spots still open for Tulane’s spring semester. And while guests won’t be required to pay Tulane's fees, they will still be asked to pay tuition to their home universities as Puerto Rico rebuilds. Students from other islands recovering from this year’s hurricane season, like St. Martin and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are also welcome to submit applications.

Tulane knows all too well the importance of community support in the wake of disaster. The campus was closed for all of the 2005 fall semester as New Orleans dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. During that time, schools around the world opened their doors to Tulane students who were displaced. The university wrote in a blog post, “It’s now our turn to pay it forward and assist students in need.”

Students looking to study as guests at Tulane this spring can fill out this form to apply.

[h/t Forbes]

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Pablo, a Groundbreaking New BBC Series, Teaches Kids About Autism
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Autism spectrum disorder affects one in 68 kids in the U.S., but there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the nature of the condition and what it feels like to have it. As BuzzFeed reports, a new British children’s program aims to teach viewers about autism while showing kids on the spectrum characters and stories to which they can relate.

Pablo, which premiered on the BBC’s kids’ network CBeebies earlier this month, follows a 5-year-old boy as he navigates life with autism. The show uses two mediums: At the start of an episode, Pablo is played by a live actor and faces everyday scenarios, like feeling overstimulated by a noisy birthday party. When he’s working out the conflict in his head, Pablo is depicted as an animated doodle accompanied by animal friends like Noa the dinosaur and Llama the llama.

Each character illustrates a different facet of autism spectrum disorder: Noa loves problem-solving but has trouble reading facial expression, while Llama notices small details and likes repeating words she hears. On top of demonstrating the diversity of autism onscreen, the show depends on individuals with autism behind the scenes as well. Writers with autism contribute to the scripts and all of the characters are voiced by people with autism.

“It’s more than television,” the show’s creator Gráinne McGuinness said in a short documentary about the series. “It’s a movement that seeks to build awareness internationally about what it might be like to see the world from the perspective of someone with autism.”

Pablo can be watched in the UK on CBeebies or globally on the network's website.

[h/t BuzzFeed]

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