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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Dea Flores Turns Video Games into a Winning Science Fair Project

Transcript

Dea Flores Turns Video Games into a Winning Science Fair Project (Transcript)

It goes in this way, right?

Dea: I like to take APs and Honors a lot because it gives me extra points on my GPA. I have Computer Science Programs first period and Physiology for second, and third period I have AP U.S. History.

Narrator: Dea Flores is very busy.

Dea: Fourth period I have AP English. Fifth period I have Math Analysis, and after school, I have track.

Narrator: Instead of going to her local school, Dea commutes across town to Bravo Medical Magnet High School in East Los Angeles.

Dea: I didn't want to come to Bravo. I wanted to go to a different school. And my parents, they forced me to come here, and I hated them for it for, like, a couple of months, but then I understood they were right. As a Blue Ribbon School, it is a very great educational program.

Alan, you're my guinea pig?

I'll be your guinea pig.

Narrator: Dea is excelling at Bravo. She recently designed an experiment for her physiology class using biofeedback equipment and video games.

Dea: Well, I came up with the hypothesis that people who play video games more might actually have a lower stress level than people who didn't. So I started asking people, "Do you consider yourself a gamer or not," and then I would test them.

So this electrode is going to be measuring your brain waves, so I'm going to put one electrode on your forehead and one electrode on your ear.

Dea: It was the same game on the same device for every person.

Alan was actually pretty stable through the whole thing, I guess, because of his familiarity with the game. Diana -- this is her practice -- when she started hitting, her stress level would start to go down.

Dea: I gave my presentation at the science fair, and I thought because I didn't have a solid conclusion, it wasn't a valid experiment. It turns out, I guess it was. I got first place in the category that I was placed in.

Exercise can actually reduce stress.

Right.

How could that work?

Well, that's something I still want to test because I still think that athletes will have a lower stress level just because they have an output for that stress.

Dea: They come to parent conferences all the time. They take my grades very seriously. They were like, "You're very smart. You just underestimate yourself."

See, it won't hit it. It doesn't reach. Something's wrong with the arm.

Dea: I guess they think I'm a good student.

Narrator: For more information about what works in education, go to Edutopia.org.

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Credits

Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis

Editor

  • Karen Sutherland

Associate Producers

  • Doug Keely
  • Kathy Baron

Camera Crew

  • Jeff Freeman
  • Rebecca Usnik

Additional Camera

  • Doug Keely
  • Ken Ellis

Video Programming Producer

  • Amy Erin Borovoy

Narrator

  • Michael Pritchard

Edutopia's Schools That Work Merging Career Tech and College Prep installment is supported by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.

Name: Dea Flores
School: Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School
Location: Los Angeles Unified School District
CTE: Engineering for Health Academy (EHA)
Year: Class of 2011

Seventeen-year-old Dea Flores couldn't help but notice her younger brother Alex's responses to playing video games: "He would scream at the screen if he wasn't winning or almost start to cry." Yet, he continued to play. Dea hypothesized that despite appearances, gaming might be releasing stress in him rather than increasing it. So she took her theory to school and hooked up classmates to a monitor while they played video games and measured their stress levels. Weeks later, Dea won the science fair award for her stress work. P.S.: Her brother Alex calmly hugged the award all the way home.

Dea's family immigrated from Mexico after her father's small business failed. Luis Flores had earned a college degree in Mexico, but in Los Angeles, the only work he found was in a warehouse. Dea's mom, Sandra Zuniga, works as a housekeeper. They live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in a small complex that opens onto a lush rose garden. Dea and Alex sleep in the modest family room.

From their home, Dea can see the University of Southern California. She's been watching the USC students come and go for years, and she dreams of joining them one day. Knowing that her neighborhood high school wouldn't get her there, she jumped at the opportunity when a middle school teacher recommended Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School. "I wanted to get out of my neighborhood."

She admits Bravo is not perfect: last year, budget cuts forced them to enroll more students than feels comfortable, and there's a small group of students dealing drugs on campus. That's more of a nuisance than a menace to Dea, who spends her time running track and studying. She dreams of becoming a surgeon, but dreads the thought of giving people bad news. Then, bringing to mind her award-winning science project, she adds, "I don't think I could handle the stress."

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