Exergamer & Hall of Famer Carrie Swidecki

Seven years ago, the Educator ran a story about the Panama-Buena Vista Teachers Association member, who used “Dance Dance Revolution” (DDR) to lose 75 pounds, introduced exergaming — the use of video games for physical activity — to her students at Sandrini Elementary School in Bakersfield, and broke the Guinness world record for playing DDR at more than 15 hours. She has since set even more impressive world records while raising funds to fight childhood obesity.

In 2017, Swidecki expanded her
exergaming teachings into STEAM
lessons: Her sixth-graders created
their own “Just Dance” video game,
studying choreography, learning
about lighting, using a green screen,
and shooting and editing video. They
skyped with the Paris-based team
from Ubisoft that created Just Dance,
and produced a vlog documenting
their experience. The project won the
National Student Power Showcase at
the national CUE conference.

“It was STEAM education at its
best,” Swidecki says. “Not only did
it focus on the importance of physical
education, but it opened the
window to prepare my students for
careers in technology.”

Swidecki sees her accomplishments
as helping teachers “to use
STEAM education and video games
in the classroom. We’re closing the
gap to truly prepare students for
careers in the language of today —
video games.”