Who says video games aren't good for kids? They've actually revolutionized gym class in schools all over the country. So, it's only fitting the name of this new craze is Dance Dance Revolution.
Ask anyone why our nation has such a problem with childhood obesity, and they'll probably say video games are partly to blame. But that's not really accurate since Dance Dance Revolution arrived in the U.S.
Born nine years ago in the arcades of Japan, more than 100 schools are expected to be using the game by the end of the decade, including some right here in Evansville. And everyone is actually participating.
Plaza Park Middle School is bringing Dance Dance Revolution into physical education class.
Caitlyn DeMoss, sixth grader, says, "We didn't do that much. If we were girls; we just talked."
Zach Francis, another sixth grader, adds, "It was fun, but not always fun."
And that was a problem. Dale Naylor, P.E. teacher, describes, "We saw kids standing around in P.E., and it really bothered us. Our goal is to get kids moving."
So, teachers applied for grants to buy Dance Dance Revolution, and, suddenly, they were watching one unfold before their eyes. Gym class was cool!
"What we find is they can't wait to get started, and we can't get them off the pads at the end of class," says Naylor.
Take Charles Zimmerman for instance. He's actually gotten in trouble before for sneaking into the gym to dance. That's how he's gotten so good at it. "It just takes practice, lots of practice. I got it at home, too."
P.E. teachers know it's not just Charles who's working hard. Students wear heart rate monitors to make sure they're reaching their target zones and are graded on their consistency.
Unlike dodge ball, students aren't competing against each other. They're just trying to top their own scores. It's a concept that's working. Zimmerman says, "I lost like ten pounds off of this game."
Caitlyn says, "I've lost a couple pounds by doing it because I love doing DDR. It's fun."
Fun and universally appealing which may be a first for P.E. class!