Meet the Winners: Lexi Schneider

LexiSchneider1For 16-year-old Lexi Schneider of Dresher, Pennsylvania, the term STEM is missing something important—the letter “A”. An avid artist, her interest in video game design stems from her passion for creativity. Incorporating her love of both biology and graphic design, Lexi won the High School Game Design Document award in the 2015 National STEM Video Game Challenge for her original game, Body Builders. “For me it was more of a STEAM challenge,” she explains. “Creating my own game allowed me to express my artistic ideas in a game format.”

This is Lexi’s second win with the National STEM Video Game Challenge; she also took home the award for Best Written Middle School Game in 2013 for her game Head of the Class, set in a virtual school with animations inspired by classic comic strips. Since then, she’s been honing her design and programming skills, and spent a summer learning Java coding.

Lexi designed Body Builders to serve as a tool to get others interested in biology and science. “To me, just learning about biology is fun, but the challenge of designing a video game is to make it fun [and educational] for a wide audience,” says Lexi. In Body Builders, players travel through the human body watching videos, answering questions, and completing tasks in order to earn body parts and ultimately, build a complete body. Animations, 3D simulations, and incentives are used as teaching tools throughout the game to encourage engagement and keep players excited about what they’re learning.

Much of Lexi’s inspiration comes from her older brother, Martin. “He’s not only a great brother; he’s also a great coder,” she says. “He taught himself almost everything he knows about computer science, and inspired me to do the same.” Following his example, Lexi taught herself how to make all of the animations and graphics for Body Builders. “[Martin] inspired me to excel in my studies and learn more about areas I enjoy,” says Lexi. “ I hope that my game can inspire others in the same way.”

When she’s not designing video games or working on her latest art project, Lexi enjoys playing soccer, pole vaulting, reading, and playing with her dog, Beasley. Also a talented musician, she plays the saxophone, bassoon, and guitar. After high school, Lexi plans to study biology and medicine in the hopes of becoming a doctor. She encourages aspiring video game designers to think beyond technical limitations—no matter how crazy their ideas sound.

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