Xavier Downey believes in science with practical applications.
There's a running theme to all his experiments:
• Can playing Wii games serve as a form of exercise? (Yes — the pulse of those playing Wii tennis goes up as though they were exercising.)
• Can video games distract someone from pain? (Yes — those playing video games reported less pain from having their hands submerged in ice than those who weren't playing video games.)
• Are standard video game controllers better than "real world"-style specialized controls? (Yes — the players using a steering wheel-style controller did measurably better at a racing game than those using a traditional video game controller.)
It should come as no surprise that Downey is a fifth-grader at Lime Street Elementary School.
"I just love video games," he explained.
It's worked for him: For the second year in a row, Downey has brought home a gold medal from the San Bernardino County science fair. He's also won first place at Lime Street for three years in a row, and won first place in the Hesperia Unified School District in third and fifth grades and won third place when he was in fourth grade.
With a victory at the county level, Downey explained he gets to go the state science fair.
"I think we have a future engineer," said Lime Street vice-principal Kathy Miller, who also coordinated this year's science fair. "He loves to tinker and experiment."
Downey has no idea what he wants to do with his life yet — he's only 10, after all — but he has the support of his family for his science, up to a point.
"They thought it was a good idea, but 'after these projects, put on your shoes and go outside,'" he recalled his mother telling him.
Next year's science fair is still a long way off, and Downey doesn't yet know what his experiment will be next time around.
"Not yet. Probably another video game (experiment)."
Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.