Teacher Spotlight: Mario Flores

by Nikki Chow


TEACHER: Mario Flores
CITY: Reseda, CA
SCHOOL: Reseda Charter High School
SUBJECT AREA: Computer Science, Game Design, Generative Art and Design

Mario Flores is an all-star teacher from Reseda, California. Mario has been a participating teacher in the Student Challenge for 4 years and we’re excited to say he’s coming back again for more! He was one of 5 amazing teachers who received the 2022 Student Challenge Leadership Award for their incredible work and dedication to bringing the Student Challenge to their schools. Let’s hear more from Mario about his teaching experience and some fun facts about his favorite games!

Q: Do you consider yourself a gamer? What is your favorite game? What got you interested in teaching game design?

A: Yes, 100%. I have many favorite games. One of my favorites is Zelda Ocarina of Time. 

Q: What got you interested in teaching game design?

A: I love teaching game design because it gives students the opportunity to explore so many different fields of interest. 

Q: What type of environment do you strive to create in your classroom?

A: I like to create a classroom environment where students are free to make mistakes and help each other grow. 

Q: What made you decide to participate in the G4C Student Challenge? What was your experience with video games before?

A: I love the G4C Student Challenge because it allows students to be creative, but with some important boundaries. I love how the themes for each Challenge address very important issues in our society. I believe this is my fourth year participating in G4C. My experience with video games before the Student Challenge was more of a consumer/gamer. Maybe I tried making one of two little games, but it wasn’t a main focus of mine.

Q: What types of skills are students building through this class/program? Do you have any anecdotal stories?

A: Collaboration, communication, problem solving, and mind growth skills. One of my favorite stories to tell people is that often I’m trying to help students debug their code and sometimes multiple students are trying together. And out of nowhere other students would take a look at the code and point out how we are missing a parenthesis or a semicolon and like magic everything works again!

Q: What do you like most about teaching game design?

A: I love problem solving and how students learn from each other and are willing to help others. And of course the part where we get to play games in class.

Q: Tell us about one (or more) of your students’ successes.

A: Last year was the first year I introduced VR development in my class and I had a student that didn’t enjoy the class. But as soon as the student was able to use the VR headset and start interacting with the 3D world, the student took ownership of their own learning and was able to create one of the best VR experiences in the class. 

Q: How has this program changed the way you teach?

A: I’m still learning, and I’ve been changing my curriculum to allow students enough time to complete the Student Challenge. I teach in a block schedule and I have new classes every 18 weeks or so. Spring semester classes are completely new from the Fall so I need to get students ready and there’s just not enough time. And Fall semester students are not in my classes so they are kind of on their own to finish the Student Challenge, which can be very challenging.

Q: What has been most surprising about teaching the program?

A: I shouldn’ be surprised, but there always seems to be a student who I didn’t expect to love the Challenge take over and shine.

BONUS Question! What was the first game you remember playing? Either analog or digital.

A: Mario Bros. NES