Frequently asked questions

About Playground Physics

What teachers are eligible?

Teachers are eligible if they teach science to students in grades 6, 7, or 8, and if they teach at a school that serves a high-need population in New York State. A high-need population is defined as at least 40% of students eligible for the student lunch program or 40% of students in racial/ethnic groups traditionally underrepresented in science careers.

What do participating teachers need to do?

Teachers agree to:

  • Teach physics lessons during the 2021-22 school year (cohort 1 and cohort 2).
  • Attend the Playground Physics professional development (6-hour equivalency) in either October 2021 (cohort 1) or June 2022 (cohort 2)
  • Participate in an online community of practice (1 – 2 hours per month; cohort 1)
  • Implement the three Playground Physics in either the 2021-22 (cohort 1) or 2022-23 (cohort 2).
  • Distribute parent information forms and let AIR know if any parents withhold consent for their children to participate in fall 2021 (cohort 1 and cohort 2).
  • Distribute assessment of physics knowledge and survey of science attitudes to students during the 2021-22 school year, both prior to and upon completion of physics instruction (cohort 1 and cohort 2).
  • Complete a teacher survey upon completion of physics instruction in spring 2022 (approximately 20 minutes in duration; cohort 1 and cohort 2).

How long is the Playground Physics curriculum?

The Playground Physics Activity Guide is a supplemental curriculum comprising three middle school science units on motion, force, and energy. The units each have seven lessons and take 1–2 weeks to implement. The entire program takes 3–6 weeks to implement.

When and where is the teacher professional development?

The Playground Physics professional development , a six-hour equivalency, will led by NYSCATE during October 2021 or June 2022. A lottery will assign teachers to one of these two dates. NYSCATE expects to deliver the workshop remotely, but it is possible that they may offer regionally based workshop throughout New York.

Does Playground Physics align with the New York State Science Standards?

The Playground Physics curriculum addresses the New York State Science Learning Standards related to Forces and Interactions and Energy. The curriculum aligns to the following standards:

  • MS-PS2-1. Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.
  • MS-PS2-2. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object
  • MS-PS2-4. Construct and present arguments using evidence to support the claim that gravitational interactions are attractive and depend on the masses of interacting objects and the distance between them.
  • MS-PS3-1. Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object.
  • MS-PS3-2. Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.
  • MS-PS3-5. Construct, use, and present an argument to support the claim that when work is done on or by a system, the energy of the system changes as energy is transferred to or from the system.

What is the cost?

The professional development, Playground Physics app and supplemental curriculum materials are free for teachers and schools. The app and curriculum are a perpetual benefit to the school. (Some districts may have a contractual obligation to compensate teachers for participating in professional development.)

What are the device requirements?

Schools will provide iPads, laptop or desktop computers, or Chromebooks for classroom implementation. In most cases, 3 – 5 devices per classroom are sufficient. Playground Physics is compatible with Apple iPads and most Chromebook, laptop, and desktop devices with a camera. Playground Physics is not compatible with Apple iPhones. Additional information is provided on the Device Compatibility page. Get it in the website or on iTunes.

What space and equipment is required?

The Playground Physics app is centered on leveraging students’ play and movement to learn physics content. Many of the lessons in the Teacher Guide involve students filming videos that are best recorded in a space that is larger than a classroom, but Playground equipment is not required; students can record anywhere they have space using any materials or equipment they have on hand.

Suggested locations:

  • Gym
  • Auditorium
  • Hallway
  • Rearrange Classroom
  • Common Areas Outside
  • Sports Fields
  • Backyard or Front lawn
Suggested equipment:
  • Sports ball
  • Jump rope

Will teachers get Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) credits for participting in the professional development workshop?


About the Study

Does the study comply with EdLaw 2D?

AIR’s data collection procedures are fully in compliance with New York State’s education law (Title 1, Article 1, Section 2-D) about student data privacy and confidentiality. AIR will protect student privacy and ensure that their responses are confidential. Only the AIR research team will have access to the data. No one at any other organization, including the student’s teacher, will have access to any data collected in this study. We will obtain any electronic data files using a secure file transfer protocol.

Does the Playground Physics app collect any data from students?

The iPad app and website do not collect any student level data, including personally identifiable information (PII). he website collects simple information such as the number of visitors to the website, what web browser visitors are using, and how users accessed the site such as through a link or direct input of the web address. The app and website are in compliance with the Federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The videos created via the app remain on the local device and are not connected to any central database.

How long does the students survey and assessment take?

The physics knowledge assessment takes 20 – 30 minutes to complete, and the survey takes 10 – 15 minutes.

How are the student survey and assessment administered?

The student survey and physics knowledge assessment are administered using a web-based platform. Schools may choose to administer them synchronously (such as all students taking them during the same class period) or asynchronously (for example, as an assignment completed outside of the class meeting time).