11 Nov

Noyce IIMPACT Master Teaching Fellow (MTF) Berkil Alexander and Teaching Fellows (TFs) Philip Money and Tracey Beyer have partnered in a Professional Learning Community (PLC) to design game-based physics curriculum. Their goals include designing high school lessons using (1) existing videos of game environments (e.g. on YouTube), (2) new videos they capture from classic and cutting edge games that are relevant to students, and (3) designing interactive games that convey specific physics content for students to explore.

The PLC presented their approach and several lessons at the 2015 Noyce Retreat held at KSU on October 10th, and plan to present at the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) national winter conference in New Orleans, LA held January 9-12, 2016.

Samples of game-based lessons “by teachers, for teachers” are available on Dr. David Rosengrant’s faculty page (available here). Dr. Rosengrant advises the PLC, conducts educational research with the game-based curriculum, and has initiated collaborations with other faculty to advance the mission of the PLC (outlined below).



National Science Foundation (NSF) Noyce Scholarship Program

– The federal Noyce program supports the recruitment and development of NSF Teaching Fellows (TFs) and Master Teaching Fellows (TFs) by providing salary supplements and professional development opportunities.

– Goals of the program include increasing the number of teachers with strong Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) content backgrounds, and recruiting STEM professionals who might not have considered a career in K-12 teaching. (nsfnoyce.org)

Kennesaw State University’s (KSU) Noyce Project: I-IMPACT

– In 2010, KSU was awarded a $2.8 million grant for the Initiative to Inspire and Mentor Physics and Chemistry Teachers (I-IMPACT) focused on teacher leadership development.

– Participants are currently in their 3rd-4th project year, which is charged with moving “participant[s] in the professional community [from] a ‘consumer’ of resources, into the role of ‘contributor’.”

– TFs are “expected to become increasingly independent in their choice of leadership development opportunities that support their own professional goals.”

– MTFs are “encouraged to conduct sessions…designed to the content and pedagogical growth of TFs in the program” locally and “attend state, regional and national conferences” and conversations, ultimately “to help them become effective in the policy arena.”

– Excerpts are taken from the I-IMPACT proposal, which represents a contract with NSF

I-IMPACT Professional Learning Community (PLC)

– Combining the broad goals of the NSF Noyce program and the specific goals of the I-IMPACT project, we have designed several functional PLCs with tailored goals and distinct resource requirements.

– PLCs are organized around physics or chemistry content and pedagogy topics.

– PLCs are composed of MTFs who have completed leadership training, and TFs who have strong STEM content backgrounds from their STEM professional training and/or careers.

– PLCs are focused on improving student achievement.

PLC Development of Authentic Physics Computerized Game Lessons

– The PLC described in this outline is composed of pre-service, novice and experienced level Physics teachers.

– TF/MTFs have identified research-based approaches to engage physics students, differentiate instruction, incorporate technology in the classroom and positively impact student achievement using computerized game lessons.


To help students embrace physics through the use of computerized games that complement physics classroom instruction.


To build interactive computer based tools, by developing a platform that will motivate, engage and educate students about physics concepts and principles.


  1. Develop a repository of resources that include instructional lessons for classroom use based on existing video games on various digital platforms.
  2. Design and produce an original physics game to educate and engage students on various digital platforms.
  3. Act as a technology resource for local and national teachers to develop computerized games and programs for improved student understanding and reinforcement of physics concepts.

Resources Required from Noyce Project Materials Budget

  • A computerized game console and games for each PLC member to test and develop materials
  • Unity Assets/Artifacts (https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/)
  • Software to develop lessons from existing digital media
  • Game footage recording software/hardware to record specific physics examples

Broader Impacts on the Physics Education Field

– Computerized physics (PhET) simulations have been shown to be effective at engaging students and promoting self-driven exploration compared to many individual, hands-on experiments. (Science, 2008)

– However, simulations can be disjointed and may not be designed to assess student learning before advancing to the next topic.

– Simulations also may not parallel a student’s development of how physics topics are related in the world around them.

– Continuous computerized game environments have the potential to provide greater student immersion, problem based learning and other inquiry strategies.

– Our work will build upon previous individual computerized lessons to create a more coherent model of how physics relates to students, thereby increasing student understanding


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