Physical Education Meets Physical Science

April Seeds, Gretchen Pollom, and Bill Burton are the authors of this article found in Science and Children magazine published by the National Science Teachers Association
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Activity , Lesson/Lesson Plan
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



In an effort to incorporate science into an early childhood physical education program, a physical education teacher worked with kindergarten teachers, a science teacher, and a science curriculum coordinator. Together they looked at the science content that had been discussed in kindergarten classes and brainstormed possible avenues of integration. They collaborated to design a kinesthetic experience that not only introduced students to major muscle groups used in certain exercises, but also reinforced their background science knowledge with respect to force, motion, and simple machines. In this lesson five interactive stations are set up and students rotate through them to experience different forces, motions, and simple machines.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Early Elementary
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

K-PS2-1 Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object

Clarification Statement: Examples of pushes or pulls could include a string attached to an object being pulled, a person pushing an object, a person stopping a rolling ball, and two objects colliding and pushing on each other.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to different relative strengths or different directions, but not both at the same time. Assessment does not include non-contact pushes or pulls such as those produced by magnets.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students will need adult guidance at all of the stations, with Station 2 and 3 needing the most assistance. Students will need to experience and explore pushes and pulls before doing the stations.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Station 2 and 3 analyze collected data using technology. Data could also be collected at Station 4 by counting or weighing the number of blocks used in various trials. Teachers should refer to the objects and tools used at the stations and have students identify and predict how they might expect them to perform. After doing the activity, have students discuss their expectations compared to how the objects and tools actually worked.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
By rotating through all five stations students have the opportunity to learn how pushes and pulls can have different strengths and directions.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Patterns will be observed as students are investigating pushes and pulls at the stations.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Grade-appropriate elements of the Science and Engineering Practice(s), Disciplinary Core Idea(s), and Crosscutting Concept(s), work together to support students in three-dimensional learning to make sense of phenomena. The integration of learning about large muscle groups along with pushes and pulls is well done.

  • Instructional Supports: This lesson engages students in multiple practices that work together with Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts to support students in making sense of phenomena. It also provides opportunities for students to connect their explanation of a phenomenon to their own experience.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Only oral assessment is done by questioning students at the end of each session during the two day lesson. One idea for an assessment would be to have the students predict what would happen if something were changed (the weight on the rope for instance) that way the teacher could do a quick informal assessment about what students are understanding before they start exploring the stations. Written assessment could be done by having students draw and/or write about their investigations at each station.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: A school would need access to the technology suggested in the lesson. If they do not have access to technology the resource suggests alternative tools.