PhysicsQuest is a story-based activity that exposes middle school students to the fun and relevance of science. APS provides a free PhysicsQuest kit to registered 6-9th grade physical science classes, home school groups, science clubs, and after-school programs. The kit includes a user's manual and materials for four physics experiments.
PhysicsQuest aims to teach middle school students physics concepts, but its overarching goal is to give them a positive experience with physics. APS is focusing this program on middle school students because these grades have been identified as the point when many students lose interest in math and science.
PhysicsQuest began as a World Year of Physics 2005 project with a kit based on Albert Einstein. Nearly 10,000 free kits were sent out during 2005, to classes across the country. Teacher feedback from the initial PhysicsQuest indicated that it successfully met a need for fun and accessible physics material at the middle school level, therefore APS decided to continue the program.
The past seven versions of PhysicsQuest have combined kits with comic books that follow the adventures of our original laser superhero, Spectra. As of 2015, seven different Spectra comics have been published and tens of thousands of copies have been distributed.
- Coordination, Research, Text: Rebecca Thompson, Head of Public Outreach
“Thank you for the opportunity for the students to NOT be afraid of the word ‘physics.’”
“When I first proposed this challenge, the students stated that they were not old enough to understand and participate in a Physics competition. They were extremely excited when they participated and understood the activities.”
“My students were more actively involved in these activities than they have been in any of the labs or discussions that we have in the school year.”
“My students don't like science BUT this was an activity they really enjoyed!”
“I believe that many of my students have decided to study physics at the high school level, when before they believed that they were not smart enough to do so.”
“Thanks so much for this outstanding activity...next year we plan to include our entire school.”
Past Teacher Manuals
Below you can find the teacher manuals for past PhysicsQuest kits. The manuals detail how to do that year's various demonstrations and experiments, and they also include a list of the required materials.
Spectra 7: High Intensity (2015)
Download the Spectra: High Intensity Manual
Spectra 6: Quantum Leap (2014)
Download the Spectra: Quantum Leap Manual
Spectra 5: Turbulent Times (2013)
Download the Spectra: Turbulent Times Manual
Spectra 4: Heats Up! (2011)
Download the Spectra: Heats Up! Manual
Spectra 3: Spectra's Force (2010)
Download the Spectra's Force Manual
Spectra 1: The Original Laser Superhero (2009)
Download the Spectra Manual
Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair (2008)
Download the Nikola Tesla Manual
Marie Curie's Floating Classes (2007)
Download the Marie Curie Manual
Ben Franklin's Secret Message (2006)
Download the Ben Franklin Manual
The Search for Einstein's Hidden Treasure (2005)
Download the Einstein Manual