About PhysicsQuest

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.


PhysicsQuest Staff

  • Coordination, Research, Text: Rebecca Thompson, Head of Public Outreach

Teacher Feedback

“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)

Spectra's High Intensity Manual (PDF)

Download the Spectra: High Intensity Manual format_pdf

Spectra 6: Quantum Leap (2014)

Spectra's Quantum Leap Manual (PDF)

Download the Spectra: Quantum Leap Manual format_pdf

Spectra 5: Turbulent Times (2013)

Spectra Turbulent Times Manual (PDF)

Download the Spectra: Turbulent Times Manual format_pdf

Spectra 4: Heats Up! (2011)

Spectra 4: Heats Up! Manual (PDF)

Download the Spectra: Heats Up! Manual

Spectra 3: Spectra's Force (2010)

Spectra 3 Manual (PDF)

Download the Spectra's Force Manual

Spectra 1: The Original Laser Superhero (2009)

Spectra: The Original Laser Superhero Manual (PDF)

Download the Spectra Manual

Nikola Tesla and the Electric Fair (2008)

Nikola Tesla Manual (PDF)

Download the Nikola Tesla Manual format_pdf

Marie Curie's Floating Classes (2007)

Marie Curie Manual (PDF)

Download the Marie Curie Manual

Ben Franklin's Secret Message (2006)

Ben Franklin Manual (PDF)

Download the Ben Franklin Manual format_pdf

The Search for Einstein's Hidden Treasure (2005)

Einstein Manual (PDF)

Download the Einstein Manual format_pdf