Anchored in real-world phenomena, PEER Physics is an innovative, student-centered approach for teaching and learning physics in the high school. PEER Physics is designed to address the most current standards, involving core concepts, scientific practices, and crosscutting themes.  Students learn to advocate for themselves in an inclusive learning environment where they develop, share, critique, argue, and revise evidence-based ideas.

1. Chapters

PEER Physics includes six chapters, each situated within a real-world phenomena. PEER Physics is designed for flexibility in the chapter sequencing. Districts can choose from a variety of sequence map options to align with their priorities. All suggested sequence maps are based on physics education research and are designed to spiral essential physics concepts, crosscutting concepts, and scientific practices.

C: Charge
M: Magnetism
F: Force
G: Gravitation
W: Waves
C: Charge
M: Magnetism
F: Force
G: Gravitation
W: Waves

2. Anchoring Phenomena

Anchoring phenomena are designed to engage students with a socially-relevant and age-appropriate topic, through which principles can be iteratively applied throughout a chapter. The implementation timeline below shows the sequence for the anchoring phenomenon and storyline for Chapter F — Force.

3. Learning Cycle

The PEER Physics learning cycle allows students to integrate past experiences with evidence so that they can generate and internalize scientific principles.

Initial Ideas

The Initial Ideas prompt students to think about their experiences and intuitions relevant to the activity. It is critical that the instructor helps establish norms and practices in order for students to feel safe to share their preconceptions so that their ideas are heard and valued.

Collecting and Interpreting Evidence

When Collecting and Interpreting Evidence, students make many concrete observations of phenomena. These observations come from shared laboratory experiences, which allow students to argue on the basis of shared evidence. Students use mathematical relationships, trends, data tables, graphs, etc. to interpret observations and data. In some chapters they also draw, describe, and revise models to make sense of their observations. Students are guided to identify and use evidence to make claims about scientific principles.


Summarizing Questions guide students in generating claims from their evidence. Groups come to consensus on their responses to the summarizing questions and then defend their claims to other groups.

Scientists’ Ideas Reading

The Scientists’ Ideas Reading presents formalisms for students only after they have developed the concepts themselves through evidence-based consensus building. These readings provide academic language, symbols, and mathematical formalisms consistent with what they will see in college.

4. Assessments

Assessments are a valuable tool that PEER Physics teachers use to guide instructional decisions and provide feedback to students about content understanding and engagement in the scientific practices. The PEER Physics suite includes a variety of assessments — projects associated with each phenomena, multi-dimensional performance assessments and rubrics, engineering design challenges, and traditional assessment banks — to meet the different assessment needs in a PEER Physics classroom.


Instructors may provide students with the opportunity to engage in different forms of authentic assessments relating directly to the anchoring phenomenon explored in the chapter. Resources for each phenomenon typically include a project, such as designing an infographic or creating a whiteboard animation video, a writing prompt, and open-ended assessment questions.

Anchoring Phenomenon
3D Assessments

3D Performance Assessments

These short performance assessments provide teachers with resources to gauge student proficiency on physics principles, crosscutting concepts, and scientific practices. Not only do these assessments provide teachers with a more comprehensive measurement of student understanding, but they also allow students to be assessed in ways that parallel the pedagogical approach in a PEER Physics classroom. Instructors may implement these as group or individual assessments, depending on the instructor’s assessment objectives. Each PEER Physics Three Dimensional Assessment also includes a grading rubric and review questions.

Engineering Design Challenges

PEER Physics Engineering Design Challenges are classroom or take-home projects in which students use physics principles to solve a real-world problem. These projects are carefully designed for students to apply their understanding of physics principles throughout each step of the the engineering design process: brainstorming, designing, testing, analyzing, and optimizing. Each PEER Physics Engineering Design Challenge also includes a storyline hook that instructors may use to introduce the associated chapter.

Engineering Design Challenges
Assessment Banks

Assessment Banks

The PEER Physics Assessment Banks provide teachers with traditional content-based assessment questions that are designed to assess student understanding of the key ideas that are developed throughout each activity. Formative and summative assessment play an important role in the PEER Physics classroom for informing responsive instructional decisions and for providing students with detailed feedback. These assessment banks were designed in collaboration with PEER Physics instructors and they are based on educational research on the Assessment Pyramid, carefully incorporating three levels of thinking (reproduction, connections, and analysis) across physics domains (Shafer and Foster, 1997).

5. Standards

By design, PEER Physics students collect evidence and induce principles through scientific modeling and argumentation. PEER Physics is authentically and cohesively aligned with the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards(1) and the National Research Council’s A Framework for K-12 Science Education(2).

  1. NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next generation science standards: For states, by states. National Academies Press.
  2. National Research Council. (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. National Academies Press.

6. Teacher Resources

Teacher’s Guide

PEER Physics Teacher’s Guides are designed to help teachers value the sense making process rather than solely correct answers. They include suggestions for facilitating the activities, common student preconceptions, extensions, and assessment opportunities.

Materials and Equipment: We provide a comprehensive materials list for implementing the curriculum along with vendor suggestions, consultations, and recommended purchase options.

Web-Based Resources

PEER Physics resources extend beyond the student materials and teacher’s guides for each chapter.  Partnering teachers have access to a robust set of resources that are provided online so that they may be updated and enhanced throughout the school year.  These resources include assessment tools in the form of three dimensional performance assessments, engineering design challenges, and traditional assessment banks, extensions, and support resources such as slow motion videos and supplemental readings.

Learn more about partnership options and obtain sample materials by contacting Jon Mann: