STEAM Challenge

Kinematics for the Win 

Submission Due Date: March 26th, 2021

Designed for Middle and High School Students

Table of Contents

●    The Challenge

●    Assumptions and Logistics

●    Process

●    Meridian Support Resources

●    Presentation of Learning

●    Evaluation Rubric

●    Essential Questions

●    Student Proficiencies

●    Curricular Correlations:
NGSS – MS-PS2-2, HS-PS2-1, MS-ETS1-4, HS-ETS1-2
CC ELA – W3, W4, SL1

Range of Activities

●    Research of Physics Concepts

●    Computation of Kinematic Equations

●    Conceptualize Kinematics Equations in Action

●    Use of Physics to Problem Solve Everyday Scenarios

●    Script Writing and Storytelling

●    Digital Literacy Skills – Video Pre-production, Production and Post-Production

●    21st Century Skills – Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Presentational Skills

The Challenge

You’ve come across a brilliant pair of shoes. They could be magical or perhaps a feat of engineering – either way, these shoes are the key to becoming a star player on your soccer team. The shoes can apply the correct amount of force to hit a soccer ball with a certain initial velocity. With these shoes, you can plug in a desired initial velocity of the soccer ball and they’ll do the rest!

During the last few minutes of your soccer game you are fouled at the goal line and are given a free kick – it’s the perfect opportunity to put your shoes into action! You plan to hit a ground ball – kicking the soccer ball so that it never goes into the air. You’ve estimated that you are approximately 20 feet from the left corner of the goal line and you hope to cross the line at a velocity of 8 ft/sec to get past the goalie. From your estimates, you believe the friction from the field on the ball will slow the ball with a constant deceleration of 2.5 ft/sec2. Given these numbers, you use the equation

(8ft/sec)2 = vi + 2(2.5 ft/sec2)(20ft)

to solve for vi, the initial velocity that you plug into your shoes.

You are ready to go. You shoot!

…You don’t score. What happened? What is wrong with the equation and where did the ball actually go?

All is lost. No, it’s not! On the shoes there is a one-time only REWIND button. Press it. Quickly! You have another chance. Correct the given equation and solve for the new initial velocity.

Will you fulfill your fantasy of scoring the game winning goal? Or has your invention failed you once again?

You tell us!

Deliverables include:

  • Digital Story (this is the only Meridian Stories Deliverable)
  • Math Work and Solutions (at teacher’s discretion)
  • Script Draft (at teacher’s discretion)
  • Storyboard (at teacher’s discretion)
[This Meridian Stories Challenge was developed by Cara Moynihan, a student at Colby College.]

For the Teachers:

The kinematic equation that was used in the problem is correctly written as

vf2 = vi2 + 2(a)(d).

There are two problems with the given equation in the problem – they did not square the initial velocity and the acceleration was inputted as a positive number when it is actually a deceleration due to friction and thus should be negative. You may choose to tell your students how many errors are in the equation or not. The original equation would have given students an answer of -36 ft/sec for their initial velocity – so the shoes will actually kick the ball backwards at a speed of 36 ft/sec. When they correct the equation, the initial velocity will come out to 12.8 ft/sec.

Assumptions and Logistics

Time Frame – We recommend that this digital storytelling project takes place inside of a three to four-week time frame.

Length – All Meridian Stories submissions should be under 4 minutes in length, unless otherwise specified.

Slate – All digital storytelling projects must begin with a slate that provides:

  1. the title of the piece;
  2. the name of the school submitting;
  3. the wording ‘Permission Granted’ which gives Meridian Stories the right to a) publicly display the submission in question on, as linked from, related to or in support of Meridian Stories digital media; and b) use or reference it for educational purposes only in any and all media; and
  4. We strongly recommend that students do not put their last names on the piece either at the start or finish, during the credits.

Submissions – Keep in mind that each school can only submit three submissions per Competition (so while the entire class can participate in the Challenge, only three can be submitted to Meridian Stories for Mentor review and scoring).

Teacher Reviews – All reviews by the teacher are at the discretion of the teacher and all suggested paper deliverables are due only to the teacher. The only deliverable to Meridian Stories is the digital storytelling project.

Teacher’s Role and Technology Integrator – While it is helpful to have a Technology Integrator involved, they are not usually necessary: the students already know how to produce the digital storytelling project. And if they don’t, part of their challenge is to figure it out. They will! The teacher’s primary function in these Challenges is to guide the students as they engage with the content.  You don’t need to know editing, sound design, shooting or storyboarding: you just need to know your content area, while assisting them with time management issues.

Digital Rules/Literacy – We strongly recommend that all students follow the rules of Digital Citizenry in their proper usage and/or citation of images, music and text taken from other sources. This recommendation includes producing a citations page at the end of your entry, if applicable. See the Digital Rules area in the Meridian Resources Center section of the site for guidance.

Location – Try not to shoot in a classroom at your school. The classroom, no matter how you dress it up, looks like a classroom and can negatively impact the digital story you are trying to tell.

Collaboration – We strongly recommend that students work in teams of 3-4: part of the educational value is around building collaborative skill sets. But students may work individually.

COVID-19 does not mean that students can’t collaborate. This unusual societal circumstance allows students to, paradoxically, focus on their collaborative skills even more through a clear delegation of responsibilities; and tight communication in order to insure that everyone is clear on the scripting and blocking of individual scenes that need to tell a cohesive story, even though the scenes may be shot in isolation. Digital storytelling projects in general move the essential communication about content and learning away from the educator and toward the students themselves. That is part of their educational strength. But in COVID-19, this quality is expanded. With the teacher more ‘unavailable’ than normal, the students must rely on their collaborative skills more than ever. It’s like playing a team sport with less input from the coach. They have to rise the occasion …and they will.


Below is a suggested breakdown for the students’ work.

During Phase I, student teams will:

  • Conduct background research
    • What are the kinematics equations? What do they do and how can you use them to solve for things like initial velocity? Do some research into the kinematics equations and their uses.
  • Do the math
    • Solve the given equation for initial velocity.
    • Recall the kinematics equations and determine which equation you are working with.
    • Find the errors in the given equation and correct them.
    • Solve the corrected equation for your new initial velocity.
      • Teacher’s Option: Show Your Work – Teachers may require that teams hand in their work for solving and correcting the equation to confirm its accuracy.
    • By the end of this phase, students should have a) the results of applying the first equation to the situation; b) a new equation that solves the problem; and c) the projected results of that equation.
      • This requires that you not only have the correct answers to the two equations, but that you understand how these answers will affect how the ball travels.

During Phase II, student teams will:

  • Brainstorm the key components of your digital story.
    • Where did the shoes come from and what exactly are they? They could have been sent down from space, purchased unknowingly in a thrift store, created in a lab, or any number of other possibilities. Get creative with their look, too! They might not look like any average soccer or football shoe…
    • How are you planning on visualizing this story? This could be a Minecraft story or a stop animation story. Or the more classical approach would be to shoot this on location. Maybe this is all a dream inside of your lead character’s head. Decide on how best to visually tell this story.
    • How will you set up and kick your first shot? In considering this moment, how will you integrate the physics content into the story in a compelling way?
    • What’s next? How does the team react? Does everyone know about the power of these shoes? Who presses the REWIND button? And how do you represent that in your digital story?
    • How will the video end? Does the player redeem themselves with the perfect shot to win the game for their team? Is the perfect shot rejected by the goalie? Do the shoes malfunction in some way to mess up the unique algorithm?
  • Draft the script.
    • We recommend keeping the digital story to four main scenes:
      • The discovery or invention of the special shoes.
      • The first shot in which the player disappoints with the free kick.
      • Troubleshooting what went wrong with the shoes and fixing the problem.
      • Hit the rewind button and get a chance for redemption with the corrected equation.
    • Teacher’s Option: Script Draft The teacher may require teams to hand in a draft script of their digital story for review and feedback.
  • Consider creating a storyboard for the digital story.
    • As you move from script to pre-production – the planning of how you will realize this script visually through your camera shots – a storyboard can be an incredibly useful tool.
    • Storyboards help you understand the pacing of the narrative you’ve written and help make sure the story proceeds in a logical order. And it lets you have an idea beforehand of what camera angles you want so the shoot takes less time and the story itself is rendered visually in the most powerful way. See the Creating Storyboards/Framing a Shot document from the Digital Storytelling Resource Center for further guidance.
      • Teacher’s Option: StoryboardThe teacher may require teams to hand in a storyboard showing an outline of their camera setups and narrative.
    • Finalize the script
    • Pre-produce the video:
      • Scout locations for shooting;
      • Create costumes, props and other set pieces, as needed; and
      • Rehearse the scenes that will comprise the digital story.

During Phase III, student teams will:

  • Shoot the video.
  • Record the voice-over or narration, as necessary.
  • Edit the video, adding stills and graphics as desired.
  • Post-produce the video, adding music and sound effects as desired.

Meridian Support: The Digital Storytelling Resource Center

Meridian Stories provides two forms of support for the student teams:

  1. Meridian Innovators and Artists – This is a series of three to four minute-videos featuring artists and innovative professionals who offer important advice, specifically for Meridian Stories, in the areas of creativity and production.
  2. Media Resource Collection – These are short documents that offer student teams key tips in the areas of creativity, production, game design and digital citizenry.

Recommended review, as a team, for this Competition include:

Meridian Innovators and Artists Media Resource Collection
Lily King on Fiction Writing

Davis Robinson in Directing Comedy

Abbie Killeen on Acting

Tom Pierce on Editing

Creative Brainstorming Techniques

Creating Storyboards/Framing a Shot

Scene Work: Camera Angles and Movement

Video Editing Basics

Presentation of Learning

Meridian Stories is a proud partner of the non-profit Share Your Learning, which is spearheading the movement of over five million students to publicly share their work as a meaningful part of their educational experience.

The workforce considers Presentational Skills to be a key asset and we encourage you to allow students to practice this skill set as often as possible. These digital storytelling projects provide a great opportunity for kids to practice their public presentational skills. This can be achieved in a remote learning environment by inviting parents to a Zoom/Google/Skype screening of the student’s digital stories.

According to Share Your Learning, Presentations of Learning (POL) promote…

  • Student Ownership, Responsibility & Engagement. POLs can serve as a powerful rite of passage at the end of [a project]. By reflecting on their growth over time in relation to academic and character goals, grounded in evidence from their work, students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning. Just as an artist wants their portfolio to represent their best work, POLs encourage students to care deeply about the work they will share.
  • Community Pride & Involvement. When peers, teachers and community members come together to engage with student work and provide authentic feedback, they become invested in students’ growth and serve as active contributors to the school community.
  • Equity. POLs ensure that all students are seen and provide insight into what learning experiences students find most meaningful and relevant to their lives.

Meridian Stories’ own research indicates this to be a really useful exercise for one additional reason:  Students actually learn from their peers’ presentations – it is useful to hear a perspective that is not just the teacher’s.

It is with this in mind that we you encourage you to plan an event – it could be just an end-of-the-week class or an event where parents, teachers and student peers are invited – to allow the students to showcase their Meridian Stories’ digital storytelling projects. For more free resources that will support this planning, visit Share Your Learning.

Evaluation Rubric – Kinematics for the Win


Criteria 1-10
Identification of Kinematic Equation The given equation is solved correctly and identified as a form of one of the kinematic equations
Corrected Kinematic Equation The given kinematics equation is corrected accurately and arrives at the desired initial velocity
Visualization of Physics Concepts The answers to each equation are visualized correctly in the digital story to show how initial velocity affects the movement of the objects


Criteria 1-10
Props The “special shoe” is visually exciting and shows effort and creativity
Narrative Clarity The digital story has a clear and consistent tone that is well organized and delivers an engaging narrative
Integration of Content Physics concepts are integrated into the story and do not detract from, but instead enhance, the quality and pacing of the narrative


 Criteria 1-10
Visualization The visualization of the story is thoughtful and creative, resulting in an engaging viewing experience
Sound and Music Sound effects and music enhance the audience’s engagement with the scene
Setting and Cinematography The setting and use of the camera angles enhance the action of the scene, creating the necessary tension and tone

21st CENTURY SKILLS COMMAND (teachers only)

Criteria 1-10
Collaborative Thinking The group demonstrated flexibility in making compromises and valued the contributions of each group member
Creativity and Innovation The group brainstormed many inventive ideas and was able to evaluate, refine and implement them effectively
Initiative and Self-Direction The group set attainable goals, worked independently and managed their time effectively, demonstrating a disciplined commitment to the project

Essential Questions

  1. What are the kinematic equations and how can they be used to predict the motion of an object with constant acceleration?
  2. How can equations be manipulated to solve for specific variables?
  3. Where can physics be seen in everyday life?
  4. How has the setup of this challenge changed your perspective on how physics can be used to solve problems?
  5. How can storytelling be used to more deeply understand complex educational ideas?
  6. How has immersion in the creation of original content and the production of digital media – exercising one’s creativity, critical thinking and digital literacy skills – deepened the overall educational experience?
  7. How has working on a team – practicing one’s collaborative skills – changed the learning experience?

Student Proficiencies

  1. The student will learn to use the kinematic equations to predict the motion of an object with constant acceleration.
  2. The student will learn how to manipulate equations to find solutions for specific variables.
  3. The student will learn how and when physics can be seen in everyday situations and discover the endless applications of the subject in the physical world.
  4. The student will learn to utilize storytelling to communicate complex educational ideas in an engaging and immersive way.
  5. The student will utilize key 21st century skills, with a focus on creativity, critical thinking and digital literacy, in their process of translating STEAM content into a new narrative format.
  6. The student will have an increased awareness of the challenges and rewards of team collaboration. Collaboration – the ability to work with others – is considered one of the most important 21st century skills to develop in students as they prepare for life after secondary school.

Curricular Correlations

The Kinematics for the Win Challenge addresses a range of curricular objectives that have been articulated by two nationally recognized sources:

  1. The Next Generation Science Standards;
  2. The Common Core Curricular Standards – Mathematics; and
  3. The Common Core Curricular Standards – English Language Arts & History/Social Studies.

Below please find the standards that are being addressed, either wholly or in part.

Next Generation Science Standards

MS-PS2-2 Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object
HS-PS2-1 Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration.
MS-ETS1-4 Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
HS-ETS1-2 Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.


Common Core – Mathematics

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSF.IF.C.8 Write a function defined by an expression in different but equivalent forms to reveal and explain different properties of the function.


Choose and produce an equivalent form of an expression to reveal and explain properties of the quantity represented by the expression.
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSF.BF.A.1 Write a function that describes a relationship between two quantities.

Common Core – English Language Arts

W3 (grades 8 – 12)




Text Types and Purposes

Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
W4 (grades 8 – 12)




Production and Distribution of Writing

Produce clear and coherent writing which the development, organization and style are appropriate to task, purpose and audience.
SL1 (grades 8 – 12)




Comprehension and Collaboration

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one- on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 8–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.