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Middle School PE Program


Like all SPARK Programs, the Middle School Physical Education (PE) effort began with objective research led by outstanding content experts.

Project M-SPAN (Middle School Physical Activity and Nutrition, San Diego State University) was supported by the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute from 1996-2000 and was the first scientific effort to study and evaluate this target population in physical education, physical activity and nutrition.

The M-SPAN staff (SPARK Principals and colleagues) worked with 24 middle schools (MS) encompassing nine urban and ethnically diverse school districts. Over 200 physical educators and administrators, and more than 24,000 students took part in the study.

Click Here to learn more about the goals and results of the M-SPAN study.


Due to the proven successes of Project M-SPAN, SPARK began offering their research-based middle school curricula, training, consultation, and content-matched equipment to schools nationwide.

Since that time, SPARK Middle School Trainers have conducted more than 750 separate MS PE workshops and Institutes and trained more than 25,000 MS PE specialists – by far, more than any other group or organization specializing in MS PE.

To date, over 20 publications in peer-reviewed journals have demonstrated positive outcomes on middle school students and teachers who have implemented the SPARK Middle School Physical Education program.

Subsequent and Ongoing Research:

SPARK is unique in that it is the only Middle School Physical Education program available today that can cite its development from the three largest and most significant N.I.H. studies ever on this student/teacher population.

Click Here for more information on subsequent and ongoing research for SPARK MS PE (TAAG and the HEALTHY Study):

Additional Information:

It is worth noting that nearly two decades of MS PE focused study and nationwide dissemination has provided many more valuable “real-world” experiences to the SPARK team.

SPARK MS PE today is not a one-size fits all approach – rather, participating teachers choose from a variety of instructional themes, activities, assessment tools, and teaching strategies to integrate with and/or enhance their current programming.

Providing a comprehensive approach with day to day structure is desired and needed by many; however, the same tactic is not successful with others who are already providing quality, active PE. Differentiating implementation options for teachers, like differentiating instruction for students, is important to the receptivity and ultimate success of every project.  SPARK understands this well and it is one of many reasons why the SPARK resonates so strongly with middle school physical educators and their students.

Honors unique to SPARK MS PE:

  • Project M-SPAN (today’s SPARK Middle School Physical Education Program) remains the only MS PE program available that has been proven to significantly increase student MVPA.
  • The Centers for Disease Control considers SPARK the ONLY “evidence-based” MS PE program available in the U.S.
  • In 2005, a study commissioned by the Cooper Institute assessed the effectiveness of dozens of physical education/physical activity programs.  SPARK MS PE received the highest “Gold” ranking.  The only MS PE program in the U.S. that earned this honor.
Program Components:


When an agency or organization chooses the SPARK MS PE Program, they receive the four components necessary to enhance their current offerings:


Curriculum components include the MS PE Manual, Music CD and Folio. The new MS PE manual is an easy to use three-ring binder with over 500 different activities (presented in a new “Prep, Set, Teach” format) within 15 themed, instructional units. Each unit provides a culminating SPARK Event designed to motivate students while providing authentic participation opportunities that promote enjoyment and success. Each unit is written in scope and sequence with suggested unit plans for grade level specific instruction.

SPARKfamily.org is a special, password-protected website where only YOU can go to view video clips of SPARK Middle School PE activities, use interactive alignment and assessment tools, and even watch innovative new ideas being done with students. Also included is a SPARKfit section containing fitness and nutrition focused lessons, circuit training videos, goal setting tools and more. For more information on the MS PE Curriculum Manual, the MS PE Music CD, the MS PE Folio, or the SPARKfamily.org site, Click Here.


Purchasing and using SPARK curriculum is a great start – but SPARK is not a book, it’s a program. Over the years, SPARK has tested numerous instructional strategies that are best conveyed during face to face training opportunities. The “what to do” (the lesson plans) come alive when the “how to do it” is provided via SPARK training. SPARK workshops are fun, fast, and fantastic! Learning themes explored include: “Cooperate and Trust,” “Disguising Fitness,” “High Activity Skills Progression,” “Modifying Traditional Sports,” and more! SPARK trainers travel the globe to conduct workshops on days and at times that are convenient for everyone. For more information on SPARK Middle School PE workshops, Click Here.


A select team of SPARK PE program developers, curriculum writers, and workshop presenters meet annually to modify the equipment sets (a set consists of every item needed to instruct the activities in a SPARK manual) that align perfectly with SPARK Middle School PE activities. For more information on Middle School PE equipment sets, Click Here.

4.Follow-up Support:

For new approaches to work and last, extensive, ongoing consultation must be provided. SPARK is committed to follow-up via their unique “SPARK Stars” institutionalization model, and by offering FREE lifetime support through 800 number and e-mail consultation. Additionally, each workshop attendee enjoys the following FREE resources: A monthly webinar series, social networking opportunities, and a monthly eNewsletter that includes SPARK updates, teaching tips, grant $ for PE programs, and more. To learn more about the FREE lifetime support that SPARK offers, Click Here.

Sign up to receive interesting articles on our profession, grant info and support, teaching tips, and SPARK news each month.

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