Development, feasibility, and acceptability of Aim to Play, a user-friendly digital application for teacher skills training and physical education activities for K-2 elementary students
Award last edited on: 2/12/2024

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
Deborah Johnson-Shelton

Company Information

Saavsus Inc

1500 Valley River Drive Unit 330
Eugene, OR 97401
   (541) 484-2123
Location: Single
Congr. District: 04
County: Lane

Phase I

Contract Number: 2023
Start Date: ----    Completed: 7/6/2023
Phase I year
Phase I Amount
Fundamental movement skill (FMS) is an integral component to holistic child development and school readiness. Serious inequalities in physical activity participation and FMS development are associated with race/ethnicity, income, and school contexts, which further exacerbate health disparities and academic vulnerability among disadvantaged children. Children from low-income, minority, and rural backgrounds are particularly vulnerable for not meeting FMS benchmarks, and rely more heavily on schools to obtain quality physical activity opportunities to gain FMS development than other children. While 40 states currently mandate elementary school physical education (PE) to promote student public health objectives and FMS development, most marginalized students do not experience adequate PE participation because teachers (both PE certified and regular classroom teachers who teach PE) have limited or no access to easy to use and low cost programmatic resources for conducting effective, evidence-based, and standards-based PE. To address these needs, the Aim to Play™ K-2 digital application ("app") program will be designed for kindergarten through 2nd grade classroom teachers who increasingly assume responsibility for PE instruction. These teachers consistently encounter PE instructional challenges due to (1) inadequate facilities, planning and teaching time, and equipment; (2) varied student skill levels and experience managing student PA; and, (3) an overall lack of instructional knowledge and training in movement and activity skills for conducting effective PE. To address these barriers, Aim to Play™ K-2 will work across platforms and devices to provide simple, easy to use, evidence- and standards-based PE lesson activities that can be tailored by time, instructional location (classroom, indoors/outdoors), grade, student skill level, and equipment resources, with an embedded data tracking feature to assist with state mandated reporting needs. The app will be low-cost and include brief teacher skill demonstration videos for each lesson, paired with adaptable lessons for kindergarten through 2nd grade classrooms that integrate kinesthetic cross-displace learning opportunities (i.e., vocabulary, math). Teachers will access the program via digital handheld tablet devices, online or offline, increasing accessibility for settings with poor Wi- Fi. During this Phase I SBIR, we plan to (1) use a participatory, iterative process to design and develop a prototype (i.e. beta) version of the Aim to Play™ K-2 app, a cross-platform, digital program application designed for kindergarten through 2nd grade classroom teachers, providing easy access to tailored, engaging classroom- or gym-based PE activities that meet the needs of teachers and students, and (2) evaluate the usability, satisfaction, and acceptability of the Aim to Play™ K-2 program in schools, as well as fidelity of implementation, with 9 elementary school teachers serving diverse classrooms of low-income, rural, and/or minority children, as well as direct observation of student participation in activities. If our Phase I benchmarks are met, this project will support a Phase II application. In Phase II, we plan to modify Aim to Play™ K-2 according to feedback obtained in Phase I surveys, observations, and exit interviews; create additional program modules; and evaluate the efficacy of Aim to Play™ K-2 via a randomized control trial evaluating teacher PE knowledge, self-efficacy, practices, and student engagement and FMS outcomes in under-resourced schools.

Public Health Relevance Statement:
Project Narrative While 40 states currently have laws mandating elementary school physical education (PE) for students, classroom teachers are increasingly assuming instructional responsibilities of certified PE teachers with minimal to no training or supporting instructional resources. This contributes to inadequate PE instruction to students and negatively impacts the health of our nations' children, particularly minority, low-income, and rural youth who rely more heavily on schools for quality physical activity opportunities than other children. This project seeks to develop the Aim to Play™ K-2 digital application, a cross-platform PE program designed for Kindergarten through 2nd grade classroom teachers. This app is a response to the training/instructional needs of elementary schools for an accessible program that can be scaled to reach teachers of low-resourced schools, and underserved student populations. Results of this project will inform a subsequent Phase II project to further develop the program and test efficacy with a diverse school-based sample in a randomized control trial.

Project Terms:
Behavior; Certification; Child; 0-11 years old; Child Youth; Children (0-21); kids; youngster; Child Development; Infant and Child Development; Educational Curriculum; Curriculum; lesson plans; Disadvantaged; Educational Activities; Eligibility Determination; Eligibility; Protocol Screening; Equipment; Feedback; Focus Groups; Goals; Health; Income; Economic Income; Economical Income; incomes; Interview; Kinesthesis; kinesthesia; Laws; Learning; Mathematics; Math; Movement; body movement; Physical Education; Physical Education and Training; Play; Program Accessibility; Race; Races; racial; racial background; racial origin; Research; Resources; Research Resources; Rotation; Schools; Social Behavior; sociobehavior; sociobehavioral; Students; Suggestion; Surveys; Survey Instrument; Tablets; Educational process of instructing; Teaching; Testing; Time; Vocabulary; Vocabulary Words; Weight; weights; Work; Measures; Administrator; Youth 10-21; Youth; improved; Phase; Training; Physical activity; teacher; Discipline; Rural; Workshop; Educational workshop; satisfaction; Inequality; Ethnicity; Ethnic Origin; randomized control trial; Randomized, Controlled Trials; tool; Knowledge; programs; Complex; Location; physical conditioning; physical health; Benchmarking; Best Practice Analysis; benchmark; skills training; Training and Education; Education and Training; elementary school; grade school; experience; early childhood; Self Efficacy; skills; organizational structure; Organization Charts; second grade; 2nd grade; Devices; Reporting; Sampling; response; handheld equipment; handheld device; kindergarten; Public Health Students; disparity in health; health disparity; Preparedness; Readiness; Low income; Address; Data; Cognitive; Small Business Innovation Research Grant; SBIR; Small Business Innovation Research; Process; Development; developmental; Instruction; cost; digital; designing; design; Minority; determine efficacy; efficacy analysis; efficacy assessment; efficacy determination; efficacy examination; evaluate efficacy; examine efficacy; efficacy evaluation; Outcome; cost effective; Population; skill development; skill acquisition; multidisciplinary; user-friendly; WiFi; wi-fi; wireless fidelity; usability; prototype; commercialization; evidence base; efficacy testing; flexible; flexibility; Faculty Education; Faculty Training; Teacher Education; Teacher Educator; Teacher Preparation; Teacher Training; faculty development; faculty professional development; instructor training; teacher development; Teacher Professional Development; tablet device; Tablet Computer; Elementary School Faculty; Elementary School Teachers; Elementary Teachers; Primary School Teachers; Primary School Faculty; cognitive development; under-served student; underserved students; student engagement; student motivation; student participation; pedagogy; adolescent minority; minority youth; pediatric minority; young minority; minority children; implementation fidelity; digitally deliver; digital delivery; Reduce health disparities; Decrease health disparities; Health disparity mitigation; Health disparity reduction; Lower health disparities; Mitigate health disparities; pilot test; marginalization; Disparity population; disadvantaged group; disadvantaged individual; disadvantaged people; disadvantaged population; disadvantaged subgroup; disparities across groups; disparity across subgroups; disparity among groups; disparity among subgroups; disparity between groups; disparity between subgroups; group disparity; group inequality; group inequity; inequalities among populations; inequalities between populations; inequalities in populations; inequality across populations; inequality among groups; inequality between groups; inequality in groups; inequities among populations; inequities between populations; inequities in populations; inequity across groups; inequity across populations; inequity between groups; inequity in groups; population inequality; population inequity; subgroup disparity; unequal group; unequal population; Equity

Phase II

Contract Number: 1R43MD018245-01
Start Date: 4/30/2024    Completed: 00/00/00
Phase II year
Phase II Amount