Deflate Gate Investigate Challenge – Join Us!

Deflate Gate Investigate Challenge – Join Us!

I must confess that football has always been a part of my life. It's not only the fact that I'm married to a former Oregon Duck defensive lineman or that my oldest recently played Division I and now coaches football. The connection runs much deeper, and can be traced back through generations of Nebraska Cornhuskers no less. Yes,  I'm afraid there's no escaping one's ancestory.

In more recent times, my passions have grown. Today, weather and climate vie for top billing, so when my football and weather passions converged in the January 18th AFC Championship game between the Colts and the New England Patriots, it was inevitable that I'd be vaulted to Cloud 9.  


The aptly named Deflate Gate can offer emergent curriculum addressing scientific thinking, the nature of science, and scientific processes that explore cause-and-effect relationships within the natural world. Did the Patriots deflate 11 of 12 game balls in opposition to the National Football League's rules that state that the acceptable range of air pressure for each football must be 12.5 to 13.5 pounds per square inch (PSI)? What could cause a change in temperature naturally? Might atmospheric conditions that day clear the air - or the guilt hanging over Patroits' heads like an ominous cumulonimbus cloud? Either way, the question remains, "Who dun it?" That's where you and your students come in. 

THE QUESTION: Could atmospheric conditions explain what happened to cause Deflate Gate?

(See Bill Belichick state this possibility on ESPN ).

Given the available facts of the event on the Internet and elsewhere, your challenge - should you accept it - is to design a scientific investigation to answer the question above. Participation is opened to K-12 Brady, Gettyclassroom educators across all subject areas, as well as students, or teams of students. There are no limits to the number of investigations that can be designed and submitted. In addition, we're encouraging submissions that include extension activities integrating other areas of the curriculum in addition to science. 


Investigations can be submitted via a self-made video or in written form by emailing either type of submission to  For videos, please send MP4 files or links to videos on Vimeo or YouTube of no more than 4-minutes in length. 


February 20th at midnight is the deadline to submit all entries.


One goal of science education is to help students understand the nature of scientific inquiry. The Next Generation Science Standards published a Nature of Science (NOS) matrix within “Appendix H - The Nature of Science in the Next Generation Science Standards.”  It offers an overview by grade level of the basic understandings of the nature of science:

  •  Scientific Investigations Use a Variety of Methods
  •  Scientific Knowledge is Based on Empirical Evidence
  •  Scientific Knowledge is Open to Revision in Light of New Evidence
  •  Scientific Models, Laws, Mechanisms, and Theories Explain Natural Phenomena
  •  Science is a Way of Knowing
  •  Scientific Knowledge Assumes an Order and Consistency in Natural Systems
  •  Science is a Human Endeavor
  •  Science Addresses Questions About the Natural and Material World

We will evaluate your lesson or video in terms of its ability to include performance expectations and content that foster ways of knowing that help students understand these eight principles and what science is, isn’t, and can and cannot answer. In addition, all submissions will be evaluated on their overall engagement, creativity, and overall educational effectiveness. 


The Grand Prize Winner will receive a hardback copy of the USA Today Weather Book by Jack Williams. In addition, the Grand Prize winner will be announced on the UCAR Center for Science Education website and in our monthly newsletter. Winning videos and/or lesson plans will be made freely downloadable off UCAR-sponsored websites with full credit given to the original creators. We, however, reserve the right to format lesson plans or minimally alter video to meet UCAR Center for Science Education editorial policies and standards. 

We look forward to sparking the educational designer in all of you and the inner forensic scientist in all of your students!

Thanks for taking part!

Here's an example of a possible lesson plan or video from Headsmart: