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Technology Curriculum | STEM | Engineering

Engineering Curriculum for High School Students: 3 Best Options

March 21st, 2023 | 7 min. read

Mike Cescon

Mike Cescon

With past experience in teaching, a couple of degrees in writing, and an upbringing immersed in medical jargon, Mike is positioned well to hear out the most common questions teachers ask about the iCEV curriculum. His goal is to write content that quickly and effectively answers these questions so you can back to what matters - teaching your students.

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As a STEM teacher, finding a strong engineering curriculum for your high school students is critical to teach them the concepts they need. After all, the right lesson plans and projects will give your students hands-on experience in design and construction they can take with them throughout their lives. The wrong curriculum, however, may leave them with no practical experience at all.

So what are the best curriculum options to give your engineering students essential training? Where can you find them, and what do they cost?

In this article, you’ll discover the best engineering curriculum for high school students: 

  1. High School Engineering Curriculum from Project Lead the Way
  2. Engineering 4 Us All
  3. Engineering Curriculum from the James Dyson Foundation

Throughout this article, you’ll gain an understanding of each of these options, so you can choose the best fit for your classroom.

1. High School Engineering Curriculum from Project Lead the Way

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing K-12 students with project- and problem-focused curriculum they can use to solve real-world situations across many diverse fields. 

PLTW’s High School Engineering Curriculum offers students hands-on training that aligns with that goal. Their curriculum teaches students essential concepts and then let them apply their learning to design and execute projects of their own. 

PLTW offers 10 full-year courses in their engineering curriculum: 

  • Engineering Essentials
  • Introduction to Engineering Design
  • Principles of Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Civil Engineering and Architecture
  • Computer Integrated Manufacturing
  • Computer Science Principles
  • Digital Electronics
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Engineering Design and Development

These courses cover both foundational and specialized topics, and each includes resources like learning objectives, projects, teaching materials, and assessments. PTLW even offers the ability to buy or rent lab equipment that your school may lack. 

In addition, this curriculum is aligned with prominent standards like Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, and the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) Standards for Technological and Engineering Literacy. 

Who Is This Curriculum Intended For, and How Much Does It Cost?

PLTW’s Engineering Curriculum would be an excellent fit for high school teachers looking for a collection of full-year, project-focused engineering courses. With this curriculum, your entire engineering department will likely have its course content needs met.

On the other hand, PLTW may not be a good fit for teachers who need teaching material fast, or those who only need a few smaller resources. PLTW’s material is sweeping and comprehensive, and that means it takes a while to get this curriculum up and running. If you want to use PLTW, you’ll need to register your school district, undergo specialized training, and order any equipment you need—quite a commitment for any teacher. 

PLTW’s High School Engineering Curriculum costs $3,200 for an annual subscription. In addition, your school will need to pay another $2,400 for your training to use the course materials. Check out their handy pricing tool if you need more info on specifics. 

2. Engineering 4 Us All

Engineering 4 Us All (E4USA) is a high school engineering program and curriculum designed as a well-rounded foundational course. Affiliated with the University of Maryland, this course introduces students to the part that engineering plays in society, teaches them critical knowledge, and empowers them to apply their newfound skills to create and manage a project of their own. 

E4USA is divided into eight units across four quarters: 

  • Q1: Introducing Engineering
         Unit 1: Engineering is Everywhere
         Unit 2: Engineering is Creative
  • Q2: Applying Engineering - Local Problems
         Unit 3: Engineering is Human-Centered
         Unit 4: Engineering is Responsive
  • Q3: Applying Engineering - Global Issues
         Unit 5: Engineering is Intentional
         Unit 6: Engineering is Iterative
  • Q4: Generating an Engineering Solution
         Unit 7: Engineering is Personal
         Unit 8: Engineering is Reflective

In the earlier units of this course, students learn the basics of engineering and how it affects their everyday lives. In later units, they take this knowledge and come up with problems in their own lives that they can engineer a solution to. 

These sections include resources like key concepts, learning outcomes, lesson plans, activities, assessments, and more. 

Who Is This Curriculum Intended For, and How Much Does It Cost?

Engineering 4 Us All is a strong option for high school teachers who want a full-year, in-depth engineering course to introduce their students to the subject. This course has students explore the importance of engineering to society and engineer projects of their own to solve issues in their personal lives. 

However, like other options on this list, E4USA requires commitment to implement in the classroom, and may not be the best choice for teachers looking for a quick curriculum solution. To get started with E4USA in your classroom, you must attend both Summer PD sessions to be trained in the curriculum, as well as year-round continuing education sessions to hone your teaching skills.

E4USA strives to make its materials available for schools on a tight budget, which means there is no cost to obtain the curriculum. The other side to this is that schools must apply to E4USA to use the curriculum, and there’s no guarantee that your school will be accepted.

3. Engineering Curriculum from the James Dyson Foundation

The James Dyson Foundation is the educational arm of the famed technology company Dyson Limited. The Foundation’s goal is to educate and inspire the next generation of engineers, a task they accomplish by providing educational resources to teachers through their website. 

Dyson’s Engineering Curriculum is intended to grant high schoolers hands-on experience with engineering projects of their own, as well as industry insight via professionals working at Dyson. Over the course of the curriculum, students will work in groups to come up with their own invention, sketch it out, develop a working prototype, and even attempt to market it to the rest of their class. 

This engineering curriculum for high school students is divided into six lessons: 

  • Today’s Engineers
  • Taking on the Brief
  • Product Development - Research and Planning
  • Product Development - Building and Testing
  • Go to Market
  • The Big Pitch

These lessons contain resources like learning objectives, activities, video content, handouts, and more. Each lesson takes about an hour and a half to complete, meaning this curriculum can potentially take up several weeks of classes. 

This curriculum is also aligned to Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, which can benefit classrooms required to meet those criteria.

Who Is This Curriculum Intended For, and How Much Does It Cost?

Dyson’s Engineering Curriculum is a great fit for high school teachers looking for supplemental lesson plans to pad out their courses. By completing the project within these lessons, your students will gain practical experience they can take into their working lives. 

However, Dyson’s materials wouldn’t be right for teachers who need a comprehensive curriculum to teach a full engineering course. With only six lessons, you’d only be able to cover a few weeks of classes at most—not nearly enough to fill up a semester- or year-long course. 

You can download this Engineering Curriculum for free from The Dyson Foundation’s website. This makes it a strong option for teachers who need quick materials on a budget. 

Need a Hands-On Engineering Curriculum for Your High School Students?

In this article, you’ve discovered some of the best options out there when it comes to engineering curriculum for your high schoolers. With the variety of options presented here, one of these choices will likely fit right into your course. 

However, if these options seem either too time-consuming or too sparse for you, then consider iCEV’s STEM curriculum for your engineering class!

iCEV’s STEM curriculum includes lesson plans, video content, assessments, engineering design projects, lab experiments, and more. In short, everything your students will need to gain practical training in essential topics, while still being easy to implement and use:

Discover STEM Curriculum