Questions? Contact us at [email protected].
In the next 20 years, the world will need more than 600,000 new pilots and almost 700,000 new technicians, according to Boeing's Pilot and Technician Outlook. Schools and districts nationwide need to prepare students for these and other high-paying and rewarding careers in aviation and aerospace.
The AOPA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the world's largest aviation community, AOPA, has created the AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Curriculum, a STEM.org-reviewed educational media. We offer it FREE to US schools, districts, nonprofit organizations, and homeschool co-ops.
We offer a menu of seven courses in two aviation STEM career and technical education (CTE) pathways: Pilot and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drones).
You can offer one, some, or all courses in any school year to match their program goals and students' needs.
Each course is a turn-key set of high-quality instructional and assessment resources:
We offer initial and ongoing professional development. Video-based professional development is provided and delivered free Optional in-person professional development is offered for a nominal fee. Ongoing support is available to teachers through AOPA social media groups, the High School Initiative Team, and AOPA's rich library of educational resources.
Click on any of the course names below to see the course description, outline, materials list, sample lesson plan, teacher presentation, student activities, and supporting documents.
The ninth-grade course provides the foundation for advanced exploration in flying, aerospace engineering, and unmanned aircraft systems. Students will learn about engineering practices, problem-solving, and the innovations and technological developments that have made today's aviation and aerospace industries possible.
Students will look at the problem-solving practices and innovative leaps that transformed space exploration from the unimaginable to the common in a single generation. Students will also gain a historical perspective, from the earliest flying machines to various modern aircraft.
Click on the links below to review the Wind Tunnel Lesson materials (samples from ninth grade, first semester).
This core aerospace and aviation course provides the foundation for both pathways and gives students a clear understanding of career opportunities in aviation and aerospace and the critical issues affecting the industry.
Students will also begin to drill down into the various sectors of aviation and the elements that make up the aerospace ecosystem. They will discover how advances in aviation created a need for regulation and learn about the promulgation of civil aviation oversight.
Students will explore modern innovations and develop innovative ideas to address the aviation industry's real-world challenges. They will be exposed to various career options in aviation and aerospace and take an in-depth look at available opportunities.
Click on the links below to review the Accident Case Study lesson materials (samples from ninth grade, second semester).
In the Introduction to Flight course, students pursuing the Pilot and UAS tracks will look closely at the aircraft they may one day operate. Students will begin with an exploration of the types of aircraft in use today before learning how aircraft are made and how they fly. Students will understand how aircraft are categorized, be able to identify their parts, and learn about aircraft construction techniques and materials. They will gain an in-depth understanding of the forces of flight—lift, weight, thrust, and drag—including how to make key calculations. They will then touch on aircraft design, looking at stability, aircraft controls, and maneuvering flight. The course will focus on career skills related to these topics.
Click on the links below to review a sample lesson from the tenth-grade curriculum, “Theories of Lift” lesson.
In the Aircraft Systems and Performance course, students in the UAS and Pilot tracks will take an in-depth look at the systems that make crewed and uncrewed aircraft work. Beginning with aircraft powerplants and fuel systems, students will learn about the options available and how they affect aircraft design and performance. They will explore other key aircraft systems, including electrical, pitot-static, and vacuum systems. Throughout the course, they will learn about the flight instruments associated with each system and how to identify and troubleshoot common problems. This unit also covers aircraft flight manuals and required aircraft documents. Finally, students will learn about the factors that affect aircraft performance and how to determine critical operating data for aircraft.
Click on the links below to review a sample lesson from the tenth-grade curriculum, “Electrical Systems.”
Note: The first-semester curriculum for eleventh-grade Pilot and UAS pathways is the same. The pathways differ in the second semester.
This course is foundational for both crewed and uncrewed aviation. It will prepare students to take either Federal Aviation Administration tests: the Private Pilot Knowledge Test or the Part 107 Remote Pilot Knowledge Test. Topics include preflight procedures, airspace, radio communications, aviation terminology, regulations, airport operations, aviation safety, weather, cockpit management, and emergency procedures.
Click on the links below to review a sample lesson from the eleventh grade first semester lesson, “Pilot Communications.”
The Flight Planning course will cover the remaining topics necessary for students to take the Federal Aviation Administration's Private Pilot Knowledge Test. Students will learn about pilot and aircraft qualifications, cross-country flight planning, weight and balance, performance and limitations, human factors, chart use, night operations, navigation systems, and aeronautical decision-making. Students will be provided the opportunity to participate in multiple practice examinations. At the end of this course, a school may choose to arrange for students to take the Federal Aviation Administration's Private Pilot written exam.
Click on the links below to review a sample lesson from the eleventh grade second semester Pilot lesson, “Which Way to Steer?”
The UAS Operations course will cover many topics surrounding UAS missions, from mission planning to UAV performance to crew resource management. Students may take the Federal Aviation Administration's Part 107 Remote Pilot Knowledge Test upon completion of this course.
Click on the links below to review a sample lesson from the eleventh-grade second semester UAS lesson, “UAS Aerodynamics and Performance?”
Students will examine advanced aviation topics and career options after preparing for the Private Pilot Knowledge Test or Part 107 Remote Pilot Test in the previous year. Instrument flight, commercial aviation, and advanced aircraft systems begin the semester. Looking into the future, students will then explore new horizons in the aerospace industry. What might aviation look like five, ten, or twenty years into the future? The focus then turns to business development opportunities in aviation. Finally, students will learn about and conduct different types of research in preparation for their capstone project in the second semester.
Click on the links below to review a sample lesson from the twelfth-grade first-semester lesson, "From Looking at Stars to Living on Mars."
The capstone course is the culmination of the student learning experience. The students will work individually or in small groups to study and report on an aviation topic of their choosing. The goal of this capstone course is to allow students to demonstrate an understanding of a contemporary topic in aviation. The curriculum will include presentations and activities to help guide student research and project development.
Click on the links below to review a sample lesson from the 12th grade second semester lesson, "What is a Capstone?"
After preparing for the Part 107 Remote Pilot Test the previous year, students can earn a valuable FAA certification and CTE stackable credential to work as commercial drone pilots. This year, they will use that certification—and the knowledge they acquired pursuing it—in real-world scenarios that illustrate how drones are used across various industries today. Students will also learn how drone operations can be used to build or enhance a business and the entrepreneurial skills necessary to get a start-up off the ground. They will also review drone rules within their communities, enabling them to make recommendations to elected officials on optimizing UAS operations in their communities. Finally, students will learn about and conduct different types of research in preparation for their capstone project in the second semester.
Click on the links below to review a sample lesson from the 12th grade second semester lesson, "Scavenger Hunt."
The capstone course is the culmination of the student learning experience. The students will work as individuals or in small groups to study and report on a UAS topic of their choosing. The goal of this capstone course is to allow students to demonstrate an understanding of a contemporary topic in the drone industry. The curriculum will include presentations and activities to help guide student research and project development.
Click on the links below to review a sample lesson from the 12th grade second semester lesson, "What is a Capstone?"
You identify a Point of Contact (POC) who will complete an online application form.
Once we approve your application, POCs will have teachers complete an online Teacher Information Form and electronically sign a brief agreement document.
The school and district administrators identified in the application will electronically sign a brief agreement document.
Once we receive all documents, teachers will be given access to professional development opportunities and curriculum resources.
The AOPA Foundation provides the curriculum at no charge. In return, participating programs commit to specific criteria.
The AOPA Foundation reserves the right to select schools that will be allowed to use the High School Aviation STEM Curriculum.
As a requirement for continued use of the curriculum, we require programs to periodically report aggregated program enrollment, program graduation, and graduate career intention data. Data reporting helps us demonstrate the impact of our curriculum to donors and funders. Your data helps us keep the curriculum, professional development, and support free to all high schools.
MPORTANT: We never ask for personally identifying student information. Additionally, we will never report information that can be identified as belonging to a single program.
The application process for using the curriculum opens on November 12, 2023. Schools will be notified of their approval status and the next steps in the order in which applications are received. Once all forms are received and approved, detailed information about curriculum access and teacher professional development options will be provided.
The deadline to submit all completed application forms for the 2024-2025 school year is Friday, June 7, 2024.
The program, including participating teachers and administrators, shall not in any circumstance edit, alter, share, disseminate or otherwise distribute the AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Curriculum (in whole or in part, or digital or print formats) to other non-participating programs (at any level), organizations, and/or teachers.
The curriculum is FREE.
Online professional development and initial and ongoing teacher and program support are also FREE.
We keep the curriculum free through the generous donations of our members and the aviation community. Our funders want to know the impact of their donations. We measure the impact through periodic data collections from programs that use the Curriculum. The application process includes a signed agreement that schools submit periodic aggregated enrollment, graduation, and career intention data as a requirement for continued curriculum access.
Who is eligible to teach the curriculum is up to your program's leadership to decide based on applicable state teacher certification requirements for the specific academic program in which the courses will be taught.
You don't need to be a pilot to teach the curriculum. Teachers from all subject areas successfully teach the AOPA Foundation Curriculum.
The lessons are turnkey, and include highly detailed lesson plans and PowerPoint presentations that give teachers everything they need to implement successful instruction.
The AOPA Foundation also helps all teachers grow in their capacity to teach the curriculum. We provide teacher training and access to multiple online professional development resources FREE OF CHARGE to assist teachers in increasing their aviation knowledge and skills.
The lessons are built based on increments of 50-minute sessions. Each lesson plan identifies how many sessions that lesson entails.
In total, one year's worth of curriculum provides the equivalent of 140 50-minute class sessions of content. This allows a teacher to extend the time as needed, participate in field trips, or allow time for school-related activities.
The courses are taught nationwide in programs with many different scheduling options, including traditional 40-50 minute class sessions, 70-100 minute block schedules, and half-day and full-day sessions one to two days per week. Some programs even teach for two to five hour blocks every day, permitting them to complete multiple courses in one year.
Each semester course provides a pre-and post-assessment. Additionally, formative and summative assessments, quizzes, unit tests, and project rubrics are provided.
The curriculum is designed with cost in mind, as it is important to us to deliver high-quality lessons within every school's budget. Regardless of which course your school is considering, all materials required for projects can be supplied to a class of 20-25 students for approximately $1,500 to $2,000. These materials can be purchased online or at big box and home improvement stores. While simulators (airplane or drone) are not required to teach the courses successfully, every course allows schools to take advantage of any available simulation equipment. For schools teaching the UAS pathway (available in 11th or 12th grade), at least one small UAS (drone) will be essential, along with batteries and other accessories. Small drones ideal for classroom instruction can be purchased online for approximately $100
Any program providing high school credit can use our curriculum as part of its credit-bearing course offerings.
Schools and districts of all types - including but not limited to public, private, parochial, and charter schools - use the curriculum.
Career and technical centers across the country use the curriculum as approved CTE pathways.
Middle and junior high schools that award high school credit for the courses use the curriculum.
Home school co-op programs and nonprofit organizations with educational programs that meet the criteria, including offering high school credit to five or more students per class offered, are also eligible.
Not sure if your program is eligible? Email us at [email protected] to discuss.
Our curriculum is structured to be delivered by a teacher. It includes multiple hands-on engineering design activities. It is not structured for independent learners.
Lesson materials are delivered electronically to teachers through the AOPA Foundation website.
Teachers may use learning management systems to deliver curriculum material to their students. This form of delivery is acceptable, provided the school adheres to the "No Changes and Non-Disclosure" requirements in this page's Selection Criteria and Requirements section.
At this time, we are only accepting programs using selected courses in their entirety as high school credit-bearing courses.
If you are interested in starting an after-school program or aviation club, please contact Jamie Beckett, AOPA Foundation Aero Club Liaison, at [email protected]. Jamie is an expert at helping start and grow aviation-based after-school and club-based programs.
Curriculum access is granted one school year at a time. A simple renewal form will be sent to the Point of Contact at an appropriate time for schools to renew for the following school year.
Still have questions? Please contact the High School Aviation Initiative team at [email protected].
Please note: The curriculum materials provided on this website are subject to change.
100s of high schools nationwide adopted the AOPA Foundation's Free High School Aviation STEM Curriculum. See what you're missing! Request your sample 9th-grade lesson materials— The Wright Approach today.