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AOPA FOUNDATION HIGH SCHOOL AVIATION STEM CURRICULUM

UNLOCKING CAREER PATHWAYS FOR STUDENTS

According to Boeing's Pilot and Technician Outlook, the world will need over 600,000 new pilots and nearly 700,000 new technicians in the next 20 years. Schools and districts nationwide must prepare students for these high-paying, rewarding careers in aviation and aerospace.

In response, the AOPA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AOPA, the world's largest aviation community, created the AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Curriculum, unlocking pathways to aviation careers for thousands of teens.

This STEM.org-reviewed educational resource is available free of charge to U.S. schools, districts, nonprofits, and homeschool co-ops.

CUSTOMIZABLE COURSE OFFERINGS AND SUPPORT

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 your program goals and students' needs.

With each course, you receive a turn-key set of high-quality instructional and assessment resources:

  • 5E format lesson plans aligned to CCSS, NGSS, and FAA ACS
  • Teacher presentations with embedded video links
  • Student activities and projects, rubrics, and materials lists
  • Extension activities for enrichment and strategies for differentiation
  • Lesson formative and summative assessments
  • Unit quizzes and exams
  • Semester pre-and post-tests

We also offer initial and ongoing professional development:

  • Free video-based professional development
  • Optional in-person professional development at a nominal fee
  • Ongoing support through AOPA social media groups, the High School Initiative team, and AOPA's extensive library of educational resources

Reminder: The AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Curriculum is FREE thanks to AOPA Foundation donors.

GET EXCLUSIVE ACCESS TO SAMPLES OF OUR CURRICULUM MATERIALS

Complete the form below to access comprehensive samples of our 9th through 12th-grade curriculum materials, including course descriptions and outlines, lesson plans and activities, teacher presentations and student materials, and more.

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Click on any of the links below for a sneak peek:


APPLICATION PROCESS

Point of Contact Steps

Step 1

  • Identify a point of contact (POC) who will complete an online application form.

Step 2

  • The school and district administrators identified in the application will electronically sign a brief agreement document.
  • POCs will have teachers complete an online Teacher Information Form and electronically sign a brief agreement document.

Step 3

  • Once all documents are received, teachers will be given access to professional development opportunities and curriculum resources.

SELECTION CRITERIA AND REQUIREMENTS

The AOPA Foundation provides the curriculum at no charge. In return, participating programs commit to specific criteria. Criteria with asterisks may be waived by Kentucky-based programs for the Kentucky Career Preparation Course only.

  • The teacher(s) using the curriculum must be a paid or contracted employee of the program. *
  • The program must use any courses selected in their entirety as official credit-bearing courses. *
  • The program must intend to enroll at least five students in each course offered. *
  • If teaching the curriculum at a given grade level for the first time, the instructor must participate in either online or in-person professional development before starting to teach the course.
  • Teacher(s) and the program must agree to submit all required data (see below).

The AOPA Foundation reserves the right to approve schools to use the High School Aviation STEM Curriculum.

Data Reporting Requirements

We require programs to periodically report aggregated program enrollment, graduation, and career intention data. Data reporting demonstrates the impact of our curriculum to our donors and funders and keeps the program free to all.

IMPORTANT: We never ask for personally identifying student information. Additionally, we will never report information that can be identified as belonging to a single program.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does the curriculum cost?

The curriculum is FREE.

Online professional development and initial and ongoing teacher and program support are also FREE.

IF THE CURRICULUM IS FREE, WHY DO WE HAVE TO APPLY TO USE IT?

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 can teach the curriculum?

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.

HOW ARE THE LESSON PLANS STRUCTURED?

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.

WHAT ASSESSMENTS ARE PROVIDED IN THE CURRICULUM?

Each semester course provides a pre-and post-assessment. Additionally, formative and summative assessments, quizzes, unit tests, and project rubrics are provided.

WHAT KIND OF MATERIALS WILL A SCHOOL NEED TO PURCHASE AND WHAT KIND OF BUDGET SHOULD WE PLAN FOR?

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

What type of programs can use the curriculum?

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.

IS THIS CURRICULUM AVAILABLE AS AN ONLINE COURSE?

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.

Can this curriculum be used as an after-school program?

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.

HOW LONG IS CURRICULUM ACCESS GRANTED FOR? WILL WE NEED TO RENEW OUR APPLICATION?

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.

CAN I MAKE CHANGES TO THE CURRICULUM OR SHARE IT WITH OTHERS?

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.

We recognize that teachers are professionals who understand their students' strengths, weaknesses, and needs. They have the flexibility to creatively apply their pedagogical and content knowledge to deliver high-quality instructional activities, all while adhering to the curriculum.

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.