STEM in the curriculum

Now more than ever, students should be prepared with the knowledge and skills to solve problems, interpret information, make decisions, and work collaboratively. A STEM education from K12-powered online schools fosters these skills and nurtures a solid academic foundation students can build upon for the entirety of their learning journey and beyond.

STEM Curriculum

The K12 curriculum embeds the STEM interdisciplinary learning approach in all subjects at every step of your child’s educational journey. Our middle school public school programs and high school public school programs offer a broad range of courses that include core STEM subjects and electives.*

Each component of the STEM curriculum has a critical part to play in a balanced educational experience. Together, these components prepare students to enter a fast-changing and increasingly complex world.

Studying the world and gathering knowledge helps us understand real-world problems and generate solutions to improve the world. The STEM science curriculum at K12 offers dynamic pathways for students of all ages. Each is designed to foster a sense of curiosity through virtual labs, hands-on learning experiences, and interactive lessons. The courses provide opportunities to learn about and use the skills that help students become critical thinkers.

K12 science classes encourage students to learn, think, and explore like a scientist: they learn to identify problems and share their knowledge about possible solutions, they analyze results and compare data to current understandings, they make and defend researched conclusions.

In elementary school, the K12 science STEM curriculum consists of five segments that begin with an overview of science and how to study it. These segments lead students to engage in science and engineering practices as they explore complex topics. Students learn about plant and animal relationships, analyze weather conditions, explore the benefits of the sun, explore interactions between forces, and conduct investigations using digital tools and simulations. 

Middle school K12 STEM science classes include coursework and investigations in general science, life science, physical science, and more.

K12-powered online high school students focus on science specialties and explore biotechnology, forensic science, biology, and environmental science. These specialties allow students to broaden their science knowledge in specific disciplines that support science-based careers or closely-related scientific fields.

K12 even offers a Summit Honors Biology course with a challenging honors-level curriculum focusing on the chemistry of living things. Foundational and specific science courses can prepare students for taking their education to the next level and using it to build a career. Classes like Sports Medicine introduce students to essential skills while building on scientific knowledge and introducing possible careers such as fitness instruction, athletic training, exercise physiology, sports management, and physical therapy.

Technology helps us communicate, assists us in our everyday lives, and drives entire systems and industries. Some of the most popular technology classes in K12’s STEM curriculum include Animation 1, Game Design 1 and 2, Mobile Apps, and Cybersecurity. Beyond the core curriculum in technology, there are some fantastic K12 Information Technology (IT) elective learning opportunities: from courses that explore the role of IT applications in the real world to K12 IT career and college prep to developing passion projects and making community connections. Some of the IT learning opportunities for K12-powered students include: 

  • Elective IT Courses: Additional classes that include IT Explorations, Computer Science, C++ Programming, Programming I (VB.NET), Programming II (Java), Web Design, Game Design, and more. 
  • IT Career and College Prep: A career readiness online program designed for high school students with a keen interest in IT. A typical day starts with core classes, followed by elective IT classes that can include work-based and independent learning. 
  • Community Connections: Build connections and relationships with STEM Clubs and further engage with the IT community. Join others with IT interests and similar career ambitions to work on projects, take field trips, and compete against other schools.

Engineering is the component of STEM that integrates science, technology, and math. An engineer uses scientific knowledge and math to design, build, and maintain the technology that solves problems. A simpler way to think of engineering is that it creates technology. K12-powered students interested in engineering have access to some exciting classes: 

  • Introduction to Robotics: a Project Based Learning (PBL) course that explores the physics, mechanics, motion, engineering design, and construction aspects of developing robots. 
  • Introduction to Engineering Design: a course that explores various applications of engineering and how innovative solutions can solve problems across industries. 
  • Engineering Explorations: a one-semester course that dives into engineering and technology careers and what skills and knowledge you’ll need to succeed in these fields. Includes explorations of innovative and cutting-edge projects that are changing our world and examines the design and prototype development process. Advanced K12-powered students also have the opportunity to explore emerging engineering technologies and career possibilities through the K12 Career and College Prep program.

Building a solid foundation in math from an early age instills confidence and helps students improve in areas like analytical thinking, logical reasoning, and problem-solving. The K12 math curriculum starts in kindergarten with courses that introduce mathematics in a way that engages and excites students throughout their K12 journey. K12 math courses are informative, innovative, and make learning fun. 

Sample online math lessons from our elementary and middle school curriculums show how these lessons captivate young learners. Each math course in the STEM curriculum is designed to build on the concepts learned in previous lessons. This natural learning progression deepens students’ understanding of mathematical methods. For example, our Summit Algebra 1 course is intended to formalize and extend the mathematics that students learned in the middle grades. It’s built to follow revised middle school math courses and covers slightly different ground than previous algebra versions.

For additional enrichment opportunities in mathematics or other STEM disciplines, students can partake in STEM projects, activities, and challenges. These extracurricular experiences allow students to explore, create, and design without barriers.

What is STEAM curriculum?

Adding an “A” for “art” to STEM makes STEAM. Integrating the arts in a STEM curriculum creates an even more well-rounded, customizable framework for learning that encourages students and educators to engage in a way that includes a broader scope of talents and interests.

STEAM can be considered more inclusive than STEM in some ways, bridging the gap between the arts and sciences. With the addition of art, STEAM embraces all types of learners and adds an exciting element to STEM that encourages creative and innovative thinking.

The Benefits of a STEM Education: Putting It All Together

The STEM interdisciplinary learning approach is at the heart of the K12 STEM curriculum. Students are empowered to learn science, technology, engineering, and math holistically rather than separately. Our teaching approach designs its STEM curriculum so that the coursework in the four areas complements and reinforces the others.

The STEM curriculum removes the traditional barriers between isolated academic concepts. STEM components are integrated into a cohesive learning system and match real-world lessons that help students apply these concepts and make valuable connections between school, community, work, and the world.

Ready to get started with STEM?

If you want to set your students on the path to success in their future education and careers, join an academic culture of innovation, inquiry, and curiosity. The K12 STEM curriculum is the perfect place to start.

Learn More About STEM Education

STEM and STEAM-focused education approaches are a great way to get students excited about learning. We’ve put together lots of information and resources here so you can learn about and navigate through the many possibilities.

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STEM in Curriculum

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STEM Clubs

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STEM in the Real World

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STEM Projects, Activities, and Challenges

*Courses vary by school. Please check with your school for specific offerings.