High School Aviation STEM Curriculum (2022)

Questions? Contact us at [emailprotected].


Did you know that 763,000 new pilots will be needed in the world by 2039, based on Boeing'sPilot and Technician Outlook? Ironically, the number of pilot certificates issued by the Federal Aviation Administration has decreased more than 60 percent since 1980. This mismatch of supply and demand presents a tremendous opportunity for students to pursue aviation careers that they may not previously have considered.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the world's largest aviation community, has created an aviation STEM curriculum for high schools across the United States. The AOPA High School Aviation STEM Curriculum is the first of its kind, offering students comprehensive four-year aviation study options that are aligned to Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.

AOPA has created these courses as part of two career and technical education (CTE) pathways: Pilot and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drones). Each pathway is four years in length, and schools can decide to implement one or more complete pathways, or select individual courses to use as standalone electives. Schools may now apply to use the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade courses in the upcoming school year.

Thanks to generous donations to theAOPA Foundation, all courses are offered to high schools at no charge.


This curriculum is intended for teachers to use in a formalized education setting as a credit-bearing course.The curriculum is aligned to Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards and through crosswalks can be aligned to individual state standards.

The ninth and tenth grade courses, eleventh grade Pilot and UAS Pathway courses, and the twelfth grade Pilot and UAS Pathway courses Pathway courses are available for high schools to implement in the upcoming school year.

Each course is a turn-key set of high quality instructional and assessment resources written by an expert team comprised of veteran teachers, curriculum professionals, pilots and flight instructors. The curriculum is delivered in electronic format to all teachers through the AOPA website. Every one of the lessons that make up each year-long course includes everything that a teacher needs to provide rigorous and exciting project-based learning experiences:

  • 5E model lesson plans aligned to CCSS and NGSS
  • Teacher presentations with embedded instructional safe video links
  • Student activities and projects, project rubrics, and materials lists
  • Extension activities for enrichment and strategies for inclusion

Evaluating student growth and performance is easy with AOPA-provided formative and summative assessments within each lesson, unit quizzes and exams, and semester pre- and post-tests.

Included with the curriculum is an outstanding initial and ongoing professional development and teacher support program. Initial professional development is provided for teachers who will be teaching any of the courses for the first time. The initial training is mandatory and is offered in multiple formats that provide teachers with options to meet their own learning styles and to fit their busy schedules. Ongoing professional development will be available to all teachers during the school year via webinars and other electronic formats. AOPA social media groups, the AOPA High School Initiative Team, and AOPA’s rich library of educational resources provide a wealth of information to support teachers in their instructional journey.


Click on any of the course names below to see the course description, outline, materials list, and a sample lesson plan, teacher presentation, student activities, and lesson supporting documents.

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AOPA provides the AOPA High School Aviation STEM Curriculum at no charge to high schools. AOPA also commits to supporting schools in starting and growing successful aviation programs through the implementation of the AOPA High School Aviation STEM Curriculum. In return, participating schools, administrators, and teachers commit to meeting certain simple requirements set by AOPA. These requirements are spelled out in detail in the Selection Criteria section below.

High School Key Requirements

A simple online application form is required from all high schools that intend to use the curriculum for the first time in the upcoming school year. The application process is not competitive and all applications that meet the requirements as outlined in the Selection Criteria section below will be approved.

Teacher Key Requirements

Upon approval of high school curriculum applications, each teacher within a school who will be teaching the curriculum is required to complete an online teacher information form. The form incudes contact information, the courses the teacher will be teaching, and other general information.

Upon completing the teacher information form, teachers will complete an online teacher agreement form in which they commit to the terms listed in the Selection Criteria section below.

School and District Administrator Key Requirements

One school administrator and one district administrator will be required to complete an online agreement form in which the school and district commit to specific course offering and data collection requirements and to support the teacher(s) who will be implementing the curriculum. Details of those commitments are included in the Selection Criteria section below.

(Video) AOPA High School Aviation STEM Symposium

Access to Professional Development and Curriculum Resources

Teachers will be given access to professional development opportunities and curriculum resources upon submission and approval of the following online forms:

  • High School Application Form
  • Teacher Information Form(s)
  • Teacher Agreement Form(s)
  • School and District Administrator Agreement Form


The following criteria must be met in order to be eligible to use the AOPA High School Aviation STEM Curriculum:

  • The teacher(s) using the curriculum must be a paid or contracted employee of a school system or school.
  • The school district (if applicable) and school administration must agree to provide support to the teacher(s).
  • The school must use the AOPA courses it will teach in their entirety as an official credit-bearing course for the school year.
  • The school must commit to using both semesters of the AOPA courses it will teach. For schools using a block scheduling system, both semesters of material may be taught during a single semester.
  • The school must enroll at least five students in each AOPA course to be taught.
  • If teaching AOPA’s curriculum at a given grade level for the first time, the instructor must participate in AOPA's professional development. This training must occur prior to the start of the school year.
  • The school must submit completed application and agreement forms, with all required information and signatures, signifying support of the school district (if applicable) and school administration.
  • Teacher(s) and school must agree to submit all required data before or on the dates provided on the agreement form. Details of the data reporting requirements are listed in the section below.

AOPA reserves the right to select, in its sole discretion, schools that will be allowed to use the AOPA High School Aviation STEM Curriculum.

Data Reporting Requirements

Data will be collected from each teacher using the curriculum four times per year – at the beginning and end of each semester.

Required data for each teacher per class per semester using the AOPA curriculum:

  • School FARMs rate (Free and Reduced Meals percentage)
  • Total number of students enrolled in the AOPA course(s)
  • Total number of students by gender and ethnicity
  • Average class pre- and post-course assessment scores
  • Aviation related data, e.g. the number of students pursuing flight training, taking FAA written tests, taking flight checkrides, etc.
  • High school graduation rate
  • Graduation rate for students enrolled in courses using AOPA curriculum

If a high school continues courses in a pathway(s), data will need to be provided from the high school providing the number of students continuing in the pathway, number of CTE completers, and industry credential metrics. AOPA may request additional data. No personally identifying student information will be collected.

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The application process for using the curriculum opens on November 13, 2022. Schools will be notified of their selection status and next steps in the order in which applications are received.Once all forms are received and approved, more detailed information will be provided about curriculum access and teacher professional development options.

The deadline to submit all completed application forms for the 2021-2022 school year is Tuesday, May 31, 2022.

No Changes and Non-Disclosure: The school, including participating teachers and administrators shall not in any circumstance edit, alter, chase, share, disseminate or otherwise distribute the AOPA High School Aviation STEM Curriculum (in whole or in part, or in digital or print formats) to other non-participating schools (at any level), organizations, and/or teachers.

Still have questions? Please contact the High School Aviation Initiative team at [emailprotected].

Please note: The curriculum materials provided on this website are subject to change.

(Video) U.S. Air Force, AOPA High School Aviation STEM Symposium Live Stream


Is aviation a stem? ›

STEM + Students = Success in Aviation

To maintain our country's global leadership in aviation, as well as in other disciplines, today's students must advance their skills in science, technology, education, and math ( STEM ).

Is STEM good for aviation? ›

STEM: STEM is actually the most recommended strand to take for senior high school students who are planning to enter the aviation industry and become pilots, aircraft engineers, or avionics specialist.

What branch of science is aviation? ›

Aeronautics is the study of the science of flight. Aeronautics is the method of designing an airplane or other flying machine.

What do pilots call each other? ›

“Tree,” “fife” and “niner”

Aviators often speak “pilot English” to avoid miscommunications over radio transmission. “Tree” for instance, means three, “fife” is the number five and “niner” means nine, says Tom Zecha, a manager at AOPA.

What is the height requirement for pilot? ›

Pilot requirements

Minimum height: 5ft 2in (157cm) | Maximum height: 6ft 3in (191cm)

Do you have to be smart to be a pilot? ›

You need good mental maths skills, the aptitude to be able to fly and be prepared to work hard. How do you become a pilot?

Does pilot belong to STEM? ›

The difference of the STEM curriculum with the other strands and tracks is the focus on advanced concepts and topics. Under the track, you can become a pilot, an architect, an astrophysicist, a biologist, a chemist, an engineer, a dentist, a nutritionist, a nurse, a doctor, and a lot more.

What are the disadvantages of STEM strand? ›

STEM suffers from a lack of uniform curriculum.

The biggest issue plaguing STEM education at large is the lack of uniform guidelines for what students should learn or what qualifications teachers require for hiring. Every program at every STEM school is different.

What does NASA consider STEM? ›

NASA invests in our nation's future workforce by providing unique science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) opportunities for students, educators and institutions.

What subjects does aviation need? ›

Learners have to have English, Mathematics and Physical Science. Learners have to pass 6 Aviation subjects for the academic qualifications. Learners must be 16 years old before they can write any of their official CAA examinations.

What are the aviation subjects? ›

Aviation subjects cover a wide area of disciplines such as Aviation Management, Airline Operations, Air Traffic Services, Avionics Systems, Airport Marketing Management, etc. The Aviation Courses can be pursued at all levels of study such as Certification, Diploma, UG, PG, and Doctorate.

Why do pilots say see ya? ›

It's so the controller knows that the pilot not only heard his handoff, but is actually leaving the frequency. The pilot could have heard the handoff and acknowledged but then had a question that the controller didn't hear.

What do pilots say when they drop bombs? ›

When you fly one of our Air Combat missions, you will hear “FOX 2, Fight's On” to initiate our canned setups. “FOX 2” is a brevity code used by fighter pilots to declare a weapon's release (sorta like “bomb's away” from WWII).

How do you greet pilots? ›

Commercial airline pilots are addressed as Captain, “sir”, or “ma'am”. Even if you see the First officer standing by to bid you farewell, it's not customary to address them as anything but these three.

Is there a weight limit for pilots? ›

If you want to fly professionally it requires much more work, time and money. Adam is right about the FAA not having a height or weight requirement but ATP does require it's students to be less than 250 lbs in order to complete the program successfully and be hired as a CFI.

Do you need 20/20 vision to be a pilot? ›

What are the FAA standards for vision? Federal Aviation Regulations require that a pilot's distant vision be 20/20 or better, with or without correction, in EACH eye separately to hold a first or second class medical certificate. The standard for near visual acuity (16″) is 20/40 in each eye separately.

What is dating a pilot like? ›

As the partner of a Pilot you need to be flexible to fit your life around their schedule. You need to be ok with not always having a routine. Understand this is absolutely not a regular job. Your partner won't know their schedule from one month to the next, sometimes not even from one week to the next.

What percentage of student pilots quit? ›

Some 80% of student pilots voluntarily withdraw from training before gaining even a basic pilot licence, according to a study conducted for the US Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

What would stop me from becoming a pilot? ›

Unfortunately, some medical or health issues may cause you to fail the extensive medical examinations required to become a pilot. This includes certain heart diseases, conditions such as epilepsy, poor hearing, bad vision, and even common allergies, as certain allergy medications can make you drowsy.

What can stop me from being a pilot? ›

What Disqualifies You From Becoming a Pilot?
  • Failed Exams and Insufficient Flight Time. Not passing all of the practical and written exams can cause you to be unable to get a pilot license. ...
  • Having a Criminal Record. ...
  • Being Too Young. ...
  • Having a Medical Condition. ...
  • Not Being Fluent in English. ...
  • Are You Ready to Fly?
30 Sept 2020

Is a pilot considered a STEM career? ›

25 Best STEM Jobs: Operations Research Analyst. Psychiatrist. Pilot.

Is pilot a STEM strand? ›

Under the STEM STRAND, you can become a pilot, an architect, an astrophysicist, a biologist, a chemist, an engineer, a dentist, a nutritionist, a nurse, a doctor, and a lot more.

Is aeronautical a STEM degree? ›

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has long been a world leader in aviation and aerospace education. As such, the university is committed to the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics – a STEM-based education.

Is aviation considered a science? ›

Aviation is not strictly a science, but it's closely related to the science of aeronautics. 'Aviation' refers to the design, development, operation, and production of aircraft.

What course is pilot STEM? ›

The Academic Track has a sub-branch called Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics strand (STEM). The subjects in STEM are in line with the courses related to aviation, which is ideal for senior high school students who are planning to get into the aviation industry.

Do I need a STEM degree to be a pilot? ›

None of the airlines specify any particular subject, just that they want you to have a degree. Having said that, many people want to do something related to aviation, and it is possible in some colleges to major in aviation, aeronautical science, aerospace engineering, or a similar subject.

What science is best for pilot? ›

A BS in physics may do more to prepare you for life as a pilot than any other generic science degree. Most physics programs, for instance, include courses on thermodynamics and aerodynamics, which are both included in aviation programs as well.

What is the hardest subject in STEM strand? ›

Engineering was overwhelmingly considered to be the biggest culprit, with 76pc of respondents naming it as 'a man's world'. Computers and technology was the next area considered in this field, though it still trailed far behind engineering at less than 17pc.

What strands are under STEM? ›

What is STEM in senior high? STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics strand. Through the STEM strand, senior high school students are exposed to complex mathematical and science theories and concepts which will serve as a foundation for their college courses.

What strand is aircraft maintenance? ›

Students who want to pursue a degree in Aircraft Maintenance Technology are encouraged to take the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) strand under the Academic Track. The strand provides the basics of applied mathematics and sciences that will be useful in their college life.

Is aerospace part of STEM? ›

Aerospace engineering is a STEM field focused on the design, development, testing, and operation of aircraft and spacecraft. The field encompasses the creation of everything from miniaturized drones to heavy-lift interplanetary rockets.

What fields count as STEM? ›

It includes disciplines in the life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, computer science, and the health sciences.

What counts as a STEM major? ›

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The term serves as an umbrella for a number of fields, including information technology, software development, computer network architecture, information security, and others.

Is algebra used in aviation? ›

There are several types of math that pilots use in their career and throughout their training including basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, mental math and more.

What subjects does aviation have? ›

Subjects are as follows:
  • Air law.
  • Aircraft General Knowledge.
  • Aircraft Flight Performance & Planning.
  • Human Performance.
  • Meteorology.
  • Navigation.
  • Operational Procedures.
  • Principles of Flight.

What kind of physics is used in aviation? ›

aerodynamics, branch of physics that deals with the motion of air and other gaseous fluids and with the forces acting on bodies passing through such a fluid. Aerodynamics seeks, in particular, to explain the principles governing the flight of aircraft, rockets, and missiles.


1. All Things Aviation & Aerospace: AOPA You Can Fly High School Initiative - Focus: Aviation S.T.E.M.
(Private Air Media Group, llc)
2. Williams International Makes Substantial Gift to You Can Fly High School Program
(AOPA Pilot Video)
3. AOPA's High School Aviation Initiative
(AOPA Pilot Video)
4. AOPA's High School Initiatives and Scholarships
(AOPA Pilot Video)
5. GTCHS Aviation Program
(Doug Adomatis)
6. 2020 AOPA High School STEM Symposium
(AOPA Pilot Video)

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