Engineering Guide

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Welcome to our complete PK-12 guide to teaching engineering! On this page, you’ll find a complete summary of all the materials we recommend, as well as links to more detailed explanations of how best to use them.

Designed by a Ph.D. software engineer/physicist/chemist/educator, our curriculum offers your child a world-class engineering education at the best possible price. We’ve made resources available free of charge wherever possible, and when we recommend commercial products, we’ve tried to identify the options that offer the greatest value for your hard-earned money. None of the products here are sponsored (although if you’re kind enough to purchase items from our online bookshop, we will receive a small percentage). This is the same curriculum we’re using for our children, so you can be confident it meets an exacting set of standards.

Key Goals

The key goals of this curriculum are:

  • Build careers. One of the core tenants of our education philosophy is to Teach Marketable Skills. Engineering is easily among the most satisfying and best-paying career paths available, and this curriculum has been designed to ensure that students have a good sense of the types of jobs that are available within engineering and its various subfields. For a quick overview of some of the most common career paths for engineers, you may wish to read our article on what homeschoolers need to know about engineering.
  • Develop problem-solving skills. Traditional textbooks and classroom-based teaching methods are absolutely terrible at imparting the types of problem-solving skills required for real-world engineers. Our curriculum places heavy emphasis on opportunities for students to develop and exercise these skills in a natural way. For this reason, we include carefully selected video games that present players with a variety of engineering tools that are usable in a free-form manner.
  • Evaluate through accomplishments, not tests. The only way to truly test an engineer’s skills is to assign a challenging project, walk away, and then return after a respectful amount of time. Our curriculum sets challenging expectations for students that offer far better verification of progress than any written test could achieve.
  • Respect everyone’s time. This curriculum won’t waste your time or your child’s time. There’s almost no prep time for you as the teacher, and the amount of oversight you need to provide is minimal. Your child won’t be doing any useless busywork; everything we’ve included in the curriculum is there for a reason.
  • Keep costs low. Whenever we recommend a commercial product, we’ve given considerable thought about the amount of educational value it offers relative to its price. We estimate that the cost of this curriculum averages less than $30 per year (this price assumes that you follow our Parent’s Guide to Buying Educational Games on Steam and purchase video games for at least 75% under list price).

Curriculum Summary

In this section, you’ll find a brief summary of our recommendations for every grade level, from pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade. For certain grade levels, we’ve also written more extensive instructions that are accessible through links in the summaries.

We’re constantly publishing more information about the curriculum, so be sure to check back frequently.

Pre-Kindergarten: General Engineering

Begin your child’s engineering studies with our free PK Science & Engineering Playlist, which combines everything needed for the subjects of science and engineering into a single easy-to-use YouTube playlist. Packed with more than 20 hours of child-accessible material, this playlist covers manufacturing, technology, automobiles, construction, and much more!

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Kindergarten: General Engineering

With more than 30 hours of fun and memorable videos, our free Kindergarten Science & Engineering Playlist will teach your child the principles behind boats, bridges, hot air balloons, simple machines, and much more. Don’t be surprised if it encourages your child to start building complex structures with random items around the house!

1st Grade: General Engineering

Students will begin solving engineering problems themselves with The Incredible Machine – Even More Contraptions, a classic video game that delivers hundreds of challenging puzzles in a child-friendly way. Complementing this is our 1st Grade Science & Engineering Playlist, with more than 40 hours of carefully selected videos about science, technology, and engineering.

2nd Grade: General Engineering

This is the final year for which we combine science and engineering into a single curriculum. Our free 2nd Grade Science & Engineering Playlist covers engineering broadly, but places special emphasis on engineering design principles, manufacturing processes, and fluid dynamics. Students will also continue solving puzzles in The Incredible Machine – Even More Contraptions.

3rd Grade: Computer-Aided Design

By following our simple guide, you will be able to use the video games LEGO Bricktales and Abriss to teach basic principles of structural engineering, robotics, problem solving, and design. Just as importantly, playing these games will help your child develop rudimentary skills for doing 3-dimensional design work on a computer, which is absolutely essential for real-world engineers.

4th Grade: Theme Park Engineering

We can imagine few topics more engaging to a young engineer than theme parks, and our free Theme Park Engineering playlist is filled with more than 20 hours of information about the engineering that supports roller coasters, animatronics, dark rides, environment theming, and park management. We encourage students to put these skills to use with the Planet Coaster video game, for which we also provide a free tutorial playlist.

5th Grade: Introduction to Aerospace Engineering

Introduce your child to the extraordinary technological achievements that enabled mankind’s early adventures into space. Our 5th grade recommendation, How We Got to the Moon, tells the story of the Apollo program and the remarkable people who made it a success, while also offering an accessible introduction to science of rocketry.

6th Grade: Civil Engineering

Teach your children about all the engineering that makes cities livable with Engineering in Plain Sight, a fantastic exploration of the engineering infrastructure that can be found scattered throughout any modern city. By playing the beloved Cities: Skylines video game, your child will gain a deep understanding of the importance of city planning and transportation engineering within the urban environment.

7th Grade: Manufacturing

Using our free History of Manufacturing playlist, students will learn about the advancements in manufacturing that have brought us from the Stone Age to the Information Age. They’ll then be tasked with carrying out their own industrial revolution within the Satisfactory video game, which will test their planning and process management skills to the limit.

8th Grade: Technology

While reading The Way Things Work, your child will learn about the engineering behind submarines, video cameras, refrigerators, computer hard drives, nuclear reactors, and hundreds of other inventions. As the end of our middle school curriculum, this book does a wonderful job of summarizing key concepts from previous years and preparing students for high school.

9th Grade: Electrical Engineering

Give your child hands-on circuit design experience by following our simple guide to using Snap Circuits. Students will learn how to think about electrical components on a conceptually intelligent level, while also applying this information to construct increasingly sophisticated circuits.

10th Grade: Advanced Aerospace Engineering

Turn your child into a rocket scientist with our guide to high school aerospace engineering. From our free aerospace engineering playlist, your student will learn about rocket design and manufacturing, orbital mechanics, satellite technologies, the history of spaceflight, and much more. Your child will then be able to put this newfound knowledge to the test in the extraordinary Kerbal Space Program video game.

11th Grade: Automotive Engineering

Are the inner workings of your car a mystery to you? In this automotive engineering course, your child will learn about very nearly every nut and bolt in a car with help from the excellent website How a Car Works. The video game Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 will then offer an opportunity to put this knowledge to the test.

12th Grade: Fluid Mechanics

As the capstone of our engineering curriculum, we recommend the video game Oxygen Not Included. This challenging game will serve as the final test of your child’s engineering prowess, with success requiring mastery of many of the skills that were developed in earlier years: project planning, automation, civil engineering, manufacturing, etc. In addition, students will contend with new challenges arising from the principles of thermodynamics, chemical engineering, and fluid mechanics.