TeachEngineering Curriculum Types

What’s the difference between TeachEngineering lessons, activities, units, informal learning activities, and maker challenges?

As you browse and search the collection, notice our five curriculum types: lessons, activities, units, informal learning activities, and maker challenges. You can use the search filter to limit your searches to one or more of these document types.

Lessons provide students (and educators) with the content knowledge to successfully work through the lessons’ corresponding activities. Because TeachEngineering is focused on delivering hands-on, engineering curricula, no standalone lessons are permitted in the collection. Each lesson has at least one associated activity that gives students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and cement comprehension.

Activities give students a chance to move beyond worksheets and pencils for a more tangible learning experience. TeachEngineering activities often have a design focus so students experience the full or partial engineering design process—a powerful way to generate solutions for any problem. Students gain knowledge through active, project-based learning, rather than from a book, lecture or worksheet. While many activities are standalone, others pair with supporting lessons.

Units are cohesive collections of lessons and activities mostly designed to be taught together. Each unit includes a schedule with the suggested order to teach the associated lessons and activities. Units can also be seen as thematic categories, from which lessons and activities can be selected to be taught independently from the larger unit. Not all lessons and activities are part of a unit, so we indicate any dependencies to other TE documents.

Informal Learning Activities (formerly Sprinkles) are abbreviated versions of our most popular activities, giving educators the opportunity to engage students in hands-on engineering in informal learning environments. These “taste of engineering” activities are perfect for before or afterschool clubs! Most Informal Learning Activities take 60 minutes or less to conduct and are designed for quick prep by teachers and non-teachers. We provide them in Spanish, too!

Maker Challenges support the makerspace revolution that is taking the K-12 STEM teaching and learning world by storm! Maker Challenges are teacher-prompted, open-ended project ideas and problems for students to solve in a self-directed, thinking-with-their-hands way that is guided by the design cycle steps. These projects cultivate everyday thinking routines and engineering habits of mind.

Free K-12 standards-aligned STEM curriculum for educators everywhere.
Find more at TeachEngineering.org