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YES Curricula

To develop learners’ problem-solving abilities and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) mindsets, Youth Engineering Solutions (YES) intentionally designs age-appropriate, engaging pre-kindergarten through eighth grade curricula for school and out-of-school settings

yes elementaryyes middle schoolyes out of school

An engaging, real-world engineering problem anchors each YES unit. Youth design innovative solutions using engineering, science, and computational thinking concepts and practices. Youth connect the problem to their lives and communities and consider possible implications of the technologies they create.

YES units:

  • are designed for all learners. Materials are rooted in a set of design principles for equity and extensively classroom tested to ensure they provide learning opportunities for all youth.
  • use an age-appropriate engineering design process to guide youth’s efforts.
  • are multidisciplinary and multimodal. Youth apply science, math, and computational thinking throughout the engineering design process to deepen understanding. Units begin with context-setting narratives (stories, comics, videos) that feature diverse role models who engage learners’ imagination and motivation. Youth express their ideas by speaking, writing, drawing, and demonstrating. Embedded scaffolds support language development for youth, including English learners. Youth engage in social emotional learning as they practice responsible decision making, social awareness, and perspective taking throughout the units.
  • empower socially engaged engineering. Youth consider multiple perspectives and the social, environmental, and ethical implications of technology, including those they design. Each unit situates engineering in local, community, and global contexts.
  • engage youth in engineering, science, mathematics, and computational thinking practices that foster the development of an engineering mindset. Lesson plans identify the practices, focusing on ways youth use them. By engaging in authentic engineering work, youth develop engineering identities, seeing themselves as engineers with the mindset and ability to solve problems and change the world.
  • align with state and NGSS standards. Curriculum materials are purposefully designed to meet state and national standards.
  • involve hands-on explorations with low-cost materials. Children learn by doing, thinking, and sharing. Concrete explorations using inexpensive materials anchor units. After experiencing the phenomenon, more abstract, developmentally appropriate representations are introduced.
  • feature open-ended challenges with multiple solutions. Carefully designed activities encourage youth to draw on their backgrounds, experiences, cultures, and strengths and celebrate innovative approaches.
  • support productive failure. Materials help youth embrace the important role of failure and iteration in engineering. Activities model how to persist through and learn from unsuccessful attempts.
  • require collaboration and teamwork. By communicating, negotiating, and explaining their ideas and thinking in small group and whole class discussions, youth learn with and from each other.
  • embed scaffolds for youth work. Youth of all ages and ability levels are provided with opportunities to meaningfully participate in activities. Previous familiarity with materials, tasks, or terminology is not assumed. Instead, embedded scaffolding activities develop necessary knowledge, skills, and tools.
  • include assessment rubrics and materials that evaluate how well learners are meeting lesson and unit objectives.
  • are developed collaboratively with educators, engineers, and researchers. Cycles of classroom-testing and revision ensure materials meet learning goals and work in classrooms.
  • promote educator learning. Intentionally designed curricular materials help educators expand their engineering knowledge and instructional practices, build their confidence to teach engineering, and recognize youth’s untapped potential.
  • free and available online (when completed).


Youth Engineering Solutions educates the next generation of problem solvers and engineers by developing equitable, research-based, and classroom-tested preK-8 engineering and STEM curricula; preparing and empowering educators to teach engineering; and conducting rigorous research that informs K-12 engineering education.

Youth Engineering Solutions (YES)

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802