Design & Engineering

Solving everyday problems in innovative ways is a fundamental part of life – but what makes good design, and what are the required steps before building can even begin? Design & Engineering is a STEAM course that focuses on building things well; i.e. structurally sound, efficient, user-friendly and sustainable. You will study designs from history that changed our perception so much that our experience of the world shifted infinitely. You will see where things came from and project where they are going. You will learn to harness empathy to do things better, and not settle for what’s already been done.

Course Units

What lies at the heart of our fundamental drive to create tools?

In our first unit, we begin with one of the oldest and most important tools: the spear. Why was it invented? How did it alter our experience of the world around us? How have tools evolved over time, and what’s the difference between an effective one versus an ineffective one? We become familiar with angles, pressure, force and leverage, and a variety of tools that have changed our relationship with our surroundings so much, that we would never want to go back. Then, using all of our field research, we sketch our own designs for improved tools. Here are the unit sub-guiding questions you will pursue:

  • Why must we generate more force and how do we create it?
  • What makes an effective tool?
  • How do we design better tools?

How do wheels make the world spin?

In our second unit, we tackle the mother of all inventions – the wheel. Moving objects and people from one place to another suddenly becomes exponentially easier, thus shrinking distances and bringing cultures together that otherwise never would have met. We will investigate a modern relative, the bicycle, to better understand the evolution of transportation, its liberating possibilities and the basics of mechanics. Finally, we design and build a model of our own innovative bicycle. Here are the unit sub-guiding questions you will pursue:

  • How do wheels move us?
  • How do bicycles change lives?
  • How do you customize a bike design to best meet the needs of a user?

  • Science: .25
  • Math: .5


Traditional Subject Course Units SCED Codes
Geometry, Trigonometry Unit I. Stronger 02071
Algebra, Geometry Unit II. Farther 02103


Traditional Subject Course Units SCED Codes
Physics Unit I. Stronger 21006
Physics Unit II. Farther 03151