Discover resources for educators, parents, scout/camp leaders, and students that uncover and explore the power of design. Spark curiosity through engaging design-based lessons and activities, hone critical thinking skills, and nurture creativity.

Whether building forts, learning about their hometowns, or studying core design principles, students discover what it means, and what it takes, to be an architect.

AIA’s K-12 initiatives follow a blueprint with five key goals in mind:

  • inspire youth to learn about the power of design
  • motivate youth to understand the impacts of design
  • nourish youth’s curiosity to engage in solving grand challenges with design thinking
  • connect with mentors and advocates who can help students become architects
  • create resources for architects and educators to support students’ interest in architecture

Net Zero Launch

Learn methods, strategies, and materials that help a building be net zero. A net zero building means that the total amount of energy used by the building each year is equal to or less than the amount of renewable energy it can create on site. (Recommended for middle and high school students)

Activity Sheets
Lesson Plans

Virginia SOL correlations
Science 6: 6.1b, 6.3d, 6.4c, 6.4d, 6.9, 6.6e, 6.7d-f, 6.8d
Life Science: LS.1b
Physical Science: PS.1b, PS 5c, PS 5c, PS 6b, PS 7a
Earth Science: ES.1b, ES 3b, ES 6a, ES 6b-d, ES 8b, ES 8c, ES 8d, ES 10e, ES 11c,d, ES 12c-e
Biology: Bio.1b, Bio 8a, Bio 8d
Chemistry: CH.1b, CH.1c, CH.1e, CH 2b, CH 4b, CH 6c, CH 7a
Physics: PH.1b, PH.1c, PH.1e, PH.1f, PH 4b, PH 6a,b, PH 8

Hot in Here

Explore wall design, shade structures, and solar power to  protect a classroom area from the sun’s heat and glare.

Activity Sheets
Lesson Plans

Virginia SOL correlations
Science 6: 6.1b, 6.3d, 6.4c, 6.4d
Life Science: LS.1b, LS 8a, LS 9
Physical Science: PS.1b, PS 5b, PS 7a
Earth Science: ES.1b, ES 3b
Biology: Bio.1b, Bio 8c, Bio 8d
Chemistry: CH.1b
Physical Science: PH.1b, PH 6a,b

Fitting In

Determine location of a new apartment building to retain historical context of city block and skyline views.

Activity Sheet

Lesson Plan

Virginia SOL correlations

Science 6: 6.1b, 6.1e
Life Science: LS.1b, LS.1e
Physical Science: PS.1b, PS.1e
Earth Science: ES.1b, ES.1c, ES.1e
Biology: Bio.1b, Bio.1c, Bio.1e
Chemistry: CH.1b, CH.1c, CH.1e
Physics: PH.1b, PH.1c, PH.1e, PH.1f

Energy Expertise

Learn energy design through window-to-wall calculations to create an energy efficient building.

Activity Sheets

Lesson Plan

Virginia SOL correlations

Science 6: 6.1b, 6.1e, 6.1f, 6.3b, 6.3d, 6.4, 6.7c, 6.7d, 6.9b, 6.9f
Life Science: LS.1b, LS.1e, LS.1f
Physical Science: PS.1b, PS.1e, PS.1f, PS 5b, PS 7a
Earth Science: ES.1c, ES.1d, ES.1e, ES 3b
Biology: Bio.1c, Bio.1d, Bio.1e
Chemistry: CH.1b, CH.1c, CH.1e
Physics: PH.1b, PH.1c, PH.1e, PH.1f, PH 6a,b

Holding on through the Hurricane

Learn how structure and materials can help buildings resist a hurricane.

Activity Sheets
Lesson Plan

Virginia SOL correlations

Science 6: 6.1b, 6.1c, 6.7d-e, 6.8d
Life Science: LS.1b, LS.1c, LS 8a, LS8c, LS 9c
Physical Science: PS.1b, PS.1c, PS.1e, PS 8a, PS 8b, PS 9
Earth Science: ES.1b, ES.1c, ES.1e, ES 3b, ES 10c, ES 10e, ES 11c, ES 12c-e
Biology: Bio.1b, Bio.1c, Bio.1e, Bio 8c, Bio 8d
Chemistry: CH.1b, CH.1c, CH.1d, CH.1e
Physics: PH.1b, PH.1c, PH.1e, PH 3a

Creating in Your Community

Gain understanding of community needs to design an accessible, inclusive and sustainable park.

Activity Sheets
Lesson Plan

Virginia SOL correlations

Science 6: 6.1b, 6.1e
Life Science: LS.1b, LS.1e
Physical Science: PS.1b, PS.1e, PS 5a, PS 8a, PS 8b, PS 9a
Earth Science: ES.1e, ES 6, ES 8a, ES 10e
Biology: Bio.1b, Bio.1c, Bio.1e, Bio 8a, Bio 8c, Bio 8d
Chemistry: CH.1b, CH.1c, CH.1e
Physics: PH.1b, PH.1c, PH.1d, PH.1e, PH.1f

Diminutive Dwellings

Gain insight into the costs of buildings by creating efficient, flexible small spaces in a tiny home or remodeled cottage.

Activity Sheets
Lesson Plan

Virginia SOL correlations

Science 6: 6.1b, 6.9b
Life Science: LS.1b
Physical Science: PS.1b, PS.1c, PS.1e, PS 9
Earth Science: ES.1b, ES.1c, ES.1e, ES.1f, ES 6d
Biology: Bio.1b, Bio.1c, Bio.1f, Bio 8d
Chemistry: CH.1b, CH.1c, CH.1e, CH 2b, CH 4b, CH 6c, CH 7a
Physics: PH.1b, PH.1c, PH.1d, PH.1e, PH.1f, PH 4b, PH 6a,b, PH8

Build the Block

This program is a great cross-curriculum project opportunity! Students work in a team to design a space that addresses the needs of the community. Each group has an architect, a client, and community stakeholders who work together to identify the best use for an overgrown lot. Together, the team analyzes community metrics, strategize solutions, and make critical decisions related to improving the property.

Virtual and in-person toolkits are available.

In person toolkit

Virtual toolkit

Virginia SOL correlations
Science 6/Life Science/Physical Science/Earth Science/Biology/Chemistry/Physics
.1a: identify a problem, asking questions, simple solutions
.1b: measurements (for sketch)
.1c: construct graphical displays
.1e: using models
.1f: present oral/written argument

Also consider standards in Civics, Economics, Business, Art, Math

Looking for more resources?

Check out the AIA’s K-12 Problem-Based Lesson Guides — programs get added frequently. Parents & Guardians: Learn how you can help your child explore their interest in the built world.