Elective Classes Examples

Explorations Electives (Junior and Senior Year)

All students complete two years of "foundation" classes in engineering, design, and computer science over their freshman and sophomore year.  In their junior and senior years, students are able to select additional "exploration" classes specific to their passion and post-high school plans.  

**The course below are example offerings.  The classes offered each year are determined by student interest and staffing.

Engineering Explorations

Advanced Engineering Sciences 

This course is meant to serve as a preparation for students interested in studying engineering after high school and has an additional focus on in-depth product development cycles, ethical and professional obligations of an engineer, feasibility studies, cost analysis, group collaboration, foundational science concepts, computational tools, communication, and statistical analysis.  Students develop skills in TIG welding and CNC milling. 


Advanced Product Design and Production: Furniture  

This course introduces students to the world of design through computer aided design, technical drawing, scale model building, design criteria and the design process, computer aided manufacturing, and power and hand tool use. Starting with guided projects, drawing and model building, and culminating in finished furniture, students will learn industry standard design and manufacturing programs and tools from pencils and architectural rulers to standing power tools and computer numerical control (CNC) tools.  


Electronic Circuitry  

Electronic Circuitry will focus on developing the skills and knowledge needed to make your own electronic circuits and DIY projects. We will tinker with and make circuits with LED lighting, audio modifiers and speakers, and logic chips that can do simple calculations. We will also learn about the fundamental equations and properties of circuits that guide how they work and use them to design systems within design constraints like power dissipation, current draw, and voltage maximum ratings. 


*Advanced mathematics are used throughout this course. Algebra 2 is a pre-requisite for this course, and  Pre-Calculus is recommended. 


Marine Engineering  

Marine Engineering is the science, design, and manufacturing knowledge needed to build boats and watercraft.  The skills, knowledge, and techniques are easily transferable to any hull, body, or structure in any other environment as well.  Students will design, build, test, and redesign objects using computer aided design, CNC manufacturing, standing and hand-held tools, measuring and marking, and adhesives and composites. 



In this course students are experience robotics as an intersection of multiple disciplines, including art, technology, computer science, physical science, and engineering.  Four main themes dominate the projects: electrical systems, control systems, mechanical systems, and computers.  Students learn to program microcontrollers and construct circuits with a variety of input and output devices, culminating in the creation of their own robot. 


Automotive Sciences  

This course explores the many ways that chemistry, physics, and mathematics are applied in the design, construction, and operation of modern automobiles. For example, the fluid and thermodynamics involved in the carburetor, the coefficient of friction between wheels and the road, and the complex computer simulation of aerodynamic flow over the car's exterior. 


Bike Frame Building 

Students will learn to design, build and construct bicycles from scratch using computer modeling, simulation and welding tools. 


Green Energies 

This course examines the impact of human activities on sustainability while exploring the basic principles and technologies that support sustainable design. Students learn about the potential for emerging energy technologies such as water, wind, and solar power. They find out how today's businesses are adapting to the increased demand for sustainable products and services. In this course, students develop a comprehensive understanding of this fast-growing field. 


Small Motors 

This is course is a science-based look at the designed mechanisms that convert various forms of energy into kinetic energy (motion). The course begins with a historical exploration of simple machines and introduction of foundational science concepts. Next the vast world of electric motors is explored. Finally, the course concludes with heat engines, which includes internal and external combustion engines, from steam engines to modern internal combustion gasoline engines. 

Art and Design Explorations

Digital Painting and Drawing 

This course is designed to develop a student’s working knowledge of the computer as a tool for creating advanced level illustrations using digital drawing & painting. This course is primarily aimed at creating art on the computer and not about learning to use specific programs. Assignments will be based on furthering and refining knowledge of the used applications Autodesk Sketchbook and Photoshop. 


Game Design  

Students will continue with computer science by developing more advanced programming in Python and start to use Arduino circuits and small electronics (exploring computer science required).  


2D Advanced Graphics and Motion 

Students will learn to use vector-based drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Maya and Rhino to make 2D art. 



Animation is designed on storyboards. Students learn basic animation theory and mechanics, develop observational and drawing skills and study the fundamental principles of character design, layout and storyboarding in this class. 


Music Production  

This class is all about using a computer as a musical instrument and making music fast- from EDM anthems to hip-hop beats, and pretty much everything in between. We’ll be learning simple tools to start playing a song on the very first day. With loops and construction kits, we’ll learn the fundamentals of how to build your own song. And once we learn how to choose the right instruments and sounds, how to organize and arrange all the pieces, and how to customize our song with cool effects; we’ll deconstruct each of the pieces and learn how to make them all from scratch! If you like listening to music, if you like using your imagination to be creative, and if you like using technology to express yourself, this is the class for you! 


Studio Art 

Students will learn painting and drawing techniques and learn how to use multiple types of media to create art. 


Business and Marketing  

Students will learn and demonstrate effective communication by speaking, listening, writing, and reading. Describe the scope of marketing. Explain the marketing mix. Explain different types of advertising. Identify and execute the seven steps of the sales process. Develop expectations for workplace-related values, such as a strong work ethic, good working relationships, ability to succeed in culturally diverse environments, strong communication skills, continual skill improvement, and competence in managing one’s career. 


3D Modeling for Design 

Students will learn to sketch and design products in 3D both on paper and in 3D software such as Maya and Rhino. 


Advanced Product Design 

Product development and design processes and methods, including product specifications, concept development, engineering drawings, design for prototyping, and manufacturing. 



Photography is an exciting and contemporary course based on learning and using a digital SLR camera, learning manual exposure settings, basics of photographic composition, lighting techniques, and incorporation of images with a computer. Students will develop a series of projects for print, digital, and presentation. 

Computer Sciences Explorations

*These courses can be selected by students in both Engineering and Design Pathway programs. 

Engineering and Design Projects with Computer Design 

Students will take the skills they have learned in the first- and second-year engineering, design, and computer science courses and build on those skills and concepts using electronics, code, computers, and visual design software and practices. This class will focus on using the design process to integrate code, design, and communication into student projects. Topics include: The design process, client communication, prototyping and mockups, using interface (UI) design, user experience (UX) design, website design, HTML and website coding, photography and digital editing, and creation of project mockups through digital means.  


Engineering and Design Projects with Microcontrollers and Coding 

Students will take the skills they have learned in the first- and second-year engineering, design, and computer science courses and build on those skills and concepts using electronics, code, computers, and CAD/CAM software and hardware. This class will focus on using the design process to integrate electronics and microprocessors into student projects. Topics include: The design process, client communication, prototyping and mockups, material design, input/output devices, voltage and batteries, soldering, CAD, and CAM. 

Math Explorations

Math At Work 

This course is designed to look at math as it is applied to real-world careers. We will study how math is used in construction trades, health care professions, information technology, and more. We will also help you get ready for the math courses you may be required to take for certifications and technical degrees. In addition to math topics such as algebra, statistics, and geometry, you will learn how to use spreadsheets, communicate effectively with clients, and work as part of a team. 


Designing with Math 

In this course, students will explore advanced geometric concepts and develop the skills and understanding to apply them in the fields of design and engineering.  Topics of study include advanced trigonometry, circle properties, geometric transformations, 3-dimensional geometry, and complex shapes. Throughout the course, students will engage in a series of immersive projects that connect the mathematics they are learning to the design and engineering processes via hand-sketching and computer-aided design. 



This course will lay the foundation for students to apply advanced mathematics in engineering. Analog circuits will serve as the primary vehicle to allow students to touch, see, and hear challenging mathematical concepts like asymptotes, logarithms, two-dimensional numbers, and trigonometric waveform transformations. In this context, students will also learn to use scientific notation within mathematical formulas and express units of measure using the metric system. 



This course will begin the journey of exploring mathematical concepts and applications where the instantaneous change between related variables in a system is quantified, analyzed, and applied to achieve optimal solutions or predict outcomes. Students will learn about limits and differentiation, how each is calculated and used to analyze 2-variable systems and deepen our understanding of enigmatic mathematical concepts like infinity. The course will conclude with a project where students will gather data to compare two variables and optimize the best outcome to maximize or minimize a given variable (cost, profit, speed, etc.). 


Calculus is a part of the College in the High School program. Students will have the opportunity to earn college credit through Tacoma Community College. 



Fundamentally, statistics is about using data to understand the world around us and to make informed decisions based on that understanding. It is math that we can guarantee you will use in the real world. We will learn how scientists design surveys and experiments, and then how they use mathematics to make sense of the results. Understanding statistical inference is especially important for those intending to study or work in a scientific field. In additional to the basics of representing and analyzing data, we will learn more advanced concepts such as sampling distributions, test statistics, p-values, and hypothesis testing. 

Science Explorations

AP Physics 

AP Physics is an advanced science exploration that focuses on the big ideas typically included in an algebra-based introductory college-level physics sequence and provides students with enduring understandings to support future advanced course work in the sciences. Students will deepen their understanding of the connections between math and physics through inquiry driven project-based units that explore real-world applications of physics, for example, studying kinematics by analyzing stunt scenes in Hollywood blockbusters, learning about forces and work by planning to build an ancient Roman Arch, and exploring energy and momentum by building a parachute for a “Mars Lander” as well as other topics. 


Polymer Chemistry 

Polymer Chemistry is an advanced chemistry course that will build on previously learned concepts in chemistry, such as unit conversions, atomic structure, and laboratory skills. This class will cover topics such as the molecular structure of common plastics and the mechanisms of more complex chemical reactions. Laboratory experiments/demos will illustrate many of the topics covered in the course, like creating nylon and synthesizing bioplastics. Students will communicate findings from experiments in written and verbal formats: formal lab reports and poster presentations. 


Environmental Engineering 

In this course students investigate and design solutions in response to real-world challenges related to clean and abundant drinking water, food supply issues, and renewable energy. Applying knowledge of engineering, biology, and ecology through hands-on activities and simulations, students research and design potential solutions to these true-to-life challenges.