AIA K-12 Pathway Initiatives
It’s never too early to start thinking like an architect. Explore K-12 student resources, opportunities, programs, and activities designed to inspire, nourish, and connect architecture’s next generation.
Explore and discover K-12 design and architecture resources nationwide.
Across the United States, K-12 students have access to a wide range of design and architecture resources, including online platforms, workshops, camps, educational programs, design competitions, internships, and scholarship opportunities. This map showcases opportunities to explore and engage with design and architecture concepts nationwide.
K-12 initiatives: Inspire, nourish, connect
How do you build a better world? How can your creativity improve your community? What does it take to bring bold ideas to life?
These are just a few of the questions K-12 students can explore as they consider how architects and design professionals can impact the world.
AIA's K-12 initiatives follow a blueprint with three key goals in mind:
- Inspire youth to learn about the power of design through free activities and AIA Future Focused videos.
- Nourish curiosity to engage in solving grand challenges with design thinking through career exploration programs, information, and resources.
- Connect students with architects and design professionals through local chapters, social media, and videos to demonstrate what a day in their lives may be like.
Inspire: K-12 resources
Parents, educators, and community members can all play an important role in introducing students to rewarding and exciting careers—and helping them realize their potential.
Architecture remains a vital and popular career option, with numerous pathways for students who express interest in drawing, creating, building, and problem-solving. Starting early is the key.
Teaching architecture and design means fostering a love of learning and discovery across all core subject areas, cultivating students' innate creativity, and enhancing their observation, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
There are many things you can do to cultivate the next generation of designers and leaders and ensure the future generation of architects is inspired, prepared, and diverse. We're here to help.
- Explore community spaces, talk about what looks unique, and why things might have been designed in a certain way.
- Sketch favorite buildings as they are and then create new versions.
- Watch AIA Future Focused videos.
- Explore free K-12 activities below.
- Discover how architecture & design support a healthy planet through ten fun activities with our Climate Action Design Challenge.
- The House That She Built by Mollie Elkman and Georgia Castellano - Architecture Week 2024
Building Certificate Program
- Introduction to Architecture slide deck for K-12
Nourish: K-12 resources
You are inspired. You love to create. You want to help people. Learn more about what it means to be an architect.
Architecture is about building places that are not only functional but also good for the environment and good for the people who use them.
As an architect, you get to:
- Turn your ideas into buildings that last for generations.
- Design a better world by creating welcoming spaces that make people happy and healthy.
- Build spaces that are good for the earth and address important issues like climate change.
- Use both art and science skills.
Discover more about how architects and design professionals make a difference - and how to nourish your interest in architecture
Careers Building Communities
Summer and after-school architecture programs
Pathway to Architecture Guides
These comprehensive guides were developed as a collaborative effort that represents all aspects of a student on their journey to the architecture profession.
Let architecture take you around the world with innovation!
Connect: K-12 resources
It’s never too early to start thinking like an architect.
Architects identify issues, seek community input, and design creative solutions. AIA wants young people to think like an architect to determine whether architecture might be a good fit for them.
AIA chapter resources
Many local chapters host educational programs and are eager to share their experiences. Reach out to your local AIA chapter to discuss the possibilities.
Interested in learning more about being an Architect? The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) has a variety of videos and interviews as part of their #askanarchitect series
Are you a high school student interested in learning more about the design and construction industry? Want to work directly with industry professionals? Learn more about the ACE Mentors Program.
Explore architecture social media channels
If you are old enough, Instagram is a source of impressive architecture from around the world.
Regularly updated blog featuring a variety of articles and insights, including the Top Eight YouTube Channels for Architects.
Not completely sure what school to attend for architecture school? Maybe you would like to just know more about architecture programs? Learn more about yourself and architecture on Study Architecture.
The American Institute of Architecture Students
Join or start a local high school chapter for free!
Find out more about all the steps to becoming a licensed architect.
As you design your future, let the Architects Foundation help you both as you go to college and while you are in college. Learn more about scholarships and programs by the Architects Foundation.
AIA is regularly reviewing free K-12 architecture resources and activities for students and families to enjoy. These resources can be found below.
Thank you to the AIA chapters and members, Association of Architecture Organizations (AAO), and various architecture foundations for contributing to resource identification.
Special acknowledgement to the staff at AIA New York | Center for Architecture for their contribution to the identification of shareable K-12 resources online.
Architecture in Schools: Design Challenge 2020
Have you ever designed a solution to a problem? Want to catch a leprechaun or design more space for your stuffed animals and toys? Have you ever created a robot out of recycled materials? These and more are awaiting you in the Design Challenge 2020.
Architecture at Home
Looking out your window and using Google Maps are promising opportunities to think like an architect. You and your family can participate in the Architecture at Home design challenges, which encourage using critical thinking, creativity, and communication.
If you are interested in large structures like bridges, domes, skyscrapers, dams, and tunnels, then BUILDING BIG™ is the activity for you. Try your hand in the Labs (adobe flash required) about forces, materials, loads, and shapes. Building Big is not an easy job; take on Big challenges learning about all the professionals who work together to Build Big.
There are also architects who are known for their big creations:
Creative Park by Canon
Any ink left in your printers? Canon provides free Paper Craft activities where you can print and fold iconic buildings from around the world into 3D models (Canon printer not required).
designExplorr aims to address the diversity gap within the design profession and has a curated list of resources and websites.
Home Architecture Camp
AIA Cleveland presents Home Architecture Camp, an opportunity for families, students, and educators to explore the world of architecture and the built environment.
Kid Architecture will take you on an architectural journey in Indiana. Engage in hands-on activities that will use materials from around your home to create interesting buildings from around the state.
Codes are an essential part of architecture and the built environment. They ensure that all buildings will be safe for your friends and family. Ask your parent(s) or guardian(s) to review the safety codes with you to ensure you have completed your training and earned your certificate as a Junior Code Official at the Kids Corner.
Lego Design Challenge
Join the Boston Society for Architecture (BSA) on a weekly journey of using Legos to solve unique challenges and problems with architecture.
Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt
Architects have many different friends in the built environment, including members of the American Planning Association, who helped to create and develop your community. They have come together to create a scavenger hunt to help you understand your community better.
NEXT.cc introduces what design is, what design does, and why design is important. This resource offers endless activities, videos, and design journeys for all ages.
Virtual Kids Art Activities
Architecture is a STEM discipline that connects to art. Choose five days and let your artistic ability shine with art-inspired activities at Cranbrook Art Museum's Virtual Kids Art Activities. Be sure to share your work on social media by tagging Cranbrook Art Museum (#CreatewithCAM).
ACE Mentor Student Resources
Videos, career information, tools, and more all in one place.
Architecture and Children Around the World
Includes a set of design education experience videos produced by the School Zone Institute
Watch episodes that will allow you to use your creativity and household materials to learn how architecture connects to STEM.
Reach out for any inquiries regarding K-12 outreach, problem-based lesson guides, or resources at AIA.
Join the discussion on how to support student pathways to the profession.