The Big List of Homeschooling High School STEM Electives

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The high school years are full of required courses and a different level of work. Homeschooling high school is no different. In addition to the required courses, your teen needs to add electives as well. Perhaps your teen has an area of interest that will make up the bulk of their high school electives. Or, they may have electives created from required areas of study. The Big List of Homeschooling High School STEM Electives is a list of ideas for electives related to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) areas.

Beaker on a table with purple colored water on the inside with a title overlay that says The Big List of Homeschooling High School STEM Electives

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We love a good elective around here! All four of our teens have many electives on their transcripts.

The best part about adding electives to your teen’s course list, is the ability to customize the course which means you can create a meaningful class.

Homeschooling High School Electives

The first thing we need to do is to define an elective.

Electives are courses that your student will take in addition to their required courses.

Your student will need a certain number of electives to complete their high school requirements and their transcript.

They are called electives because your student can choose what extras they want to add to their schedule.

In this post, I’ll share course ideas for all the areas of STEM. Most of them are courses our teens have done. There are a few that did not fit into their schedule but are rich areas of study your teen may find compelling.

The courses will be organized by category, so let’s get started!

Reasons for Investing in Homeschooling High School STEM

6 Reasons to Invest Big in STEM for Your Homeschool

When I talk to parents about doing high school STEM at home, two big objections usually come up.

  • Objection 1: I am not confident in teaching science.
  • Objection 2: The equipment another materials are expensive.

6 Reasons to Invest Big STEM for Your Homeschool tells you the reasons why investing your resources in to STEM materials is so important.

Now let’s get to the good stuff!

Homeschooling High School Biology Electives

a wooden box with an insect collection inside. The insects are pinned or are in small vials.
This is one of the boxes in our daughter’s second year insect collection.

As a certified biology teacher with a degree in biological sciences, biology is my favorite! It’s a shame that all of my students are finished their formal biology courses!

  • Biology II– this is a second year of biology designed to dive deeper with more advanced topics in the field of biology. Our youngest did this course and had a lot of fun with it.
  • Ecology– this is a branch of biology that deals with the relationships of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings. I like to recommend Ecology as an alternative to other more difficult courses for out of the box. This one has the potential for field trips and hands on study.
  • Environmental Science– this is another great elective for non-science teens. It brings togetherthe fields of ecology, biology, zoology, oceanography, atmospheric science, soil science, geology, chemistry, etc in an interdisciplinary study of how natural and man made processes interact with one another and how they affect earth biomes. You can study the people who began a movement (Rachel Carson) and you can look at law and what is happening around you. So much to be creative with in environmental science.
  • Microbiology– this is the study of unicellular organisms including bacteria, viruses, their behaviors. This is a great course for using your microscope!
  • Plant Science/Botany– the study of plant morphology and physiology. You could go in several directions with this course. Studying plants is an easy hands on elective.
  • Horticulture– this topic is all about growing and breeding cultivated plants, usually for commercial use.
  • Entomology- the study of insects which includes collecting and pinning insects in a collection. We have two kids with state fair blue ribbons and rosettes for their sophisticated insect collections.
  • Aquatic Studies– a biology course with a focus on aquatic habitats and its organisms. These could be fresh water, brackish or estuary water, or salt water. Or you do all three!
  • Marine Biology– the study animals and plants of the ocean

Homeschooling High School Chemistry Electives

teen boy watching a sepatory funnel while looking at a blue liquid inside

Chemistry is not for the faint of heart, but if your teen wants to pursue more of chemistry after the first year, here are a few ideas for you.

  • Chemistry II– second year of chemistry with more advanced topics, including organic chemistry
  • Biochemistry– this is the study of the chemistry of biological systems. At the university level, this is a tough course. High school is a great time to be introduced to the topic.

Homeschooling High School Physical Science Electives

a Raspberry Pi Pico held up by an electronic arm
Our youngest’s Raspberry Pi Pico held by a set of helping hands.

Physical science can include areas of science related to physics.

  • Physics– Usually physics is not a required course in high school. If your teen is interested in a STEM field, then physics is a good idea. Even in the biological sciences, your teen will need to take physics at the university level.
  • Microelectronics– using microcontrollers like Arduino, Raspberry Pi Pico to perform a task with whatever you connect it to. This could involve circuits, soldering, etc.

Homeschooling High School Engineering Electives

Teen boy setting up his rocket for a launch

Engineering is its own entity in the acronym STEM. Let’s take a look at courses you could do in engineering.

  • Engineering Studies– this would be design principles, along with trying the designs themselves. This course could include an area of interest or, more likely, this would be a general survey of all the disciplines within engineering.
  • Aeronautics– Our third teen has aeronautics on this transcript because he studied and learned about all things flight. He’s amazing! You can definitely include some hands on projects.
  • Rocketry– While you can study rocketry in an aeronautics course, you may choose to focus on rocketry in its own elective. Our third teen did both. He designed a rocket in Open Rocket and made a goal to get to a certain height during launch with a payload of an altimeter, so he would know the distance of the flight.
  • Robotics- You can piece meal the equipment you need for building and running robots, but we use Tetrix and LEGO Mindstorms the most.

Homeschooling High School Earth Science Electives

geography texts with papers and a topography map on a computer screen with the title Teaching Geography with Earth Science

Earth Science is my second favorite behind biology. I always said if I got another certification, it would be in Earth Science.

Earth Science is the study of all the fields of natural science related to the planet Earth.

  • Astronomy– this one is a popular choice for a STEM elective and is considered a field of Earth Science. Who doesn’t love studying the night sky? Astronomy is all about plants and stars and the science (physics) of space.
  • Oceanography– a branch of science that focuses on the physical and biological properties of the ocean. This includes habitat, behaviors like currents and waves, organisms, weather, etc.

Homeschooling High School Mathematics Electives

Rebecca used to take her math on location, mostly in the woods.

Math is part of the STEM acronym and you can certainly add math electives in high school.

  • Calculus II– the second year of Calculus which is a good idea if your teen wants to pursue a STEM degree. In fact, competitive schools will want to see this one on their transcript.
  • Statistics– is a popular course for researchers of any kind at the university level. You can find materials for use in high school. This is a good course of study for anyone. It makes for great life skills!
  • Finance– lots of families love a personal finance course. Your student will be taking Economics as well as a required course in high school, but there is value in teaching your teens how to manage their money.

Homeschooling High School Computer Science Electives

a teen boy smiling while sitting in his chair in front of a computer with two large monitors
This kid has a huge set up for all this computer programming and other projects.

It’s hard to find a young person today that doesn’t have some working knowledge on computers.

Being able to write and deploy their own programs is an important skill.

It’s a non-negotiable skill for your teen wants to do engineering or another physical science field.

  • Explore the Basics of Computer Programming– how it works and the logic behind it.
  • Practice Programming with Drag & Drop Programs– like Scratch or LEGO Spike software
  • Learn Programming Languages– You can gather the resources for your teen to learn one or more programming languages. Our youngets knows about 17 languages, but he prefers to use just a few of them.
  • Program for A Purpose– encourage your teen to use their skills to run a robot or do something else cool.
  • Take MOOC Courses– MOOCs are Massive Online Open Courses and they are free through various colleges and universities. There are always a variety of programming courses to take.

Free STEM Task Cards for High School

Sign up so you can download a set of Free STEM Task Cards. These cards include science, technology, engineering, and math tasks that your students can do on their own or with a group.

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