Welcome to the Chicago Metro History Education Center
Now in our 25th year, we are an independent, nonprofit, educational program serving students, teachers, and parents in the city of Chicago and suburban Cook, Lake, Kane, and DuPage counties. The fundamental approach of CMHEC is a project-based, inquiry method of learning history. Our program is composed of three core activities: organizing and administering an academic competition for students in grades 6 through 12 called the "History Fair," developing history curricular and educational materials, and conducting professional development workshops for history and social science teachers. The CMHEC program meets most State Goals for Language Arts and Social Sciences, and applies to many other educational goals as well.
Students become historians!
The History Fair serves 17,000 students and 350 teachers in 200 area schools who participate in school, regional, state, and national history contests. Students spend one to three months working individually or in groups creating research projects in local, family, and community history. Students are encouraged to use primary sources--voices from the past--as evidence in their projects and to extend the walls of the classroom into the community to find sources for their research. To present their work, students produce papers, exhibits, media documentaries, and live performances.
In the process of participating in the History Fair, students learn reading, writing, thinking, interviewing and presentation skills. They also learn how to work in teams and organize and complete a project. Finally, in discovering their own community history, students confront questions of signficance, validity, point of view, change over time, and cause and effect. They learn how decisions are made in the social, cultural, economic, and political realms that impact their lives. Not only do students "become historians," but they also become better citizens.
Educational materials and professional development workshops for teachers are founded on similar principles: making history come alive through use of primary sources, breaking down the classroom walls through access to community sources and connections to contemporary issues, and developing the inquiry approach to learning while augmenting basic student skills.
The program is supported by our sponsors, the Newberry Library, the Chicago Public Library, the Chicago Historical Society, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Illinois Humanities Council as well as dozens of area foundations and corporations.
Please spend some time discovering our web page and our program.