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Curious Minds Initiative

What is Curious Minds?

The "Curious Minds" Initiative (CMI) is a strategic plan that aims to engage every Massachusetts middle and high school student in Massachusetts in inquiry-based learning and the excitement of the discovery process. CMI provides schools and science teachers with the tools, expertise and resources necessary to integrate exciting inquiry activities into their existing curricula, and to guide students working on independent research. Developed by the Massachusetts State Science & Engineering Fair (MSSEF), "Curious Minds" builds on six decades of direct experience and success with over 28,000 students who have participated in statewide Science Fairs, and many thousands more students in a pipeline of regional and school district Fairs.

CMI's Courses

CMI's three graduate courses form the STEM Certificate in Inquiry offered in partnership with Framingham State University. Learn more about the three courses, including the first and foundational course: Teaching Science through the Inqjuiry Process" (TSIP), and the 2-day course on "Organizing a Science & Engineering Fair."

CMI Grants & Mentorships

“GEMS” Schools are part of a collaborative partnership between MSSEF and a private foundation to support CMI programs in 28 Massachusetts public and charter schools (75% in high-needs districts) over a 3 to 5-year period. Each CMI-GEMS school has a mentor-partner. A key part of GEMS is for teachers to increase the number and quality of inquiry activities in the classroom. Learn about the CMI - GEMS grants to schools Connecting K-12 schools with Higher Education-CMI is also partnering with the Massachusetts Academies of Science to provide mentors for science teachers guiding student research and for students working on independent projects. Mentors include college professors and students with majors in the sciences, technology, math and engineering.

CMI's Project Components

  • Branding, Outreach Events and Partnership Development
    • Reach out to new schools, teachers and organizations in diverse communities.
    • Work with existing MSSEF regional networks.
  • Professional Development Courses for Teachers
    • Integrate or expand inquiry-based activities in their classrooms.
    • Develop project-based units for targeted science concepts.
    • Guide student projects.
    • Lead a sustainable school fair.
    • Inspire hundreds of students each year to pursue their curiosity about the world.
  • School Leadership and Advocacy for STEM Careers
    • Build school and district leadership teams in STEM.
    • Expand mentorship opportunities and career awareness.
  • Multi-year Support for Schools
    • Provide year-long "live" technical support and online resources for teachers.
    • Recognize teachers and develop a fund for future teacher stipends in high-needs schools.
    • Learn about the CMI - GEMS multi-year grants to schools.
  • Evaluation and Dissemination of National Model
    • Collect and analyze data from participating teachers and their students to determine and disseminate best practices for inquiry teaching and learning nationwide.
    • Communicate the CMI message to the media and legislature.

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