The Chicago Metro History Education Center (CMHEC) inspires students’ interest in history and works to improve history education in middle grades and high school classrooms in Chicago and suburban Cook, Lake, Kane, and DuPage counties. The Chicago Metro History Fair, CMHEC’s signature program, is an annual competition in which local students present their own historical research projects on topics related to Chicago. (Watch this video to learn more about the impact of History Fair on students.) CMHEC also offers programs throughout the year for teachers and students that support project-based, inquiry methods of learning history. Since its founding in 1977, the Chicago Metro History Education Center has earned a nationwide reputation for leadership in the field of history education.
CMHEC works with teachers and students to “Make History .“ Each year, thousands of students and hundreds of teachers from public and private schools participate in History Fair at the school, regional, state, and national levels. Students spend two to eight months working individually or in groups doing research and communicating their historical interpretations to the public through research papers, exhibits, documentaries, live performances, and websites. More than 500 people volunteer each year to serve as judges at History Fair competitions.
Participation in History Fair helps students improve their reading, writing, thinking, and presentation skills as they learn history. Students confront questions of significance, credibility, multiple perspectives, change over time, context, and impact. They learn how to research for and analyze authentic primary and quality secondary sources and how to build a solid argument based on evidence. Through the process, they also learn self-management, communication, and problem-solving skills. Chicago Metro History Education Center programs meet Common Core goals in History and in Reading and Writing Non-Fiction.
Through History Fair, students not only become historians; they also become better citizens. In conducting research, they extend the walls of the classroom into the community by visiting historical and cultural institutions, sites, and interviewing people who are experts or participants in a historic event. In studying the history of their community, they learn how decisions are made in the social, cultural, economic, and political realms that affect their lives.