K-12 Outreach

The School of Science department, labs, and centers sponsor a variety of programs designed to inspire students' interest in science and mathematics as well as enrichment programs for science educators. Programs range from chemistry  magic shows that can visit your elementary school classroom in the Boston area to hands-on workshops for middles school students to intensive year-long research programs for advanced high school students. For those who cannot come to our campus, MIT hosts a number of online outreach resources for students and learners. 

This page only lists outreach opportunities within the School of Science. To learn more outreach programs at MIT, please visit the MIT Outreach website.

Programs for Students

Chemistry Class Visits/ Demonstrations (Middle and High School)
The MIT Chemistry Outreach Program was developed in 1988 to bring the excitement of chemistry to middle school and high school students in the Greater Boston area. Each year MIT Chemistry graduate students visit science classes to present chemistry demonstrations designed to illustrate a broad range of chemical principles. Our goal is to stimulate students' interest in chemistry, to demonstrate the relevance of chemistry in every-day life, and to encourage students to consider pursuing careers in science and medicine. The 40-50 minute presentation includes sections relating to chemical reactions, acids and bases, polymers, naturally occurring compounds, light, and temperature, followed by a question and answer session. No special facilities are required, all supplies are provided by MIT, and there is no charge for the program!
Chemistry Magic Show (Elementary School)
ClubChem, an MIT undergraduate student club, conducts Chemistry Magic Shows for elementary schools and community youth programs, with the goal of inspiring an interest in chemistry and science in general through up-close and personal encounters with some unbelievable, but true, chemical phenomena. Demonstrations include tricks with acid/base indicators, nylon, and liquid nitrogen, and there are even some hands-on, interactive experiments.
DynaMIT (Middle School)
DynaMIT is a completely free, week-long science program for economically disadvantaged middle school students hosted on the MIT campus. The program focuses on inspiring students’ interest in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields through fun and educational activities, challenges, and projects.
MIT hosts the Math Prize for Girls, the world's largest mathematics competition for female junior high and high school students. Read more: "How do you do math like a girl?: 'Mathletes' show off their talent, passion, and leadership at the Math Prize for Girls"
MIT PRIMES (High School)
MIT PRIMES is a year-long program, in which high school students work on individual and group research projects and participate in reading groups under the guidance of academic mentors, usually graduate students or postdoctoral scholars. PRIMES Circle, begun in fall 2012, offers a mathematical enrichment curriculum (beyond high school math), that includes expository writing and making presentations, culminating at a year-end conference. The focus is to increase diversity through outreach to strong students with disadvantaged backgrounds in Boston area public high school and developing their interests in mathematics, so they might consider the mathematics major in college.  √MathROOTS is a 12-day summer program hosted by MIT PRIMES for promising high school students from underrepresented backgrounds or underserved communities who are interested in exploring creative topics in mathematics. 
Each summer, 80 of the world's most accomplished high school students gather at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for the Research Science Institute (RSI). RSI is the first cost-free to students, summer science & engineering program to combine on-campus course work in scientific theory with off-campus work in science and technology research. Participants experience the entire research cycle from start to finish. They read the most current literature in their field, draft and execute a detailed research plan, and deliver conference-style oral and written reports on their findings. RSI scholars first participate in a week of intensive STEM classes with accomplished professors. The heart of RSI is the five week research internship where students conduct individual projects under the tutelage of mentors who are experienced scientists and researchers. During the final week of RSI, students prepare written and oral presentations on their research projects.
The TOPS Physics Workshop is a two-week program for high school students interested in science who are currently freshmen and sophomores. Participants explore the physics of heat, energy, and light through hands-on activities and lessons taught by undergraduate physics students. They also learn about research in the CUA and see how elementary principles of physics are manifested in frontier research. This program is offered free-of-charge and takes place at the Center for Ultracold Atoms at MIT in Cambridge.

Programs for Educators

The Teachers' Workshop is an annual program specifically designed to provide both new and experienced teachers a dynamic setting in which they can gain new insight into modern biology, and the opportunity to develop and integrate new curriculum material into their science classes.  The one-week workshop combines lectures and related hands-on laboratory courses and culminates in a session on science curriculum development for grades 8-12.  The workshop is offered in the summer (one week in July) to high school science teachers from the greater Boston area.
The Department of Biology is offering 6-week-long hands-on summer research internships for High School teachers who are teaching full-time in the greater Boston area. This program is an opportunity for local science teachers to spend six weeks in a research lab at MIT working on real-life projects and learning skills to bring back to the classroom.
High school science teachers who have attended a past MIT summer workshop are invited to bring their Honors and AP Biology classes to the Biology Department for a day of lectures and hands-on activities. The one-day field trip always takes place in March during MIT's spring break. Students attend a morning lecture given by an MIT faculty, then break up into small groups for various hands-on activities. After a lunch with scientists (pizza and drinks provided) the students regroup for more hands-on activities or a laboratory visit.
The goal of these outreach programs is to make science fun and exciting by bringing new hands-on activities into the classrooms, and to make teaching and learning science a more enriching and rewarding experience for both students and teachers. Science teachers from the greater Boston area are invited to:
  • Attend a 5-day summer workshop with lectures on current topics in neuro and cognitive sciences and hands-on laboratory activities.
  • Apply for a six-week summer research internship in a BCS lab at MIT
  • Bring their honors and advanced placement biology classes to MIT for faculty lectures and hands-on lab activities
  • Attend monthly faculty lectures at the Whitehead Institute during the school year
  • Become involved in science curriculum development.
Interested parties should contact Dr. Mandana Sassanfar mandana [at] mit.edu for further information.

Online Resources

MIT+K12 Videos is an educational outreach media program in the Office of Digital Learning. Its original digital media and live programming seeks to spark curiosity and a love of learning among middle-high school students, open the door to the world of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and promote STEM-literacy among the general public.
Highlights for High School (HFHS) provides open educational resources for high school educators and students. HFHS contains both materials created specifically for those in high school and resources collected from the MIT curriculum that can be used effectively by those in high school.
Learners who enroll in these free, online, open-enrollment courses gain access to a variety of course materials, submit homework at specified times, receive automated feedback on their work, interact with each other and instructors in discussion forums, and in some courses, use interactive tools that deepen their learning. Those who complete a course with a passing grade have the opportunity to earn a certificate of achievement.
“Behind the Scenes at MIT” is a collection of short videos that feature current and former MIT researchers explaining how a textbook chemistry topic is essential to their research and to an inspiring real-world application. There are currently twelve science videos, which can be searched by chemistry topic (i.e. atomic theory, bonding, acid-base equilibrium) or by research application. A set of accompanying personal videos, one for each scientist featured, illustrates their journeys to becoming scientists. Some of these videos highlight challenges that have been overcome, such as dealing with learning disabilities, growing up gay and intellectual in a conservative small town, and having to learn English in order to understand science class.