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May 18, 2022

Civic Education: Learning by Legislating at the Kennedy Institute

Registration opens for 2022-23 school year K-12 classes/programs at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

Civics, social studies, history, and other U.S. classroom teachers looking for a unique, memorable experience in civic education for their K-12 students are invited to explore the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate’s “Senator for a Day” interactive education programs.

Registration for the 2022-23 school year is opening today to teachers and schools nationwide for both in-person visits at the Institute’s beautiful, one-of-a-kind, full-scale replica of the U.S. Senate chamber and as online classes. Participation is now free of charge for public-school students from all 50 states.

Educational experiences at the Kennedy Institute use immersive role-play and simulation to teach civics and inspire our country’s next generation of leaders. Led by highly trained, nonpartisan instructors from the Kennedy Institute, students of all ages take on the role of a U.S. senator from a state of their choosing and help debate, shape, and vote on key legislation. Groups can choose from topics including immigration reform, voting rights, environmental justice, the Green New Deal, or updating the Electoral College. A two-minute video showing Kennedy Institute virtual education programs can be found at

Since it opened in 2015, the Kennedy Institute has welcomed more than 100,000 students for in-person and online civic education programs and classes.

In the coming year, the Kennedy Institute is particularly focused on welcoming more students and teachers from the 44 states outside New England for online programming. Besides eliminating for this year all fees formerly charged for non-Massachusetts public-school students, Kennedy Institute staff will make every possible effort to accommodate time-zone differences when scheduling virtual sessions of 60 to 120 minutes in length.

“Over and over, we see how young people are engaged and inspired by taking on the role of U.S. senators and learning about the research, deliberation, and decision-making that go into producing legislation,’’ said Sarah Yezzi, Kennedy Institute Director of Education, Family and Youth Programming.

Additionally, for students in kindergarten through 3rd grade, the Kennedy Institute offers the “Welcoming Words” program in which young learners hear about the history of the Statue of Liberty and the welcome that she offers to diverse new neighbors. As part of this program students create their own special welcoming art and collages.

Examples of feedback from teachers who’ve participated in online and in-person programs recently includes:

• “Our recent visit to the EMK Institute was a huge success for both our 8th grade students and faculty. The staff was knowledgeable, friendly, and encouraging of our students. Their presentations were energetic, engaging, and completely unbiased.”

• “Being Senators for the day at the EMK is always the highlight of our study of the Constitution and learning about how our country functions. My 10th graders love the experience of sitting in the Senate chamber and debating bills!”

• “My students [high school] were engaged and willing to challenge each other in conversation that would have been unlikely in a different setting. The presenters were experts in their content and at engaging students.’’

• “The EMK Institute offers excellent programming for all ages. Their programming is well thought-out, engaging, and well-paced. They really know what they’re doing!”

A full list of available 2022-23 programs and details on how to register is at Fees may apply for some private and non-Massachusetts schools, with significant tuition scholarships available.

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