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Open-Access Resources

EXPLORE with Northwestern

At Northwestern University, learning is a collaborative ecosystem that transcends traditional education boundaries. It brings together scholars, educators, students of all ages, and the general public from the University, our home communities of Evanston and Chicago, and beyond. The Office of Community Education Partnerships (OCEP) was specifically created to foster university-community connections to positively impact learning locally and globally.

The OCEP team has curated a collection of free, open-access resources from Northwestern that allow the University and broader community to explore and connect with one other. Built from the innovative teaching and pioneering research of Northwestern, we hope these resources nurture current and generate new interests to inspire and excite you toward great discovery and adventure. Please share them widely, check back for regular updates, and enjoy!

Read about each of the open-access resources below.

students holding cards that say NU + You = exploration

The Baxter Center's On Demand Virtual Workshops

Are you a teacher looking for resources and support for remote- and e-learning? Check out the Baxter Center's On Demand Virtual Workshops. Explore a library of videos, gain inspiration for your in-person or virtual classrooms, and earn CEUs! This series is made in partnership with the Office of Community Education Partnerships, Baxter International Foundation, Lindblom Math & Science Academy, and Round Lake Area Schools.

Explore the Baxter Center's On Demand Virtual Workshops

Center for Excellence in Computer Science Education - Swift Ninja Series PD

The Center for Excellence in Computer Science Education (CECSE) is an innovation hub for computer science and coding learning and engagement for educators and youth in Chicago Public Schools and throughout the City of Chicago. The Center develops and hosts workshop series to introduce computer science integration ideas and activities, "Create with Kasia", and App Development with Swift skills and concepts, "Swift Ninjas". Visit their youtube channel to access their previously recorded workshops and activities!

Explore Recorded CECSE Workshops

Challenging Empire in the Classroom

What is the role of the US education system in preparing students to address global issues, specifically topics related to war, conflict, and geopolitics? This article highlights how ideologies of the US empire and militarism impact students across our nation's classrooms and universities. The article's coauthors, Shirin Vossoughi and Sepehr Vakil, assistant professors of learning sciences in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern, draw on their own educational experiences and racial identities as Iranian-Americans to explore the legacies of learning environments that either affirmed or diminished their personhoods.

Explore Challenging Empire in the Classroom

Computer-Based Modeling for Complex Systems

Learn to explore and create simulations of natural and social phenomena with this freely available program! It is available as a downloadable application or runnable through a web-based interface. Using NetLogo opens the door to exploring how social and natural systems develop over time. The website gives background on using computer-based modeling and instructions on using the NetLogo program. NetLogo includes a library of previously created simulations that students can explore, or they can create their own in order to make inquiries in the natural and social sciences. NetLogo was developed by Uri Wilensky, professor of learning sciences, computer science, and complex systems at Northwestern. His lab continues to develop and maintain the NetLogo software to democratize access to modeling software to learners and researchers. NetLogo has hundreds of thousands of active users across the world.

Explore NetLogo

Computational Thinking in STEM

Interested in using computer models and data to solve real-world problems in science and mathematics? The CT-STEM website provides a free library of Next Generation Science Standards-aligned, web-based curricula that engage high school teachers and students in computer-based investigations. Each CT-STEM curriculum allows for independent exploration of specific STEM concepts such as ecosystems, momentum, and gas laws while developing vital computational skills. Students may collect and analyze a large dataset of experimental drug trials, debug processes that represent energy in a precipitation system, or build their own model of animal behavior. Through using computing in the context of real-world problems, students learn to think like mathematicians, scientists, and engineers who regularly develop and investigate questions that computers can help solve. CT-STEM curricula are co-designed by high school teachers and current learning sciences/computer sciences doctoral students at Northwestern. More than 100 teachers around the world have used the website to find, manage, and assign CT-STEM curricula to their students.

Explore Computational Thinking in STEM

How to Design a Microprocessor

Are you interested in teaching or learning more about computer engineering? In this two-hour lesson plan, 11th and 12th-grade students will learn some basic concepts in microprocessor architecture and the main tradeoffs that shape modern microprocessor design. Using a simple graphical user interface of a parameterized processor model from recent computer architecture research, the students can run simple experiments in which they can modify the architectural parameters of a microprocessor and estimate their impact on performance, area, power, and off-chip data rates. The lesson can be adapted by teachers for their classroom or done independently and remotely by high school students.

Explore Microprocessor Design

Indigenous Tour of Northwestern

Do you want to learn the Indigenous history of the land occupied by Northwestern’s Evanston campus? Use this StoryMap for a virtual Indigenous tour or to guide your own Indigenous Northwestern campus walking tour. This resource was produced by Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research, and the School of Communication.

Explore StoryMap's Indigenous Tour of Northwestern

Making Climate Data Sing

Are you curious to learn more about the connection between music and climate change? The innovative “Making Climate Data Sing” event was just one of many held at Northwestern - featuring a string quartet performance explaining the gradual warming of our planet. Read more about this effort and the subsequent panel featuring Northwestern students and professors' opinions and research. After reading, try brainstorming other topics that you think could be effectively presented in a similar manner!

Explore Making Climate Data Sing

Northwestern Libraries

Did you know that “research” takes place in aspects of our everyday lives? Northwestern libraries have amazing online content and resources. Explore some of the top collections in the world online such as the Transportation Library and the Herskovitz Library of African Studies!

Explore Northwestern Libraries

One Book One Northwestern, the Podcast

Curious to hear the opinions and conversations between Wildcats about themes explored in novels like Just Mercy and Hidden Figures? “One Book One Northwestern, the Podcast” is a year-long podcast that includes conversations with a variety of guest speakers around campus and summaries of different OneBook events. Each year, the OneBook prompts candid conversations about historical and contemporary issues including discrimination, social inequities, and climate change. In collaboration with the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, and One Book One Northwestern, students speak with different people around campus to more deeply explore the themes of the year's novel.

Explore One Book One Northwestern, the Podcast

Open Online Course Exploring Healthcare Careers

Are you interested in exploring job opportunities in medicine and healthcare? This free open online course - directed by Dr. Melissa Simon - walks you through the many jobs in the healthcare field and provides you the tools to get started on a path to a career in healthcare. Hear from professionals and students about their healthcare career journey, daily work life, and how they help others. This free open online course is for high school students, recent graduates, or those considering career transitions to explore health care career options and learn strategies for entry into the health care workforce and health-related fields.

Explore Healthcare Careers with this Online Course

Reach for the Stars

Reach for the Stars is a former NSF GK-12 collaboration between OCEP and CIERA, the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics at Northwestern. The website is filled with NGSS aligned lessons that introduce computational thinking and mathematical modeling into traditional 6th – 12thgrade STEM curricula. Many of the lessons can be done independently and remotely by high school students.

Explore Reach for the Stars

Science-Centric Historical Primary Sources

Looking for historical texts that address science topics ranging from concussion controversies to invasive species in the media? These blog posts from the Library of Congress are a great place to start. This collection explores a range of topics in the natural sciences using primary sources from the Library of Congress. A current learning sciences doctoral student at Northwestern, Trey Smith, created a series of blog posts on primary sources several years ago when he was the Science Teacher in Residence for the Library of Congress. His goal is to spark interest and highlight possibilities for thinking about history, civics, science, technology, and engineering with the help of historical texts. For frameworks to help you think about historical primary sources and science, check out Trey's poster presentations from an American Association of Physics Teachers 2018 Summer Meeting and ASCD's Empower19 Conference.

Explore Science-Centric Historical Primary Sources

Science Communication On-line ProgrammE

Looking to improve your science communication skills? SCOPE is an online science communication course developed as part of the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) program (IDEAS) at Northwestern. It was built by a team of outstanding science communication educators and practitioners as an 8-week, asynchronous program. It was designed for graduate students but is open to all. Learn more and sign up to participate at the link below.

Explore Science Communication On-line ProgrammE - SCOPE

Seven Minutes of Scholarship

Do you want to hear compelling stories about the forefront of groundbreaking research? How about in just seven minutes? Each year, graduate students present their Seven Minutes of Scholarship with Northwestern’s Research Communication Training Program. Click below to listen to the countless exciting stories of science from the past years of Seven Minutes of Scholarship.

Explore Seven Minutes of Scholarship Videos

SkinnyTrees: Lift Health for All Podcast

Do you want a better grasp of healthcare in Chicago? Check out SkinnyTrees, a podcast from Dr. Melissa Simon’s lab at the Center for Health Equity Transformation at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine hearing voices from the research and community world with a focus on health equity. Conversations and interviews will discuss the importance of achieving health equity, highlighting health disparities, and exploring innovative ways to improve health for all.

Explore SkinnyTrees: Lift Health for All Podcast


Interested in hearing some fascinating ideas worth spreading? Check out some of TedxNorthwesternU’s past speakers. Anna Bethune gave an enchanting talk on potential, positivity, and female empowerment. Evanston Township High School teacher Corey Winchester talked about teachers educating radically and helping students face intersectionality. There are many talks and ideas to explore!

Explore TEDxNorthwesternU

The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art

Have you ever thought about going behind the scenes of an art museum? Explore highlights from The Block right from home or from the digital classroom! Browse video collections featuring full-length programs and unforgettable museum moments. Tune in to audio programs with recordings of lectures and conversations. Read essays and publications offering deep insights into The Block’s Projects.

Explore the Block Museum of Art

Unscripted Stories (US)

Are you looking for an interesting and meaningful podcast? Here you can access Unscripted Stories (US), a podcast by The Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) office. This podcast is dedicated to building community and kinship through the power of storytelling and listening. Unscripted Stories believes in humanity seen and felt through the sharing of personal narratives. Check it out!

Explore Unscripted Stories Podcast


Are you passionate about social justice and human rights? Do you want to know more about historically silenced injustices, including hidden Holocaust histories? Check out Unsilence, founded by learning scientist Danny M. Cohen, associate professor of instruction at Northwestern, and get free access to their webquests, choose-your-own-pathway stories, and other highly interactive learning experiences (along with readers guides and lesson plans). With a focus on marginalized voices, Unsilence uses storytelling, the arts, and serious games to spark dialogue and critical thinking, and build empathy to inspire healing and social change.

Explore Social Justice through Unsilence