GUTS at a Glance

What is Project GUTS?
Project GUTS: “Growing Up Thinking Scientifically”, is a year-long science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) for middle school students. Project GUTS was designed for students from all different backgrounds to engage in scientific inquiry by investigating topics of interest to their local communities through the lens of complex systems.

What can you do as part of Project GUTS?
You can make a difference in your community. Project GUTS gives you the opportunity to conduct scientific research right in your school and around your community. You will learn to use technology to explore real-world problems and analyze them with scientific tools. Later, you will have a chance to share your experiments and findings to advise local decision-makers and inform fellow students.

You can make science your mission. Project GUTS helps you explore careers in science, technology, and engineering and propels you along a path to success by developing your computer skills, and giving you access to the very latest technology.

What do we mean by “Growing Up Thinking Scientifically”?
Growing up thinking scientifically means learning to look at the world and ask questions, develop answers to the questions through scientific inquiry, and use critical thinking to assess which ideas are reasonable and which are not. One who grows up thinking scientifically sees science as a dynamic creative endeavor, a way of thinking, rather than a body of facts.

Who can participate?
Project GUTS is looking for students in 6th, 7th and 8th grade who are motivated and have an interest in science, computer technology and/or media production.

What do students learn during Project GUTS?
What do students learn in Project GUTS?
During the first 4-6 weeks of the program, students get an in-depth look at complex systems, models and simulation, and learn to create computer models from scratch. Students engage in problem solving and mathematical thinking at each club meeting. We offer a variety of activities to appeal to different kinds of learners: we work with agent-based models on the computer, we run participatory simulations with handheld computers, and are up and about collecting data and doing research. Subsequently, during each six-week afterschool unit, students investigate a problem, interview experts and community members, gather data, and run experiments on their computer models to better understand the problem being studied. Students are assisted by Project GUTS facilitators and high-school near-peer mentors in customizing existing models to reflect local conditions. Students upload their investigations to the Project GUTS website to be shared with peers, teachers and community members. At the end of each unit, students present their work, compare their models, and share their findings at the end of each unit at roundtables that bring together Project GUTS club members from around the city.

Our History
Project GUTS draws on experiences and material from the successful National Science Foundation-funded New Mexico Adventures in Modeling program developed by the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) and Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) between 2003-2006. Adventures in Modeling (AIM) introduced over 400 high school students and 50 teachers to the concepts of modeling and simulation of complex systems through the use of a computer modeling tool called StarLogo. Project GUTS was initiated in Santa Fe on January 1, 2007. The Santa Fe Public School district and local independent schools have been partnering with the AIM program and Project GUTS over the past 6 years. Project GUTS works in close collaboration with the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge, an annual computational modeling competition for high school students. Over the past two and a half year Project GUTS leveraged the extensive network developed by the Supercomputing Challenge to bring Project GUTS clubs to school around the state of New Mexico. In the 2008-9 school year we reached 350 students and 25 teachers from different 7 school districts.
We are currently partnered with to deliver our curriculum to school districts around the US. This will increase the capacity of science teachers in those districts to use computer modeling and computer science concepts in their content areas. Here's a link to our curriculum and resources done in partnership with In January of 2016, Project GUTS relocated to MIT and is now housed at the Scheller Teacher Education Program / Education Arcade at MIT.

Who are our facilitators / instructors?
Our facilitators come from a variety of backgrounds including software development, science, technology, engineering and mathematics backgrounds, education, and information technology. and share a common interest in STEM education, inquiry-based learning, and the use of technology in education. We are a diverse, closely-knit group of lifelong learners.

Who are our teachers / club leaders?
Our club leaders are local math and science teachers from public and private schools some of whom have previous experience with Adventures in Modeling and/or the Supercomputing Challenge. Over the course of several years of professional development, they have become comfortable with and competent at providing guidance in the use of computer models and simulations, participatory simulations, mathematics for modeling, and concepts in complex systems. They have experienced and enthusiastically support our pedagogy that emphasizes inquiry and project-based learning.

Where will the Project GUTS Clubs be held?
Project GUTS clubs meet at the schools and community centers in New Mexico and around the country!

Who are our partners?
Project GUTS is a collaboration between the Santa Fe Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge, the Santa Fe Public School district, Santa Fe independent schools, science-related local businesses, and local informal science centers.

Who funds Project GUTS?
Project GUTS was initially funded through an award from the National Science Foundation Academies for Young Scientists program. Additional funding has been received from Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation, the Bengier Foundation, New Mexico EPSCoR, the Los Alamos National Bank, Lockheed-Martin / Sandia Foundation, and private donors. Additional funding for the long-tem sustainability of the project is being sought.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact:

Irene Lee
Program Director, Project GUTS

phone: 505-310-2695