IMSA's academic program includes a wide variety of learning opportunities. In addition to disciplinary courses of study, IMSA students have the opportunity to do Independent Study, participate in Student Inquiry, Mentorship, and TALENT (Total Applied Learning for Entrepreneurs), take advantage of the Great Minds Program, attend Interdisciplinary Seminars, and pursue their passions during Intersession Week. All of these learning experiences are driven by the core four attributes of our Core Competency: competency-driven, inquiry-based, problem-centered, and integrated. Those attributes serve as design principles for the development, implementation and assessment of IMSA's overall curriculum.
IMSA's Core Competency
Competency-driven learning experiences are those which enable students (1) to acquire strong bases of disciplinary content knowledge and skills, key ideas of the disciplines, and connections among these ideas; (2) to use the ideas, processes, and tools of the disciplines for acquisition and generation of new knowledge; and (3) to apply knowledge when addressing issues and solving real world problems.
Inquiry-based learning experiences are those which promote analytic thinking, knowledge generation and application, and construction of meaning through mindful investigation driven by compelling questions that have engaged, or have the potential for engaging, the learner's curiosity.
Problem-centered learning experiences are those in which learners grapple with complex, meaningful and open-ended problems, and work toward their resolution.
Integrative learning experiences are those which forge meaningful connections of concepts, constructs, and principles within and across academic subjects and real-world situations.
At the heart of IMSA's academic program are a wide variety of challenging, all college preparatory courses in mathematics, science, the arts and humanities, emphasizing essential concepts and promoting student collaboration. Our students become leaders who understand that knowledge crosses disciplines and has real world applications.
The purpose of the mathematics program at IMSA is to help students develop and use mathematical tools for their own thinking, problem solving and development as informed citizens and leaders, and to help students appreciate the power, economy, elegance and beauty of mathematical thought. We provide experiences in which students investigate and explore, think critically, solve problems and apply mathematical tools of thought in a variety of situations using multiple strategies, approaches and techniques.
Mathematics Core Program
The Mathematical Investigations core program is a combination of pre-calculus, analytic geometry, trigonometry and advanced work in each area with enrichment and connections. We utilize the strength of student backgrounds and understanding to connect topics at different levels and complexities throughout the sequence. The arrangement of the materials is unique to our program and was developed specifically by the department as a dynamic and comprehensive curriculum. The content does not follow a traditional high school curriculum.
Placement into the sequence therefore depends on comprehension and understanding of the material at that level and not just on prior courses completed. Due to the embedded nature of our mathematics work students will be revisiting topics they have seen before in a new context and with new depth to the materials.
The large majority of entering students begin with Mathematical Investigations II. Students who have not had a full year Geometry course will take Geometry first and then proceed with the Mathematical Investigations sequence. The remaining students are placed where most appropriate for their success. Once a student enters the mathematics sequence, the progression is to finish Mathematical Investigations IV and then to enter the Calculus sequence. All IMSA students are expected to complete an appropriate Calculus sequence.
Students will be guided by their mathematics instructor each spring as they make their core and elective choices for the following year.
Mathematics and Computer Science Electives
Advanced topic electives include Multi-variable Calculus, Differential Equations, and many more. Computer Science electives include Advanced Programming Computer Science, Web Technologies, and more.
The purpose of the Science Program is to provide a learning environment which addresses both breadth and depth of study. Breadth of study is necessary for learners to make informed decisions about continued education in science. The depth of study will lead to a deep understanding of the nature and processes of science, its fundamental concepts and principles, and the contexts of science that inform ethical leadership. To these ends IMSA has established a competency-driven, inquiry-based, problem-centered, and integrative learning environment that serves our students and is a model for Illinois and other school systems.
The Sophomore Core Science Experience
The Science team provides sophomores with four semester-long science core courses, in order to prepare them for advanced study in science. This is intended to: 1) prepare students for science electives at the Academy, 2) prepare students to enter a challenging college environment to pursue degrees in the sciences, 3) prepare students to be responsible members of a scientifically literate community, and 4) prepare students for scientific inquiry at the Academy and beyond.
A wide variety of electives, which build on the core science courses, are offered each year. Advanced electives include Organic Chemistry, Microbes and Disease, Modern Physics, Applied Engineering, and much more.
Students are encouraged to explore many voices in literature and to develop their own. They engage in critical thinking by examining concepts that connect English to other disciplines. Electives include Modern World Fiction, Short Story, Poetry, and more; all promote writing and speaking skills.
Students attain knowledge, skills, and values, which aid understanding of the human condition and social and political relations. Courses include International Relations, Psychology, Macroeconomics, as well as histories of the World.
IMSA prepares leaders with the tools to communicate effectively with the people of the world by immersing them in the language and culture they are studying, speaking only the language of study from day one! Students may study French, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, or Chinese.
Students become creative contributors to their community through study of Art Design, Ceramics, Photography, and Instrumental and Choral Music.
Life long behaviors are developed that contribute to harmony among the emotions, body, intellect, and spirit. Students may participate in physical activities from fencing to dance, and beyond.