Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

To ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition.

IMSA-Russian Exchange Program Highlights "Unique Kinship"

By Assistant to the Principal Margaret Hernandez

This winter, IMSA and the Lyceum Physical-Technical High School in Russia continued its rich cultural exchange when 11 Russian students visited the Academy January 3-23, 2010.

Students from PTHS visit Fermilab during their exchange program with IMSA.
Students from IMSA and PTHS play Russian Monopoly.
While cheering for his Russian team, a student from PTHS and IMSA Assistant to the Principal Margaret Hernandez watch a Chicago Wolves hockey game.

Russian students and their math instructor and chaperon, Alexey Zarembo, from Lyceum Physical-Technical High School (PTHS) visited the IMSA community. PTHS, located in St. Petersburg Russia, is a school for students who are talented in mathematics and science. Last April, a group of IMSA Russian students visited PTHS with Russian instructor, Paavo Husen, for two weeks to start this exchange program. IMSA and PTHS share a unique kinship in that they are the only mathematics and science high schools in the world that were founded by Nobel Laureates in Physics.

During their stay, PTHS students had a fantastic time visiting IMSA classes of their choice. One Russian visitor said, “I liked the Electronics class because I learned new ways to use resistors.” Another said he, “liked Theory of Analysis because of the many interesting algebra problems that are not usually encountered in school.” Still another guest liked this about one class, “The available technology and subject matter in Microbes and Disease borders on the fantastic.”

While on campus, they had the honor of dining with our own Nobel Laureate, Dr. Leon Lederman. The lunch discussion was spirited, memorable and a true exchange of thoughts and ideas.  In addition, they were the guests of honor at a fun-filled mixer hosted by the IMSA East Euro Club.

One of the most memorable moments of the visit was a tour of Fermilab in Batavia and a meeting between IMSA/PTHS students and Dr. Dmitri Denisov, a Russian scientist working at the lab. It was incredible to experience a discussion about cutting-edge scientific research spoken in both languages. One Russian visitor said this of the occasion, “My interest in becoming a physicist was strengthened and I can see a possibility of working at Fermilab."

The rich cultural program included a stay at a youth hostel in Chicago. While in the city, the group walked the south loop on an architectural tour, rode the elevator to the top of the John Hancock building, listened to an orchestra concert in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall, visited the Art Institute of Chicago and The Field Museum, and dined out at the ever-popular Hard Rock Café.

The IMSA student visit would not have been possible without the incredibly gracious and generous support and hospitality of the IMSA host families. IMSA student hosts included Evan Adcock, Amy Allen, Wesley Bradley, Emerald Fannin, Sravanthy Gumidyala, Andrew Heuser, Peter Howes, Michael Kobiela, David Lorentzen, Cai O’Connell, Aleksander Poniatowski, Jacklyn Tusack and Ian Walker. The host parents opened their homes to the Russian students, providing them with a safe, supportive, and nurturing environment. The IMSA community was exceptionally supportive as well with the gift of their time and talents.

IMSA offers six world languages and has a long tradition of cultural and educational exchanges in other countries. We look forward to continuing the exchange with PTHS in the future. For more information about PTHS go to

To read the story about IMSA’s trip to the PTHS last year, click here.