Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

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

IMSA Students of Russian Experience Rich Cultural Exchange

By IMSA Russian faculty member Paavo Husen

Ten IMSA students of Russian traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, for a two-week exchange visit to Lyceum Physical-Technical High School (PTHS).  IMSA students lived with host families, attended classes daily and experienced a rich cultural program.   The host students from PTHS will visit IMSA during the 2009-2010 school year.

Lyceum Physical-Technical High School (PTHS) in St. Petersburg, Russia
IMSA students of Russian meet with Dr. Zhores Alferov (center), Nobel Laureate in Physics.
PTHS Principal Dr. Mikhail Ivanov teaches a physics class to students.

IMSA student participants were seniors Pedro Aguirre of Plainfield, Nichole Evans of Bolingbrook, Brian Flynn of Bartlett, Kelly Hause of Centralia, Brittany James of Springfield, and Dean Spaay of Oswego; and juniors Amy Allen of Batavia, Emerald Fannin of Cortland and Jacklyn Tusack of Monee.
There are many similarities between IMSA and PTHS.  Like IMSA, PTHS is a public school that admits and enrolls students who demonstrate superior talent in mathematics and science.  IMSA and PTHS share the unique distinction of being founded by Nobel Prize Laureates in Physics, Dr. Leon Lederman (1988) and Dr. Zhores Alferov (2000), respectively.  Both schools were founded at about the same time; PTHS in 1987 and IMSA in 1985.  However, PTHS is a smaller school, with approximately 200 students in grades 8-11, the last four years of secondary school in Russia.    

While at PTHS, IMSA students attended classes and worked collaboratively with their PTHS peers.  Course choices included algebra, geometry, computer science, chemistry, history, literature, and physics, as well as a seminar on Russian language and culture, organized specifically for IMSA students.  IMSA students also attended a thought-provoking geometry class taught by Dr. Valeriy Ryzhik, and were treated to a lecture given by PTHS principal, Dr. Mikhail Ivanov, titled “What is Physics?”

One of the most memorable moments of the visit was a meeting between IMSA students and Dr. Alferov.  Dr. Alferov expressed great pleasure that such a talented and eloquent group of IMSA students was visiting PTHS and he strongly endorsed closer future ties between our two schools.  While the IMSA visit to PTHS in April was the first academic and cultural exchange between our schools, IMSA is no stranger to PTHS.  IMSA students have presented their SIR research four times since 1996 at the Sakharov Readings, an annual international high school science conference held at PTHS that is similar to IMSAloquium, IMSA's annual showcase of student research findings.

The rich cultural program IMSA students experienced in St. Petersburg included a day trip to the ancient city of Novgorod, the ballet “Romeo and Juliet,” the Moiseev Dance Company, the circus, the Hermitage, the Russian Museum, the Menshikov Palace, St. Isaac’s and Kazansky Cathedrals, St. Petersburg University, Piskarovsky Cemetery and so much more.  Cultural program organizers Tatyana Ivanova and Tatyana Korochentsova did a marvelous job in creating a unique program for us.

The IMSA student visit would not have been possible without the incredibly gracious and generous support and hospitality of the PTHS host families.  The host parents opened their homes to our students, providing them with a safe, supportive and nurturing environment.

IMSA looks forward to hosting the PTHS students next year and affording them similar educational and cultural experiences.