Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

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

IMSA25 Events Celebrate IMSA's Past By Visioning Its Future

By IMSA25 Director Britta McKenna

IMSA25 events in December engaged several generations of learners, from hands-on mathematics projects for more than 350 students in Chicago-area schools to a "design charette" led by national experts to explore the future of IMSA's online learning presence.

The IMSA Design Charrette for Online Learning and Dodecahedron Day were both held the first week in December.   A “charrette” is a design-based, accelerated, collaborative project management process that organizes thoughts from experts and the public into a structured format, that is unrestricted and conducive to the creativity and the development of a myriad of scenarios. A “dodecahedron” is a 12-sided geometric shape.

IMSA Design Charrette for Online Learning – Beyond IMSA25

The two-day Design Charrette hosted by IMSA enlisted the thinking, engagement and hard work of 44 IMSA faculty, staff and external participants.

Dr. Joe Wise leads the two-day Design Charette for Online Learning at IMSA. IMSA President Dr. Max McGee facilitates discussion during the Charette.
IMSA Alumnus and teacher Ray Stadt discusses online learning strategies. IMSA Student Morgan Johnson shows a St. Charles elementary school student how to design a dodecahedron during the pilot Dodecahedron Day.
IMSA student Vishrut Dixit describes a dodecahedron to an eager learner.  A St. Charles School District teacher prepares students for Dodecahedron Day activities with IMSA student teachers.

Keynote speaker and international online learning authority Dr. Yusra Laila Visser of Florida Atlantic University, and expert facilitator Dr. Joseph Wise of Atlantic Research Partners led and facilitated discussion among participants. Their charge during the event was to develop a clear vision, identify critical relationships with partners and target audiences and outline a set of specific recommendations for IMSA’s future online presence.

“The work of the IMSA Charrette was inspiring," said Dr. Wise.  "At a time when our nation is working hard to return to 'leader of the world' in the education of children, the broader influence of IMSA in digital education and e-learning will be important.”

The two day event hosted at IMSA, led participants through a strategic process of grounding knowledge, inventorying current IMSA online resources, answering IMSA identity questions, developing the vision for IMSA’s online presence, discussing benefits and challenges of multiple scenarios for IMSA’s e-learning presence and identifying and prioritizing the potential partners for development, delivery, funding and evaluation.

"The Design Charrette team developed a compelling vision for IMSA's e-learning presence and the depth of thought, insight, intellect and imagination that they devoted to framing our future direction in this venture will serve the Academy and our many stakeholders well into our next 25 years," said IMSA President Dr. Max McGee.

Dodecahedron Day Inspires Young Minds

Just on the heels of the Charrette, IMSA launched a pilot “Dodecahedron Day” (  The brainchild of IMSA Mathematics Faculty Member Dr. Vince Matsko as an effort to create a "fall pi day,”  Dodecahedron Day was aptly scheduled on December 5, to coincide with the “do” (2) + “deca” (10) “hedron” (5-sided polyehdra).  The event was coordinated as part of IMSA’s 25th Anniversary celebration and as a pilot project for the international celebration anticipated on 12-5-12.

As part of the December fifth celebration, seven IMSA students taught prepared curriculum in seven Chicago-area schools to over 350 students in grades 4-9.  Three of these IMSA students, Aaron Geldner of River Forest, Stephanie Hatz of Lake Zurich and Uriel Ramirez of Forest Park, visited their hometown schools and reconnected with former teachers and younger students using hands-on geometry activities. The other four IMSA students, Vishrut Dixit, Morgan Johnson, Sabrina Roberts and Sam Walder taught in St. Charles district schools.

Concurrently, Dr. Matsko celebrated back at IMSA’s Aurora campus with his mathematics classes by studying the five platonic solids, Euler’s Formula and building dodecahedrons while inspiring IMSA staff to build their own polyehdra.

"I am delighted at the positive responses from students and teachers both here, at IMSA and at the schools visited by IMSA students and staff," Dr. Matsko said.  "Students really do enjoy being creative, and it is our responsibility as teachers to give students a sense of mathematics as art."

Planning for the International 2012 Dodecahedron Day is in progress using IMSA’s CoolHub platform as home base for collaboration.

Teachers and districts interested in learning more about the International 2012 Dodecahedron Day or in joining the project should contact Dr. Matsko at