Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

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

Donors Fuel Expansion and Innovation Throughout Illinois

"Cooljams,” “CoolSpots” and “Coolports” might sound more like science fiction than classroom learning, but just like science fiction, these technologies will transcend the boundaries of space and time to bring Illinois students and teachers together into a new dimension of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning.

CoolSpots, tech-enabled zones located on the IMSA campus, will enable IMSA students, students and teachers from other Illinois high schools, scientists from Abbott and others to collaborate on joint projects such as storm water purification.
This is one of two solar panels located on the IMSA campus made possible by broad private sector support.

This is just one of many examples of how support provided by donors to the IMSA Fund for Advancement of Education continues to help IMSA innovate and lead.

Abbott Fund and Tellabs Foundation Support Leading-Edge Prototype

IMSA students, students and teachers from other Illinois high schools, scientists from Abbott and others interested in the topic will collaborate in a one-of-a-kind pilot environmental chemistry project related to storm water purification. This unique boundless learning opportunity using Web 2.0 technologies is made possible thanks to grants from the Abbott Fund and Tellabs Foundation.  

“Thanks to this generous gift from Abbott, IMSA students and teachers will be able to engage other Illinois students and scientists from Abbott in a collaborative innovation network centered around the real-world problem of water purification,” said IMSA President Dr. Glenn “Max” McGee.  “In addition, a grant from the Abbott Fund will enable IMSA to continue its wildly popular online CyberQuiz 4Kids program, that includes challenging online mathematics and science brainteasers and word problems for students throughout Illinois.”  

Jennifer Hensley, grassroots organizer for the Sierra Cub who served as an “expert” during a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) unit on water purification in IMSA’s Environmental Chemistry class, said the learning experience is very unique at the college preparatory level.

“I didn’t get a chance to take this type of class until I was in college,”  Hensley said.  “Having this offered to them at such a young age is really, really great.  I congratulate you on that and I think it’s a great effort.”

Collaboration innovation networks will grow using CoolSpots, tech-enabled zones located on the IMSA campus conducive for small group work, and other innovation resources.  CoolSpots provide access to video conferencing, online forums, wikis, blogs, immersive online worlds and a searchable database of session recordings and published innovation projects.   The three Illinois high schools will help pilot chemistry project “Cooljams” (facilitated sessions) using Coolports, portable technology units located at each school and funded by Abbott.

The Tellabs Foundation grant also helps to support IMSA CoolSpots at its Aurora campus and Field Offices in Chicago and the Metro East region, enabling more students and teachers throughout Illinois greater access to innovative technology, and thereby more meaningful and relevant learning and collaborative innovation.

“Innovating for our customers drives Tellabs’ success,” said Michael J. Birck, chairman of Tellabs and president of the Tellabs Foundation.  “By helping IMSA create opportunities for innovative problem solving, we hope to encourage new solutions to a wide range of challenges facing our communities,” Birck said.

To learn more, visit

Private Sector Support Fuels the Greening of IMSA

IMSA is now fertile ground for budding young environmentalists, thanks to the generous broad support of private sector donors.

Whether it is the installation of alternative energy sources on campus (solar-powered laptop charging station, multiple wind generators, bike generator and biodiesel lawn mower), energy seminars, energy audits/improvements of the IMSA campus or the traveling IMSA Energy House for K-8 students throughout Illinois, in any given week IMSA students are stretching their minds, using their imaginations and creating solutions for a greener IMSA and greener world.

In addition, broad private sector support enabled IMSA to install two solar panels on the IMSA campus and provide an inquiry-based residential summer camp on alternative energy for 10th graders.

Looking to the future, the sky is the limit as The IMSA Energy Center provides a place where students can use their talents and passions to implement their new ideas and build upon existing ones.

“The Energy Center is a place where students meet to create tangible products for a more sustainable future for all,” said Branson Lawrence, IMSA science faculty member.  Under the leadership of Lawrence, the Energy Center is also igniting budding young engineers and scientists.

Supporters of IMSA’s energy initiatives include: BP A+ for Energy, Briggs & Stratton, ComEd, An Exelon Company, Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, James Hardie Inc., Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam Grant, Solar Power Foundation and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

To learn more, visit

IMSA Opens Chicago and Metro East Field Offices

IMSA now has a permanent presence in Chicago and Metro East following the establishment of Field Offices there to help expand programs and services for teachers and students in these communities.

The Field Offices, located at James R. Doolittle East School in Chicago and Lindenwood University – Belleville Campus, will help expand IMSA programs and services for Illinois teachers and students.  The Field Offices extend IMSA’s professional development programs for teachers and enrichment programs in mathematics and science for students in local communities.  They also serve as central hubs for mathematics and science education by coordinating resources with local organizations that provide community-based math and science enrichment programs.

IMSA’s Field Offices were made possible thanks to many advocates including the Illinois Governor’s Office, Illinois General Assembly, Illinois Board of Higher Education, the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, Metro East Region leaders, the Polk Bros. Foundation, and other donors to the IMSA Fund for Advancement of Education including a significant anonymous foundation.

Teacher Candidate Institutes Prepare Future STEM Teachers

In collaboration with Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, National-Louis University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the generous support of The Boeing Company, IMSA is now offering Teacher Candidate Institutes (TCIs) to help prepare future science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers.

During the first phase of the TCI, candidates are introduced to IMSA’s approach to mathematics and science teaching and learning by IMSA faculty and staff (sometimes in collaboration with faculty from the partnering university).  At this time, they also review and practice-teach the specific curricular content to be taught during the second phase of the program, under the guidance of IMSA mentors.

During the second phase, candidates participate in a mentored teaching experience where they provide the instruction and supervision for students involved in one of IMSA’s day programs, featuring a specific STEM topic.  

At the end of the program, these future STEM teachers discuss the use of student centered teaching approaches, presentation techniques, content communication, management proficiency and other teaching skills to help them when they enter the classroom.

For information contact