Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

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

Exciting Opportunities and Extraordinary Outcomes

By Dr. Eric McLaren, Principal and Vice President for Academic Programs

Each academic year includes journeys filled with exciting opportunities and extraordinary outcomes.  We carefully plan many of our journeys in order to ensure maximum results, but some are spontaneous ventures that evolve from the incredible imaginations of our community members.

IMSA Principal and Vice President for Academic Programs Dr. Eric McLaren

Dr. Eric McLaren (center) is pictured during IMSA's community celebration of being named the 2009 Intel Star Innovator.

2009-10 Staff Innovation and Leadership

Academic year 2010 includes impressive examples of staff innovation and leadership. IMSA was named the nationwide winner of the 2009 Intel Schools of Distinction Star Innovator Award.  Through funding made available from the Intel Award, our faculty and staff are designing innovative pilot projects ranging from Increasing Female Enrollment and Attainment in Physics, Self-Paced Learning in the Scientific Inquiries Physics Classroom, to Microscopes on the Go.  Our faculty and staff members also contributed to their respective fields by authoring articles that are published in respected peer-reviewed publications such as Physical Review Letters, Poetics Today, Journal of Chemical Education and Discrete Mathematics to name a few.

Advancing Personalized Learning


Through our Strategic Plan, we are helping students to develop increasingly personalized plans of study.  Enhanced assessments of student mastery in core areas provide the data we need to help students design their unique learning paths.  The assessments guide us in giving students additional support in areas where they may need assistance and in helping students with advanced mastery to develop learning opportunities that challenge their interests and abilities.  We are strong advocates of integrated learning experiences that include interdisciplinary studies and real-world applications.  That’s why future plans include the development of a policy for the accreditation of external learning experiences and expanded options for senior year experiences.

Opportunities Abound in Student Research and Entrepreneurial Ventures

Our second-to-none Student Inquiry and Research Program (SIR) enables students to partner with distinguished scholars, scientists, entrepreneurs and other professionals to pursue problems that challenge our global community.  Through SIR and independent projects, students, once again achieved honors in competitions including the Intel Science Talent Search, Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology and the sanofi-aventis International BioGENEius Challenge.  Our IMSA students also achieved world-class results in mathematical competitions including the Yau High School Mathematical Awards and the international High School Mathematical Contest in Modeling (HiMCM).

Our award-winning Energy Center has evolved from our students’ natural concern for their environment. Through the Center, IMSA students are generating energy through the installation of solar panels and wind turbines. Our growing TALENT program has also evolved from students’ natural interest in creating solutions to life’s challenges. In this year’s IMSA TALENT Power Pitch competition, our student entrepreneurs pitched their innovative ideas for a business, product or service to an expert panel of venture capital investors and entrepreneurial leaders.  

I am proud to be a member of the IMSA community. Our faculty, staff and students embrace the Academy’s aspiration to become the world’s leading teaching and learning laboratory for imagination and inquiry. They question, probe, experiment and share their findings.  They do so with a common purpose – to enhance the lives of others.