Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

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

IMSA Wins Top National 2009 Intel Star Innovator Award for Science Excellence

The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) was named the nationwide winner of the 2009 Intel Star Innovator Award.  This award is presented annually to a school that has a “comprehensive program incorporating innovative and effective use of technology, engaging parents and the community in students’ education, fostering professional development and teamwork, and delivering consistent achievement of high academic standards.”

From an applicant pool of more than 700 schools, IMSA was named one of the six 2009 Intel Schools of Distinction Award recipients last May.  From these six, Intel selected IMSA to receive the top honor as Star Innovator during an awards reception in Washington, D.C in September of 2009.  Learn more about IMSA's award-winning science program in this video (Quick Time Player required).

U.S. Congressman Bill Foster (IL-14) congratulated IMSA’s staff for creating an educational environment where students can attain extraordinary levels of achievement before they even enter college.
"I am pleased to congratulate the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy for being named Star Innovator in the 2009 Intel Schools of Distinction awards program,” Foster said.  “As the parent of an IMSA graduate and as the school's congressional representative, I have seen firsthand the school's commitment to educational excellence. This award is a testament to IMSA's status as one of our nation's premier institutions of math and science education."  
Intel sponsors the Schools of Distinction Awards to honor schools for implementing innovative math and science programs and serving as models for other schools. The Intel Foundation and sponsoring companies will distribute to this year's winning schools a total of more than $1.3 million in cash, products and services.

IMSA President Dr. Max McGee said it is a great honor to be recognized by a world-renowned innovator such as Intel.

“Intel has an international reputation for excellence in innovation and creativity in science and technology,” Dr. McGee said.  “This recognition is affirmation that we are living into our mission statement as we aspire to be ‘the world’s leading teaching and learning laboratory for imagination and inquiry,’ and that our dedicated staff and faculty set a world-class standard for ‘igniting and nurturing creative, ethical scientific minds that advance the human condition.’”

Each winning school received $2,500 from the Intel Foundation when they were named finalists in April of 2009.  As winners, each received another $10,000 from the Intel Foundation plus an award package valued at $200,000 that includes curriculum materials, professional development resources, hardware and software prizes and services from sponsors. As the “Star Innovator,” IMSA received an additional $15,000 from the Intel Foundation and additional prizes and services from sponsors with a cash value of $50,000, bringing the cash value of IMSA’s total award to $277,500.

"It is critical for U.S. schools to invest in math and science education," said Shelly Esque, vice president, Legal and Corporate Affairs director, Corporate Affairs Group. “Because education is the foundation for innovation, the schools recognized as Intel Schools of Distinction are performing valuable services that will open doors to unprecedented opportunities for their students.”

Oakcliff Elementary School in Doraville, Ga. and Palm Desert Middle School in Palm Desert, Calif. joined IMSA in winning 2009 Schools of Distinction awards for science excellence in their respective levels. Awards for mathematics excellence at the elementary, middle school and high school levels, respectively, went to:  Cedar Park Elementary School, Trumann, Ark., UrbanAssembly School for Applied Math and Science, Bronx, N.Y., and Lynn English High School, Lynn, Mass.
The winning schools in science provide a rich science curriculum incorporating hands-on investigative experiences that prepare students for 21st century jobs. Programs encourage student achievement in sciences and engineering, while simultaneously helping students to become knowledgeable consumers of news and data in order to be active and informed citizens.

The winning schools in mathematics offer their students a rigorous, challenging and engaging program that teaches mathematics skills and how to apply them to solve real-life problems, approach projects as a member of a team, and communicate succinctly on the subject.

The Making of a Star Innovator in Science Education

IMSA is a state agency created to ensure that the needs of students highly talented in mathematics and science were being met. At the center of student achievement at IMSA is an excellent staff in a position to utilize flexible schedules, cutting-edge facilities and technology to advance student achievement. Of the 18 science faculty members, 11 have a  Ph.D with the remaining holding master’s degrees.

Students at IMSA design and conduct hands-on experiments, make observations, analyze data, draw conclusions and communicate evidence-based principles. Students also delve into the scientific literature and build understanding by synthesizing information and investigation through writing. These skills and abilities are then extended with electives and through the Student Inquiry and Research (SIR) program. Through SIR, students partner with cutting-edge scientists on diagnostics, nanotechnology, medical research, and much more.

All IMSA students take a “Methods in Scientific Inquiry” skills class, then move on to rich and varied science coursework. The outcome is consistent, strong performance. In 2008, 86 percent scored three or higher out of five on AP exams. The highly trained faculty focuses on their areas of specialization, modeling a depth of investigation and scholarship. Every day, IMSA creates exceptional opportunities for young scientists dedicated to improving people’s lives.

Intel's sponsorship of the Schools of Distinction Awards is part of the Intel® Education Initiative, a sustained public-private partnership with governments in more than 50 countries. Through this $100 million a year initiative, Intel delivers programs that improve the effective use of technology to enhance 21st century skills, and encourages excellence in mathematics, science and engineering. For more information, visit

In addition to Intel, Schools of Distinction award sponsors include Absolute Software, Brainware, Safari, DyKnow, eInstruction, Elluminate, Global Scholar, I-CAN, Inspiration Software, Microsoft, Pearson, SAS, Scantron, Smart and Toshiba.

Intel [NASDAQ: INTC], the world leader in silicon innovation, develops technologies, products and initiatives to continually advance how people work and live. Additional information about Intel is available at and
The internationally recognized Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy® (IMSA) develops creative, ethical leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  As a teaching and learning laboratory created by the State of Illinois, IMSA enrolls academically talented Illinois students (grades 10-12) in its advanced, residential college preparatory program, and it serves thousands of educators and students in Illinois and beyond through innovative instructional programs that foster imagination and inquiry. IMSA also advances education through research, groundbreaking ventures and strategic partnerships. (

To see the list of Intel winners visit

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