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Encyclopedia > Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Logo of IMSA
Motto A Pioneering Educational Community
Established 1985
Type Public Boarding School
President Glenn (Max) McGee
Principal Eric McLaren
Founder Leon Lederman
Faculty 55
Students 640
Grades 10–12
Location Aurora, Illinois, USA
Campus Closed residential
Colors Columbia blue and silver
Mascot Titans
Yearbook Gallimaufry
Newspaper The Acronym
Website IMSA

Student Council The Acronym Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Main logo of Illinois Math and Science Academy File links The following pages link to this file: Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy ... For other uses, see Motto (disambiguation). ... Educational institutions are often categorised along several dimensions. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Dr. Eric McLaren serves as the principal and vice president for Academic Programs at IMSA or the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. ... Leon Max Lederman (born July 15, 1922) is an American experimental physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1988 for his work on neutrinos. ... The Paramount Theatre under renovation, downtown Aurora. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... The Universitätscampus Wien, Austria ( details) Campus (plural: campuses) is derived from the (identical) Latin word for field or open space. English gets the words camp and campus from this origin. ... School colors are the colors chosen by a school to represent it on uniforms and other items of identification. ... Columbia blue is a light blue tertiary color. ... Millie, once mascot of the City of Brampton, is now the Brampton Arts Councils representative. ... This article is about the race of Titans in Greek mythology. ... For other uses, see Yearbook (disambiguation). ... A website (alternatively, web site or Web site) is a collection of Web pages, images, videos or other digital assets that is hosted on one or more web servers, usually accessible via the Internet. ...

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, or IMSA, is a three-year residential public high school located in Aurora, Illinois, with an enrollment of approximately 640 students. Enrollment is both offered to rising sophomores, who must undergo a competitive admissions process involving grades, recommendations, essays, and the SAT and rising freshmen who have had the equivalent of 9 years of education. However, rising sophomores are usually chosen over rising freshmen if IMSA has to decide between two applicants. Historically, nearly one-in-three to one-in-five applicants a year are admitted. Due to its nature as a public institution, there are no charges related to tuition or room and board, with only a small annual activities fee which may be reduced or waived based on income.



Nobel laureate Leon Lederman, director emeritus of nearby Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, was among the first to propose the school in 1982, and together with Governor Jim Thompson led the effort for its creation. (Thompson has noted with pride that he chose to build IMSA instead of competing for the ill-fated supercollider project.) The school was established by the Illinois General Assembly in 1985, and first opened to students in 1986. The Academy is housed in a building originally constructed in 1978 as the north campus of West Aurora High School, with seven outlying dormitories built after IMSA took over the campus. IMSA's first class graduated in 1989, with the commencement speech delivered by Lederman. IMSA is one of the few high schools to possess a .edu second-level domain. Leon Max Lederman (born July 15, 1922 in New York) is an American experimental physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1988 for his work on neutrinos. ... Aerial view of the Fermilab site. ... Batavia is a city in Kane County, Illinois. ... This does not cite its references or sources. ... For the particle accelerator, see Superconducting Supercollider. ... The Illinois General Assembly convenes at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. ... West Aurora High School, or WAHS, is a public four-year high school located in Aurora, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. ... .edu (education) is the generic top-level domain for educational institutions, primarily those in the United States. ...

The founding president of the school is former Batavia Superintendent Stephanie Pace Marshall, winner of the Lincoln Laureate Award, who was involved with the project from the start and helped write IMSA's original legislation. Marshall retired from the position on June 30, 2007, and was named President Emerita by the Board of Trustees. She will still have an office on campus and will continue to position IMSA on the national and international stages. Marshall serves on the board of several non-profit and for-profit institutions, including nearby Tellabs. The current principal, the day-to-day operator of the school, is Eric McLaren, who began his IMSA career as a Resident Counselor and has filled many administrative roles during his tenure. Dr. Stephanie Pace Marshall is an educator and the founding president of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. ... Tellabs, Inc. ...

Although the school received a budget cut in FY 2002, its budget has increased recently, largely due to the support of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and House Minority Leader Tom Cross. Milorad Blagojevich, commonly known as Rod R. Blagojevich (pronounced  , born December 10, 1956) is an American politician from the state of Illinois. ...


Front entrance
Front entrance
View of campus from southwest
View of campus from southwest

Prospective students, who are usually freshmen in high school but in some cases can be students in eighth grade, must fill out an extensive application to gain admission to IMSA. This application can now be completed online and can be found here.

The applications consists of an official transcript from the student's last 2 1/2 years of school, scores on the SAT I, several long and short essays totaling roughly four to five pages, three teacher recommendations in science, mathematics, and English, and a list of awards and extra-curricular activities. Since it draws students from across the state, it is sometimes considered a magnet school. Though IMSA does not disclose the numbers, there are generally around 1000 applicants for 240 places. The average score on the SAT for incoming sophomores (which is taken while the students are freshmen) on the 'old' SAT is usually between 1100 and 1300. This compares to an exiting average score of around 1400. For other uses, see SAT (disambiguation). ... In the U.S. system of education, a magnet school is a public school which offers innovative courses, specialized training, etc. ...

In order to draw greater numbers of applications and "transform teaching and learning," IMSA has an extensive outreach network run by The Center@IMSA. Some students who are invited to attend IMSA are admitted on the condition that they successfully complete a three-week, intensive preparation course (EXCEL) over the summer. IMSA has a fairly low retention rate; incoming sophomore classes number roughly 240, but graduating classes are only about 200. The reasons for this may include the difficulty of the IMSA curriculum, home-sickness, or disciplinary expulsion, as well as the fact that no transfer students are admitted to replenish the ranks of departed students.


Students at IMSA take rigorous college preparatory courses, with all classes being taught at the honors level, though IMSA philosophically spurns the Advanced Placement curriculum. Each student must fulfill a set of specific credits in order to graduate. This set of credits is broken down by academic subject. Each semester-long class counts for 0.5 credits, unless it meets with greater-than-normal frequency. Advanced Placement (AP) is the term used to describe high school classes that are taught at a college level. ...

In addition to the academic program, IMSA also offers over 50 clubs ranging from political groups and religious clubs to volunteer organizations [1]. All these clubs are chartered by the Student Council, often called StudCo.

IMSA bills itself as an "educational laboratory", and as such is frequently trying out new and experimental pedagogical techniques. These range from how classes are laid out to what is taught and even to who takes them; in the early 1990s IMSA received national attention for an exploratory study on whether girls learned physics better in single-sex or co-ed environments, as conducted by charter physics faculty, Dr. David Workman. IMSA's main math sequence, entitled "Mathematical Investigations" and in development by IMSA faculty since 1991, was published in handbook form in 2005 and is beginning to be adopted by other school districts in the state of Illinois, such as Community Unit School District 303 in St. Charles (at St. Charles East & St. Charles North). IMSA's core science curriculum has been through a number of ground-up restructurings. Its current implementation divided the old scientific inquiry curriculum into four classes: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Methods of Scientific Inquiry. Year 2005 (MMV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link displays full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Community Unit School District 303 is a comprehensive K-12 public education system covering 57 square miles in the Fox River Valley, 40 miles west of Chicago. ... Saint Charles East High School is a public four-year high school located in St. ... Saint Charles North High School is a public four-year high school, located in St. ...

Length of School Day and Mods

The school day at IMSA runs between 7:30 AM and 4:15 PM; however, most students do not have classes for all of the school day. Every school day is divided into 20 mods of equal length. They are 20 minutes long with a 5 minute break between mods. Therefore, 2-mod classes are 45 minutes long, 3-mod classes are 70 minutes long, and 4-mod classes are 95 minutes long. Currently, there are no 5-mod classes, although there have been in years past. Between mods 10 and 11, there is a 35 minute break, the midday break, usually utilized for eating lunch.

Frequency and length of classes

IMSA students only attend class for four days per week, with Wednesdays reserved for research and co-curricular activity. Each student has two schedules to keep track of: one for Monday/Thursday, and one for Tuesday/Friday. A given class may meet all four days, but need not meet for the same amount of time each day. Some classes meet only two days a week. The pattern for each class is usually reduced to a pair of numbers: a 3-2 class meets for 3 mods on Monday and Thursday, and only 2 on Tuesday and Friday, while a 0-4 meets only on Tuesday and Friday, for 4 mods each day. As a result, there is considerable variation as to how many classroom minutes each course has per week:

Class schedules
Configuration Minutes per week
3-0 class (or 0-3) 140 (2h20m)
2-2 class 180 (3h)
4-0 class (or 0-4) 190 (3h10m)
3-2 class (or 2-3) 230 (3h50m)
5-0 class (or 0-5) 240 (4h)

Course requirements

IMSA students have a fairly rigid set of requirements at a departmental level, but within each department (especially in math and the sciences), they have many options for meeting each requirement. The class requirements are as follows, along with the typical meetings times of courses in that department (for clarity the symmetric alternatives are omitted---e.g. "3-2" below means "either 3-2 or 2-3"):

  • Math: 3-2 for six semesters, though a small number of upperclass math electives are 3-0.
  • Science: two 4-0 classes for two (sophomore) semesters, but some classes can be tested out of, then four semesters of electives. Most electives are 4-0, but some are 5-0, and some are 3-2.
  • Foreign language: 3-2 for four semesters.
  • English: 3-3-2 for two (sophomore) semesters(new as of the 2006-2007 school year one day a week without English), then 3-0 for four semesters.
  • History and social science: 3-3-2 for two (sophomore) semesters (same as sophomore English), then 3-0 for three semesters.
  • Wellness: 3-2 for one (sophomore) semester, then 3-0 for one semester.
  • Fine arts: 2-2 or 4-0 for one semester.

There is also a two semester additional requirement that can be filled by either math or science electives. Once these requirements are complete, students are free to take electives in any area. Most students take a full six semesters of foreign language, for instance, and despite its nominal status as a "math and science academy", IMSA offers a variety of electives in English and History as well.

Other Academic Programs


During the week before the second semester, students are required to participate in Intersession, a week they choose from among dozens of enrichment sessions and off-campus trips. Most students choose to participate in two half-day or one full-day on-campus course(s), while a relatively small number travel abroad on faculty-sponsored trips to countries including France, Spain, and Russia, and others perform a week of mentorship. Classes range from "Build Your Own Computer" to studying lighthouse keeping at Washington State. Alumni often teach Intersession courses and lead overseas trips along with faculty members.

Student Inquiry and Research

Most Wednesdays are "I Days" (for "inquiry") and are usually reserved for research in the SIR programs. [2] These programs give students the opportunity to develop their own scientific research and/or to work with scientists, primarily from around the Chicago area. All IMSA students are encouraged to participate in this program, and several every year publish their research results in academic conferences and journals.

Usually, only students in grades 11-12 participate in these programs. Sophomores go to Navigation (first semester) or other required activities, usually seminars, (second semester) from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM, where they are helped with adjusting to residential life and other affective issues; they then have the rest of the day off.

External Programs

Unlike many other secondary schools, IMSA boasts a broad array of extra-curricular and summer programs for the teachers and students of the state of Illinois. The Center @ IMSA, the branch of the academy that coordinates these programs, is composed of the Kids Institute (KI), the Problem Based Learning Network (PBLN), and Excellence 2000+ (E2k), the Illinois Virtual High School (IVHS), and 21st Century Information Fluency (21CIF). KI runs several summer experiences dealing with science, math, and/or technology, including some residential programs. PBLN is largely the professional development arm of the The Center that aims to certify teachers in Problem Based Learning, a philosophy deeply rooted in many of IMSA's cirricula. They do run one summer program for middle school students called Summer Sleuths, in which students are challenged to solve a serious problem affecting the state of Illinois; to formulate a solution with the assistance of newly certified PBL teachers, the Sleuths must develop research and analytical skills as well as scientific and mathematical knowledge. E2k is an after-school enrichment program that aims to stimulate schools and students in the instruction of math and science. They also "place a special emphasis on students who are historically under-represented and under-served in math and science."

Many IMSA students help out with these external programs. Kevin Bock, '04, and Katie Linder, '04, were crucial to the development of IMSA on Wheels, a KI program that brings science demonstrations to schools and films videos for distribution across the state. The Summer Sleuths are also guided by "Watsons", IMSA students whose charge is to help develop the students research and analytical skills on a more interpersonal level.

The Center is also partly responsible for the export and implementation of IMSA curricula in other institutions, the most notable of which is Mathematical Investigations (see above).

Student life

Residence Halls

Residence halls on campus
Residence halls on campus

There are seven residence halls on campus. Each hall is composed of four wings housing up to 24 students each. Three halls are all-male, three are all-female, and the seventh contains two all-male wings and two all-female wings. All rooms have their own attached bathroom and standard residence hall furniture for two students. Furniture includes a desk, wardrobe, bed frame, mattress, and desk lamps for each student. Two pairs of rooms in each wing ("quads") have connecting doors that the residents can petition to have opened. One room per wing is built to be more accessible to disabled students, with a different room layout and a larger bathroom.

Each wing also has a lounge area with a kitchenette and a television. Many wings have accumulated a variety of other living equipment, including chairs, couches, and entertainment centers. A kitchenette is a cooking area in small apartments, hotel rooms, college dormitories, or office buildings. ...

Student Council

In addition to its primary role as the mediator between administrators and students, the Student Council controls large aspects of the residential life. The Student Council Website maintains a trip wiki, which lists trips to local resturants, stores, and venues that are taken by residential conselors. The website is also used by all student council chartered clubs as a means of communication. Campus-wide events are displayed here and students have personalized calendars listing all their club meetings.

Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Program

IMSA is unique in that it is one of few high schools that has a program whose main purpose is to educate students about leadership. The LEAD program, which is mandatory to incoming sophomores, teaches essential skills and concepts that serve as an integral part of leadership. The first semester of the program consists of teaching concepts; the second semester of the program focuses on applying concepts learned in the first semester to the real-world. The 2007-2008 LEAD program introduced an organizational simulation as the real-world integration. Unfortunately, many IMSA students who have gone through the program view it as a waste of time. Those students believe that leadership cannot be taught and that, even if it could be taught, LEAD would do a poor job of it.[citation needed]


IMSA consistently ranks at the top of the nation in standardized test scores (of roughly 200 students in the senior class, about 50 are National Merit Semifinalists), as well as in the prestigious Siemens-Westinghouse and Intel Science competitions. The class of 2005 produced six semifinalists each for Siemens and Intel. There was also one finalist for the Siemens competition, and three finalists in the Intel competition. In addition, two of the finalists in the Intel placed in the top ten; one student stood second overall, while another won sixth place. The class of 2006 continued the success, with five students being named semifinalists in both the Intel and Siemens competitions. The Intel Science Talent Search (ISTS) is a prestigious research-based science competition in the United States primarily for high school students. ...

Six mathematics teachers have been honored with the Edyth May Sliffe Award: Titu Andreescu (1994), Ronald Vavrinek (1995), Micah Fogel (2001), Steven Condie (2002), Michael Keyton (2003), Don Porzio (2004), and Steven Condie (2nd award) (2007). [3] Asteroid 21441 Stevencondie is named after Dr. Condie.[4] The Edyth May Sliffe Award is an award giving anually to 70 teachers in the nation by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). ... Titu Andreescu (born 1956) is an associate professor of mathematics at the University of Texas at Dallas [1]. He is also firmly involved in mathematics contests and olympiads, being the Director of AMC (as appointed by the Mathematical Association of America [2]), Director of MOP, Head Coach of the USA...

IMSA has repeatedly been included on Newsweek's annual list of "Best High Schools in America", along with approximately 20 other schools, due to the above-average SAT and ACT scores of exiting students. Two other Illinois schools are also featured on the list: University Laboratory High School in Urbana, IL, and Northside College Preparatory High School in Chicago, IL.[citation needed] Northside College Preparatory High School (commonly referred to as Northside College Prep, Northside Prep, or simply Northside; sometimes abbreviated as NCPHS or NCP) is a Chicago Public-Magnet School. ...

Study Hours and Work Service

Study hours are a two-hour block set aside from 7 pm to 9 pm on Monday through Thursday for all sophomores. Study hours are almost always waived for the second semester of sophomore year.

In addition, as a graduation requirement, each student at IMSA is expected to complete a mandatory amount of academically unrelated service work for the school (3 hours a week for juniors and seniors and 1 hour a week for sophomores). Like the federally-funded college work-study program, a variety of jobs are available, both skilled and unskilled. The program serves two purposes: to expose the residential students to work experience and to assist the school's state-controlled budget by providing free laborers.

Notable alumni

Ramez Naam is a professional technologist who helped create two of the most widely used pieces of software in the world: Microsoft Internet Explorer and Microsoft Outlook. ... Robert M. McCool (born 1973), more commonly known as Rob McCool, is a software developer and architect. ... The NCSA HTTPd was a web server originally developed at the NCSA by Robert McCool and a list of others. ... For the web browser produced by this corporation, see Netscape (web browser). ... Dominic Armato (born November 18, 1976 in Chicago) is a voice actor who is known primarily for his work on LucasArts games. ... SparkNotes, originally part of a website called The Spark, is a company started by Sam Yagan, Max Krohn, and Chris Coyne in 1999 that provides free in-depth commentary, analysis and study guides for literature, poetry, history, film and philosophy. ... For other uses, see Yelp (disambiguation). ... eBays North First Street satellite office campus (home to PayPals corporate headquarters) PayPal is an e-commerce business allowing payments and money transfers to be made through the Internet. ... For the supercomputer designer, see Steve Chen (computer engineer). ... YouTube is a popular video sharing website where users can upload, view and share video clips. ... YouTube is a popular video sharing website where users can upload, view and share video clips. ... eBays North First Street satellite office campus (home to PayPals corporate headquarters) PayPal is an e-commerce business allowing payments and money transfers to be made through the Internet. ... Adam Nyerere Bahner (born July 6, 1982), better known by the stage name Tay Zonday,[1] is a Youtube Award winning, Peoples Choice Award nominated, Webby Award nominated aspiring American singer, songwriter and keyboardist. ... YouTube is a popular video sharing website where users can upload, view and share video clips. ...

See also

The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) is a two-year, public residential high school located in Durham, North Carolina, which focuses on the intensive study of science, mathematics and technology. ... The Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities The Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities (also The Indiana Academy or simply IASMH) is a two-year residential public high school located on the campus of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, although it operates as a separate entity. ... University Laboratory High School, or Uni, was established in 1921 and is a laboratory school located on the engineering part of the campus of the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois which is rated third in the world after MIT and Stanford in Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science. ...

External links

Coordinates: 41°47′12″N, 88°21′17″W Map of Earth showing lines of latitude (horizontally) and longitude (vertically), Eckert VI projection; large version (pdf, 1. ...

  Results from FactBites:
IMSA®: The Center @ IMSA -- IMSA for Teachers & Students of Illinois (922 words)
Illinois is only one of fourteen states in the United States to boast a premier institution for advanced study in mathematics, science, and technology, serving secondary school students in its residential program and Illinois teachers and elementary and middle school students in its external program.
Illinois students who are enrolled in the Academy's residential program, all talented in mathematics and science, make IMSA a very unique learning laboratory.
IMSA believes in and whole-heartedly supports a core competency of creating learning conditions and classroom settings that are inquiry-based, problem-centered, competency-driven, and integrative by design.
  More results at FactBites »



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