Asynchronous Online Learning Programs

IMSA STEM League

These are mostly asynchronous courses designed around a hot topic in STEM, and may include a book read, documentaries/TED Talks, case studies, and other source or research material. Genetics and Ethics is open to Illinois and non-Illinois students in grades 8-11; Forensics is open to Illinois and non-Illinois students in grades 7-10.

No coursework will be required during the week of November 23.

Fall 2020 Courses

Genetics: The Power and Pitfalls of a Modern Revolution

Grades 8-11

9/8/2020 – 12/4/2020

This online mini-course is intended for motivated, independent learners who are interested in taking a closer look at the recent developments in the field of genetics, with a special emphasis on gene therapy and gene editing. The ethical considerations of these powerful tools will also be considered. A variety of media sources such as readings, videos, and online tools will be explored, evaluated and discussed. Over the course of this program, we will read The Forever Fix: Gene Therapy and the Boy Who Saved It, a narrative nonfiction book by Dr. Ricki Lewis, a geneticist, science writer, and educator. The course will culminate in a live, online, interactive session with Dr. Lewis. This course will be led by an IMSA Center for Teaching and Learning curriculum specialist. Weekly time commitment is 2-4 hours, which includes Zoom sessions on Thursdays, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. C.S.T.

This mostly asynchronous, online program will give students the opportunity to

  1. Learn genetics content that has relevant societal implications and
  2. Participate in an online community of scientific thinking and discussion.
School Year: 2020-2021SessionDatesRegistrationScholarship Application
Grades 8-11IMSA STEM League: Genetics9/8/2020 - 12/4/2020CLOSEDCLOSED
The Ethics of STEM

Grades 8-11

9/21/20 – 11/13/2020

“With great power comes great responsibility” and with each new powerful STEM capability comes another complex moral question for consideration. As scientists and engineers continue to push the limits on what we’re capable of doing as a species, it becomes all the more important for us to also consider the serious implications that might come along with the decisions we make in regards to how we use that new advancement.

In this 8-week online course, participants will be challenged to try and answer a few of the top quandaries of 21st century STEM: 1) Should humans try to geoengineer (a.k.a. climate engineer) the Earth?, 2) Is it okay to use animals in scientific research?, and 3) Is it ethical to intentionally infect a healthy individual with a possibly deadly virus like COVID-19?. Students will study curated resources (readings, videos, and thought-provoking lectures) to help inform them about the science underlying the topic at hand, so they are able to make an informed opinion on the issue. While most of the coursework can be accomplished asynchronously (i.e. according to the student’s own schedule) there will also be opportunities for weekly discussions/debates with fellow classmates and the instructor from IMSA’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Weekly time commitment is 2-4 hours.

School Year: 2020-2021SessionDatesRegistrationScholarship Application
Grades 8-11IMSA STEM League: Ethics9/21/2020 - 11/13/2020CLOSEDCLOSED

Forensics – The Science of Hidden Evidence

Grades 7-10

10/5/2020 – 12/18/2020

“Physical evidence cannot be intimidated. It does not forget. It doesn’t get excited at the moment something is happening–like people do. It sits there and waits to be detected, preserved, evaluated, and explained.”— Herbert Leon MacDonnell, The Evidence Never Lies, 1984.

For centuries, long before having a formal name, forensics intertwined science and crime, helping to solve otherwise unsolvable crimes. One strand of hair, one fingerprint left behind, even a crumpled receipt can lead investigators to a suspect. But how? In this 10-week online course, students will read “Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA” by Bridget Heos, a narrative nonfiction look into forensic science. Students will dive deep into topics such as dermatoglyphics (the science of finger-prints), DNA, blood spatter analyses, how hair, fibers, and paint are analyzed in a lab, and the evolution of forensics from past to present. The text will be supplemented with age-appropriate videos, crime scene analyses, and more. The mostly asynchronous online format will include discussions, assessments, essays, and several virtual meetings, and will conclude with a live online chat with an author or expert in the field. The time commitment is 2-4 hours per week.

School Year: 2020-2021SessionDatesRegistrationScholarship Application
Grades 7-10IMSA STEM League: Forensics10/5/2020 - 12/18/2020CLOSEDCLOSED

Research, Inquiry Skills & Experimentation (RISE)

Pursue a higher-level, year-long, in-depth study of a science topic of your choice. Learn the skills necessary to conduct independent research and report your findingsYou will choose a topic of your own interest and collaborate with other high school students involved in independent research. Find out how to conduct authentic research and get the opportunity to connect with an expert in your chosen research area.

This course will give you the opportunity to participate in the community of scientific research and scholarship. You will have the opportunity to present your research findings at various regional, state, and national venuesThe unique methods and personalized instruction RISE offers guided 31 total students to win state and national awards in the program’s first two years.

The outcomes of this program are linked to: Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), College Readiness Standards, and Common Core State Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects.

Course Specifics

  • RISE is an online, non-credit bearing course for grades 7-8 and 9-12
  • Access to a computer with internet is necessary
  • Duration: Two semesters, Classes start late August and run through end of May
  • Successful students will be self-motivated and independent learners.
  • Course includes significant writing component
  • Tuition: $890
Registration closes August 19. Space is limited.

Scholarship application closes July 31

*Applying for a scholarship does not guarantee an award or registration into the summer program. To qualify and apply for a scholarship, the student is required to submit proof of eligibility: 2017 or 2018 Tax Documentation showing proof of parent’s income. WATCH YOUR EMAIL and CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDER! Award recipients will be notified via email and must reply to scholarship offer within time period indicated in email. NOTE: You may choose to either pay for program registration OR apply for a scholarship and await award notification. Scholarship applications will not be accepted along with a paid registration.

School Year: 2020-2021SessionDatesRegistrationScholarship Application
Grades 7-8Research, Inquiry Skills & Experimentation8/31/2020 - 5/31/2021CLOSEDCLOSED
Grades 9-12Research, Inquiry Skills & Experimentation8/31/2020 - 5/31/2021CLOSEDCLOSED

RISE Above Program

RISE Above, a year-long course, is for students who have taken one or more years of RISE and are interested in pursuing a higher-level, year long, in-depth research study in an advanced manner or who wish to pursue a new topic. This course will give students the opportunity to participate in the community of scientific research and scholarship. There will be a significant writing component to this course.

Course Specifics

  • Students grades 8-12 who have previously completed the RISE Course
  • Classes start late August, 2020 and run through May 2021
  • Tuition: $890
Registration now open.

*Applying for a scholarship does not guarantee an award or registration into the summer program. To qualify and apply for a scholarship, the student is required to submit proof of eligibility: 2017 or 2018 Tax Documentation showing proof of parent’s income. WATCH YOUR EMAIL and CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDER! Award recipients will be notified via email and must reply to scholarship offer within time period indicated in email. NOTE: You may choose to either pay for program registration OR apply for a scholarship and await award notification.  Scholarship applications will not be accepted along with a paid registration.

School Year: 2020-2021SessionDatesRegistrationScholarship Application
AdvancedRISE Above: Research, Inquiry Skills & Experimentation8/31/2020 - 5/31/2021CLOSEDCLOSED
From a previous RISE student:

“Particularly in the past few years, I have nurtured a growing love for science and technology. As a result, I was extremely interested in the RISE program hosted by one of Illinois’ top high schools, the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA). As I went through this program, I learned more about the scientific approaches to a design or experiment, and I learned to conduct my research independently and efficiently. I had encouraging and hard-working classmates, along with a very experienced instructor who was both approachable and helpful. I learned more about my topic, and I had the opportunity to pursue advanced topics that I am interested in that are normally not offered at a high school level.

I feel like this experience in RISE truly raised my academic level up a notch and helped me earn a strong passion for science. The RISE class acts in a similar way that an online classroom would work. There are instructional posts and interactive activities that are often engaging and thought-provoking. In addition to this, students cooperate with each other and comment on each other’s posts, often giving constructive criticism or praise to improve productivity and enthusiasm for a topic that everyone is interested in (in this case, science). The instructor is always quick to reply to messages, and she is always an understanding person who helped everybody develop enthusiasm for their projects. I am glad to have the opportunity to enjoy such an exciting class like RISE.”