STEM League (Grades 7-10)

Spring 2022 Courses

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 sources of research material, with a culminating chat with an author or expert in the field.

IMSA STEM League received the 2020 Innovative Student Program of the year award from the National Consortium Secondary STEM Schools (NCSSS).

Mars (Grades 7-10)

“Mars tugs at the human imagination like no other planet. With a force mightier than gravity, it attracts the eye to the shimmering red presence in the clear night sky.” -John Noble Wilford

The red planet has fascinated humans for centuries. What natural phenomena need to be considered when developing rockets that can get us to Mars (and back)? How would the human body be affected by travel to Mars? What are the ethical considerations of terraforming the planet so it’s suitable for future human civilizations? This program will explore these questions and more, including an examination of the fundamental science of space travel. Students will read the nonfiction graphic novel The Mars Challenge: The past, present, and future of human spaceflight by Alison Wilgus, an engaging and accessible book based on real science. Additional resources (articles, videos, original research, etc.) will provide further context and perspective to the students.

The mostly asynchronous online format will include a combination of discussions, assessments, hands-on activities, and weekly synchronous virtual meetings via Zoom (Thursdays from 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. CST). As a culminating event, students will get to participate in a live (virtual) chat with a panel of professionals including the author, Alison Wilgus, and other experts in the field. The time commitment is 3-4 hours per week over ten weeks.

School Year: 2021-2022SessionDatesSynchronous MeetingsCostRegistrationScholarship Application*
Grades 7-10IMSA STEM League: Mars1/9/2022-3/19/2022Thursday from 4:30-5:30 PM CST$225Register NowApply Now

Artificial Intelligence (Grades 7-10)

“The rise of powerful AI will be either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity.” -Stephen Hawking

Many are referring to the current developments in technology as an “AI or Intelligence Revolution” — but what does this really mean for each of us? This program will explore the fundamentals of AI, including its current capabilities and limitations. Students will read the book You Look Like a Thing and I Love You by Janelle Shane, which approaches the subject of artificial intelligence in an accessible and informative manner, looking at how technologies like facial recognition and the algorithms that generate those recommendations on the internet actually work. In addition to gaining a deeper understanding of how fundamental AI building blocks such as neural networks and evolutionary algorithms work, students will examine some of the unfortunate consequences that can occur when AI is assumed to be “neutral” and therefore not programmed to avoid the many biases found in human societies. The book will be supplemented with additional resources (videos, original research, etc.) to help provide further context and perspective.

The mostly asynchronous online format will include discussions, assessments, essays, and several synchronous 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: 2021-2022SessionDatesSynchronous MeetingsCost
Grades 7-10IMSA STEM League: Artificial Intelligence1/31/2022 - 4/15/2022Wednesdays from 4:30-5:30 PM CST$225

*Applying and qualifying for a scholarship does not guarantee an award or registration into the program. To qualify for a scholarship, the student’s family is required to submit proof of financial eligibility: if you qualify for SNAP or Free/Reduced Lunch, you qualify, but we need you to submit proof of eligibility. If you do not have a form in your possession or have difficulty getting it from your school or IDHS, you may submit a screenshot showing eligibility. Please contact us at if you have difficulty with this requirement. Alternatively, a 2019 or 2020  federal tax return showing proof of family income may be submitted. WATCH YOUR EMAIL and CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDER! Award recipients will be notified via email and must reply to the scholarship offer within the time period indicated in the email. NOTE: You may choose to either pay for program registration OR apply for a scholarship and await award notification. Your scholarship application will not be considered if you also complete a paid registration. Scholarship awardees for this program will be responsible for a $20 scholarship fee.

No requests for a registration cancellation/refund will be accommodated if they are received less than 5 business days before a program begins. Requests must be made in writing via an email to: Please include the program name and your student’s full name.