IMSA (Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy) STEM Leagues 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, 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).
STEM League: Genetics (9/13-12/3)
This 12- week, mostly asynchronous 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. The time commitment is roughly 3-5 hours per week.
STEM League: Ethics of STEM (9/13-11/5)
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) Are the potential benefits of conducting gain-of-function research worth the inherent risks that it comes with? 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. The time commitment is roughly 1.5–3 hours per week and the (optional) synchronous meetings will take place every week on Tuesday from 4:30-5:30 pm, with open/drop-in office hours on Thursdays from 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Both programs can be found at https://www.imsa.edu/centers/stem-enrichment-programs/online-learning/