STEM Enrichment Programs

The Center for Teaching and Learning programs provide an inquiry-based experience for students, with a goal of encouraging students to see themselves as capable scientists, engineers, and mathematicians. Building off the success of our first-ever virtual summer, we are looking forward to engaging with your children—through a distance—this fall.

Our programs employ the practices scientists use to study the world — questioning, forming hypotheses, conducting investigations, and collecting and analyzing data to effectively teach STEM content while developing scientific habits of mind at the same time. The curriculum for all IMSA student enrichment programs are created by IMSA curriculum writers, who will be leading our virtual programs this fall. While all of our lessons and activities are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards, the focus is on fun and creativity. Students in our programs are encouraged to explore, take risks, and have ownership over their own learning.

Research shows that high-quality experiences in school are necessary but insufficient for young people to get and stay involved with science, and to be equipped with the skills necessary to pursue STEM beyond high school graduation. (State of STEM in Out-of-School Time in Chicago, 2013). IMSA enrichment programs, with their focus on inquiry and integration with real-world situations, provide experiences that develop students’ positive disposition toward STEM.

Fall 2020 Student Programs

Student enrichment programs this fall will include the options detailed below. Registration for programs will open August 12 at 1 pm (unless indicated in the program description). Registration for the RISE program had been open since April and closes on August 19.  STEM League programs are capped at 40 students to ensure a high level of engagement.  Class sizes are intentionally kept small (10-14) in all other programs that are mostly synchronous to ensure a robust, teacher-led experience that allows for individual attention. 

Participants will be responsible for obtaining course materials – (the materials list will be linked to the descriptions of each course so you can view it prior to registration.)

IMSA STEM League – Grades 7-11

These are two-three month, mostly asynchronous online mini-courses designed around a hot topic in STEM, which may include a book read, documentaries/TED Talks, and other source material. Three different courses will be offered this fall: Genetics, The Ethics of STEM, and Forensic Science. For students in grades 8-11 (Genetics and Ethics) or 7-10 (Forensics and Artificial Intelligence). Approximate weekly time commitment is 2-4 hours. For more information or to register, navigate here.

IMSA STEM Club – Grades 4-8

These will be a series of sessions all linked around a common theme (similar to our STEM Camps) and will take place Monday and Wednesday, or Tuesday and Thursday, afternoons to sync with hybrid/distance learning school schedules, and will be 75-90 minute sessions for from two-five weeks, depending on the topic. For more information or to register, navigate here.

Saturday STEM – Grades 3-8

These 90 minute sessions will begin and end with synchronous time where students and instructors will explore a fundamental STEM concept together, with time for the experiment or challenge in the middle. Participants will be responsible for obtaining materials – (the materials list will be linked to each course prior to registration opening.) Each will run from 10-11:30 a.m. For more information or to register, navigate here.


In Research, Inquiry Skills and Experimentation (RISE) students learn how to conduct independent research and report their findings. In this school-year-long, asynchronous course students conduct an in-depth study of a science topic of their  choice. This course includes a significant writing component — successful students will be independent and self-motivated learners.

STEM at Home

STEM BITES are IMSA-created, quick activities introduced by our mascot, Darwin the bearded dragon, and his furry friends. STEM Plans are activities students can do with a parent or other adult. There is no cost to download/access.


ALLIES is a youth development service-learning program in which students learn STEM content by serving others. It prepares high school students to deliver inquiry-based, hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities (STEM) to younger students. ALLIES learn 21st-century workforce readiness skills, including best practice collaboration, critical thinking, leadership and communication skills. IMSA ALLIES has continued to run virtually since mid-March, and will continue virtually this fall.

College Internship Opportunities (SITE)

SITE – Summer Internships for Tomorrow’s Educators—provides college education and STEM majors with training, mentorship and support, feedback, and classroom opportunities to teach IMSA-created, hands-on, minds-on STEM content to students in IMSA’s summer programs. SITE interns receive training in inquiry-based teaching techniques, material preparation, classroom management, and the elements of successful informal STEM learning. SITE interns work and teach alongside IMSA high school students who are part of the ALLIES program, a STEM leadership and teacher development program for high school students. Site interns receive an hourly salary. These internships are based at IMSA’s Aurora, IL campus. Internship will run from mid-May through end of July, General hours are 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.