Vital Signs Aurora: Sheep Heart Dissection

Vital Signs Aurora: Sheep Heart Dissection

Day 2 is over, and our daring dissectors have had an in-depth look at the workings of every mammal’s most important organ: the heart! During their exploration, students continued to recognize the relationship between structure and function that is present everywhere in biological structures. One student commented, “Every piece of the organ has a specific job, and everything is efficient!”

The scientists-in-training will continue to explore this connection between structure and function as the week goes on!

Ask your student:

What are the jobs of the atria and ventricles of the heart? (Atria take blood from body back into the heart; ventricles pump blood to lungs and then back to the body.)

What is the difference between a vein and an artery? (arteries carry blood away from the heart; veins carry blood to the heart)


Vital Signs Aurora: Chicken Wing Thing

Vital Signs Aurora: Chicken Wing Thing

On the first day of a jam-packed week, students delved into anatomy by learning the basics of dissection! Our budding scientists explored the structures of a chicken wing, discovering characteristics that are shared with the human arm. As they examined deeper levels of complexity during their dissection, they observed the interactions between systems and structures that allow the wing to function.

Students also learned how to preserve the bones of the chicken wing in order to use them in one of Friday’s lessons!

Ask your student:

What is the difference between the flexor and extensor muscles? (They work together to move the arm/wing, flexor curls the limb, extensor extends it)

What are the two bones of the lower arm/wing? (radius and ulna)



BioSleuths Aurora: Soil Life

BioSleuths Aurora: Soil Life

Whether you can see them or not there are many things living in the soil. This is one of the concepts your student learned today.  Students set up two experiments today to learn not only about where life comes from but also what kinds of organisms live in the soil. Students worked in groups to prepare their first experiment. They placed pieces of chicken in cans with different coverings; they will come back to these cans later in the week to observe what is new. After this experiment they collected soil samples to learn about all the living things inside of it. Many of the students found worms or other critters while they were on this mission.

These curious biosleuths shined light directly over the Burlese-Tullgren funnel to help them understand what organisms live in the ground.  “I think I’m going to find more worms in my soil.” hypothesized one of the sleuths.


Ask your student:

How did the light help you find organisms in the Burlese-Tullgren funnel set up? (organisms will tend to move away from the light/heat source, which is downward into the alcohol).

Integrated Science Program

Integrated Science Program

This is an IMSA-created blended (on-line followed by an on-campus portion) program for students entering 9th grade. With continued support of funding from Abbvie this summer, IMSA is able to offer this program to 40 promising students from backgrounds that are under-represented in STEM fields.

Students will first complete a two-week, 40 hour on-line course followed with one week of face-to-face experience at IMSA’s Aurora campus. The course incorporates both a chemical and biological exploration of water, and students will be learning about everything from the very small (like how bonds form between molecules in water) to the very large (like how changes in our global environment impact the water cycle).

The over-arching goals of this course include helping students develop the skills necessary to be successful in science. These include critical reading and thinking, data analysis, and written communication, just to name a few.  The course will also provide students with a taste of the kind of work that we do with students here at IMSA during the regular school year.

We are happy to report that many of the students who successfully completed the pilot program in summer 2015 decided to apply to IMSA, and we’re looking forward to seeing the thirteen who were offered and accepted admission in our classrooms and residence halls beginning this fall!


Engineering @ IMSA

Engineering @ IMSA

Innovate through engineering! This course will engage learners in the application of the engineering process, as well as explore various types of engineering fields.  Working in teams, participants will apply the Engineering process to a relevant social issue in order to generate a possible solution.  The week will culminate with the participants presenting their solutions at an Engineering Showcase.

Math @ IMSA

Math @ IMSA

Geometry, Algebra and Calculus.  Why do I need to know that? Join us as we explore the real world application of mathematical concepts.  Participants will be guided by IMSA staff as they collaborate to apply math to their own world.

Here’s a problem to start you of. The clue: describe the previous number. Can you figure out what number will continue the pattern?








… What comes next?

Science @ IMSA

Science @ IMSA

Inquiring minds want to know! Whether in a laboratory or out in IMSA’s Prairie, this program will get minds and hands engaged in science, the IMSA way.  During this one-week residential program, students will engage in scientific inquiries and collaborate with others in hands-on, inquiry-based explorations led by IMSA staff.

Gold Medal STEM: The Science Behind the Olympics

Gold Medal STEM:

The Science Behind the Olympics

Can’t make it to Rio this summer? Come to IMSA to examine the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math behind the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Students will design, build and race a robotics swimmer, re-engineer an archer’s bow, test cycling tires and gears, and more!  Participants will leave with an understanding of how STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts can be harnessed to help athletes maximize their performance.

C.S.IMSA: Calling all Forensic Investigators!

C.S.IMSA: Calling all Forensic Investigators!

We’ve come across a mystery and need your help to crack the case.  As part of this program, participants will work in teams to gather evidence as they unravel the science and mathematics behind crime scene clues like finger and footprints, DNA, handwriting, voice identification and more!  At the end of the week, teams will analyze their evidence, make deductions and propose their theories in an effort to solve the mystery.

What is Up with Water?!

What is Up with Water?!

Where is all our water? Is water a renewable resource? In this program participants will explore this question through hands-on water chemistry experiments and other investigations that will help explain why access to clean fresh water has become one of our WGP—World’s Greatest Problems—and why we need to solve it. Participants will develop a website to communicate what they have learned as well as explore other technical solutions that can help us all make every drop count!