My name is Amy Abeln. I work with high school students in the Chicago area where I help administrate a program called the Intensive Science and Mathematics Experience, ISME for short, run by the Associated Colleges of Illinois. Our inaugural crew of students is now in its second year and we have just welcomed a new group of 9th graders to embark on their four year commitment to a program that combines the strength of ACI’s College Readiness Program with more hands-on science and math preparation.
Preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields is critical to the future of this country. We need today’s teens to be tomorrow’s problem-solvers. As the world increases in complexity, so do the challenges we all face. The innovative spirit on which this country is founded remains necessary in finding solutions. To maintain our legacy as a global innovator, our children must posses a solid, science-based education, with real world experience, that promotes problem solving through critical thinking. Our ISME program aims to provide this experience.
Our students spend two Saturdays per month on a college campus- one Science Saturday exploring fields such as biodiversity, innovative technologies and alternative energy sources; and one College Readiness Saturday exploring the skills and steps necessary to enroll and succeed in college. The students also meet two weekdays per month for evening study sessions and career workshops that invite professionals in science-based fields to share the experience of their pursuit.
In addition to gaining valuable academic success skills, knowledge of STEM fields and skills necessary for success in those fields, our ISME students have the opportunity to experience more than 1,000 college campus hours by high school graduation if every program is attended during their four year commitment. Upon high school graduation, they will have earned up to 5 college credits and they also qualify for college scholarship funds.
Our goal as the administrators of this program is not only to get low-income and minority students from Chicago high schools interested in STEM fields, but to provide them with the necessary tools and confidence to become successful at the collegiate level in science-based majors, and eventually to transition into positions in these fields.
At this moment in our nation’s history, we are presented with awesome opportunities that require innovative solutions. Today’s high school students will be at the center of revolutionizing our approaches to such critical issues as national healthcare, the production and consumption of energy, and national security, to name a few. Our job as mentors and teachers is to show students the connections between learning math and science now, and using it later on to solve real-world problems.
Please join us by visiting this blog and seeing what our students have to say about their personal pursuit of a science-based education. We look forward to sharing our adventures with you!