IMSA Fusion Program
Blessed Sacrament School in Springfield strives to inspire every child to become active and engaged learners in order to reach his or her own potential. In order to accomplish this goal, the school makes every effort to provide programs and learning opportunities that are both challenging and exciting for the students, while at the same time connecting the classroom material with real life. To that end, Blessed Sacrament is pleased to be able to offer the Illinois Math and Science Academy’s award-winning IMSA FUSION Program at our school.
IMSA FUSION is a program designed to promote excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It serves 4-8th grade students who are talented, interested and motivated in mathematics and science. The program’s primary goal is to maintain and increase student interest, involvement and literacy in science and math. Additionally, the program seeks to enhance the knowledge and skills of teachers in math and science, to stimulate excellence in the school’s science and math programs and to increase access to programming for students who are historically underrepresented in mathematics and science. Each year, schools throughout Illinois may apply to become a FUSION site. FUSION currently has over 110 programs across the state, although less than a dozen of those partner schools are Catholic schools. Presently, Blessed Sacrament is the only Catholic school in our diocese that is a FUSION partner school.
Each IMSA FUSION partner school works with twenty 4-5th and, or thirty 6-8th grade students and two teachers, a math specialist and a science specialist. Partner schools are provided with curriculum, lab kits and ongoing teacher professional development for the annual delivery of two units of hands-on, minds-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Students attend weekly after-school sessions for a total of 64 hours of engaging STEM experiences throughout the year. Activities used in the IMSA FUSION program are designed to intrigue and engage students and to ignite their interest in math and science. Students benefit from an array of unforgettable learning experiences ranging from rocket launches, wind turbine building and bridge creations to simulated landfills and oil spill clean-ups, self-made kaleidoscopes and leaping origami frogs. Curricular units span topics from Nanotechnology, Forensics, Electricity, Engineering, Chemistry, Biotechnology, Tectonics, Secret Codes, Chaos Theory, The Electromagnetic Spectrum, and more.
Blessed Sacrament teachers Lisa Belz and Tina Morehead lead our 4th and 5th grade FUSION Program, and both thoroughly enjoy leading the sessions. As Mrs. Belz said, “I really enjoy the opportunity to work with the students in such a fun program while engaging them in fantastic learning activities.” The FUSION students are equally excited about the program. Overwhelmingly, fourth graders really enjoy the “cool experiments and working together to create new things”. Fifth graders also commented on the experiments and stated that “the program is not just the usual norm. The math can be very hard, but a lot of fun too. The program is really helpful.” Another fourth grader likes the problem of the month on the IMSA FUSION website, just one of many resources available to partner schools. One student sums it up well: “FUSION is very challenging but fun, and you really learn a lot of things.”
The establishment of the IMSA FUSION Program is a tremendous benefit to all students, as the teaching techniques and many materials may be incorporated at all grade levels. By continually working to expand the school’s curricular offerings and educational opportunities for all students, Blessed Sacrament School is truly raising the standards in education.