Newswise — Aurora, IL, August 19, 2016 – The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) announced the first two resident projects at its new Steve and Jamie Chen Center for Innovation & Inquiry (IN2) which will open this fall: Dropdot, a new social venture in early childhood education, was named the 2016 Robert M. ‘89 and Ginger L. Chang EdTech LaunchPad recipient and IMSA senior Addison Herr was named the 2016 IN2 Impact: Community Venture presented by Sam Yagan’95 and Jessica Droste Yagan ‘95 LaunchPad recipient.

The new IN2 Center incorporates two “LaunchPads” where innovative ventures will harness the talent of IMSA students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the broader community to develop new technology intended to positively impact learning, education and communities everywhere.

The IN2 EdTech LaunchPad presented by IMSA alumnus and technology entrepreneur Robert Chang and his wife Ginger aims to accelerate technology, product development, and access to educational technology ventures. Dropdot was competitively selected through a network of community partners that included LEAP Innovations, Impact Engine, the Northwestern University Garage, and the Chicago Innovation Exchange at the University of Chicago.

“We’re excited to support Dropdot as the inaugural venture at the EdTech LaunchPad, aligning with our own commitment to early childhood learning and diversity in STEM. We’re also grateful to IMSA and the State of Illinois and support its contribution to educational innovation regionally and nationally,” said Robert Chang ’89.

Created by IMSA alumna Summer Wu ’13 during an internship at Steve Chen’s start-up AVOS, the Dropdot early childhood learning app will be further developed by an all-female team including seniors Felicia Chen, Vaidehi Suriyanarayanan, Grace Yang, and Megha Ramanan and led by IMSA Computer Science faculty member Namrata Pandya.

The IN2 Impact LaunchPad, funded by a gift from IMSA alumni Sam Yagan ’95 and Jessica Droste Yagan ’95 – two leaders and champions of the Chicago technology community – features projects initiated in the IMSA community of students, alumni, faculty, staff and parents, that engage with the IN2 network to foster IMSA’s mission to advance the human condition. Senior Addison Herr will build on his work developing new applications of virtual reality technology, including a 3D walkthrough of the IMSA campus that will educate students around Illinois to IMSA while exposing them to virtual reality technology.

"We're looking forward to supporting Addison and two virtual reality teams he's leading in IN2's Impact LaunchPad,” stated Jessica Droste Yagan ’95. It will be exciting to watch the development of this emerging technology as they engage with the IN2 community of collaborators in the continued activation of IMSA's mission to advance the human condition. This is a phenomenal opportunity to strengthen students' capacity to design and launch real-world projects and solutions to important problems."

The announcement of the inaugural LaunchPads was made during the Convocation ceremony launching the Academy’s 30th year serving the young minds of Illinois. LaunchPads, housed in IN2 – Illinois’ first innovation center in a secondary education setting – are permanent incubator spaces dedicated to promising technologies, startups and social ventures. The center was seeded by a $1 million gift from alumnus and YouTube co-founder Steve Chen and his wife Jamie.

##Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA)Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy® (IMSA) develops creative, ethical leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As a teaching and learning laboratory created by the State of Illinois, IMSA enrolls academically talented Illinois students (grades 10-12), in its advanced residential college preparatory program. Additionally, IMSA serves thousands of educators and students in Illinois and beyond through innovative instructional programs that foster imagination and inquiry. IMSA advances education through research, groundbreaking ventures and strategic partnerships. To learn more about IMSA and its programs, visit

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