IPaSS Partnership Program

Illinois Physics and Secondary Schools (IPaSS) combines the talent, experience and enthusiasm of Illinois’ top high school science teachers with the research and content expertise of the University of Illinois to engage Illinois high school students with the highest quality physics experience.


We want to provide high school teachers the resources they need to offer their students the best possible physics experience.  In the process, we are optimistic there will be secondary benefits including:

  • increased student interest in pursuing STEM degrees, including physics.
  • reduced barriers to entering the University of Illinois to obtain a degree.
  • improved diversity of students choosing and obtaining STEM degrees in general, and from the U of I in particular.
  • understanding the aspects of high-school physics programs that positively impact students’ interest and success in STEM in general, and physics in particular.
  • understanding what role universities can play in supporting high-school teachers in meeting the challenges of providing their students with these experiences.


The IPaSS Partnership Program aims to impact the landscape of secondary physics education in Illinois by:

  • providing access to an award-winning, flipped-style, lab-based university curriculum to high schools to make pathways into STEM fields better visible to and viable for students from a greater variety of schools and backgrounds
  • partnering directly with in-service high school teachers to support their implementation of this coursework
  • expanding the range of teachers engaged with the IPaSS Partnership Program over time to support the formation of statewide physics teacher networks and Communities of Practice
  • improving continuity between secondary schools and U of I to create more coherent pathways for students into engineering


Summary of Partnership Options:

There are multiple depths of partnership for schools to choose from based on their unique requirements and constraints; it is flexible enough for teachers with a range of experiences and school environments. Each partnership model puts the teachers and school administrators in the driver's seat, giving them the autonomy to adapt aspects of the curriculum to the diverse needs of their learning communities. Although we lay out three possible models for partnership below, we imagine cases in which teachers do not immediately fall into a clearly defined category. Regardless of the partnership depth, partner schools will be part of a research endeavor into the effectiveness of the program for teachers and students, and will provide formative feedback for researchers at U of I as IPaSS progresses.

IPaSS Teaching Fellows

Our flagship program, IPaSS Teaching Fellows, welcomes a new cohort of high school physics teachers annually. IPaSS Fellows attend summer PD institutes at U of I and online to work through aspects of the U of I introductory physics curriculum and adapt it for use in their own classrooms with support from their cohort and the IPaSS team. During the school year, Fellows attend online weekly planning sessions to map out the next week of lessons, and convene in-person twice per semester. In addition to receiving classroom sets of iOLabs and round-the-clock availability of support from U of I Physics, IPaSS Teaching Fellows are compensated for each of the official planning periods described above.

IPaSS Gateway Partners

For teachers who may like the opportunity to test-drive aspects of the curriculum before pursuing the IPaSS Fellowship in its entirety, the level of flexibility afforded by the IPaSS Gateway Partnership allows teachers to incrementally engage. This trial period will be essential for schools that are not sure about making a large curricular shift right away, or for teachers who wish to test out parts of the curriculum before rolling out the full version. A requirement for this depth of commitment is that infrastructure exists at the teacher's school to eventually implement a full version of the IPaSS curriculum (e.g. enough students can enroll, the school offers or will consistently offer physics). IPaSS Gateway Partners are placed on a well-supported pathway that incrementally increases their use of our curriculum (over one or more years) until they become ready to enter a cohort of IPaSS Fellows. The IPaSS team will be in consistent communication with Gateway Partners about their personalized plans for implementing IPaSS course material, but will not require Gateway Partners to attend the institutes or meetings outlined above. iOLab devices can be loaned to Gateway Partners if their plans require them.

IPaSS Curricular Affiliates (materials for this strand of the program are under development)

The IPaSS Curricular Affiliation would be the appropriate depth of engagement for a teacher offering the course to a handful of students (as an independent study), at a school where there is not current infrastructure to offer an in-block advanced physics course. IPaSS Curricular Affiliates may not have the time to commit to developing the curriculum themselves but would still like to offer a course to a few eager students. As the IPaSS course is an in-person course that also includes an online platform, we can offer different levels of support for out-of-field teachers or schools with low physics enrollment through this platform remotely. Through this platform, we can tailor the base content to make certain aspects of the course more "hands-off" for the teacher (e.g. additional scaffolding in video pre-lectures). In the most hands-off case, the IPaSS team can use information about students' levels of readiness to develop an online course for these students that would be largely self-guided. IPaSS Curricular Affiliates should expect to spend at least one hour per week supporting students working through the material, and will be asked to connect with the IPaSS team at U of I regularly to discuss how the course is progressing. Curricular Affiliates also receive a set of iOLabs for the duration of their commitment but are not required to attend the institutes or meetings outlined above.

If you would like more information or are interested in being an early partner, please send us your contact information via the following form: https://go.physics.illinois.edu/I-PER-HSPP.