CoolHub Summary


my project

Supporting Collaborative Innovation in STEM teaching and learning

project stage

what's happening

CoolHub was launched in 2009 with funding from Tellabs, the Abbott Fund and the State of Illinois. The goal was, and still is, to engage students, teachers and subject matter experts in STEM projects that produce new knowledge and forge innovative models of teaching and learning.

The entire CoolHub undertaking is a bold experiment in platform development, network formation and group facilitation. Much has been learned and a lot remains to be explored. It took about six months to reach an Alpha stage (Stage 1). During our Beta period we've moved through Stage Two (discussion) to Stage Three (publication) to Stage Four (functional prototype).

Early successes included projects such as the Global Science Seminars with our partners from the Field Museum and the United Nations of Youth project initiated by two IMSA students with member schools in Singapore, South Korea, China, Finland and the United States. Both projects served their purpose and have concluded.

We learned through beta experiences such as these of the need to develop easier-to-use tools and the need for partnerships. A list of technical requirements that constitutes a Release 1.0 has been identified. See the right hand column for specifics. Once these features have been deployed, CoolHub will be fully operational at Stage 5, Production.

Our biggest areas of growth in the past year are the Mentor Matching Engine, a unique platform for matching high school researchers with subject matter experts, and the Illinois Mathematics and Science Partnership. Programs like IMSA TALENT continue to rely on CoolHub to deliver and manage their program and give members anywhere the ability to interact anytime online.

New to CoolHub

Here is a sampling of some of the newest projects on CoolHub:

Chicago Healthcare Innovation (with Chicago Dept. of Public Health and Matter--new Incubator coming to Merchadise Mart)



Triple E Event (an Evening with Educational Tech Entrepreneurs)



Mustang Studio (Morton High School)



aviation project

IMSA Aviation Explorer Post (with Boy Scouts of America)

Mentor Matching Engine

mentor matching engine

The newest addition to the CoolHub family is the Mentor Matching Engine. The MME is responsible for over 600 new members since its launch in Sept. 2013. The need for an online mentoring platform was first articulated by Northwestern University's Office of STEM Education Partnerships. Focus groups were convened and a unique structure for bringing together students, teachers and mentors in online forums was conceived. Around the same time, the R&D Learning Exchange mandated the creation of a system for online mentoring; after finding out about CoolHub, the agency responsible for managing RDLE initiatives, the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, became our official partner in this effort.

Development began in January 2013, directing some of the focus away from CoolHub 1.0 efforts. By the end of Summer 2013, the MME was operational and released in its beta form for testing with 15 pilot schools under the direction of ISTC. A list of feature improvements was gathered from early adopters and work is scheduled to begin on these features July 2014. A full release is expected to be available in time for school in the fall when the MME is available to a wide audience of STEM teachers and learners.

The MME is unique in that it engages high school students with subject matter experts in a framework supervised by teachers. All mentors undergo background checks and all interactions occur online in the system, not through email. Members of IMSA's RISE course utilized the MME in their online course this past year with amazing results. Numerous students used their research projects to earn top honors at state science fairs in Illinois and Ohio. Visit the MME here.

Illinois Mathematics and Science Partnership

IMSPThe largest new CoolHub project in 2013-14 was the Illinois Mathematics and Science Partnership (IMSP) Workshop Institute Partnership (WIP-5). This partnership implements the new vision for K-12 science education described in the National Research Council (NRC) Framework, the foundation for the Next Generation Science Standards, as a focus for improvement in science instruction. This vision includes practices, crosscutting concepts and core Ideas that all students should learn by the end of high school. As part of the Department of Education Mathematics and Science Partnership grant program, IMSP WIP-5 supports the enactment of NGSS in Illinois classrooms for secondary teachers.

Over 330 new lesson plans and other resources have been uploaded to CoolHub for the use of science teachers across Illinois and the country, making CoolHub a destination for NGSS content.

View the ten funded IMSP projects:

Aurora University - STEM for Secondary Science
Champaign CUSD 4 - Framework
East St. Louis - STEM 
Illinois State University - Real Science
Illinois State University - Energy
Illinois State University - Research & Development 
Northern Illinois University - Engineering
Olympia School District - Corn Belt STEM
Rock Island ROE - I-STEM for High School
Western Illinois University - I-STEM for Middle School

CoolHub Release 1.0

It's been a long time coming. We've actually been very close to Release 1.0 for over a year. 

A list of technical requirements developed by users that constitutes a full release has been identified:


  • Dashboard that project owners can use for producing reports and managing memberships (10% complete--this explains why a manual sample of 68 projects is used in this report)
  • Authentication (single sign-in) using Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. (80% complete)
  • New Look and Feel similar to Mentor Matching Engine (80% complete)
  • In general, fewer clicks to complete typical tasks (e.g., Add Members, Create Projects) (50% complete)
  • After log in, all members land on their personal home page that lists projects (90% complete)
  • A Project Search Engine for matching people with projects that is modeled on the Mentor Matching Engine (50% complete)

Our current developer (Thirdwave) is actively working on some of these items, although we lack funding in FY14 to complete the list. To this end, in 2014 we applied for and received funding from the Stephanie Pace Marshall Endowment for Innovation. With those funds we hired Melvin Bacani, IMSA alum and technical entrepreneur who joined our team and has started giving us the capacity to produce reports such as the number of Mentor Matching Engine students, teachers and mentors, and the number of active members on the system. We'll use this information and more to produce regular updates to stakeholders of CoolHub usage and accomplishments.

CoolHub Stats

July 9, 2013 May 28, 2014 Oct 27, 2014  
Total Membership 1900 2542 2941  
Active Members (last 30 days) - 70 548  
Total Projects 140 337 364  
Active Projects (last 30 days) - 31%*    
Completed Projects (Stage 3) - 17%*    
Monthly site visits - 494 4,514  

* of a sample of 68 projects, A - C


Project Snapshot

lensA sample of all projects on CoolHub that start with the letters A - C, (68 projects, 20% of the total) provides a snapshot of types of projects and their status:

Mentor Matching Engine 29%

CoolHub 56%

Test Projects 15%


Stage Test Active Inactive Completed
1: Setup 9 - 9 -
2: Collaboration 1 16* 14 -
3: Publication - 4 2 11
4: Prototype - 1 - 1
5: Production - - - -
Percentage 15% 31% 37% 17%

*These are all new mentorship projects