The Beacon also at www.readthebeacon.com July 18, 2014 — 5
Yerkes summer program hosts future scientists
By Jim McClure
For generations, going back a centu-
ry or more, children of elementary and
high school age have flocked to the
shores of Geneva Lake to enjoy fresh air,
sun and stars.
During these past few weeks, a well-
traveled group of Midwest children have
done more than frolic beneath the sun
and stars…they’ve explored them.
These happy campers ranging in age
from fifth graders to high school seniors
wearing blue University of Chicago
backpacks have come by the several
dozen in three successive weeks to the
very place pictured on those back-
packs…the Yerkes Observatory in
The kids shouting “Yay!” at this eru-
dite type of summer fun are in fact living
YAAYS – an acronym for the 2014
Yerkes Astrophysics Academy for
Young Scientists. Yerkes Observatory
Summer Camps are part of a broadly
focused education outreach that empow-
ers the camper-scientists to focus on the
building blocks of astrophysics that are
key to understanding not only where
something is in the universe but what it
is in the first place.
Science, Technology, Engineering
and Math are combined in the acronym
STEM, and it’s the core part of the pro-
gram headed by award-winning educa-
tor Vivian Hoette, the Yerkes Director of
Education and Outreach.
Every afternoon since late June and
through July 18 the historic facility has
been a house with all the children home,
and they study everything under the sun,
including what’s on it.
Outside the classrooms and multiple
large telescopes beneath the landmark
Yerkes domes, 17-year-old James
Cudworth of Williams Bay takes groups
a half-dozen at a time and gives campers
their first look at the sun beaming like a
laser through the cottony lakefront
clouds over the lakeshore to the science
and education center.
In a small solar observatory
Cudworth adjusts the viewing device as
he instructs: “If you look at the edge of
the sun you might be able to see some
In Yerkes-speak, where 2 + 2 often
equals the E=MC Squared of former vis-
itor Albert Einstein, what the home-
schooled Cudworth is referring to is the
features of the sun’s surface.
A 17-year old as senior teacher?
It’s nothing unusual at YAAYS as the
9th to 12th graders participate in the
Mentors Program for students who want
to share their STEM and astronomy
knowledge with others.
It’s all in the family for the
Cudworths. While James is out back
teaching things solar, his father,
Professor Emeritus Kyle Cudworth, is
high above in the main observatory
dome showing half the day’s campers
the business end of Yerkes’ world-
famous 40 inch refracting telescope, the
largest of its kind. Then there’s 15-year-
old Christy Cudworth, who is in one of
the main floor classrooms introducing
the other half of the group in astronomy.
“Okay, what does this formation
look like to you…do you know it’s
name?” the bright and energetic teen
asks children with the authority and
poise of a tenured professor in a wood
paneled Edwardian-era classroom that
would be as fitting for Professor Indiana
Jones as it was for visitors by the name
of Hubble and Sagan over the years at
“I like their enthusiasm most of all”
says Christy of her new batch of pupils.
Christy, in her official capacity as this
summer’s camp coordinator, thought as
big as the sky and took things a bit fur-
ther when YAAYS moved from a first
week of technical emphasis to a final
two weeks of astronomy.
“I’ve titled it ‘Exploration of the
Universe,’ and in our opening session
this week I let the campers know that
they are all explorers,” she explained.
The campers come from all over
southeastern Wisconsin, northern Illi-
nois and the Chicago suburbs., from
Milwaukee to Delavan and from
Elkhorn to Naperville.
The junior Cudworths are exception-
al young scientists-in-the-making to be
sure, but there is plenty of adult expert
input as well. Middle school students
have the chance to work with engineers,
scientists and educators in building
hands-on projects and programming
software to taste.
Among the volunteer educators sup-
plementing the University of Chicago
on-site engineers, astronomers and
astrophysicists, is Maggie Corp from
Joliet, Ill. Corp started right in with a
cluster of students in the foyer of the
observatory to explain via computer dis-
play just how big the sun is.
What better analogy for young
campers than marbles?
“Imagine if you had a million mar-
bles and put them inside a huge plastic
globe?” Corp says. “That’s how many
Earths would fit inside the sun!”
It’s not often spoken by kids curious
enough to come to such a place, but
“Wow!” seems to be in the minds, if not
on the tongues, of the young scientists as
they spend their week doing everything
from experimenting with electronics and
instrumentation to participating in star
parties and using the tools and tech-
niques of astronomy.
There must be something in it for the
adults as well. Some of the volunteers and
Yerkes employees in their early 20’s who
are taking part in this year’s YAAYS
series reveal that they grew up in the busi-
ness of science, as their father or mother
worked, or still work, at the observatory
and practically their whole life has been
Take Your Child to Work Day.
“I’ve raised all my children here,”
says Observatory Director Al Harper, as
he emerges from an office crammed
with files and charts and scientific arti-
facts, with the slight twinkle in the eye
of a father pleased to have three dozen
new children adding echoes to the many
learned voices that have bounced off the
ornately designed walls and ceiling of
the main hallway.
(Continued on page 6)
Professor emeritus, and former Yerkes Observatory Director, Kyle Cudworth, lowers the 40-inch refractor telescope so that students in the Yerkes
Astrophysics Academy for Young Scientists can get a look at the end not usually seen by astronomers. Built in the 1890s, the 40-inch is the largest refracting
telescope in the world. Most telescopes built in the 20th and 21st centuries are reflectors. (Beacon photo)
6 — The Beacon also at www.readthebeacon.com July 18, 2014
Business & InvestmentBusiness & Investment
Summer camp students gather on the south steps of Yerkes Observatory for
a discussion about things astronomical and astrophysical. ( Beacon photh)
Christy (left) and James Cudworth are on the teaching staff of this years
Yerkes Astrophysics Academy for Young Scientists. ( Beacon photo)
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Milwauke shooting moves
gun homicide total to 55
By Chuck Quirmbach
A deadly shooting in Milwaukee has
pushed the statewide gun homicide total
for the year to 54.
Milwaukee police say 26-year-old
Richard Conn was shot on July 5 and
later died at the hospital. Police say the
circumstances surrounding the incident
Sarita Taylor, president of the
Parklawn Residents Council, said she’s
tired of the gun violence plaguing the
“I have got to the point that I don’t
even want to watch the news,” she said.
“Every day you see so-and-so got shot
over here, 10 people got shot over
Gun violence affected Taylor’s
extended family about a month ago
when a relative, a 10-year-old girl
named Sierra Guydon, was wounded in
crossfire. Guyton died on July 12, near-
ly two months after being hit by cross-
fire while playing outside a Milwaukee
school. Her death was front-page news,
as she’s one of about 30 young people in
the city shot this year..
Taylor said that politicians and
police may hold community meetings,
but change begins at home, with earlier
curfews. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
columnist James Causey also recently
advocated a 9 p.m. curfew for children
age 13 and younger. The present curfew
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said
he’d rather see the current curfew
enforced before a new one is introduced.
Parents in Milwaukee have also said
they’d have difficulty getting their kids
Many shooters in Milwaukee have
been over 18 years of age, and would be
unaffected by curfew.
Wisconsin Public Radio News
For Kyle, the head of the home-
schooled Cudsworth clan, YAAYS is not
only a family affair but a learning
process so successful that it has outlived
its original funding. “The National
Science Foundation gave us a grant for
the first three years,” says Professor
Cudworth, an astronomer and astro-
physicist who once served as observato-
ry director at Yerkes. “And it worked out
so well that we’ve kept it going for two
As for his two scholarly children
turned mentors and teachers themselves,
Christy and James Cudworth are headed
to college in the fall. In five years
YAAYS expanded their world, and their
universe, to the point that, for them and
their young charges, the education of a
lifetime began well before adulthood.
For more information on next sum-
mer’s YAAYS programs E-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org or Phone
Vivian Hoette at 245-5555 ext. 815.
Continued from page 5
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