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YAAYS Beacon Article


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YAAYS Beacon Article

  1. 1. The Beacon also at 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 Williams Bay. 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 prominences.” 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 Yerkes. “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)
  2. 2. 6 — The Beacon also at 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) CALL RYAN TO FIND THE BEST LAKE VALUES! 608-852-3156 2137 LANDINGS LANE DELAVAN One bedroom condo in Geneva Landings. Open concept, no worry maintenance. Complex includes outdoor pool, exercise room and club house. Pier service and short wait for boat slip. $ 167,500 Ryan Simons Lakefront Specialist OOnnllyy TThhee BBeeaaccoonn hhaassGGoooodd HHuummoouurr NNoo kkiiddddiinngg.. 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 are unclear. Sarita Taylor, president of the Parklawn Residents Council, said she’s tired of the gun violence plaguing the nation. “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 there.” 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 is 10:30. 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 home earlier. 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 more years.” 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 or Phone Vivian Hoette at 245-5555 ext. 815. Yerkes Continued from page 5 FOR SALE WILLIAMS BAY, 4 UNIT (FULLY RENTED) Separate utilities and nice, quiet, neighborhood. Walk to the lake! Basement, attic, garage & off street parking. REDUCED TO $ 189,000 Call Marty at 828-707-4246 Orange Tree Cafe COMING SOON: NOW TAKING APPLICATIONS FOR ALL POSITIONS • SERVERS • COOKS • DISHWASHERS Apply Within 322 S. 7th Street, Delavan, WI