arcs logo Astronomy Resources Connecting Schools (ARCS) is an Illinois Math and Science Partnership (MSP), funded by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Program goals are to:
  1. Increase the content expertise of mathematics and science teachers.
  2. Increase teaching skills through access to the expertise of mathematicians, scientists and other professionals, their technologies and resources.
  3. Increase the understanding and application of educational resources.

Young scientists, Nikki and Molleigh, showing their image of the Sombrero Galaxy taken for the Science Museum in TokyoYerkes Astrophysics Academy for Young Scientists (YAAYS) is a two year program providing out of school time (OST) opportunities for 3rd through 8th grade students of partnering school districts, especially those local to the observatory, the Wisconsin School for the Deaf in Delavan, and the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Janesville. This program is funded by the National Science Foundation Award #0639690 to The University of Chicago and George Williams College Aurora University. An Invitation to YAAYS on January 20, 2007 launched the program for parents and students. Teachers attend professional development courses and design after school programs for students. Students and teachers attend observing sessions, summer academy and Saturday programs at the observatory. The project also sponsors field trips to the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum.


Area high school students explain science and engineering of the SOFIA HAWC infrared imaging camera. The Environmental Education Foundation (EEF) and SOFIA funds programs at Yerkes Observatory for Geneva Lake area HS teachers and their students. Students learn about the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) from Yerkes engineers who are building an imaging camera (HAWC) sensitive to the infrared wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. Students participate in "Active Astronomy" experiments investigating infrared light, detector and emitter circuits and wireless technology. Students also observe and take images with the Yerkes telescopes and explore the cosmos with Sky Server of Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Many students are now in college, but continue to follow the progress of SOFIA and return to use the telescopes and imaging cameras on observing nights.

Blind students work with active astronomy circuits and detectors. Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired students hold the grip ring of the 40 inch refractor to see how easily the telescope can be moved.
SEEing the Universe began as an academic camp for students who are blind or visually impaired. Originally funded by a NASA IDEAS grant to the NASA Center at DePaul, the SEE project specializes in creating experiences and materials to involve students in observing and discovering for themselves the natural phenomena of the cosmos. The Williams Bay Lions and Lioness Clubs and the Genoa City Lions Club have provided additional funds. The SEE project has evolved into the YAAYS program described above.

Hands-On Universe (HOU)

Saturday Academy for Space Science student at Chicago State University using Hands-On Universe Image Processing software on an image from Hubble Space Telescope to study gravitational lensing. provides curriculum, images and image processing software for students and their teachers to explore the Universe and do projects with authentic data from astronomical objects. HOU participates in and organizes telescope networks, facilitates data mining opportunities with modern astronomical programs, and works with amateurs interested in giving research experiences to students such as Bob Holmes, who founded the ARI Institute in Charleston, Illinois. Students pictured above were participants in the NASA Saturday Academy for Space Science, Chicago State Univ.

Yerkes Space Explorers observing with the Great Refractor

The Yerkes Space Explorers project was an educational outreach program that grew out of the CARA Space Explorers, initially designed for inner-city students in Chicago.  Middle school students in the Geneva Lake area, near Yerkes Observatory, were given many exciting opportunities, including the chance to do hands-on and minds-on science. Each year several sessions were offered, dividing the total of 20 - 30 students into smaller lab groups.  These students built their own high-quality telescopes, studied constellations and star lore, took astrophotos, developed their own photographic prints, learned how research is done at Yerkes today, and measured motions of stars and the rotation of the sun from Yerkes photos.

The program was coordinated by Prof. Kyle Cudworth and his wife, Heather, an award-winning middle-school science teacher, with initial funding through a NASA IDEAS grant.  Some of the labs developed for Yerkes Space Explorers have been adapted for broader classroom use and distributed in presentations to science teachers nationwide.  Although this specific program is currently dormant, many of the principles from it continue to be hallmarks of education outreach at Yerkes.