McQuown Scholars

The McQuown Scholars have been part of the life of Yerkes Observatory for the past ten years, participating in star parties, tech projects, summer camps, and astronomical research. Thanks to the generous financial support from the McQuown Trust in Sonoma, California and Walworth-Fontana Rotary, the Environmental Education Foundation, and the Geneva Lake Association, GLAS Education is carrying on the tradition of nested mentorship and authentic engagement in astronomical research and engineering design projects that are hallmarks of the program. Side by side with professionals, this next generation of students will work with the staff of GLAS Education.

What can you do as a McQuown Scholar?

Hands-on Observing and Research

Participate in the exciting field of astronomy using the remotely operated Stone Edge Observatory (SEO) telescope. New students learn to operate the SEO telescope via the web based app slack and learn the observational techniques needed to achieve high-quality data and images. As students build their skills, they can move to projects ranging from tracking asteroids and variable stars to the most modern image processing techniques for creating scientific works of art.

Students are currently working on a Sky Survey using the SEO telescope and a variety of filters. Members of the Regional Office of Astronomy for Development from around the world are also participating in this project.


The Lakeshore Environmental and Night Sky Sensor project is focused on preserving the darks skies of Walworth County. Light pollution negatively affects the health of humans, plants, animals, and even boating safety on Geneva Lake. Teams of high school students are currently designing, testing, and building remote monitoring stations to be placed around Geneva Lake. Dark Skies education is also a major component of the LENSS project where students work together to promote change and improve the lighting around the Geneva Lake area.

As a LENSS student you can learn how to:

Design and Build Hardware

  • Build a sensor that measure how dark the sky is
  • Test the sensor to prove that it’s consistent and accurate
  • Prototype different designs
  • Build a waterproof covering for the sensor and test in ALL weather conditions

Plan and Code Computer Programs

  • Build a website
  • Code sensors to be remotely operated
  • Develop methods to retrieve data from sensors around Geneva Lake
  • Manage sky quality data from a network of sensors to be shared internationally

Educate and Influence Others

  • Write and design pamphlets and articles to raise awareness about light polution
  • Petition local governments to reduce light pollution
  • Create videos about light pollution
  • Educate local property owners about quality lighting
  • No experience necessary
  • Experience STEAM in a way that is creative, social, and relevant
  • Explore future education and career options with experienced mentors
  • Develop professional relationships with astronomers, engineers, and activists across the country
Skip to content