The Schuler Program equips bright, motivated youth with the support they need to gain access to and succeed at highly selective colleges and beyond. Writing from thirteen schools located in the greater Chicago area in Lake and Cook Counties of Illinois, scholars reflect on their academic experiences, cultural exposures, college applications processes, and more.
A Scholastic Journey to the Cosmos: Cosmic Wonder at the Adler Planetarium
by Joseph Tith, Round Lake High School, Class of 2016
Round Lake Scholars outside of the Adler Planetarium
Did you know that if Earth lacked an atmosphere, your
typical Chicago summer day would be 20° F?
Round Lake Schuler Scholars discovered the relevance of the atmosphere
and satisfied their astral curiosity at the Adler Planetarium on a recent Saturday
afternoon exposure, along with Schuler Scholar Coaches Ellen Anderson-benge,
Celina Garza, and Altagracia Montilla.
After surviving hordes of traffic that made a 45 minute trip a two hour
journey, sophomore Scholars finally reached their destination – a gateway to
Scholars first visited the Clark Family Gallery – a
collection of projectors and LEDs that dazzled everyone. The projectors created images that were
sensitive to a person’s shadow and moved accordingly. Low meandering arches and mysterious blue
lights defined the peculiar look of the room.
Videos on space exploration and philosophical slides added
intellectualism to this purely playful exhibit. The words of the reformer
Samuel Smiles, “He who never made a mistake never made a discovery,” left a
lasting impression on the Scholars that there is more to science than just
getting the right answer.
In “Our Solar System,” Scholars briefly learned information
on each planet in our solar system which, strangely enough, included
Pluto. Some Scholars took interest in landers
and rovers, which led them to a rather cramped room. Inside it contained a single joystick to
control the camera of a simulated lander, which recreated the difficulty in
attempting to steer one. Scholars learned
how landers were designed to be stationary and help transport rovers. Rovers are the grunts of operations, going
out into the vast unknowns to collect rock samples and perform tests.
In the main course, “Cosmic Wonder,” Scholars entered a
massive 70x35 feet dome with several projectors in the back. At the control panel, I was able to speak
with Derrick – the coordinator of the show.
He explained how each projector, 15 in total, was military grade and
cost a whopping $200,000. They’re
programmed to overlap so that the resulting image doesn’t seem choppy or torn,
and thus they create a very realistic projection. Underneath the floor 45 servers are hooked up
to two computers in the control panel of the show. In addition, exclusive software was designed
just for the show. Overall, the total
cost for the dome adds up to a staggering $14,000,000 – talk about out of this
Afterwards, Scholars split into groups to see “The Universe:
A Walk Through Space and Time.” More
mystifying graphics covered the walls as well as panels, which provided much
more information on the stars. For
example, it would take 12 feet of sand covering Illinois to represent all the
stars in space. Before my group left, we
checked out the “Space Visualization Lab” – the epitome of tech heaven. The main attraction was the Samsung interface
– which gave Scholars a hands-on experience of the solar system.
At the end of the day, Scholars came home with new knowledge
and evermore curious minds. Like a super
massive black hole, Scholars’ minds continually consume information on the
world around them. And much like the
expanses of the cosmos, Scholars reaffirm their unlimited potential to aspire
beyond their expectations.