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Cool Schools: High school students reaching for the stars

Elkhart Memorial High School students are reaching for the stars in more ways than one. They are bringing the sun into their classroom through the lens of their student-built telescopes.

“We open up the doors. I don’t want students waiting to get to college to do something and then college then say wait to you get to graduate school, our students do it now and then they get into college and get into research," said Physics Teacher John Taylor.

The students build and use the telescopes on the school's roof. “We actually have three different telescopes. Each of them deal with a lot of aspects of the sun,” said Senior Daniel Weld.

Through the telescopes they are able to listen for solar flares, track the sun, and bring a picture of it into the classroom.

“To do this is really eye-opening. I had no idea before that I would have any interest in this before I started being in the Physics Club,” said Senior Marie White

This year they have been at work to build another telescope that will map out the stars and sky.

“We probably have made 50 or 60 designs and design modifications. It’s been a lot of ‘hey that’s not going to work, let’s throw that out,'” said Weld.

Students design and build the telescopes using anything they can find, including salvaged PVC pipes or scrap lumber.

“It’s fun to watch them build and I think the students have some pride too," said Taylor of his students.

It's taken years to complete the telescopes that are in place now but it is a project that carries on long after the students leave.

“People always have ideas to do big things and then it never gets done but being able to actually see it come to life, seeing this project happen is really cool,” White added.

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