While most people were looking toward the sun Monday to see a rare solar eclipse, Hillsboro High School sophomore Madeleine Lueders was looking into her future while also helping her fellow students watch the eclipse.
With the help of Eric Hennison, the school’s technology director, Lueders set up her own telescope equipment on the HHS roof. Adding a camera to the mix, they were able to allow Hillsboro and Laurel Oaks students to watch a live feed and photographs of the eclipse.
“Mostly it was just so everyone could have a chance to see the eclipse for themselves,” Lueders said.
On Friday, the Hillsboro City Schools sent out a message saying that for safety reasons, students would not be permitted to go outside and watch the eclipse.
Lueders has had a passion for all things celestial since she was a young girl.
“It all started when we were living in Florida across the river from the Kennedy Space Center,” Lueders said. “We’d always watch the shuttle launches and I always wanted to go up in space. It would be a little scary, but it would be worth it.”
Lueders’ mother, Mindy Lawson, a teacher at the high school, said her daughter got her first telescope when she was 7 or 8 years old.
Lawson said the school has a YouTube channel and all teachers had to do was turn the channel on in their classrooms to let their students watch the eclipse.
Lueders said that in college she hopes to study astrophysics or electronic engineering with satellites.
This July, Lueders participated in a weeklong SpaceTrek Camp at Morehead State University’s Space Science Center in Morehead, Ky. She was one of only 26 girls selected to participate in the camp and was the only representative from Ohio, according to her mother.
SpaceTrek was created in 2012 as a pilot program, thanks to a partnership between AAUW Kentucky and Morehead State. The one-week educational experience was designed to expose incoming sophomore, junior and senior high school girls to space science and engineering concepts in fun and exciting ways.
Morehead’s Space Science Center, directed by Dr. Ben Malphrus, is one of a few programs of its type in the country and works directly with NASA, Lawson said.
During the week, which consisted of 72 hours of lab time, the girls participated in a number of activities including learning to solder, create breadboards, learn circuitry and produce space art. The week’s efforts culminated in the creation of a small satellite, a CricketSat, that was launched into the atmosphere and allowed the girls to collect data from the satellite to present to the group at-large, according to Lawson.
The experiences at SpaceTrek instilled in Lueders the confidence to set up her own telescope equipment at HHS, her mother said, so that the students there could safely watch the solar eclipse through a live feed into the school network.
Lawson said that Hennison jokingly referred to himself and Lueders as the founders of the school astronomy club.
With what Lawson described as her daughter’s usual dry wit, she said Lueders responded, “That’s sounds out of this world.”
“I just like the natural beauty of space and the stuff we don’t now about it,” Lueders said.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.