Fifty teams of middle school students have been named national finalists in the 2nd annual Bright Schools Competition. The competition is a collaborative effort of the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). Through the competition, students in grades 6-8 explore the correlation between light and sleep and how it influences student health and performance. They were chosen among 150 teams, made up of nearly 500 students from 53 schools. From the 50 national finalist teams, first-, second-, and third-place national winning teams will be chosen and announced in early May. The complete list of the national finalists can be found at http://brightschoolscompetition.org.
Student projects explored various aspects of sleep, with many focused on the effects of blue light. With the knowledge that roughly one in three people around the world has suffered from mild insomnia, one student team developed the Vigilmask Sleep Mask to mitigate the effects of common sleep disorders. Another group created the Sleep Schedule App that helps parents monitor their child’s sleep schedule. Through the app, parents can control brightness level and the power button on their child’s electronic devices.
“The National Sleep Foundation would like to congratulate the finalists on their innovative projects. The Bright Schools Competition has shined a light on the importance of sleep and overall health, and we’re encouraged to see so many students interested in how light directly affects their sleep and academic performance,” says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation, in a release.
Under the mentorship of an adult coach/teacher, teams of two to four students identify, investigate, and research an issue related to light and sleep as it pertains to their community and/or young adolescents. Using scientific inquiry or engineering design concepts teams develop a prototype, create an awareness campaign, or write a research proposal for the competition. Each team then submits a written report detailing their project along with a three-minute video showcasing their investigation. Projects are evaluated on the basis of several criteria, including scientific accuracy, innovativeness, and potential impact.
“The Bright Schools Competition is a celebration of the talent and ingenuity of our youth, providing students with a unique opportunity to think critically while exploring the connection between light and sleep,” says NSTA executive director David Evans, PhD. “Congratulations to all of the national finalists for their hard work, enthusiasm, and imaginative ideas.”
All students who enter the competition receive a certificate of participation. Students on the first-place national winning team will each receive a cash prize of $5,000; second place students will receive $2,500; and third-place students will receive $1,500. The coach/teacher of the first place team will also receive a prize package, including Vernier Middle School Probeware, an all-expense paid trip to an NSTA conference, and membership to NSTA. The second-place coach/teacher will receive an all-expense paid trip to an NSTA conference and membership to NSTA, and the third-place coach/teacher will receive membership to NSTA and a $500 gift certificate to use in the NSTA Science Store.