Registration is now open for the Bright Schools Competition. Through the competition, which is sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) and administered by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), students in grades 6-8 located in the United States and Canada will explore the correlation between light and sleep and how it influences student health and performance. Students have a chance to win up to $5,000. Project submissions will be accepted until February 6, 2017 at

“The Bright Schools Competition is a great way to teach students how light exposure influences sleep and impacts health and performance,” says David Cloud, chief executive officer at the NSF, in a release. “We are excited for the competition’s second year.”

“The Bright Schools Competition provides a unique experience that not only allows students to explore science, but lets them participate in the scientific process as it unfolds from idea to fruition while fostering lasting community engagement and learning,” says NSTA executive director David Evans, PhD.

Through the competition, teams of two to four students and an adult coach/teacher are asked to identify and investigate an issue within the realm of light and sleep as it pertains to their community and/or young adolescents. After teams choose a topic, they must select one of three exploration options:

  • Developing a prototype;
  • Creating an awareness campaign; or
  • Writing a research proposal.

Teams then create and submit an original project using scientific inquiry or engineering design concepts. The project itself consists of two parts: a three-page written document, detailing the rationale, project description, next steps, and a bibliography; and a three-minute video that articulates the problem, summarizes the written project elements, and includes visuals of the exploration route associated with the project.

The competition website,, helps teams get started with a robust resource section that includes information about the correlation between light and sleep, lesson plans and much more. The downloadable lesson plans, developed by NSF and NSTA with guidance from a panel of leading experts, provide the scientific content needed to help students understand and successfully participate in the competition. These concepts include the introduction of how the presence and/or absence of light controls circadian rhythms and how to quantitatively define the amount of light received throughout the day.

“The Bright Schools Competition by far has been the most favorable experience for me as an educator and for my students. I have learned so much,” said an eighth grade science teacher who participated in the competition last year.

Every student whose team submits a completed project will receive a certificate of participation. Student members of the first-place national winning team each receive a cash prize of $5,000. Second-place national winning student members will each receive a cash prize of $2,500 and student members of the third-place winning team will each receive a cash prize of $1,500. The coach/teacher of the first-place national winning team will also receive a prize package, which includes Vernier Middle School Probeware, an all-expense paid trip to an NSTA conference, and an annual membership to NSTA. The coach/teacher of the second-place national winning team will receive an all-expense paid trip to an NSTA conference and annual membership to NSTA and the third place national winning team coach/teacher will receive annual membership to NSTA and a $500 gift certificate to use in the NSTA Science Store.

Registration for the 2016-2017 competition will remain open through the entire submission period. Teams must be registered on in order to participate. Final projects are due February 6, 2017. To participate, students must be US or Canadian citizens or legal residents, living within the United States, US Territories, or Canada. Students must be officially enrolled in sixth, seventh, or eighth grade in a public, private or home school.