50 Teams of Middle School Students Named National Finalists in Inaugural Year of the Bright Schools Competition

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Student STEM Projects Demonstrate Understanding of the Effects of Light and Sleep on Student Health and Performance

Washington, D.C. (April 11, 2016) — Fifty teams of middle schools students have been named national finalists in the inaugural Bright Schools Competition™. The competition is a collaborative effort of the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) that encourages students in grades 6-8 to explore the correlation between light and sleep and how it influences student health and performance. They were chosen among 170 teams, made up of nearly 550 students from 63 schools. From the 50 national finalist teams, first-, second- and third-place national winning teams will be chosen and announced on May 2, 2016. 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. One of the student teams explored the relationship between autism and melatonin production to help those with Autism Spectrum Disorders get adequate sleep, and another researched the difference between natural and artificial light resulting in a student awareness campaign to encourage their school to construct a solarium dome to increase exposure to natural light.

“The National Sleep Foundation is encouraged to see so many students interested in how light directly affects their sleep and academic performance” said David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. “We congratulate the finalists on their innovative ideas and thoughtful projects. These students, teachers and parents will help bring about change in the way institutions view lighting and overall health."

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.

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