Howell pupils honored for study about light and sleep


By Peter Elacqua
Staff Writer

HOWELL – Howell Middle School South seventh grade students Ruth Daly and Beata Wolak have earned second place honors in the second annual National Bright Schools Competition.

The competition is a collaborative effort of the National Sleep Foundation and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) that encourages students in grades six through eight to explore the correlation between light and sleep and how it influences student health and performance.

Ruth and Beata, who called themselves The Dream Team, were awarded second place honors in a field of 50 national finalist teams which had been chosen from among 150 teams consisting of about 500 students from 53 schools.

Science teacher Josh Langenberger served as their coach.

The students were challenged to identify, investigate and research an issue related to light and sleep as it pertains to their community and young adolescents by using scientific inquiry or engineering design concepts in order to develop a prototype, create an awareness campaign or write a research proposal for the competition.

Each team was required to submit a written report detailing their project and a three-minute video showcasing their investigation. Projects were evaluated on the basis of several criteria, including scientific accuracy, innovation and potential impact.

Ruth and Beata’s project, “Illuminated Electronic Impact on Circadian Rhythm,” was an investigation that sought to establish a relationship between the blue light emitted from electronic devices (specifically, a laptop computer) and its impact on student alertness in school the following day. The study involved research, data collection, analysis and evaluation of a claim.

“Ruth and Beata are two exceptional students,” Langenberger said. “They both exemplify the qualities I encourage in all my students – leadership, intellectual curiosity, analytical thinking, insightfulness and reflection.

“Competing at a national level was an opportunity for the application of that skill set and both girls demonstrated their team’s name, The Dream Team. They are everything I hope for in each of my students,” he said.

Beata and Ruth received a Bright Schools prize package, including a cash prize of $2,500. Langenberger received a national finalist banner, a one-year membership to the NSTA and an all-expense paid trip to an NSTA conference in New Orleans in 2018.

“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,” NSTA Executive Director Dr. David Evans said.

The National Sleep Foundation is dedicated to improving health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy.