Blue Mountain Academy, a 115-student day school in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, received a $10,000 grant from the Lemelson-MIT Program, based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., to pursue development of LighTelligence, a system designed to optimize the circadian rhythms of young people using light.
For many high school students, early morning class starts and late evenings on homework can cause sleep problems. The LighTelligence invention is aimed at boosting melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and boosts immunity. Based on the open-source Raspberry Pi computer, the LighTelligence device consists of the computer, and a switch to lower the blue and green rays from LED lights that inhibit melatonin production. The InvenTeam will create a more aesthetically pleasing appearance for the system, adjust the voice recognition feature, and add a mechanical element to the lamp that will allow the computer to automatically adjust the light waves being emitted.
"Our InvenTeam chose to help solve a real-world problem and specifically focuses on teenagers who are more vulnerable to circadian rhythm disruptions."
The BMA InvenTeam consists of 20 students. The group will showcase their project at EurekaFest™, the Lemelson-MIT Program's multi-day celebration of the inventive spirit at MIT, in June, 2017.
Rosemarie Bechtel, chair of the BMA science department and STEM Advisor said, "We are excited to move from a STEM club to a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam. Seeing the enthusiasm build in our club last year as we won the regional STEM competition prompted looking for more competitions that would help foster STEM skills growth in an innovative format. Our InvenTeam chose to help solve a real-world problem and specifically focuses on teenagers who are more vulnerable to circadian rhythm disruptions."
At a special school assembly Judd Pittman, STEAM Advisor to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, brought congratulations from the state department of education, sharing that BMA is only the fourth school in Pennsylvania to win this grant. Anthony Perry, Invention Education Associate from Lemelson-MIT, announced the award.
In a statement, Leigh Estabrooks, invention education officer for the Lemelson-MIT Program, said: “It is rewarding to see students actively engaged and integrating STEM while working on their inventive solutions to real-world problems, but the truly inspiring impact is the long-term effect on the students and the leadership qualities the InvenTeam initiative instills in participants.”
Located just north of Reading, Pennsylvania in the town of Hamburg, Blue Mountain Academy has been educating students since 1955.