Bright Ideas for Middle Schoolers through the Bright Schools Competition!

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Begin Developing your BRIGHT Schools Team

The goal of the Bright Schools program is to create a learning experience that will help students, parents and teachers better understand the link among light, sleep and student health and performance. Through the Bright Schools Competition, students in grades 6-8 select a topic related to light and sleep and select one of three exploration options to create an original project. My 6th grade class has stepped up to the challenge of leading a team to the light at the end of the competition tunnel. We want to be the brightest team builders that we can be. The idea of a simple team of a few kids and a teacher is in the past. We live in a world where we are constantly team building and intentionally working brighter, not dimmer. So… let’s do this people! Our BRIGHT Schools teams should include students, teachers, mentors, parents, board of education, and community members. We need BRIGHT team members who will be able to dazzle our knowledge and shine light on a variety of areas.

Research, Research, Research

And just when our BRIGHT Schools team thinks that we have enough research and think we see the light…research more! The competition goals and outcomes are shining right in our faces. We are trying to prove or disprove knowledge about the facts of light and the students’ bodies. Based on the research, hopefully define and create a solution. The more accurate and up-to-date the BRIGHT team research information is, the more brilliant the BRIGHT team competition project will reveal itself to be. Create opportunities for the team to research using credible journals and references sources such as articles and reports. As educators, we are research ninjas! Teach the BRIGHT team members how to polish their research skills so they too can flip the switch of researching.  

Illuminate Student Learning

Keep the BRIGHT Schools team members thinking outside the box and don’t be afraid to push the team’s creativity. In the end, it may be a team member’s golden moment. Remember, we are working with a team whom many refer to as “Generation Z.” They are highly connected to high-tech driven world so…use it as a team advantage. The BRIGHT teams have been challenged to develop a device, technology, or awareness. Essentially, you and the other adult team members become the socket to their light bulb. Hook the team members up! Take the BRIGHT team students on virtual field trips, Skype with scientists, check out the local tech stores, or create a Makerspace for them to create in. We must introduce them to concepts, ideas, or prototypes that ignite their intrigue. Keep yourself thinking ahead so you can keep the team ahead of the game. You never know, the team may spark an idea based off another.  

Golden Opportunity

The competition is a BRIGHT team’s coach or mentor golden opportunity to shine!  In this competition, the golden opportunity can be seen as the golden rule. Teach others how you would want to be taught. As a coach or mentor, we inspire them to want to explore and investigate the world around them. We must be the radiant examples they are searching for in the dark. We are the search light, the flashlight, the lighthouse, the front porch light that goes on or off, and at times the light the flickers when it has been on for hours and hours. Believe it or not, we are the ones equipped. We plug away at problems all day, every day. Generally speaking, we have backup batteries or bulbs sitting to the side for when things are dim. Why not equip our BRIGHT Schools team members with the same ability? We need to teach them how to turn on their own lights and how to self-equip and as they go out into the world for their own adventure. If we are teaching the team members how to equip themselves, then we are growing dendrites in others’ brains. How brilliant does that sound?

Highlight your BRIGHT Schools Team

Highlight the efforts and progress of the BRIGHT Schools team through ample communication. Throughout the competition, communication is key to gaining support and acknowledgement for the team. Communication should include the teachers and others in the school building, board of education, mentors, and community members. It is important for us to be intentional with the communication we are providing others, no matter how big, small, bright, or dim the news may be. A great way to highlight a team or a member is to ask them to write something. Essentially we are asking them to reflect on what they have done and really think about the competition. Since the competition aspect is mainly done by the team, it is important for others to hear from them and for them to be in the spotlight. When we illuminate the progress of our BRIGHT team, we shed light and build others’ understanding of the BRIGHT team’s goals, steps, outcome, and allow others to shine.  

Transform The World

Last and definitely not the least: transform lives one at a time, one moment at a time, one experience at a time. In return, they can radiate their light onto others and transform the world into a brighter place for this generation and future generations to come!


Danielle Owens has 13 years of teaching experience and is currently a gifted and talented teacher at Savannah Middle School in Savannah, Missouri. She can be reached at: dowens@savannahr3.com.

Registration for the Bright Schools Competition is now open and submissions are due on February 6, 2017. Learn more by visiting our website, send an email to brightschools@nsta.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @Bright_Schools

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