Decatur Middle School Students Named National Finalists in the Bright Schools Competition

Decatur Middle School Students Named National Finalists in the Bright Schools Competition

Decatur Middle School Students Named National Finalists in the Bright Schools Competition

“Autism and Sleep” is One of 50 National Finalists in Innovative STEM Competition

for Students in Grades 6-8

Indianapolis, IN—April 21, 2016—Jaiveer Dutta, Mariam Bryant, and Kelchi Offor along with Science teacher, Kristen Bruna,of the Apex Small Learning Community at Decatur Middle School in Indianapolis, IN have been named national finalists in the inaugural Bright Schools Competition™. The competition is a collaborative effort of the National Sleep Foundation and the National Science Teachers Association that encourages students in grades 6-8 to explore the correlation between light and sleep and how it influences student health and performance. “Autism and Sleep” is one of 50 national finalist teams, chosen among 170 teams, made up of nearly 550 students from 63 schools. On May 2, 2016, first-, second- and third-place national winning teams will be announced. The complete list of the national finalists can be found at

The student’s winning project, entitled “Autism and Sleep” designed an experiment to explore relationships between Autism and melatonin production. Autism is a social development disorder that affects 1% of Earth's population and is also associated with certain sleeping problems. This experiment may help discover a potential solution.

“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.

“Congratulations to all of the national finalists who competed in the competition this year,” said NSTA Executive Director Dr. David Evans. “We are extremely impressed with the quality of work and innovative ideas these students have exhibited as they explored science and found ways to benefit their communities and society as a whole.”

All students who enter the competition will receive a certificate of participation. Students on the first-place national winning team will each receive a cash prize of $5,000; second place students will receive $2,500; and third-place students will receive $1,500. The coach/teacher of the first place team will also receive a prize package, including Vernier Middle School Probeware, an all-expense paid trip to an NSTA conference, and membership to NSTA. The second-place coach/teacher will receive an all-expense paid trip to an NSTA conference and membership to NSTA, and the third-place coach/teacher will receive membership to NSTA and a $500 gift certificate to use in the NSTA Science Store.

More information about the competition is available at

About the National Sleep Foundation

The National Sleep Foundation is dedicated to improving health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy. Founded in 1990 by the leaders in sleep medicine, NSF is the trusted resource for sleep science, healthy sleep habits, and sleep disorders to medical professionals, patients and the public. For more information visit or Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About NSTA

The Arlington, VA-based National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) is the largest professional organization in the world promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. NSTA's current membership includes approximately 55,000 science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in science education.