When I was first asked to join STEM Club, I didn’t really know what it meant to be a member. I knew who else was in the club, where and when it met and who the sponsor was. I didn’t know what we actually did. So I was surprised to see that I was doing something that I loved to do, solve problems.
In the beginning, Mrs. Bechtel, the sponsor, kept mentioning this STEM competition and it kind of just got blown over our heads. Eventually, everyone got serious about it and we got to work. It was a very, very slow process of figuring out exactly what we wanted to do. We had to find a problem in Pennsylvania and solve using the components of STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The brainstorming process was long and uneventful until someone threw something interesting on the table. A lamp that can treat SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. It was a really interesting idea and everyone started getting excited because STEM clubs purpose actually became real. We kept brainstorming on the idea of a lamp and we soon came up with something that would help treat SAD.
Our first idea was to create a light box lamp. We were on YouTube constantly, trying to wrap our heads around the lamp itself and how we could build it quickly and in a cost effective way. Everyone was working hard to build the light box and then we decided that it wasn’t really what wanted. So back to the drawing table we went. A lot of planning and brainstorming took place and it was getting really close to the day of the competition. We all still wanted to make it to the competition and have something to present.
Eventually we settled on a different design of lamp and added a lot of different components. We decided that the lamp was going to be controlled by a mini computer called a RaspberryPi that will turn the lights on and off and also will control a timer for the lights. We were happy with our design, although, we really were not sure if it would sufficiently treat SAD. After doing some more research and looking into the different types of light, we found out that certain types of light are not appropriate for the night time. Fortunately, we found Dr. Hansler who specialized in harmful types of light. We purchased some of his specialized lights and book of his to learn more and it was more than helpful.
It soon came to the night before the competition and we were all stressed out because nothing was really working. We were about to give up until the lamp turned on and we all jumped in surprise! It was the most amazing thing to see and our spirits were lifted when we arrived at the competition. We weren’t that confident because we saw a lot of hard competition, but hearing that Blue Mountain Academy won first place was actual music to our ears.
We had the opportunity to go farther with our project and it took off! We are still working on making our lamp, now called Lightelligence, now user friendly and cost effective. Also, working with STEM Club has made the opportunity to receive BMA’s STEM Certificate possible and for that I am forever grateful.
Honestly, starting with STEM I was very unsure of myself. But now I realize that it is one of the best decisions because I have the opportunity to work with amazing people, learn amazing things, and help people all around the world!