Photo provided.

Bunker Hill, IN - Maconaquah Middle School partners with Tracey Winey and John Howe from Engineering Brightness to achieve a common goal of accessing healthy light.

The idea to bring Engineering Brightness to Maconaquah started in 2018 with Ms. Rachel Smith’s SRT class. The goal of the class was to find ways to make the world a better place. Throughout the course of the year, the students came up with several ideas, the most feasible being bringing solar-powered light to less fortunate areas of the world. The students worked together to fundraise and organize the Engineering Brightness team coming to MMS.

“The goal of Engineering Brightness is to collaborate globally to ensure everyone has access to clean and healthy light,” says Maconaquah Middle School teacher Rachel Smith. “Our purpose in bringing Tracey and John to MMS was to hopefully start the Maconaquah branch of EB.”

Located in Fort Collins, Colorado, Tracey and John traveled to Maconaquah to spend last week training students and staff on how to build 3D printed solar-powered lanterns. The students worked with and learned about circuit boards, diodes, soldering, as well as much more. At the same time, they were able to see the impact their new discoveries would have on people many miles away.

Smith and coworkers Michael Sommers, Ron Shaffer, and Carrie Kelly were all able to take part in the entire process, learning alongside the students. Altogether, MMS created twenty-five 3D printed solar-powered lanterns. Upon completion Friday, the Colorado EB team was able to leave with five of those lanterns which will be sent to an orphanage in Nepal. The remaining lanterns will be sent to Guatemala in the next month. A small school in Bunker Hill, Indiana has provided a light source for people in countries thousands of miles away. Smith hopes that this is only the beginning to what her small school can do.

“I would like to see us continue to grow our Mac EB into something that not only students want to be a part of, but that parents and community members become interested in joining as well,” says Smith.

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The support for this project has already reached outside of the four walls of Maconaquah Middle School. A local hardware store, Arnie's Ace Hardware in Peru, donated the wire strippers for the project. Another line of outreach was brought by Representative Ethan Manning who spent a day with the team. Manning spoke of how awesome it was to see STEM learning in action through this program brought to Maconaquah.

This program only came to fruition one week ago, but Rachel and her colleagues hope to see if continue to expand. Smith said, “this project is unlike anything I have done before. At the end of the day Friday, Michael and I both said that we could not be happier about how it turned out. The training did what it was supposed to do. It inspired students and staff at MMS about EB. After these 3 days, we feel excited and ready to watch this project grow!”