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Maconaquah students light the way for future programs

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LIGHTIN’ UP:TeacherCarrie Kelly helps student Sydney Barnes build a solar-powered lantern as part of a recent engineering project at Maconaquah Middle School.
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SUCCESS:Teacher, students and others pose with solar powered lanterns that they built recntly as part of an engineering program at Maconaquah Middle School.

BY BAILEY ROPES - Public Relations Officer, Maconaquah School Corporation

The idea to bring Engineering Brightness to Maconaquah Middle School started in 2018 with a class taught by Rachel Smith.

The goal of the class was to find ways to make the world a better place and throughout the course of the year, the middle school students came up with several ideas, the most feasible of which was bringing solar powered light to less fortunate areas of the world.

The students worked together to raise funds and organize a trip to bring Tracey Winey and John Howe, co-founders of the Colorado-based Engineering Brightness, to the school. 

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

Tracey and John traveled from Fort Collins, Colorado to Maconaquah in September to train students and staff on how to build 3D-printed solar-powered lanterns. The students worked with, and learned about circuit boards, diodes, soldering, and 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 the Colorado Engineering Brightness 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. 

Smith said she 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,” she said.