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Middle schoolers make a name for themselves

The STEM Sisters are winners having placed second in a national science competition and being the keynote speakers at Project Lead the Way Summit in Indianapolis. They are, from left, Madeline Pasche, Charlotte Stow, teacher Chris Deleon, Gabrielle Blakey and Hannah Sutherland. *Submitted photos).1 / 2
Hudson Middle School's STEM Sisters shared keynote duties with NFL star and mathematician John Urschel at the Project Lead the Way National Summit in Indianapolis. Pictured from left are HMS teacher Chris Deleon, Gabrielle Blakey, Urschel, Madeline Pasche, Hannah Sutherland and Charlotte Stow. (Submitted photo)2 / 2

The STEM Sisters of Hudson Middle School have had a pretty good year.

The four eighth grade friends and science students collaborated on their award-winning project “Weekend on Mars” which highlighted the effects that blue light has on sleep.

The team name at first seemed cliché to Madeline Pasche, Gabrielle Blakey, Hannah Sutherland and Charlotte Stow but it grew on them and turned out to be lucky.

The team unveiled the Mars inflatable “HAB” that they built themselves for students at HMS earlier this year to high interest. Since then they have been educating students from all around the country about how blue light could be affecting the quality of sleep they are getting. They also spoke to the Director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, NASA Educational Specialists and Engineers, Emily Callendrelli who is the host of Fox’s Xploration Outer Space Program.

They have been chosen one of the top 50 teams in the Bright School competition for their project and just found out this week that they won second place in the state U.S. Army eCybermission competition. The prize is $2000 for the team or $500 for each student.

But their biggest stage came when they were asked to be among the keynote presenters at the Project Lead the Way Summit 2016 in Indianapolis this spring, an all expense-paid trip. The sold-out event gathered 1,800 educators, students and leaders from the business and government sectors to network and share strategies for making classroom learning relevant, engaging and hands-on.

The team presented along with fellow keynote speaker, NFL football player and mathematician John Uschel.

According to the STEM Sisters mentor, HMS teacher Chris Deleon, the invitation was a real honor. “The team is very excited and proud to be representing Hudson Middle School. They hope they can inspire other girls and young women to pursue a career in a STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, field.”

Deleon went onto to say that not only did the event put Hudson Middle School students onto the national stage, but also made them instant celebrities.

“Everywhere they went, people were coming up to them and taking selfies with them, telling them what an inspiration they are, asking them to record messages for their students, even asking if they would present at their school so that their students could see them and be inspired,” said their proud teacher.

The team definitely noticed a difference in both their sleeping and waking hours when they spent their weekend in the habitat. It altered the quality of their sleep and had a variety of effects when they were awake -- everything from difficulty falling asleep and waking during the night to feeling excessively tired, anxious and irritable during the day. The project had immediate implications for the team member and they suspect for their peers who often go to bed with a device or phone that gives the blue light.

In addition to their findings, the team also learned a lot about how to collaborate to deliver their award-winning findings. It seems Pasche was the best writer in the group while Stow, Sutherland and Blakey took on the research, highlighting important information as it applied to their work and reading and helping to edit the paper that accompanied their findings.

They also sought input from their English teachers and other science faculty. They built the habitat together, fashioning it after the habitat in the movie “Martian.”

They also created a video presentation that can be viewed at

The team also had the support of their families. Pasche said her parents weren't quite sure what to make of the project at first. “They were skeptical at first, even though it might be some kind of scam, but my older brother said he wished he had taken the chance to compete when he could and encouraged me to do it.”

Sutherland said her parents weren't quite sure “what to make of this bubble we were building” but they came to see it all as “super cool.”

The STEM Sister and their teacher are now enjoying the fruits of their labor and hope that it inspires other students to look beyond their normal school work to learn and experience “something unique and special.”

The teams parents are Kathy and John Sutherland, John and Julie Stow, Matt and Lauren Pasche and Roy and Rebecca Blakey.