Shedding Light on Illumination

Last week, 8th grade students in Ms. Bailey’s science class made their homes into “Illumination Labs.” Students were challenged to find out which rooms in their house were the brightest and which were the dimmest. Depending on their findings, they then had to figure out how the lighting could be redesigned and improved efficiently. 

Students were able to convert their cell phones into at-home monitoring equipment by downloading a Google application, called Google Science Journal. The app allowed students to use their cell phones to collect data and input it directly through their phones. With this technology in hand, they were able to measure the illumination levels, or “lux,” in each space they visited through an ambient light sensor.
Ms. Bailey provided a sheet filled with recommended light levels that students referenced to compare the light levels in their homes. Using this information as a reference, they determined which rooms were over-illuminated, under-illuminated, or just right. They then had to choose just one of the places to analyze and come up with a light-fixing solution. If the space was improperly illuminated, they had to design a solution to fix it, keeping energy efficiency in mind. If the space was already properly illuminated, they had to consider how it could be re-designed to use less energy while maintaining its current light level.

Avery ‘24 shared how she tackled the challenge. “I started this experiment by going to each room and moving my phone around to make sure I got every inch of light there was. After this, I chose a room (my room) because I thought I knew it was the best.” However, the data she received was not what she had expected. “What I came to realize was that it was the darkest room out of each room I recorded, which shocked me.” Her solution to the improperly illuminated room was to use smaller amounts of wattages and switched lighting. “I also added a larger light to the center of the room rather than the side; that way, it covers the majority of the space, and it uses less energy when dimmed,” she explained.

I decided to measure the light in our kitchen, dining room, garage, living room, and what we call our TV room,” said Ariella ‘24. ”The latter ended up being the brightest of the rooms, averaging at 56.00 lux and the garage was our dimmest, averaging at 1.25 lux.” Like Avery, Ariella was also surprised at her results. “After comparing our home’s light levels with the recommended levels, I found that our levels were much lower. For example, our kitchen averaged at 40.00 lux with all the lights on, though the recommended level is 500 lux. This surprised me as I feel our kitchen is bright enough already.” She came up with an out-of-the-box solution to improve the lighting in her kitchen. She explained, “I ended up moving some pots and pans that were interfering with the light coming in from the window and opened the shades in the laundry room, which is connected to our kitchen, bringing our light levels to 127.00 lux!” She added, “I found it very interesting how these simple, small changes had such a great impact on the lighting in the room.”

What a cool way to learn about light and find ways to improve lighting at home!