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Student’s project catches NASA’s attention

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Jessie Elliott is not your average high school junior. You can see that in her Twitter feed. She has followers in other countries. And at NASA.

They’re interested in something else that makes Jessie distinctive: a class project at Noblesville High School.

She wants to reduce light pollution, or too much light at night.

“Right now,” Jessie says, “especially in other cities, there’s kind of an exponential growth in light pollution.”

She’s working with the city of Noblesville to reduce the amount of unnecessary light.

As part of a class project for teacher Don Wettrick’s Innovations class, she is developing an ordinance for the city.

The world tends to want “as much light as possible and the cheapest light possible,” Jessie told 24-Hour News 8.

As a result, “we overdo it a bit.” More light is not necessarily better.

Jessie would like to make a few revisions in the lighting guidelines of Noblesville. She would make the rules more restrictive.

Why? Because, she says, “the light doesn’t just go down where we need it to help humans. It goes up and into the sky.” That interferes with our ability to enjoy the night sky.

The ordinance could ask that city light be “shielded” to direct the rays down rather than allow light to go up into the sky. And, she says, in the long run, that would be cheaper for the city because it would concentrate the light in our streets and parking lots. That means lower watt bulbs and a lower cost for Noblesville.

It is time consuming work. With all of the research and revisions, Jessie, who is a junior, hopes the project is done before she finishes her senior year.

If you’ve ever been away from city lights, you’re likely to appreciate her mission.

“The ability to look up into the sky,” Jessie says, “and marvel at what you see is something that connects us to humans not only around the world but, you know, since the beginning of time.”

The revised ordinance, Jessie says, would make a gradual change in Noblesville – to “make it as easy on people as possible” and allow the city to “slowly get better.”