Students Program RGB LEDs for Science Fair

April 30, 2015

The average holiday light show is limited to the color of the bulbs and either a steady glow or a “twinkle” flashing effect. But for the ambitious decorator, a relatively new LED lighting option can transform a display from basic to “Bravo!” Last week, students in NJ put our programmable RGB LED lights to the test for a school science fair project. Their work not only shows us some of the endless possibilities with this technology, but also the amazing science behind it. In fact, they learned not only about light (and LEDs), but color, computer programming, and how images are displayed on a screen. Way to go, students! But first, would you like to learn more about computer programming? Why not complete an online coding course to enrich your knowledge? Online learning platforms such as Udemy offer a wide variety of coding and web design courses suitable for all abilities. You can read the full review of Udemy by visiting

RGB lights are named for the three primary colors (red, green, and blue) that can be combined to various degrees to produce any color of the rainbow. In fact, this is how colors are created on computer and television displays-as mixtures of red, green, and blue. RGB LED lights can be programmed to display any color, and to even “move” according to a programmed pattern.

For the science fair, students Rachel, Emily, and Lexi connected our RGB lights to a 12-volt DC-powered controller (network distribution box, or NDB) which was then connected to a computer running light programming software. We have no doubt that these students have bright futures in programming, and hope to see them in colleges with computer science and cybersecurity awards.

How does the system operate the lights? The students explain,

“So, the computer sends a signal to the NDB through the CAT5 [networking] cable and the NDB tells the lights to turn a certain color and powers the lights through the 12V DC power supply. That’s how the display works.”

Perhaps you don’t consider yourself a scientist, or even particularly skilled with gadgets. So is RGB light programming too hard for the average decorator? The students said,

“For this science fair, we learned how to use the program and created our own displays. It was actually pretty easy though. It may look complicated, but once you get used to the setup, everything is easier. I hope you enjoy the light displays!”

Check out our RGB lighting and accessories and start dreaming up your own creative designs for any season, event, or celebration! You could consider using them to help educate your children or just give them something to do, or even use them for an array of british science week activities – it’s potential fun for all ages.

Students at Science Fair with RGB LED Lights Project (image courtesy of Nik Stouffer)