Mystery Image Contest: September 1-15, 2014


The classic yellow American school bus is a familiar sight when students head back to school in the fall. Less well known, however, is the great deal of scientific and engineering research that has gone into creating the standard American school bus. For instance, the shade of yellow that school buses are painted is in fact named "National School Bus Glossy Yellow" and is federally mandated. This shade of yellow (originally named "National School Bus Chrome" as the paint used to have chrome as an ingredient) was chosen in 1939 for school buses because it is one of the most easily detectable colors to humans' peripheral vision. Being easily visible is of course an important safety feature for vehicles like school buses. School buses are built with other safety features like sophisticated mirror systems for the drivers, use of reflective tape for improved visibility, warning lights, and the well-known stop-sign arm and mechanized crossing arm. Designed through decades of research, our school buses transport over 28 million children around the country every day and keep them as safe as possible to and from school.


This image is of an American school bus.

Photo Credit


Winning Entry

Our two winners for this contest are:
Jennifer Grivins, Eaton Rapids
Jo Anna McCormick, Marana Unified School District

For Educators

Teaching Support

As students head back to school, many of them relying on buses to get there, challenge them to understand school buses as part of a larger transportation infrastructure that keeps our nation in motion. From the city buses and subway systems of larger cities to the 18-wheeler trucks that travel enormous distances to deliver food and other merchandise to even the remotest of areas, life would certainly be much different if it weren't for this core transport infrastructure. For school buses in particular, note that less than 500,000 buses around the country do the work of an estimated 17.3 million cars.

In addition to the other Science NetLinks resources listed below, take a look especially at our Transportation and Inequality lesson: it addresses why use of technology like automobiles and computers, which may seem ubiquitous to some, are in fact harder to access for some groups in society. This is why public infrastructure that is accessible to all, like school bus systems, is important and necessary.

Related Resources

School Bus Fumes
Technology and Inequality
3-5 | LESSON
Farming 2: Packaging and Transport
Novice Drivers
9-12 | LESSON
Environment, Technology, and Culture of the Chumash People
6-8 | LESSON
Organisms in Motion: Practical Applications of Biological Research
9-12 | LESSON

Science NetLinks Mystery Image Contest Rules and Regulations

What Is the

Mystery Image Contest?

The Mystery Image Contest offers the chance to identify a science-related object based on a close-up picture of it.