SPHS majorette designs, builds illuminated batons

Published 4:27 pm Monday, September 10, 2018

HOOVER –Spain Park High School majorette captain Lauryn Kortman was denied her dream of fire baton twirling, but she instead used the opportunity to create a solution to the problem.

Fire batons are not possible on artificial turf fields such as the one at Jaguar Stadium because of potential damage to the expensive surface, so Kortman engineered a baton illuminated by multi-colored and programmable LED lights.

“That was a childhood dream of mine. I wanted to have something flashy in the shows,” said Kortman, who along with her father has created a company with plans to sell the batons.

Kortman, a senior who plans to pursue a career in engineering, said she had the idea for illuminated batons a few years ago and began working on the invention in earnest about one year ago based on knowledge and experience gained in the Spain Park Engineering Academy.

Kortman and her father, Michael, began looking for material for a transparent shaft—no small task because the shaft had to be durable enough to maintain its shape during a routine, be similar to standard batons in weight and balance and have the capacity to hold an LED strip.

Michael Kortman eventually found a suitable material at a store that sold craft beer brewing supplies. Lauryn Kortman melted and straightened the material, inserted blue LED lights, created makeshift caps on the ends of the baton with prescription medicine bottles and had her first prototype.

The models in use by the five Spain Park majorettes during performances are made from a material the Kortmans found from an online specialty site, and the caps were created using a 3D printer and then a mold.

The LED strips inside the batons are capable of producing several different color lights.

Kortman etched circuits, soldered and programmed the lights—everything was handmade except the LED lights.

She built a control, which her father manages during the halftime performances. He can switch the batons on and off, and between blue, red, pink, white and even a rainbow color display.

There is a test button on the control that dimly lights the baton so that their operation can be tested prior to the show without sacrificing the surprise for fans in the stands.

Kortman said she also appreciates the support of her mother, Jodi Kortman, who was instrumental in the effort to restart the majorette program at the high school after it was ended for several years.

SPHS Pride of the Park Band Director Chris Neugent said members of the student leadership team, which includes captains or leaders of various sections, must submit a leadership application that includes a “Dazzle Me” project that demonstrates band is more than an activity for the students.

“You can consider me dazzled,” Neugent said about Kortman’s application that highlighted the baton invention. “This is leaving a really good legacy behind for her. We’re proud of her and all of her work.”

The Kortmans founded FireFly Batons LLC to eventually market and sell the invention. The current season is being used as a chance to test and refine the batons, with plans to begin selling to the public after the season.

Anyone seeking more information should visit FireFlyBatons.com and email glow@fireflybatons.com.

Lauryn Kortman said the only illuminated batons she has found have lights in the caps, not the shaft.

The batons have been popular with fans and even the majorettes themselves, said Casey Cain, SPHS colorguard and majorette sponsor.

“All the girls have already asked if they can buy theirs at the end of the season,” Cain said.