News Detail

Student project selected by NASA for high-altitude balloon ride

For the second straight year, NASA selected a science experiment proposed by a team of Ransom Everglades students for a launch on a NASA-sponsored craft. After last year's project won a ride on a rocket, this year's team of Annabella Miki ’25, Chloe Alfonso ’24, Connor Alfonso ’26, Derrick Ma ’24, Dieter Manstein ’25 and Nelson Manstein ’26 learned today that their proposed experiment measuring the impact of ultraviolet light on DNA will be tested aboard a high-altitude balloon sponsored by NASA. Our students do so many remarkable things that it's difficult to pick any one achievement to highlight, yet I share this recognition because it exemplifies the type of work routinely embraced by RE students and faculty: innovative, interdisciplinary, collaborative projects that allow our students to take on real-world challenges and excel.
NASA and Future Engineers jointly announced today that the team of RE students was among 60 from around the nation that will receive $1,500 to build their proposed project over the next four months. Part of the NASA TechRise Student Challenge, the experiment will be carried by a NASA-sponsored commercial balloon to an altitude of 70,000 feet, where it will float for at least four hours. During the ascent, flight and descent, the students' proposed experiment will record incremental increases in ultraviolet rays and their impact on biosensor markers; the team’s goal is to determine how the duration and intensity of ultraviolet light affects the DNA mutation rate that is often experienced during space travel.
The students who proposed that complex experiment – which requires knowledge of chemistry, physics, engineering and math – are excited to get to work. They are now tasked with building it and inserting it into a 4x4x8 inch box for the launch (on a date to be determined). Future Engineers, which is administering the program for NASA, gave the students a hard deadline to finish their project: May 6. With the support of Science Department Coordinator Jay Salon and STEM faculty member Miranda Klees and the guidance of Future Engineers advisors, these student-scientists will work outside of class time to assemble the experiment. That’s no small task. 
We have a much easier job: feeling Raider Pride.
Raider Pride was on display early this month when a few dozen collegiate alumni on their winter breaks visited our campus to meet with RE juniors and seniors and share their experiences in the college process and beyond. Five of those alumni, Olivia Byrd ’20 (Southern Methodist University); Jack Fitzpatrick ’20 (Wake Forest University); Yasmina Haddad ’20 (University of Michigan); Marlon Ly ’20 (Vanderbilt University); Connor Sahs ’20 (Bates College), participated in a roundtable discussion for the benefit of the Class of 2024, offering advice and answering questions.
We saw it with the full return of St. Alban's Day in December after two years of adapted celebrations because of the pandemic. Our students and faculty went to great lengths at the upper and middle schools to create festive winter wonderlands that brought joy to hundreds of elementary school children. It is a major point of pride that this decades-old tradition of service that began at the Everglades School for Girls continues with as much energy, effort and enthusiasm as it did in its earliest days. I know our alumni also love the fact that we continue to send our ninth graders into the Everglades with canoes, backpacks and compasses at the beginning of the second semester. The first of four waves of ninth graders left this week (returning Saturday); our continued investment in these treks highlights our determination to use the natural world around us as a critical part of our students’ education, and our belief in the personal and community growth that such experiences bring.
There are many more reasons for Raider Pride documented in this Dell + Cannon. Although we celebrate academic accomplishments; Ransom Everglades is a community of deep thinkers motivated not only by intellectual excellence, but also by opportunities to immerse ourselves in the natural world, serve the underserved and improve our communities. When young people are working together, fully engaged and challenged in various realms, they grow as citizens and scholars.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that our students, as they make their way through Ransom Everglades experiencing all that the school has to offer, end up accomplishing amazing things. Congratulations to our latest NASA TechRise winners! We are so proud of you, and we know you will make the most of this ride above the clouds.

signature of Interim Head of School Rachel Rodriguez
Rachel Rodriguez
Interim Head of School
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.