NASA Awards Ephrata Middle School Students Flight Opportunity in TechRise Challenge
A group of Ephrata Middle School 7th grade students recently found out that NASA wants to fly their experiment into the stratosphere! NASA selected 60 teams for the TechRise Student Challenge, a nationwide contest designed to engage students in technology, science, and space exploration. Students across the United States gathered for a virtual presentation on Thursday, January 12, which included NASA speakers and concluded with the announcement of the winners.
The Ephrata Middle School team – Nathaniel Cole, Ryan Garman, Blake Manko, and Caplin West – created a winning proposal that aims to measure changes in ultraviolet and thermal radiation and their impact on the ozone layer. The goal of the experiment is to show how much the ozone layer matters to the survival and capability of life on this planet.
The team will receive $1,500 to design, build, and prepare their payload for flight with close guidance from a NASA mentor during regular virtual meetings. Student experiments will be tested via a high-altitude balloon flight from a commercial provider in either South Dakota or Arizona. “It is an honor for our students to be selected as a NASA TechRise winner. We are ready to work hard to make NASA TechRise and the Ephrata community proud,” shared Ephrata Intermediate/Middle School teacher Mr. Adam Zeni.
Students will experience the same process NASA technologists use before space launches. On flight day, the payloads will gather data as the balloons ascend to an altitude of approximately 70,000 feet, where they will float for at least four hours. During flight, the balloons will be exposed to the unique thermal and atmospheric environment of the stratosphere, providing conditions that cannot be replicated in ground-based tests.
The TechRise Student Challenge was open to students in grades six through 12 at American public, private, and charter schools, including those in U.S. territories. This year, winning teams include about 500 students representing 38 states and territories.
“Through opportunities like the TechRise Student Challenge, young people are deepening their passion in science and technology, preparing to be the future innovators and pioneers who help humanity soar to new heights and unlock more secrets of the universe,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
“Congratulations to our team of students! What an exciting opportunity for students to learn about high-altitude balloon flights and to engage in the design process with engineers. We are so proud of their hard work to create a winning proposal, and we look forward to seeing them turn their project into a reality,” concluded Dr. Peter Kishpaugh, Ephrata Middle School Principal.
A full list of winning teams and more information on the challenge is available on the TechRise website.