Last year, Hanna Payne started a coral lab at Coral Gables High. Now a senior, she hopes to move the project forward by securing additional grants.
With the original grant, Payne secured a 55-gallon tank and two 80-gallon tanks that were set up near one of the science classrooms.
“Last year and this past summer have been a developmental period,” she said. There was a setback when a pump in the 80-gallon tank broke and the coral died.
“All the coral in that tank were small,” she said. “They were donated by the Museum of Science.”
Her interest in the ocean — prompted by spending time on the water with her parents — led her to start the ambitious project.
“A lot of students have not had the opportunity to see coral reefs,” she said. “I scuba dive; I free dive. I’ve grown up visiting the Bahamas. We use snorkels.”
She also spent a month at the Island School on Eleuthera.
“It’s a semester school for high school students from around the world. It’s focused on environmental science,” she said. “I wanted to do the semester program. But with IB, I couldn’t, so I was excited about the summer program.
When she is not out on the water or trying to grow coral, Payne spends her time working on the yearbook, where she is editor-in-chief. She also is treasurer of the student council.
“We’re applying a new design element and more focus on photography,” she said.
Payne is into water sports. She swims backstroke and freestyle for Gables. She was the district champ in the 200 freestyle her sophomore year and district champ for the 100 backstroke last year. This year she was second at districts in both events. She also swims for the Miami Swimming Club based at Ransom Everglades.
For college she looking at a smaller, non-traditional schools such as Reed College in Oregon, Pomona, Lewis and Clark, and Middlebury and Williams.
— Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld