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2000-10 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 16, 2000

Middle School Forecasters Triumph over TV Meteorologist; Winners to be Recognized in D.C. Thursday

Contact:
David Hosansky
UCAR Communications
P.O. Box 3000
Boulder, CO 80307-3000
Telephone: (303) 497-8611
Fax: (303) 497-8610
E-mail: hosansky@ucar.edu

BOULDER -- Three middle-school students bested Denver meteorologist Mike Nelson (KUSA-TV) in a four-day, on-line forecasting contest that ended yesterday. The contestants challenged Nelson via an award- winning Web site designed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and collaborators. Winners will be recognized in Washington, D.C., at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science as part of the festivities for AAAS's National Public Science Day, February 17.

Colorado's variable weather led to rapid swings in the daily standings, but Jarret Winkelman (Ranch View Middle School, Highlands Ranch, Colorado) triumphed. He beat Nelson by four points (40 vs. 44 error points; see explanation below). Winkelman notes, "My grandpa was a meteorologist with the armed forces. I have always enjoyed watching clouds and discussing tornadoes and lightning with him." Right behind Winkelman was local winner Elizabeth Nelson (no relation to Mike Nelson) from Monarch K-8 School, Louisville, CO, with 41 points. "It was an exciting week," says Mike Nelson. "Forecasting in Colorado is a real challenge, as this contest demonstrates. I hope the kids had a good time and they have an appreciation for the difficulties of forecasting the weather in general and, in particular, for Colorado."

The on-line forecast contest was aimed at students in the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) but open to anyone born between 1986 and 1991. Nelson joined middle schoolers in predicting the weather on each day from February 8 to 11. Each participant forecasted highs and lows and gave a thumbs up or down for precipitation the following day at Denver International Airport (Denver's official recording site). The Friday forecast was for the following Monday, bringing a long- range component into the contest. Competitors received one error point for each degree they missed in predicting highs and lows and three error points for each incorrect "yes" or "no" forecast of precipitation.

Of more than 150 students taking part in the contest, six are being honored for their cumulative performance: three from within BVSD and three outside the district, including one competitor from Michigan. Six other participants from Colorado, Montana, and Connecticut will receive awards for obtaining the best scores on a given day. Each winner will receive an autographed copy of Mike Nelson's Colorado Weather Book and Jack Williams's USA TODAY Weather Book. The four-day winners will also receive a UCAR T-shirt, waist pack, or coffee mug.

Four-day competition, Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) winners

All winners in this category were from the eight-grade class of Jack Ganse, Monarch K-8 School, Louisville, CO

  • First place: Elizabeth Nelson (41 points)
  • Second place: J. Vetterling (46 points)
  • Third place: M. Stanton (51 points)

Four-day competition, non-BVSD winners

  • First place and overall winner: Jarret Winkelman (40 points), eighth grade, Ranch View Middle School, Highlands Ranch, CO
  • Second place: E. Davis (41 points), sixth grade, Olander Elementary School, Fort Collins, CO
  • Third place: D. Lawrenchuck (54 points), seventh grade, Riley Middle School, Livonia, MI

Best single-day forecasts

Wed. 2/9: K. Tucker (1 point) sixth grade, Sacajawea Middle School, Bozeman, MT
Thurs. 2/10 (tie, each with 1 point):

F. Ahmed and C. Warther, eighth grade, Monarch K-8, Louisville, CO

M. Mainella, seventh grade, Cromwell Middle School, Cromwell, CT
Fri. 2/11: C. Lutton (5 points), eighth grade, Monarch K-8 School, Louisville, CO
Mon. 2/14: R. Aguilar (8 points), eighth grade, Casey Middle School, Boulder, CO

The team behind Web Weather for Kids included participants from UCAR, the University of Colorado (CU) Science Discovery program, and BVSD. In January the new site received the first annual AAAS-Unisys Prize for Achievement in Online Science Education. The $10,000 prize money will go to CU Science Discovery to support ongoing collaboration in the Web site's expansion.

UCAR's ongoing role in the Web site design is made possible by Friends of UCAR, a giving program that supports science education. Tax-exempt contributions are welcome for UCAR's 40th-anniversary Friends campaign, the goal of which is to raise another $10,000 for Web Weather for Kids. UCAR is a consortium of more than 60 universities offering Ph.D.s in atmospheric and related sciences.

-The End-

See also:
Web Weather for Kids forecast contest page
Public Science Day 2000
Friends of UCAR

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The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) is a not-for-profit university membership consortium which carries out programs to benefit the atmospheric, oceanic, and related sciences. Among other activites, UCAR operates the National Center for Atmospheric Research with National Science Foundation sponsorship.

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