Weather, Or Not

Megan Seaman, St. Joseph Academy senior
While Megan Seaman's peers reached out to professionals in the area for St. Joseph Academy's junior job shadowing assignment, she had another idea. She wanted to observe a climate control research scientist. A fan of the movie Twister, she had always been interested in weather prediction.

She searched "climate control research" online and got two matches in Colorado and one in Wisconsin. All responded positively, but she chose the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. "They were the most enthusiastic," she says.

So in April, she flew to meet Clark Evans, a hurricane and severe storms meteorologist. He showed her the labs and computer stations where scientists research topics such as flood forecasting in Europe and the effect of storms on U.S. insurance rates. "I thought there would be a lot more hands-on research," Megan says, "but a lot of the scientists do most of their work on computers."

She was also surprised to learn that, unlike meteorologists on TV, most scientists at climate research centers hold Ph.D.s. "It takes a lot more research to predict weather patterns than it does to put on a two- or five-minute weather segment," she says.

Megan, however, found it quite cool to create her own weather forecast model — just like Betsy Kling does on Channel 3.

"It was a really good way to see if I'd be interested in a career in climate research," she says, though she's no longer sure it's for her. "I don't know if I want to be in school for that long."

Her father was shocked at how willing the centers were to have a high schooler follow them for three days. "I told Megan, 'What's wrong with just going to Lubrizol and just following a statistician?' " Spencer Seaman says. "It just proves you never know what you can get in life if you just ask for it."

Megan took these words to heart. In July, she went to Cornell to see what the life of an engineer is like.
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