Forecast for the classroom
Mike Nelson loves dark and violent storms, and students at Glenwood Springs Elementary School love to hear him talk about those storms. Nelson, Denver’s KMGH News 7 weatherman, blew through the Roaring Fork Valley Friday like a cold front to talk high pressures, radiosondes and weather balloons with excited third-, fourth- and fifth-graders.With a booming TV voice reminiscent of the thunderstorms he adores, Nelson enchanted students with a story of his experience with some violent weather that inspired him to become a meteorologist.
“I just like watching storms,” so much so, he said, that when he was 7 years old living in Wisconsin, he got drenched standing in his bedroom window watching nasty weather blow in – weather so nasty, he and his family evacuated to the basement to ride out a nearby tornado. Nelson held up a radiosonde – the box attached to a weather balloon that measures the weather in the upper atmosphere in an attempt to locate the jet stream – and assured kids it’s not a toilet paper dispenser. Students laughed, but really smiled when Nelson modeled a deflated weather balloon – “U.S. government approved,” he said – like a model would strut a catwalk tantalizing a crowd with the latest fashions.
Nelson’s message: Weather is cool. But, he said, if kids want to be meteorologists when they grow up, the most important thing is to excel at science and math in school. “It takes a whole mess of math to be a meteorologist,” he said. But, while learning cool things about weather is all kinds of fun, Nelson said most kids he talks to want to know only one thing: “Are you gonna put us on TV?”
Well, of course. Nelson whipped out his “Kid Cam” – a mini camcorder – and taped the students waving and saying hello to Channel 7 viewers. Nelson also taped fifth-grader Gladys Villanueva and fourth-grader Laura McDermott presenting him with a certificate and the “world’s most irresistible” teddy bear, inspired by a bear given to President Teddy Roosevelt while he visited the Hotel Colorado nearly a century ago. The GSES students will appear on TV during Nelson’s 6 p.m. weathercast on Monday.
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