April 13, 2015 | Download PDF

Trio win Nebraska Science Festival’s inaugural essay contest

Three Nebraska students were recognized in the Nebraska Science Festival’s inaugural essay contest.  The 2015 winners are:

  • Nicholas Kopetzky of Omaha, homeschool
  • Michael Langdon of Omaha, Spencer Street Academy (homeschool)
  • Dalton Van Stratten of Fort Calhoun, Blair High School

The winning essays – each related to the students’ interest in weather/meteorology – have earned them the opportunity to meet this year’s Nebraska Science Festival keynote speaker, Reed Timmer, a meteorologist and extreme storm chaser. Timmer kicked off the Festival on April 10 with a keynote presentation at the Joslyn Museum. Tickets are required for the keynote, but the public is invited to view Timmer’s storm chasing vehicle, the Dominator, for free in the Joslyn parking lot from noon to 10 p.m. 

The third annual Nebraska Science Festival, presented by the University of Nebraska Medical Center, runs through April 18 in communities across the state.  For a full schedule, visit www.nescifest.com.

In his essay, Kopetzky said all types of weather, particularly severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, fascinate him. He hopes to go into meteorology and advance longer-term prediction capabilities. He also wants to uncover the reasons that tornadoes form at specific places, at specific times and what causes their unpredictable behavior once they touch down.

Van Stratten has always been drawn to weather radar technology and enjoys observing the three-dimensional aspect of storms. He also has a fascination with aviation weather. He, too, hopes to improve technology to provide earlier and more precise weather alerts to the public.

Each storm season, Langdon scans the skies, checks the radar and takes countless weather photos. Last fall, Langdon, his dad and sister viewed some “cool cloud formations” during an afternoon storm chase. His ultimate dream? To see a tornado in the field, he said.

The Nebraska Science Festival is a collaboration of organizations and individuals interested in the advancement of science literacy. The Science Festival is designed to make science accessible, interactive, relevant and fun for kids and adults alike. In addition to UNMC, other sponsors, to date, include Nebraska Medicine, the Nebraska Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, Metro Credit Union, HDR, West Corporation and media sponsors KETV and the Omaha World-Herald.

For the full schedule of SciFest activities and participating sites, visit us on the web: www.nescifest.com. For additional info and updates, visit us on Twitter (@NESciFest) or Facebook (NE SciFest).