Storm chaser visits Strawberry Park Elementary School to get students excited about science |

Storm chaser visits Strawberry Park Elementary School to get students excited about science

Scott Franz
Tim Lim, an engineer with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, holds a weather balloon Wednesday as Strawberry Park Elementary School students reach in to touch it.
Scott Franz

— Tim Lim had just barely opened the back of his diesel pickup Wednesday morning when he was mobbed by a group of excited elementary school students.

Two girls climbed a nearby parking sign to get a closer look at the weather balloon Lim was about to inflate.

Another pushed closer and closer to get a look.

“I want to see! I want to see!” a few of the children shouted.

Minutes later, the children kicked their heads back to watch the balloon disappear into the sky.

They would keep staring up at it for several minutes.

Then the questions started.

What if it hits an airplane?

How high is it going?

Can we get it back?

This was a good day for Lim, an engineer with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.

He got to take a break from the research he’s conducting out of a mobile lab in the parking lot of the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs and help inspire children.

“I need all of you guys to become scientists, mathematicians and engineers,” he told the group of students in a classroom at Strawberry Park Elementary School.

When he told the class he was a storm chaser, the children quickly started whispering to one another.

“I’ve flown into hurricanes,” Lim told them. “I also just spent six weeks doing research on a ship in the Indian Ocean.”

Sweet! Wow!

The children were impressed.

Outside, he let them look closely at the radiosonde that would travel way up in the sky to measure such things as temperature and wind speed.

As the balloon went up, he pulled up live data on a large television screen outside his truck.

“I wish I had all day to talk to you guys,” Lim said near the end of the lesson.

Lim is releasing weather balloons and doing a six-week research project in conjunction with the Storm Peak Laboratory, a place many local children have had a chance to visit.

He said he enjoys being able to do outreach while out in the field.

“It hopefully makes that connection that science is happening here and now,” he said.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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