NWS Des Moines Participates in the Girls in Science Festival

For the second year in a row, the NWS DMX has participated in the Girls in Science Festival held annually at the Science Center of Iowa. The goal of the festival is for girls of all ages to explore a variety of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers and connect with female role models and mentors. It is one of several STEM events held throughout the year for girls to meet successful women scientists and be encouraged to pursue STEM careers.

This year Senior Meteorologist Mindy Beerends and 3 female ISU Meteorology students teamed together to staff the NWS booth at the event. Several different science experiments were available for the girls to learn about the weather and the role science plays in everyday weather phenomena. Girls were able to see how clouds hold water and then make rain when they become filled with too much water by using a glass filled with water, a shaving cream cloud, and then additional food-colored water was added. When the shaving cream cloud could no longer hold the additional water, the colored water rained down beneath the shaving cream cloud. Another experiment involved girls learning about how the rotation of the earth causes a curvature in the winds known as the Coriolis Effect. This force causes objects such as the wind to be deflected toward the right in the northern hemisphere, and toward the left in the southern hemisphere. Girls also learned about evaporative cooling effects and the wind chill by using hand sanitizer and a fan blown on their hands.

Several little budding scientists had fun with all the experiments and really enjoyed making the clouds and rain; a few artists were noted as well using the colored water! Meteorology as a career was also highlighted when Mindy gave a presentation in a breakout session discussing her journey to becoming a STEM professional. Her presentation discussed how she became interested in weather, how she chose where to go to school, and how she started her career in the NWS. Additionally the girls learned what a meteorologist in the NWS does, and what specialty STEM careers are available in the NWS such as a hurricane specialist flying through hurricanes to help with the forecast and tracking, or an incident meteorologist forecasting weather conditions for wild fires while being stationed at the firefighter camp of the wild fire. Hopefully many of the girls attending were able to continue their interests in science, and be inspired to pursue a STEM career.


Blog post by Mindy Beerends, Lead Forecaster