BELLBROOK — Rachel Kahler has always been a weather nut.
As a kid she would give her family fake weather reports in her house.
“There was one time I was quoted as saying there was soccer-ball sized hail,” the Bellbrook High School sophomore said.
Little did she know that passion for atmospheric conditions could help her pay for college.
Kahler is heading to The Ohio State University today, March 31, to participate in the Buckeye Science and Engineering Fair with the hopes of qualifying for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, where more than $5 million is up for grabs. She was invited to the Buckeye fair by virtue of her superior rating at the district science fair held recently at Central State University. She received a perfect score of 40 for her project entitled “Martian Storm Severity Scale.” Kahler’s score also qualified her to the Ohio Academy of Science’s State Science Day in May.
It’s Kahler’s second trip to the engineering fair and her fourth to the state science day, first qualifying as a wide-eyed seventh grader.
“I’m really honored,” she said.
Qualifying this year is especially pleasing for Kahler because Martian storms are right in her wheelhouse.
“I’ve always been interested in weather,” the bubbly teen said. “This is the first year I really could explore my passion in weather and space.”
Her project, complete with a Powerpoint, explored the different types of dust storms on the little red planet and how — if at all — their severity can be classified.
Kahler used weather parameters, created a table with those parameters and obtained data to use for testing.
“Took a field trip to Mars,” she said with a giggle and ear-to-ear smile.
In reality, it was hours and hours of research and Earth-based experimentation that helped Kahler come up with a one-of-a kind classification scale that works.
“I found a lot of things checked out,” she said. “It was a lot of little trial and errors.”
Kahler firmly believes that humans some day will set foot on other planets and storm knowledge is key.
“We’re definitely moving toward manned exploration,” Kahler said. “Mars is one place we’re going to be going next. There is no way to predict (weather) on Mars.”
Kahler is writing a technical paper on her findings and is considering submitting it to several places. She is also pondering contacting NASA to see what it has on record for Mars. Regardless, this project won’t be a one-and-done like her previous projects. Kahler wants to keep working on the scale, which was inspired by Ted Fujita, who created the rating system used on tornadoes.
Call this one the K-Scale.
“That would be really cool,” Kahler said.
The project has, and will continue to dominate her time, which is limited already because of a heavy class load and her participation in cross country in the fall and track and field in the spring.
“You could consider science fair my winter sport,” Kahler said. “It’s a lot of work just getting everything done. (But) I feel like in the end it’s worth it.”
Especially if it helps her get to college.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.