- Student Life
Sage Ridge School seventh grader and paleontology enthusiast Vera van der Linden ('26) can add film contest judge to her list of accomplishments.
She won the Mineral Monday 2019 Video Competition with a short video called "Fossil Fridays: Mosasaurus," which features a fossilized tooth of the ancient marine creature that lived about 65 million years ago.
Now, it's her turn to pick a winner after being invited to help judge this year's contest hosted by the University of Nevada, Reno. She encouraged anyone with an interest in earth science to submit entries by June 1 and added one piece of advice.
"You really got to love what you do," said Vera, who appreciates her Sage Ridge teachers for allowing her to focus school projects around paleontology or geology. "In doing so, you realize what you do want to do when you grow up—and what you don't—and all those areas in between."
Visits to the university's W.M. Keck Earth Science and Mineral Engineering Museum with her parents inspired her winning 2019 video. Her contest prize was a starring role in a Mineral Monday episode about the ichthyosaur with Garrett Barmore, Keck Museum curator. That episode won Best Nevada Film in the 2020 Sci-On! Film Festival.
"Vera has been wonderful to work with. Her experience as a Mineral Monday competition winner, her advanced video and illustration skills, and her love of earth sciences makes her the perfect judge for the current competition," said Jennifer Kent, a filmmaker for the university.
The winner will be announced July 15. The contest is open to people under the age of 18 with the exception of the "For the Love of Earth Science!" category. That option is for participants who are 8 years old or younger. More rules may be viewed at the contest website.
When she's not adding to her mineral and fossil collection, Vera enjoys swimming, cross country running and reading about Greek and Roman mythology. She's interested in engineering when she's older after seeing University of Nevada, Reno students use fossils to create material for airplanes.
"I loved it because it combined science and engineering and building things and fossils all in one," she said.
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