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Not an infographic, not SciArt, yet strangely satisfying: I drew my CV :-)

I’ve recently become interested in making infographics for science communication purposes. As in: I’ve been wanting to learn how to do it, but I’ve never gotten around to actually do it. So when I was asked for a one-slide CV the other day, I thought great! Let’s make it an infographic! Two birds, one stone: I get to try out something new for my #SciCommChallenge, and I end up with a cool CV. So today I will tell you the story of how that CV came to be.

First, I started out brainstorming what I wanted to include in the infographic, and what kinds of icons I could use to visualise my skills and expertise with. I quickly ended up with the idea of using a time line that wasn’t linear, but rather organised around the different cities I had lived in for my studies, my Master thesis, my PhD thesis, my PostDoc, my job post PostDoc, and the PostDoc position I am currently on.

When I started sketching, I realised that it would be very difficult to a) come up with ideas for simple icons that showed “physical oceanography”, “mentoring”, or “goal orientation”, and b) to either find those icons online (in c) a style that I liked and d) freely available). Plus I didn’t have a graphics software available beyond PowerPoint. So the idea of sketching the whole thing seemed attractive.

I quite liked the sketch above in pen because it gave me a lot of flexibility with my less-abstract icons, but I wanted some color. So I settled on the design below, now in pencil:

This design I then filled in in water color. That was the first time since 2003 that I had used water colors (as I could see from the top sheet of my sketch pad, which was dated), and despite being a little apprehensive about it, it went quite well (if I say so myself).

So this is the finished product:

That picture was taken on my couch with really bad lighting, but I like how it turned out with the warm background of the paper. I also scanned the CV the next day, but it came out really weird, so I decided to stick with the photo.

The whole process of drawing this CV was really interesting to me.

For example, I had a drawing of a light house in the CV right from the very first sketch. For a while I didn’t really know what to do with it — I really liked it in the picture, but it didn’t seem to serve any purpose. Yes, I want to live in a light house eventually, but how was that relevant for a CV that was supposed to highlight skills and achievements? Until it occurred to me: The light house does actually reveal a lot about me: That I am really goal-oriented. I didn’t even realise it, but my goal-orientation had been on my CV all along, and that had been important to me without me being able to verbalise why! But now that I consciously included it, it all fell into place.

Or the process of drawing those goblets below the time line, for when I won a scholarship and a fellowship. Is it over the top to draw them like I won the world cup (or the Triwizard Cup)? Maybe. But it’s probably the first time ever that I have acknowledged to myself that both were achievements that I can actually be proud of.

I like how the theme of research ships, sailing ships, light houses dominates the whole CV. When I look at it, I feel like it represents me very well, like it captures my “why”, and creating it felt like things were falling into place. And even though I did not submit that CV in the end, to me, the whole process was definitely worthwhile and empowering.

And it definitely motivated to draw more. Stay tuned for some really cool SciArt to come as soon as I have found a good way to digitalize it! :-)

Melting ice cubes experiment — observing the finer details

If you don’t know my favourite experiment for practically all purposes yet (Introduction to experimenting? Check! Thermohaline circulation? Check! Lab safety? Check! Scientific process? Check! And the list goes on and on…), check it out here. (Seriously, of you don’t recognize the experiment from the picture below, you need to read up on it, it’s awesome! :-))

dyed_ice_cubes_02

Susann and I got funding from PerLe (our university’s project to support teaching innovation) to add a couple of cool new features to Susann’s “intro to meteorology” lecture, and doing a hands-on experiment with 50 students in a lecture theatre in their second lecture was only one of the first of many more to come.

We used the experiment to introduce the students to oceanic circulation, and this experiment is, in my experience, very engaging and sparks curiosity, as well as being very nicely suited as a reminder that things are not as easy as they seem to be when you see those nice plots of the great conveyor belt and all the other simplified plots that you typically see in intro-level lectures. Especially understanding that there are many different processes at play simultaneously, and that they have different orders of magnitude and might act in different directions helps counteract the oversimplified views of the climate system that might otherwise be formed.

I usually use dye to make it easier to observe what’s going on in the experiment (either by freezing it directly into the ice cubes as shown in the picture on top of this blog post, or by dripping it onto the melting ice cubes when students have started to observe that — counter to their intuition — the ice cube in the fresh water cup is melting faster than the one in the salt water cup).  We had dye at hand, but I decided on the spur of the moment to not use it, because the students were already focussing on other, more subtle, aspects that the dye would only distract from:

The shape of the ice cubes

In many of the student groups, the most prominent observation was that the shape of the melting ice cubes was very different in the fresh water and salt water case. In the fresh water case, the ice cube melted from the sides inwards: as a cylindrical shape with a radius that was decreasing over time, but in any instance more or less constant for all depths. In the salt water case, however, the ice cube melted upwards: The top did not melt very much at all, but the deeper down you looked the more was melting away. Why?

Condensation on the sides of the cup

Another observation that I prompted was in what regions the cups showed condensation. In the fresh water case, there was a little condensation going on everywhere below the water line, and sometimes there were vertical streaks down from where the ice cube was touching the wall. In the salt water case, there was only a small band of intense condensation close to the water level.

This, not surprisingly, looks very similar to what a thermal imaging camera sees when observing the experiment (as described in this post).

screen-shot-2017-06-11-at-17-12-55

Taken together, those two observations are quite powerful in explaining what is going on, and it seemed to be a fun challenge for the students to figure out why there was condensation on the outside of the cups in the first place (does condensation occur in warmer or colder places?), what it meant that different places ended up being warmer or colder, and how all of that is connected to global ocean circulation. Definitely an experiment I would recommend you do! :-)

Seeing is believing — A #scipoem

Seeing is believing

Climate change communication
Needs a good vis’alization
Political protesters and
politicians should best be shunned
to avoid defens’ve reaction’.

Show behaviour in relation:
not one car, but road congestion.
action’ble steps that can confront
Climate change…

Use real people’s real emotion
unfamiliar, thought-provoking.
Not overwhelmed, but rather stunned,
that’s how people best understand
unconscious habits’ implication’.
Climate change…

*This poem is a „rondeau”, and it is based on the findings in the “Climate Visuals – 7 Key Principles for Visual Climate Change Communication” report (http://climateoutreach.org/resources/visual-climate-change-communication/)

A #SciPoem about sitting on a rotating tank all day long

Are you following our updates from the 13-m-diameter pool on a merry-go-round? If not, you definitely should! Because it is super exciting, but also because this poem will make a lot more sense then…

A Coriolis Rondel
Turning and turning and turning
All day on a merry-go-round
Spinning, free from the solid ground
Isn’t that ev’ry child’s yearning?

Some people’s stomachs start churning
Solid ground, seems so much more sound
Turning and turning and turning
All day on a merry-go-round

Fluid dynamics, exploring
Ocean currents’ driver, be found
Theory developed on that ground
All day, because we love learning
Turning and turning and turning

More about this research: Go check out our blog from the 13-m-diameter rotating tank in Grenoble!

“What’s the weirdest thing that has happened to you in your line of work?” and other fun questions in our “ask me anything!” event HAPPENING NOW!

Come ask us anything on here, on the #OceanAMA, on reddit! :-)

Or tell us about the weirdest thing that has happened to YOU in your line of work!

“A brief history of climate in the Nordic Seas” — A #scipoem

A brief history of climate in the Nordic Seas*

Understanding of climate change
explaining a record’s full range
playing the cause-and-effect game
needs a closed, mechanistic frame

data: proxies or direct obs
predicted future poses probs
relationship is not the same:
needs a closed, mechanistic frame

mechanism seems to differ
Gulf Stream currently seems stiffer
than in future or past, we claim,
needs a closed, mechanistic frame

Understanding of climate change
needs a closed, mechanistic frame

*based on an article by Eldevik et al. (2014). Form is a “kyrielle sonett”

Let’s guess tides!

Actually, there is no need to guess. If you tilt your head 45 degrees to the left, you are looking at Hamburg the way it would be shown on a map, North up. The Elbe river, which you see in the foreground, flows east-to-west into the North Sea. And now there are at least two spots in the image below where you can see fronts in the water, more turbid water in the main river bed, clearer water in side arms and bays. Those fronts always start at upstream headlands and go downstream from there, therefore it must be ebb tide, with the water going out into the North Sea. Easy peasy :-)


Funny how “upstream” and “downstream” make so little sense in a tidal river, yet everybody knows what I mean…

Would be interesting to see if you can see fronts when the tide is coming in, too, when the muddy river water is pushed into the more stagnant side arms and bays. I expect so but don’t actually know. Maybe I will be able to observe it on some future flight?

Greenhouse Gases — A #SciPoem

Greenhouse Gases

Air around us: full of water
Vapour, clouds or rain
Warmer air holds
more. A feedback.

CO2 belongs in the air
Volcanoes or
Breathing cattle
Not burnt fossils

Natural sources for methane
Ampl’fied by us:
Farting cattle
Agriculture

Soil cultivation produces
nitrous oxide
Fertilizers
Burnt biomass

Chlorofluorocarbons are
synthetic stuff
industrial
reg’lated now

Those five main components changing
concentration
radiation
Changing climate

Thumb wrestling, “Offshore”, and other simulation games

“Ready? Set! Aaaaand go!” was the command given at the start of a thumb wrestling war. In every pair of workshop participants, thumbs were being twisted, squeezed, freed again. We were given only 30 seconds to win! And then the time was over. “Who got how many points? Anybody more than 10?”. Nope. Most people only had about three. Which, turns out, was because none of us had listened to the instructions given in the beginning: We had been told to play thumb wrestling, but with the instruction to make as many points as possible. NOT to win against the person we were playing with. So the best strategy would have been to just very quickly tap on the other person’s thumb, maybe taking turns, but definitely not to twist, wriggle, squeeze and waste time fighting! Ooooops.

This is how our very busy — but also very exciting — phase at the energie:labor continued. Yesterday, we hosted Klaus Masch, creator of the simulation game “Offshore” (all of the materials for this game are online here), who gave a workshop on the theory behind simulation games and how to implement them in teaching. And since we learn best by doing and then reflecting about it (the equation for this, we learned, is DExR=L, which I remember without looking at my notes, which are on my desk at work while I am home on my sofa. DE being Direct Experience, R reflection, and L learning. And since learning is the product of DE and R, both have to be bigger than zero for learning to occur…  (Or, technically, unequal to zero and of the same sign, but maybe the both-negative case doesn’t apply here ;-)) See, it left quite an impression!), we got to play the simulation game ourselves.

Now. Everybody who knows me in person knows I HATE playing any kind of games. Hate it with a passion. But since I had read so much about the benefits of simulation games in teaching, I really wanted to try it in order to get a better idea on whether I should get over myself and offer one as part of energie:labor. And I have to say, I am a convert.

In Offshore, students discuss the possible investment of their city into an offshore wind park as reaction to the political decision to quit nuclear power all throughout Germany. They research and adopt the roles of different stakeholders (the mayor, the city council, an investment banking firm, the people building the wind park, scientists, environmental groups) and debate risks and benefits. For us, that meant starting research before lunch, already in our roles, staying in the roles over our lunch breaks (which included lots of negotiations and bilateral conversations already!), doing some more research after, and then, finally, debating in the official debate. I got to play a double role: A student at the Institute of Applied Marine Science who is also active in the environmental group Save the Ocean. In a way, that role was probably the easiest of all: I had clear instructions that I was definitely against the project, so I could just be against everything but didn’t have to offer alternatives. All other roles had more balanced roles: Of course the investment people wanted to make as much money as possible from the project, but the role of my boss, for example, a professor in Applied Marine Sciences, was instructed to consider marine protection, but there was still room to interpret that in different ways.

Since Offshore is a frame game, it is quite easily adapted to different situations. One of our participants, for example, could only join after lunch. So a new role, the journalist, was invented for him and he was included in our simulation right away.

Participants in the workshop were all related to the energie:labor or KiFo in some way: Either having previously worked there, or currently working there with student projects or Master theses, or a visiting friend from the University of Applied Sciences who is involved in running their own energy lab that we cooperate with. That was great for me: Now future discussions on whether and how to use a simulation game for the energie:labor can refer to this common experience of playing together for a day, and getting so many useful tips and tricks along the way!

There were also so many useful micro teaching things going on that we can pick and choose from in other contexts, too. Below, for example, you see three participants holding hands: The one drawing on the flip chart has his eyes closed, while both others have their eyes open. And the left person has to guide the pen — through the other two! This, of course, causes a time lag between a signal going out and resulting in something on the paper, which sometimes makes it difficult to navigate the pen. Which is a great simulation of any complex system with a time lagged response: Any action you take doesn’t have visible effects right away, so it’s easy to over-correct and cause a mess just by being to fast in responding on the changes you (don’t) see that were caused by previous actions.

To get back to the thumb-wrestling in the beginning: That micro simulation game is one I, or any of the other participants, for that matter, will never forget. It was a very bold and impressive reminder that collaboration should be the first impulse rather than assuming that every situation, every game is about playing against someone. Maybe that’s what won me over to playing?

This was a really useful workshop, and I highly recommend both the instructor and the game! Thank you all for participating and thanks to our wonderful instructor! :-)

“Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal”: A #SciPoem

“Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal”

This quote’s source: the IPCC
On what in total ninety-sev’n
Percent of scientists agree
The evidence of climate change

Risen by more than one degree
The av’rage surface temperature
Since anno nineteenhundr’d. See?
The evidence of climate change

The oceans have absorbed some heat
And have become a lot warmer
Espec’lly in the surface sheet
The evidence of climate change

Combined, four-hundred k-m-square
In Greenland and Antarctica
Of ice did melt, flowed off somewhere
The evidence of climate change

And everywhere around the sphere
Glaciers are retreating. Andes,
Himalayas and everywhere
The evidence of climate change

Satellite observations show
Northern Hemisphere snow cover
Was much more five decades ago
The evidence of climate change

Sea levels rising by the flow
Accumulated in the sea
Of all that melting ice and snow
The evidence of climate change

Not changing levels of the sea
But its own area and height
Arct’c sea ice declines rapidly
The evidence of climate change

Intense rainfalls destroy down streams
Temperatures are at record highs
The weather reaching new extremes
The evidence of climate change

Getting sourer through and through
Ocean waters acidify
When oceans absorb CO2
The evidence of climate change