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Presenting the KiSOC at Kiel Week 2018

Extremely busy times around here — if you follow my Instagram, you know I’ve been travelling like crazy recently and the “Kiel” in @fascinocean_kiel has been sadly lacking… But: We’ve been up to exciting things! Both in Kiel, when I was there, and during my travels.

Here is a quick impression of how me and my team presented KiSOC during Kiel Week 2018. Kiel Week, for those who don’t know it, is a huuuge sailing event with an enormous party that lasts for 9 days. And that party is an excellent opportunity for some science communication!

Here is what our part of the exhibition looked like before it opened for the public (and before we got our very cool KiSOC-shirts, which you will see below):

Picture credits: David Hölscher

We did have posters up on the wall that were designed to be read even across tables with people doing science communication handcrafts and activities on them. On those posters we gave an overview over who we are, what we do, and then, how people can get involved. Either by following us on social media, or by joining #scicommchall, or by doing the activities we were presenting at Kiel Week.

And then, on the tables in front of the posters, we did offer a lot of different activities. For example on material sciences…

If you are interested in what kind of activities we offered, check out our @KiSOC_Kiel Instagram or Twitter! (Yes, we are very active on social media now! :-)) Most of the activities were developed as part of #SciCommChall, which you should definitely look into, too, if you haven’t heard about it yet… ;-)

And this deserves a special mention: Nena gave a brilliant presentation!

Thanks for the great work, everybody! It’s a pleasure to be working with you! :-)

My Instagram in May

Even though I started my Instagram @fascinocean_kiel mainly as a proof of concept thing that I wanted to do for one month only to be able to put it on my CV, it has now been active for three months and it’s still going strong. Why? Because it’s fun! And because it contributed to what I had hoped would happen: Getting the PhD students in my project to also try Instagram. There are so many new accounts being created and active!

We have the project itself as @kisoc_kiel, and then there are very cool accounts (listed in order of creation) by Sara Siebert @frauwissenschaft, Martina Kapitza @martina_kapitza, David Hölscher @hoelscher_arc, Nena Weiler @nena_weiler, and a couple more that I know are in the process of being launched that I will share as soon as they are active. Check them out, they provide a great peek into the projects and especially the people that make up the Kiel Science Outreach Campus! And it’s such a fun group of people to be on an Instagram journey with! :-)

Below the cut, mainly as my private archive, my May Instagram posts. I would strongly encourage you to look at them on the Instagram website (or, obviously, inside the app if you have it) because there are a couple cool movies in here that are now just screenshots, and also I didn’t copy all my awesome descriptions in, either. Plus if you don’t read German, Instagram has a translation function… ;-)

Continue reading My Instagram in May

#SciCommChall: 10 pictures to illustrate my work

As part of May’s #SciCommChall I am presenting a collection of 10 pictures that illustrate who I am and what I am working on, within and outside of my job. Enjoy :-)

1. This is where I work

This is my office. I love this space! Even though it is a small room, I am very lucky to have so much light and space for my plants and my posters and paintings, featuring (of course!) research ships, light houses, and jelly fish. Guess I can’t hide that I am an oceanographer through and through! :-) (And yes, there are puzzles in the bowl on the table. I also like to play…)

2. Another place I like to do work at

Despite having a great office, a lot of the creative work that I do as part of, or related to, my job does not happen in the office. It’s not always “creative work” in the sense that I will draw, but I get a lot of quality thinking, idea generation and broad background reading done when relaxing at the sea. And I definitely enjoy “taking work home” in this sense!

3. I see oceanography everywhere and need to share how ridiculously excited it makes me

The picture below isn’t an impressionist painting (although I am fond of art, too), it represents something that I am really passionate about: Observing the world around you and discovering physics, and specifically physical oceanography, everywhere. I can’t help seeing it, but I want other people to see it, too: In puddles or the sink, in rivers, lakes, the sea. Here you see pollen on the surface of the Kiel fjord and you can use this to deduct something about waves over the last couple of hours as well as ocean currents from it! (How? Check out the @fascinocean_kiel post on the topic).

4. Communicating science

I use several ways to communicate aspects of science that I am excited about. For example, I created the Instagram account @fascinocean_kiel, where I share daily pictures of water together with descriptions of what oceanographic phenomena you see in those pictures. Two years ago, I wrote a book called “Let’s go wave watching!“, where I point out all kinds of wave phenomena so parents can go wave watching with their kids. But I am also active in many other formats, all of which appear on this blog occasionally…

5. I’m a #DigitalScientist

Being close to water is very important to me. So much that I chose this selfie of me inside a “Strandkorb” over more formal portrait shots to illustrate an interview that I gave on Social Media Consultant Susanne Geu’s blog (link!) on being a #DigitalScientist. Since a large part of my job is related to using social media as a scientist, I was very excited about getting this opportunity to present myself! Also I really enjoy the opportunities that the web presents to communicate science in many different formats to many different people.

6. I like sharing my excitement

You saw this in the previous pictures already, but I love to share what I am excited about. Part of my job is the scientific coordination of the Kiel Science Outreach Campus (KiSOC), and in that role I develop and conduct workshops on science communication, specifically social media in science communication. Here you see me (on the left) with two PhD students, looking at Instagram on my phone, and me clearly gushing about my experiences with it. All part of implementing an exciting social media strategy for KiSOC, which will go live shortly…

Picture credit: Sara Siebert 

7. Designing learning opportunities

The second big part of my work revolves around creating informal learning opportunities, and I love doing this collaboratively. In the picture you see me and part of my team work on further improving the “energie:labor“, a school lab in which we have school classes visit us for a day to work on energy in the climate system with them. Here we brainstorm on how to better integrate all the different experiences the students make throughout the day in a final activity, and how to help them compile it into a take-home message that they will hopefully remember for a long time.

8. Running the school lab

In the “energie:labor”, students conduct experiments with me and my team to investigate different aspects of the climate system. They spend about half the day becoming experts on five different aspects, before they then come together into teams to combine their expertise and use it to explain things going on in a simple climate model. I really like how hands-on experiments complemented with the climate model give students an idea of how climate scientists work and where challenges might arise.

9. Hands-on experiments

Even though I am trained as an ocean modeller, what I love best are tank experiments. This is how I spend rainy weekends (or sunny ones, if there is something I really want to try) and I am trying to incorporate my expertise in how to use this kind of experiments in teaching in my day job. I just submitted an article on the process you see in the tank below, double-diffusive mixing.

10. And where are we going from here?

Actually, I have no idea. And as an example, below you see me and my sisters a loooong time ago, playing music at Ratzeburger Segelschule (where I used to work as sailing instructor for many years), to illustrate that there are things that have I have always been passionate about: Being in/on/near water. Doing creative things in one way or another. Working in a team. Leading. Instructing. Right now, all of this is combined in my job. Are there other ways these passions can be combined? For sure! For example when I finally fulfil my dream and live in my light house, from which I will watch the sea, create materials, run workshops, all related to oceanography scicomm.

If anyone has any good ideas how to get me there, I am all ears :-)

That’s me and my work in 10 pictures. People who know me, tell me: What aspects of me & my work that you find important did I miss? What pictures would you have chosen instead of the ones I chose? Which of those I chose did surprise you? I am really curious to get feedback on this! :-)

Interview: Mirjam as a #DigitalScientist (in german)

Remember my March #SciCommChall which resulted in me starting my scicomm Instagram account @fascinocean_kiel? Turns out that was a pretty successful move measured by metrics that I didn’t even think of before starting: After posting on that account for less than a month it had already gotten me an invitation for an interview on Susanne Geu’s blog. Since Susanne has a consultancy business for scientists’ online identities, I am pretty stoked to be featured as a role model #DigitalScientist!

Check out the interview here or below the cut (it’s in german, but if you ask nicely, I might provide a translation ;-))

Continue reading Interview: Mirjam as a #DigitalScientist (in german)

“Wimmelbild” of a research ship

Wanna know why I am drawing a research ship “Wimmelbild”*? Check out the blog post over at our #SciCommChall blog to find out why!

And while you are there, why not join us in our #SciCommChall? :-)

*In case you are wondering what the translation English of “Wimmelbild” might be: No idea how to properly translate it! Apparently they are used in the “I spy” books in the US, in “Where is Waldo?” in the UK, sometimes called “busy pictures”, sometimes called “look-and-see” pictures. How would you call something like this?

My April on Instagram

Yes, I have been slacking on the blogging front. But I’ve been very active somewhere else: On Instagram! My account @fascinocean_kiel has been updated almost daily over the last month (I did continue with my private March #SciCommChall), and that has been a great learning experience!

Here is a random list of things I learned in April:

  • A lot of people who like my posts do so because they are interested in Kiel. And for them to find my pictures, hashtags (#s) are super important. A lot more so than I thought! During April, most of my pictures got 40 “likes” or over. Usually my pictures are from Kiel fjord and thus tagged with Kiel, KielerFoerde, and other local tags. But then I went to Kühlungsborn for work and had a couple of — really pretty and interesting! — pictures from there, which I couldn’t tag the way I usually do, for obvious reasons. And those pictures did so much worse than pictures from Kiel! Even though I did include all the relevant oceanographic #s (like waves etc), the scicomm #s and the local Kühlungsborn #s. I guess this is what I aimed for by creating a german-speaking account that focusses on Kiel fjord, but I want to build on what I have and attract more people that really want the ocean scicomm bit, too, not just pretty pictures of Kiel fjord.
  • On that note: pictures are so much more important than texts! I guess I knew that one, too, and it comes with using Instagram as the channel of choice (rather than blogging, for example). But I still find it slightly shocking that pictures of nice sun rises with a bird in the foreground will get so many more “likes” than pictures of exciting oceanography accompanied by good texts!
  • I am assuming that only very few people actually read the texts I am writing (even thought they are an integral part of why I am running that Instagram account). I know for sure that three people on Instagram read everything I write and a couple more read occasionally, and then a handful of my friends read it on Facebook, and I hope that my parents do so either in this post or looking at the Instagram website. But that’s really not so many people compared to how much time it takes to write all that stuff!
  • Posting more than one picture at a time isn’t a good idea, people won’t actually pay attention to all of them equally. When I post more than one picture at a time, the “likes” I would typically get seem to get divided between the pictures posted at the same time.
  • Doing cool gifs to explain what’s going on isn’t as great an idea as I thought, either. I only tried this once, but a) you can’t post gifs on Instagram, you have to convert them to movies first, which makes the whole thing quite a hassle, b) it’s difficult for people to see the text as well as the gif simultaneously, so the gif has to either be self-explanatory or it won’t add much benefit, and c) I think I’ll stick to pictures and do the more in-depth explanations back here on my blog.
  • I’m getting a little bored with just posting water the way I’ve been doing for two months now (as in: open water in some kind of pretty picture). For example, I have nice pictures of latte macchiato and awesome flow patterns therein which don’t fit my vision of my Instagram account, but which I think are cool and interesting and which I want to share. Do you see these rows in the flow going down the slope of the glass below the inverse shoulder (no idea how you call that part of a glass?). How cool are those? And what is going on there? I really want to talk about this somewhere, so watch out for it on here! :-)

  • I also want to experiment more with the typical instagram-ing — describing my daily life as a scientist, using videos on stories, etc.. But that doesn’t fit with my vision for that account, either. So either I will need to start another account or work on expanding my vision to include all the stuff I would like to experiment with… But right now I am leaning towards more accounts and keeping this one the way it was set up, because …
  • I am very pleased with how me starting my Instagram did help my colleagues start experimenting with social media, and how the very distinct design choices I made for this account helped open up discussions of how Instagram can be used for a multitude of different purposes. More on that very soon :-)

Anyway, that’s all I can think of right now. All of April’s @fascinocean_kiel Instagram posts below the cut. Enjoy, and I’ll try to blog a little more during May! :-)

Continue reading My April on Instagram

Blogging hiatus. Or: If there was a law against blogging about oceanography, would you protest it?

Some of you have noticed that during January and February, I did not write a single blog post. The reason for that is that I was sick. Sick enough to not even want to take pictures of water for a while, and then still sick enough to take the pictures, but to only upload them to draft posts and not write the actual texts to go with that (even though in many cases that would only mean writing “look! how awesome!” or something like that).

Before I got really sick, I watched a couple of videos by one of my biggest and most awesome mentors, Marie Forleo. I always like her stuff and look forward to new videos every Tuesday, but this old one really hit a nerve with me. It’s about “burnout vs. time for a change”. Do yourself a favour and check it out:

Burnt Out vs. Time for a Change

In the video, Marie describes four “tests” that you can do to figure out whether you are burnt out (and urgently need a break from it all!) or whether it’s just time to move on and try something new. And two of those really resonated with me, and I’ll discuss them in my context:

  1. The law test. The law test is what motivated the title of this blog post. Marie suggests I ask myself: If there was a law against blogging, would I protest it? And in the beginning, when I was very sick, my response was that I would actually be hugely relieved if there was a law against science blogs because it would take such a weight off my shoulders if I never had to write about oceanography ever again, and nobody else was allowed to, either. This really scared me, because even though that was what I thought at the time, I knew that it was completely unlike me to think that thought. Because I love blogging, and even if I didn’t, I would totally protest because I believe that blogging has an important role in science communication. But I realised that I really urgently needed to take some time off of blogging and social media and scicomm in order to find back to “real me”.

2. Time off. This second rule is about asking yourself when you last had taken substantial time off from whatever you are doing. And I realised: Never. I’ve been blogging for almost four years, and doing all kinds of other scicomm, and it’s something that I’ve really enjoyed all this time. But every time I walk outside and see a puddle or a lake, a river or the ocean, I want to take pictures and write about what I am seeing. But at some point, without realising it, wanting to take pictures and write about them had become having to do it, and having to do it became a burden that killed all the joy that I have always felt doing it. And that that meant that I really urgently needed to take some time off of blogging and social media and scicomm in order to find back to “real me”.

Are you seeing the pattern here? I did, so I took some time off. First I planned to just be gone over New Year’s, but then I got sick and it turned into two months away from the blog. And I am glad I did take that time off, even though I started to feel the itch to come back a lot earlier, because now I am back, and I am rested and full of new energy and new ideas, and I am excited to be back! :-)

P.S.: There are two more tests, the “80/20 rule” on how 20% of work cause 80% of stress, and “Natural strength” on whether we spend most of our time doing what we are good at and what comes easily. But the first two had given me all I needed to know already, so I am just mentioning the other two for reasons of completeness. You should go check out the video!

P.P.S.: I wasn’t sure whether I was going to write about being sick, and about being sick of blogging, but when I was looking through my saved drafts earlier today and thought about whether I should post them back-dated to fill the gap in my blogging record, I decided that no, I would not. I will leave that gap to remind myself that sometimes it is absolutely necessary to take a break, and that a break is not failure, but an opportunity to come back relaxed and stronger and more joyful than ever before. And that next time I should take the break a lot earlier, long before I feel like there should be a law against doing things that I love doing!

My March on Instagram

My private #SciCommChall for March was to start a science communication Instagram account, fascinocean_kiel. I had a pretty clear idea of where I wanted to go with this account:

  • The target group are people who live close to Kiel fjord who I want to talk to about oceanographic phenomena you can spot when walking along Kiel fjord
  • For that, I wanted to post daily pictures of whatever is going on that day, plus short explanations in German
  • I wanted to do this as a proof of concept, to get an idea of the amount of work involved, and to get a feel for how many people you can reach organically with this kind of content; basically to build my portfolio as a science communicator.

This post is for all of you who are curious about

a) how that has been going (I will reflect on that below); or

b) what I have actually done on Instagram, since you don’t actually use the app.

So here we go! :-)

a) How Instagram is working for me (or, at least, the first couple of weeks)

My first impression after four weeks on Instagram: It’s fun! I thought it would be less work than writing a blogpost, but it’s actually not, it is just different. I have to take and select pictures a lot more carefully, crop them, sometimes put a filter on or something (except the green lakes — those were 100% real!), but now I have to think about relevant hashtags so people can find my posts…

And social media are really that, social. Through Instagram, I have connected with a lot of people who I only met through Instagram: On my very first day actively posting on Instagram, I have received an invitation to visit something really cool (will let you know when it’s not a big secret any more). Then, several people who I didn’t know before, messaged me to tell me they liked my “feed”. And then I got recommended for an interview about scientists and social media by someone I don’t even know! I am very impressed with the community on Instagram. And connection also works the other way round: I have found amazing science communicators on Instagram whose posts I look forward to reading every day, for example stories.of.a.scientist, science.sam, bakingsciencetraveller, and sci_wilson, just to name a few.

As for how many people I’ve been reaching (after less than a month on Instagram!): A picture typically get 30-40 “likes”. My best picture currently has 87 likes, but that’s a really awesome picture if I say so myself (see below). I think this picture performed so well for two reasons: because it’s a really cool picture, but also because it’s showing an exclusive view of my favourite restaurant in really really bad weather. I think that people recognized the spot and that I had an exclusive pic really helped.

Continue reading My March on Instagram

Are you following fascinocean_kiel on Instagram already? You definitely should!

fascinocean_kiel is my latest scicomm project — I am posting daily pictures from Kiel fjord together with a german description of some cool oceanography stuff you can see on the picture. But Instagram has a pretty good translator built in, and I am happy to translate any post if you leave me a comment with the picture you are interested in!

My latest post is the picture above: Here you can calculate the dominant wave length from the length of the pier and where waves are breaking through the floor boards of said pier. Storms are awesome when you are safely on land!

And below you can take a look at the whole fascinocean_kiel Instagram feed. See you over on Instagram? :-)