Category Archives: kitchen oceanography

New SERC “Teach the Earth” Activity on “Ocean Currents and Overflows”

One day in the office at the Geophysical Institute in Bergen last Friday, and for the first time in a long time I am writing a little bit of oceanography and tank experiments again: My colleague Stefanie Semper and I published a SERC “Teach the Earth” activity on “ocean currents and overflows”! This activity is based on Steffi’s research that we describe in our article for kids on “How warm Gulf Stream water sustains a cold underwater waterfall” (Semper et al., 2022).

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Finally published yesterday: “Student guides: supporting learning from laboratory experiments through across-course collaboration” by Daae et al. (2023)

A project near and dear to my heart is using the DIYnamics rotating tank experiments in across-course collaborations. “Older” students, who did experiments the previous year, are trained to then act as guides to “younger” students when they do experiments for the first time, thus lowering the threshold of engaging with equipment, acting as role models when it comes to experimentation, the way to talk about the experiments, and much more. The “younger” students appreciate the interaction, support, and guiding questions, the “older” students realize how much they learned in only a year and what an important role questions play in the learning process.

We started planning this project already before the pandemic, then ran the very first test with 3 paid “older” students in 2020, and then with both full courses, “older” and “younger” students, in 2021 (which is when I took the pictures in this blog post). Then in 2022, we made sure to evaluate the whole thing properly, and that is what, after we presented this project at several conferences already (for example this spring: poster here), is now finally published as

Daae, K., Årvik, A. D., Darelius, E., Glessmer, M. S. (2023). “Student guides: supporting learning from laboratory experiments through across-course collaboration”. Nordic Journal of STEM Education, Vol. 7 No. 1: full papers 2023, p 98-105, DOI: 10.5324/njsteme.v7i1.5093

You can download the pdf here (and you should, it’s a pretty cool project!).

24 days of #KitchenOceanography — now available as a book!

For all of you who know and love my “24 days of #KitchenOceanography” series (and for those who need to quickly look up what that was about and then fall in love with it ;-)) — you can now buy it as a book!

The book contains 24 easy experiments, embedded in the bigger context of the world ocean, that can be done using only common household items.

Remember, the 24 #KitchenOceanography experiments also work very well as an advent calendar!

A simple way to visualize how hydrostatic pressure increases with depth

I did this demo for my freediving club Active Divers (and if you aren’t following us on Insta yet, that’s what I am taking all these pretty pictures for!): 1.5l PET bottle with holes punched in every 2cm, then filled with water. Looks cool and works pretty well (except the second hole from the bottom up, which I punched in a part of the bottle’s wall that wasn’t vertical, so the resulting jet doesn’t come out horizontally in the beginning and messes up the picture. Should have thought that through before…).

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Denmark Strait overflow in a tank experiment

Since our Denmark Strait tank experiment from 2013 (see here in a post from 2014!) is still the one I refer to when I want to point to pictures of such an overflow experiment, I decided to do the experiment again to take new (and hopefully better) pictures. Three experiments later, I am not sure if the pictures are any better, but I tried…

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A #KitchenOceanography escape game for freedivers!

For the Christmas party of my freediving club, Active Divers, I made a freediving-themed #KitchenOceanography “escape game” (of sorts). If you are interested to use it for your own purposes, please feel free to contact me for detailed instructions and material lists etc!

This is how it went:

We formed teams with three players in each, and each team came up with a team name, which they wrote on the same cards that they would later also write their “code” on.

Then, everybody got written instructions for three tasks (download here in English or Swedish). Each of the tasks includes an experiment and in the end, one of three answers to a question must be chosen, which ultimately make out a winning code. I had prepared two “hints” for each of the experiments that people could have requested had they gotten stuck, but that did not happen. Clearly, next time we have to up the challenge!

The experiments are not chosen randomly, they all connect to freediving experiences that the Active Divers group had together, and were embedded in a story:

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Using coffee in a talk on kitchen oceanography

I have been a bit quiet on here recently, because I had so many exciting projects going on that I did not manage to document them in real time (well, not on here anyway, but partly on my Insta).

One of those projects is on #KitchenOceanography with coffee, where I have compiled a lot of interesting experiments into a postcard. And the postcards arrived yesterday! (Thanks, Vanja, for picking them up!)

My super cool new postcards in front of the first slide of my presentation, because I had to take a picture when they arrived and that was the only background available :-D

Juuust in time for the “Hammer talk” presentation that I was scheduled to give at the Geo department of the University of Oslo. Where — you guessed it — I invited people to play with coffee!

Lots of things happening in coffees everywhere!

And I was so excited to see how well people played, and how beautiful the stratifications turned out!

Diffusive layers formed by double-diffusive mixing in a milk-coffee mixture

Here is even an internal wave on the stratification!

Thanks for coming and for playing! :)

Molecular diffusion at different temperatures (involving tea bags and some convection)

I thought I had posted the picture below some time in winter already, but when I recently searched for it, I couldn’t find it. So either I didn’t post it, or I didn’t post any sensible search terms with it, in any case: It’s useless. So here we go again.

Below you see two tea bags that were placed into cold (left) and hot (right) water at the same time. On the left, the tea is sinking down in streaks, while at the same time on the right everything  is completely mixed through and through, showing how molecular diffusion depends on the temperature. Which is why we usually make hot tea.

Funnily enough, as I was about to write this blog post and had the picture already open on my laptop, I felt thirsty and decided to prepare a cold brew tea, which you see in the picture below. Here again you see the tea spreading from the tea bag, but it comes out in those plumes and only slowly diffuses throughout the whole carafe.

This would of course be easier to see had I chosen a white background, but since I am still so touched that my friends showed up at the train station with a flower and a flag on Friday, and also since this is literally the spot I put the tea down after I had prepared it, you get to enjoy a view of my flower and flag!

Also that fake flower on the left makes for really interesting reflections on the carafe. Especially the top two that are joint in the middle!

When you post pictures of your coffee on the Internet and end up in an oceanography textbook

When you post pictures of your* coffee on social media, the coolest things can happen!

Yesterday I got a copy of this Chinese oceanography textbook for pupils in the mail. It’s called 探海观澜:海洋观测的奥秘 (“watching waves and exploring the ocean: the secret of ocean observations” — how cool a title is that??) and it’s featuring a picture of diffusive layering in a coffee that I took! I am so excited! How awesome is it to see my coffee in a Chinese textbook? This will definitely come up as anecdotal evidence in all conversations about the usefulness and reach of science communication on social media from here on onwards!

Thank you, Zhiwu Chen, for reaching out and giving me this super cool opportunity! The book will definitely live in a place of honour among my oceanography-themed books! And I am very much intrigued about the context of the picture (I spot salt fingering and more double-diffusive mixing on the same page) and the rest of the book. I wish I could read Chinese!

*Actually, I think it was @chirinegramke‘s coffee and I just made her let it get cold because the layers were so cool and I wanted to take the picture ;-)

Can your favouite beverage tell you what your reseach as an ocean scientist should be on?

A “fortune teller” for #WorldOceanDay! What would you work on if you were an ocean scientist? And if you are an ocean scientist — are you doing the work you were destined for? ;-) Your favourite drink can give you the answer!

Click on the image below to download a printable .pdf, and find out!

I would really appreciate it if you could give me a 3-minute feedback (click here!) so I can improve future versions of the “fortune teller” as well as my science communication in general!