Category Archives: #SciCommChall

Using social media in science communication — the Kiel Science Outreach Campus shows how it’s done

One of the 2018 achievements that I feel most proud of is developing a social media strategy for the science communication research project Kiel Science Outreach Campus, and implementing it together with the project’s 11 PhD students plus a couple more colleagues who we “entrained” along the way. And now an article we wrote about the whole social media has just been published! (pdf of the article and a link to the full issue No 4 of the IPN Journal). Check it out, as well as our Twitter @KiSOC_Kiel and Instagram @KiSOC_Kiel — both lead to the project’s central social media, which in turn often link to our individual scicomm social media profiles.

Click image to reach pdf of article

A big Thank You to Sonja Taut for the super nice graphic design and print setting!

Cool podcast about oceanography! Also useful if you were looking to improve your German! ;-)

Just in case you have not listened to Ronja and Maxie’s podcast Treibholz yet, you definitely should! Ronja and Maxie are learning about oceanography and taking everyone along with them. Educational and entertaining to listen to!

And then I also got to be part of it last year, which was great fun! Check out the episodes that include interviews with me:

  • In the first one (actually their episode 15), we talk about what made me want to study oceanography, what drives the gulf stream, the importance of eddies in the ocean, and a lot more.
  • In the second one, we talk about my favourite topic: Double-diffusive mixing!

And then there are three advent specials, each approximately 10 minutes long, talking about being at sea on research cruises (1. Advent on why it’s awesome to be at sea, 2. Advent on what is being measured on oceanographic cruises, 3. Advent on what it’s like at sea).

And now I am eagerly awaiting the new and exciting stuff that will happen on Treibholz in 2019, looking forward to listening to more oceanography with Maxie and Ronja!

Dipping my toes into podcasting: “Treibholz” with Maxie and Ronja!

Last month I got the super exciting opportunity to participate in a podcast! Maxie and Ronja are running the oceanography podcast Treibholz (“driftwood”) and I got to be in it! Very exciting for someone who tends to speak extremely fast and prefers writing over public speaking. But I had a great experience, Maxie and Ronja and their producer Freerk made me feel super welcome and at ease, and chatting to them was so much fun!

Treibholz producer Freerk, Maxie, myself, and Ronja

Since Ronja and Maxie had tons of questions, and I don’t stop talking once I’ve started, we ended up with two full episodes as well as some “advent specials”.

In the first episode, we talk about what made me want to study oceanography, what drives the gulf stream, the importance of eddies in the ocean, and a lot more. Listen to it here (in German).

In the second episode, we talk about my favourite topic: Double-diffusive mixing! This episode isn’t online yet, but I will let you know once it is!

And then there are the advent specials, each approximately 10 minutes long, talking about being at sea on research cruises (1. Advent on why it’s awesome to be at sea, 2. Advent on what is being measured on oceanographic cruises, 3. Advent on what it’s like at sea). I’m not actually sure what else I talked about, but there is probably a fourth one coming!

Cute gift I got from Maxie and Ronja, featuring their cool postcard

Maxie and Ronja were such amazing hosts, not only being super well prepared for the interview in terms of what questions they had, but making sure there were food and drinks available and giving me a cute gift: a bag decorated with their new merchandise! They have these super cool postcards, asking “Do you like the sea?”. Well yes, I do! :-)

This week I am taking over @IAmScicomm!

You might think that I’d be busy enough with my visiting fellowship at the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research in Bergen this month, and you would be right.

However, I’ve always* wanted to take over one of the rotating Twitter accounts (You know? Those accounts that tweet about certain topics, but are being run by a different person every week. People follow it for the topic and get to see a new person’s view on things every week. A very cool thing when you want to be exposed to a lot more people than you usually are and that are all interested in that topic!). And when I signed up for it in spring, October still seemed so far away that it seemed to be a good idea to do it then.

So this week, I am curating @IAmScicomm! Which I am super excited about, although it is also kinda scary. 18.6k followers is a little different from my usual couple of hundred… Anyway, this is what I am proposing to talk about:

Come join the discussion! :-)

Last week I already did a similar thing already for @geoscitweeps.”Only” 4.6k followers were slightly less scary, and I had the super cool surface drifters to tweet about. @geoscitweeps is another really interesting account you should be following!

*Yes, ALWAYS. It was actually pretty much on top of my list when I started my private #scicommcall, only at that time there were no vacant weeks available that suited my schedule, so I put it off. But now here we are!

A #scicommbookforkids for #scicommchall

I hope by now you have heard about my pet project of the moment: #scicommchall! For #scicommchall, I give myself (and quite a few other people by now) monthly challenges related to trying out new science communication formats. And this month, we are doing science communication books for kids! (For more instructions, see #scicommchall’s post. And everybody is welcome to join!).

My book deals with learning to observe where the wind is coming from (English version at the end of this post, too).

I think it turned out quite nicely!

I did struggle a little with the very short format — only six pages inside the book, plus a cover — but quite liked the challenge of having to come to the point.

The flag on the cover, in case you were wondering, is that of my hometown Hamburg.

I hope this book is actually useful and fun for kids (I did include some kids’ humor, or at least I tried ;-))

And I know what I would include if I wasn’t too lazy to re-draw the images: A question about on which side of some kind of structure one would sit down if one wanted shelter from the wind. Bummer I forgot to include that!

Anyway, here is the download (German & English). Please let me know what you think, I’d love to get some feedback!

Click to download

Interview on #scicommchall! (in german)

I recently gave an interview on my current pet project, #scicommchall. The interview was done by Anne Weißschädel, and published on THE German website on science communication research and practice, Quite an honor!

I’m reprinting it here with permission:

Frau Gleßmer, für die #SciCommChall stellen Sie jeden Monat eine neue Herausforderung an Forschende, die ihre Wissenschaft kommunizieren möchten. Was ist Ihr Ziel für das Projekt?

Heutzutage müssen beinahe alle Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler in irgendeiner Form Wissenschaftskommunikation machen. Viele müssen daran aber erst herangeführt werden und es ist ihnen gar nicht bewusst, dass sie nicht von vorneherein auf ein bestimmtes Format oder eine bestimmte Zielgruppe festgelegt sind. Die #SciCommChall gibt einen niedrigschwelligen und spielerischen Impuls, jeden Monat ein neues Format auszuprobieren: Mein Forschungsthema in einem Bild oder meine Forschung in den 1.000 meist genutzten Wörtern. So kann man einerseits ein Format ausprobieren, auf das man vielleicht selbst nicht gekommen wäre und andererseits sehen, wie andere das Format interpretieren. Ich möchte damit spielerisch zum Austausch und Austesten anregen.

Wie sind Sie auf die Idee gekommen?

Ich habe als Ozeanografin schon früher Wissenschaftskommunikation gemacht. Dabei habe ich gemerkt, dass es Spaß macht, ab und zu mal ein neues Format auszuprobieren. Mit einem vollen Terminkalender macht man das aber nicht einfach so, ohne Anlass oder Deadline. Also habe ich mir selbst am Anfang jedes Monats ein Ziel gesetzt – zum Beispiel ein Gedicht über meine Forschung zu schreiben. Nach und nach wurden dann Freundinnen und Freunde und auch das Kollegium darauf aufmerksam und wollten mitmachen. Außerdem habe ich die Promovierenden am Kiel Science Outreach Campus (KiSOC) motiviert, sich zu beteiligen. So wächst das Netzwerk langsam. Wir freuen uns über jede und jeden, die mitmachen möchte: Einfach unseren Blog besuchen, eine E-Mail schicken oder @scicommchall auf Twitter oder Facebook folgen!

Wer macht mit und wie viele?

Das ist schwierig zu sagen, das Format ist ja noch neu und im Wachstum. Ich kriege nur mit, wenn Leute tatsächlich Produkte einreichen oder Feedback geben. Ich nehme an, dass es zusätzlich einige gibt, die sich einfach inspirieren lassen und dann vielleicht doch nichts einreichen. Unter den Einreichenden sind auch jeden Monat andere Leute. Zuerst habe ich mich stark darauf fokussiert, unsere Promovierenden zu motivieren und das Projekt dann nach und nach geöffnet.

Warum finden Sie es wichtig, dass die Promovierenden ihre Forschung kommunizieren?

Wissenschaftskommunikation ist ein Thema, das uns im KiSOC speziell am Herzen liegt. Nicht nur, weil es unser eigener Forschungsgegenstand ist, sondern auch, weil wir die Praxis verbessern und gerne mit gutem Beispiel vorangehen möchten. Pro Wissenschaftskommunikation gelten natürlich die typischen Argumente, etwa, dass wir mit öffentlichen Mitteln finanziert werden und dass gesellschaftliche Unterstützung und Teilhabe an der Forschung wünschenswert sind. Außerdem glaube ich, dass es auch der Forschung zu Gute kommt, wenn die Leute schon während der Promotion Wissenschaftskommunikation machen. Da bekommt man einen ganz anderen Blick auf das Feld. Abgesehen davon, dass es natürlich auch motiviert, wenn man Feedback von außen für seine Arbeit bekommt, und dass es Spaß bringt.

Wie ist die Resonanz aus der Community der Wissenschaftskommunikation?

Bisher gibt es nur vereinzeltes Feedback. Eine tolle Rückmeldung kam aber zum Beispiel von Sam Illingworth. Er arbeitet in Großbritannien und hat viel im Bereich Wissenschaftsgedichte gemacht. Als er dann bei uns angefragt hat, ob er eine Monatsaufgabe stellen darf, war das natürlich ein tolles Feedback. Die Oktoberchallenge kommt dann von ihm.

Haben Sie am KiSOC noch weitere Motivationsprojekte zur Wissenschaftskommunikation neben der #SciCommChall?

Ja, der Großteil unserer Promovierenden hat Instagram-Accounts, in denen es darum geht, den persönlichen Alltag in der Forschung darzustellen, und deren Highlights sammeln wir auf dem Account @kisoc_kiel. Dabei stellen wir beispielsweise vor, was wir inhaltlich machen und welche Methoden wir dafür anwenden. Das ist für uns intern ein wichtiges Projekt. Zwar haben wir noch nicht besonders viele Follower, aber wir haben es zum Beispiel geschafft, dass sich auch andere Kolleginnen und Kollegen am IPN, darunter auch eine Professorin, eigene Instagram-Accounts zugelegt haben und jetzt aktiv online Wissenschaftskommunikation machen. Der Impact ist also auf institutioneller Ebene da und wir stehen auch mit anderen Leibniz-Zentren in Kontakt, die uns einladen, um sie zu beraten. Wir erreichen so also unser eigenes Netzwerk und das ist für uns erfolgreich.

Guest post: Using seawater to make bread!

Last week I got one of the coolest emails I have ever received: Someone had found my blog while googling for the salt content of seawater in order to use it to make bread, and he sent me a couple of pictures the resulting bread! Of course, I asked if I could share it as a guest post on my blog, so here we go (Thanks, Martin Haswell, for this unique and inspiring contribution! See, everybody? Real-world impact of science blogging!):

Making bread using seawater

There is nothing like a challenge from your best friend, to do something that you’ve never done before but might just work. In my case, make bread using sea water.

My friend Mandy had brought me back from New York a copy of Jim Lahey’s book “My Bread”. Jim’s ‘no-knead’ method of bread making uses flour, water, salt (normally) and a tiny amount of yeast – and a lot of time, but no kneading. The dough is left for a long time to rise and is baked very very hot, and makes a tasty and crusty loaf.

Jim has a recipe in his book called  “Jones Beach Bread” in which he uses seawater instead of house water plus salt to make the dough. Knowing that we both used the ‘no-knead’ recipe and that I had access to a beach with clean water, Mandy challenged me to follow this recipe, and this is how it went.

Martin collecting seawater on the beach, far enough out to miss most of the turbidity

Martin collecting seawater on the beach, far enough out to miss most of the turbidity

Martin checking the seawater sample for sand or other impurities

Martin checking the seawater sample for sand or other impurities

Jim Lahey’s book “My Bread” that contains Jim’s 'no-knead' method of bread making used for the bread in this blog post

Jim Lahey’s book “My Bread” that contains Jim’s ‘no-knead’ method of bread making used for the bread in this blog post

Waiting for the bread to raise

Waiting for the bread to raise

The finished result! Doesn't it look delicious?

The finished result! Doesn’t it look delicious?

The bread tasted very good, crusty and tasty. I made two loaves, one with the seawater filtered through a coffee filter and the other with unfiltered seawater. Normally this recipe needs around 12-18 hours rising time but this took 28 hours for the two risings, but it is winter in southern Brasil (Florianópolis, on the coast) and the day temperature was only 72F (22°C) on the day of the experiment. It’s also possible that the greater proportion of salt might have hindered the development of the yeast and held back the rise. This wasn’t a very scientific experiment.

I calculated that Lahey’s original no-knead’ recipe calls for 8g salt to 300g of water which makes 26.66g per litre, whereas sea water (according to Mirjam’s 2013 blog is 35g/litre so this should mean that the sea bread loaf should be around 30% more salty than normal; if I’m honest, it didn’t tasty significantly more salty).

Further experiments: the obvious test would be a sea water loaf vs conventional made, risen and baked at the same time.


The Jones Beach in Jim’s recipe is the Jones Beach State Park on Long Island, New York State. The current water cleanliness data is here (PDF), scroll down for the Jones Beach SP results.

The beach that I collected my sea water from is currently ‘própria‘ but I wouldn’t collect after heavy rain (runoff) or heavy seas (turbidity).  As a safety precaution one could boil the sea water and let it cool just enough before using. In fact, when the weather is cold, that would be the best way of giving the bread a good start.

[note by Mirjam: I’ve done a super quick google search and it looks like typical salinities for the Florianopolis area can go down to 30-ish and thus be lower than the typical, open ocean value of 35, but during summer they might go up to 37 (Pereira et al., 2017) but in addition to the seasonal changes, your salinity probably depends very much on which beach you took the water sample at (for example if it was a lagoon-ish beach with a lot of freshwater runoff and not so much mixing with the open ocean). Since you collected the water fairly close to the beach and during winter, it’s likely that the salinity wasn’t quite as high as the 35 I mentioned (which would explain why the bread didn’t taste as salty as you might have expected). If you wanted to know the exact salinity next time you are making bread, an easy method to measure the salinity of sea water would be to boil a liter until all the water has evaporated and weigh the remaining salts. This isn’t very precise for oceanographer-standards, since some of the substances that oceanographers include in their measure of “salinity” in sea water at normal temperatures might actually evaporate with the water, but since the largest constituent of the “salt” in sea water is just normal NaCl, the mistake you’d be making is probably small enough for cooking purposes, and you’d get a general idea of how “typical” your sample is in terms of seawater salinity.]


Martin Haswell is an English photographer who loves travel and making bread.

The proof of concept phase is over! My Instagram in July, and what’s the plan now.

So what’s going on with my Instagram fascinocean_kiel? Plenty of things are changing!

In July, I stuck to the strategy I had developed for my private #scicommchall. But then in August I noticed that I was ready for a change, so that change happened!

Let me first remind you of how fascinocean_kiel was set up.

My goals with fascinocean_kiel were to

  1. extend my portfolio as science communicator to include Instagram (clearly achieved since I’ve been asked to give interviews and workshops on how to use Instagram for science communication purposes, and I have four solid months of scicomm Insta to show),
  2. establish a “proof of concept” of sorts: An Instagram profile that uses daily snapshots of something that isn’t possible to plan for 100% (in this case waves, but it might also be clouds or anything else you go out to observe without knowing exactly what to expect each day) but consistently points out interesting things specific to that day’s situation and explains different aspects every day, and in doing so target a specific, local audience in order to raise awareness of a very specific topic (so if anyone is looking for a science communicator to do this: I’ve proven that I am ready if a) your topic is something that I can get really excited about and b) you pay me for doing the work ;-)),
  3. provide an example of an Instagram profile to the PhD students in my project, who I was tasked with motivating to start science communication on social media (which worked beautifully: Check out the KiSOC_Kiel Instagram we are running for the project, and it links to all the different accounts of KiSOC PhDs and friends!).

So yes, even though I’m really happy with how things worked in the “proof of concept” phase, I am done with it now. For any science communication, it is really important that you not only have your goal, audience and message clear, but also that it fits with your lifestyle. And while snapping pictures of Kiel fjord every morning before work is fine while I am in Kiel, I am travelling too much for work to be as consistent as I would like for the purpose of the specific Instagram strategy described above (both because the regular Kiel fjord theme will have gaps, and also because during those gaps I am snapping pictures of water elsewhere that I also want to post!). But so over a longish period of time I’ve been thinking about where to go with fascinocean_kiel, in terms of goals, message, audience and also feasibility in my life and what I really enjoy.

And this is the new (and improved? What do you think?) fascinocean_kiel:

  • “Proof of concept” phase is over, and what is going on now and in the future will be disconnected from what went on until the end of July(-ish). Goals are different, audience is different, message is different, and that is fine!
  • Goal: This will not be a profile with the primary focus on establishing a good practice example for science communication any more. This will be my private creative outlet, and thus I will only post when I feel like it and not try to keep up a regular schedule (yep, I know that’s bad for the algorithm, but that’s fine), and I will post on whatever I fancy that moment.
  • Audience: I’ll be writing in English again, because the people that I want to reach with my posts and that I want to interact with are basically people who are my blog’s current audience (or people who haven’t found my blog yet, but are “similar” to my established readers): People with an interest in oceanography and/or teaching worldwide, not restricted to a german speaking community. I’ll also let go of the idea of specifically talking to a lay audience. I’ll try to still write in a way that you don’t need training in oceanography to follow, but I am now envisioning people like my friends Ib, Elin, Nena, Heiko, or my parents or sisters reading the posts, and I’ll be writing for them.
  • Message: Posts won’t contain a lot of information themselves (unless for some reason I feel like it that day), instead, they will be used to advertise new blog posts (which then will contain more text).
  • Feasibility: I am taking this from something that I do “for my job, but on my own time” and following the fairly restrictive design criteria described above to purely a creative outlet.

Phew, that actually takes SO MUCH pressure off me! Even though it has been a lot of fun to do all this fascinocean_kiel stuff, it has also been work! And I have enough other stuff that I do pro bono that, in the long run, I think will have a bigger impact. So goodbye, old fascinocean_kiel! It was fun, but here is to new challenges and new solutions! :-)

Oh, and you actually wanted to see the stuff I did in July, too? More below the cut…

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“Thing to figure out a lot of water” — can you explain your research using only the most common 1000 words?

Do you remember I started #SciCommChall, the science communication challenge, earlier this year? Once a month I challenge myself and everybody else who is interested in trying a fun new science communication thing.

Since I hadn’t tried the August #SciCommChall before challenging the world this morning, and had the chance to hang outdo some work on a research ship today (and thus took this picture), I had to give the challenge a shot right away. And I can only recommend you try it, too, it is SO MUCH FUN!

I went from “ocean” (not permitted) to “sea” (not permitted) to “big lake” (“lake” not permitted) to “big puddle” (“puddle” not permitted) to “a lot of water”. And then from “cable” to “rope”, “string”, “yarn”, “long thing”. I suspect that it’s a case of practice makes perfect and that it will get better next time I try. And I will definitely try again, because, as I said, it is SO MUCH FUN! :-)

How is this challenge working for you?

P.S.: If you want to know how we describe this thing if we can use more words than just those 1000, check out the brilliant movie that Sindre Skrede made 5 years ago already!

Making of my new book! Part 4: Proofs are here! :-)

Proofs are here! So exciting! :-) Here is a sneak peek:

I’m using “Books on Demand“, a german self-publishing company, to print my books. I have had really good experiences with them for my first book — I like the quality of the finished product, turn-around is fairly quick (and the one time I really really really needed a book to give it to someone on a deadline, I emailed and they made it happen). But still the process is a little daunting, because you have to take so many different decisions!

For example the size of the book. For both my books, I knew I wanted them to be quite small, so they could easily be packed into beach bags or wherever busy families pack the books that have to come on every excursion. Or the quality of the paper. Since both my books are aimed at kids, I wanted the pages to be of really good quality paper, and also I wanted the quality of the print to be really high for print. Then the binding. Hardcover? Paperback? Booklet? Ring binding? I went with hardcover for my first book, and then with booklet for the second. I really like hardcover books, but they are a lot more expensive and while for my first book, I felt like a price on the high side would maybe protect me from too much exposure*, this time round I feel like this is something that I want a lot of kids to have access to, so I went with the least expensive binding.

And yes, I messed up the cover AGAIN. Good thing I had a test copy printed…

The book was originally written in German and has already been translated to English. Any volunteers to translate it to more languages? ;-)

*stupid insecurities! But at least I got over that specific one, I guess?