This is the blog version of our iPoster for the 2020 Ocean Sciences Meeting. “Our” means the fun team consisting of Torge Martin, myself, Elin Darelius, Yasmin Appelhans — my #KitchenOceanography and science communication buddies! :-)
Torge is presenting the poster in San Diego today, but since none of us others could be there (and maybe you can’t see him present, either), here we go! (Or, alternatively, see it in all it’s glory as iPoster the way it’s meant to be)
Training students to communicate science
Why communicate science?
We believe that “science isn’t finished until it’s communicated”(Sir Mark Walport). Scientists have a moral obligation to society to not only answer scientific questions, but to make their findings available to the public, who funds the research in the first place.
Why train students?
By giving students the opportunity to talk in layperson’s language about concepts they are currently being taught, we are providing them with a learning strategy that helps them think about the concepts in a different way and better connect it to preexisting knowledge.
Talking about specialized topics to laypersons is a skill that students will utilize throughout their lives, whether as future researchers or teachers, politicians or citizens. Learning this skill already at university is beneficial for their career development.
Reaching any audience is easiest when the person reaching out has a good grasp of the interests, habits, life styles of that specific audience. For an audience of young adults, the most authentic narratives are thus told by students, “relatable heroes”. Even audiences that might not be intrinsically motivated to seek out content on ocean sciences can be reached with ocean education and outreach topics when met where they like to spend their time.
How to train the students?
We train Bachelor students in Climate Sciences in communicating with a lay audience in a clear and easy to understand, yet entertaining and engaging way. Mandatory, peer-reviewed course reports, for example on training cruises on research vessels, or on hands-on experimentation in fluid dynamics laboratories, are specifically written for the purpose of communicating science content as well as students’ enthusiasm and passion for the subject.
For different courses, different training concepts were used. For example, science journalist Dr. Yasmin Appelhans gave a presentation with practice opportunities plus feedback on finished products in a GFD class at GEOMAR.
Connecting on popular platforms
Why Social Media?
We use Social Media as a tool that enables communication with young audiences in a space they come to for entertainment and community. Rather than trying to establishing a profile and build a community of followers ourselves, we make use of guest posts on, and takeovers of, selected popular accounts. We thus reach a broad audience that might, once exposed, find themselves interested in the topics and might pursue that interest further on other channels, such as our blog. We discuss our experiences with this approach as well as chances and potential pitfalls.
What Social Media?
Instagram is the most frequently used social media platform in the age range of our students and target audience. We therefore use guest posts and takeovers on accounts that our target audience follows, for example
@nordicpolarsciences, made by and for Master- and PhD students in Nordic Polar Sciences at the University of Bergen.
@kieluni, the official account of Kiel University, Germany.
Another hugely successful platform in our target audience’s age range is Youtube, and movies are a way to elaborate in much more detail on science concepts. One example is the noteworthy collaboration with DoktorWissenschaft on bringing oceanographic phenomena to an audience of young viewers.
We also use blogs to
create a lasting archive of our social media outreach efforts on a platform we fully control
reach more traditionally-minded science audiences (e.g. colleagues, funders)
reach audiences we have already established on those platforms and that are hard to transfer to e.g. Instagram
In addition to guest posts, we use three blogs for slightly different reasons.
“Teaching Ocean Science” is hosted by GEOMAR’s OceanBlogs and was initiated by Torge Martin to document the project “Dry Theory to Juicy Reality” as well as other teaching innovations at GEOMAR, through blog posts written both by instructors and students.
“Adventures in Oceanography and Teaching” is Mirjam Glessmer’s blog where she gives science communication & education advice, especially focused on “kitchen oceanography”. Posts are mainly written by her. We use this blog to reach other ocean educators and share our experiences.
Most of our science stories are related to doing experiments in water tanks to simulate the ocean and atmosphere. Since the mathematical descriptions of ocean and atmosphere dynamics are difficult and unintuitive, we use those tank experiments to give students a tangible experience with the processes as well as the opportunity to manipulate conditions and get a better grasp of the matter at hand.
Within the project “Dry Theory to Juicy Reality”, students wrote science stories using very individual and unique approaches ranging from a diary style…
Strong west winds aren’t the best for traditional wave watching on the east coast, but we got beaches in places where we usually don’t have them! Pretty exciting, especially since I’m on a home office day (luckily the trains to work don’t run regularly because of the storm, so I got to squeeze in some beach time before work!).
Below, you see where the big storm drain runs into Kiel fjord. You might remember it, because it’s the one that the fluorescent dye tracer comes out of whenever the city’s heating systems leak. Except that usually there is a lot more water around here…
So this is a pretty unusual perspective!
Also walking underneath these bridges is usually not recommended.
But it’s pretty cool to see these familiar structures from a very different perspective!
Something I found super interesting about this picture is this little groove that has formed underneath the edge of the bridge. What it shows us is that it has rained a lot at a time when the water was already gone, because that’s how this groove got formed! if there was still water around when the rain ran off the bridge, a) any “impact” of drops would have been dampened a lot by hitting water and b) waves would have acted to remove the groove and shape the sea floor in whatever other way they liked. So fun to discover these things! A bit like playing detective :-D
Maybe rubber boots would have been more appropriate…
Definitely interesting perspectives from down here!
But: Breaking waves on the beach! That’s not something we see a lot around here!
And finally a better look at the obstacle these stilts are there to keep boats off of.
It’s definitely a very different experience to my usual walks along here!
For #CTDAppreciationDay, I am re-sharing a video that Sindre Skrede (find him on twitter or vimeo for many more exciting pictures and movies!) and I made in 2011 (!!).
I am still super proud of this work because I first narrated it in Norwegian (after only having lived in Norway for a couple of months and having started classes only after moving there! Scary stuff, but I did it!), and we only translated it to English afterwards. Also I think we did a great job there!
So I wanted to make a super cool advent calendar for my godson: One kitchen oceanography experiment every single day. But then he ended up falling in love with LEGO Hogwards. So what’s the best godmother in the world to do? Of course I packed 24 parcels of that instead (all nicely building upon each other, of course. Which means I had to build pretty much the whole thing in order to be able to pack it in a sensible way…).
Anyway. I still did the 24 days of #KitchenOceanography, and I will be sharing them, one by one, over the next 24 days, starting tomorrow! And I am super excited about it.
I don’t usually ask for this, but please tell your friends about it, share my posts, send out links. And then please also give me feedback so I can improve it for next year, when my godson will be given this, whether he likes it or not :-) And when I am also planning to publish this on paper, so it’s an actual gift (and it’ll be published so you can get your hands on it, too, if you like!)
Below are the details of how it’s going to work and what kind of equipment we’ll need (everything always both in German and English, as will be all the following 24 days!)
I feel so proud to have contributed to such a cool video! :-)
P.S.: Doktor Wissenschaft also has an Instagram profile which is totally worth checking out. He posts interesting physics, chemistry and biology facts in twice daily. And occasionally he includes cool ocean and climate facts, supplied by yours truly. If you have fascinating facts that should be featured on Doktor Wissenschaft, please feel free to let me know and I will happily forward them!
One of Doktor Wissenschaft’s facts on Instagram: “If all Antarctic ice did melt, sea level would rise by approximately 58 meters”
The other day I was thinking about fun experiments to do on a Birthday party for kids (won’t spoiler here whose kid that might be, and also, coincidentally, it was on Jenny’s Birthday! Happy Birthday, Jenny! :-)) and I realized I never posted the “burning soap bubbles”. Probably because I still can’t think of a good reason why it belongs on a blog on “adventures in teaching and oceanography”, but since I dug out the movies that my friend Dési made and narrated more than 2 years ago, and it’s fun to watch, (and also it’s much faster for me to google my blog for this experiment than to search for it on my phone if I ever need it again): here we go!
English short version of Dési’s narration: Take dish soap and mix it in water. Bubble lighter gas into the water to create bubbles. Take them up in your hand, bring a lighter close, and that’s it! It doesn’t get hot or anything, but it looks very impressive!
I love how below you see the sharp edges of where the bridge’s shadow makes it possible to look into the water, when it is impossible to see anything where the sky is being reflected. But you see the equally sharp edge of the reflection of the mountains on the other side where you can’t look into the water. Isn’t physics just amazing?
Also I don’t know what it is, but I really like this perspective on the bridge :-)
Here is a side-view camera plus the top view, both cameras rotating with the tank. The movie is sped up 20x so in about 22 seconds, you will have a good idea of what happens:
And here is the same movie in real time. Here you can really beautifully watch the plumes of dense water sinking to the bottom while the whole column is rotating.
One thing to avoid when running this experiment: Don’t put the ice cube too close to the side of the tank, otherwise it will get stuck there. I don’t know if it was surface tension keeping it so close to the wall or if, since it couldn’t rotate, it decided not to move at all, but in any case: If the ice cube is too close to the wall, it will get stuck. In our case, the dense water then sank down in the small gap between the sloped bottom and the wall of the tank (as you see in the picture below, which is looking under the sloping bottom towards the deep end of the tank).
You still see columns forming underneath the sloping bottom, but that wasn’t quite what we were aiming to do…