Category Archives: Uncategorized

Solid body rotation

Several of my friends were planning on teaching with DIYnamics rotating tables right now. Unfortunately, that’s currently impossible. Fortunately, though, I have one at home and enjoy playing with it enough that I’m

  1. Playing with it
  2. Making videos of me playing with it
  3. Putting the videos on the internet
  4. Going to do video calls with my friends’ classes, so that the students can at least “remote control” the hands-on experiments they were supposed to be doing themselves.

Here is me introducing the setup:

Today, I want to share a video I filmed the spinup of a tank until it reaches solid body rotation. To be clear: This is not a polished, stand-alone teaching video. It’s me rambling while playing. It’s supposed to give students an initial idea of an experiment we’ll be doing together during a video call, and that they’ll be discussing in much more depth in class. Watching a tank until it reaches olid body rotation is probably the most boding tank experiment ever done, but understanding the concept of solid body rotation and why we need it in tank experiments is the foundation of everything we do on a rotating tank. So here we go!

Behind the scenes of the #KitchenOceanography article published in SCIENCE NOTES Magazin

Recently I had the privilege to work with photographer David Carrenon Hansen on pictures for an article that was published in SCIENCE NOTES Magazin today. This issue of the mono thematic, german science communication magazine is on “the sea”. And obviously, if you can’t be at, on, in the sea, you have to recreate it in your own kitchen — enter #KitchenOceanography!

It was quite an experience to see how a professional photographer interprets the experiments I routinely just snap pictures of with my phone, so here are some impressions! (All pictures are mine. Which is quite obvious when you compare them with the professional pictures that were published in SCIENCE NOTES Magazin, but just so you are aware…)

First time the photographer David and I met up, we just did — I don’t actually know what. Not what I was expecting needed to happen, anyway. For example, we looked at dummies (plastic ice cubes and some freezer frost to stand in for freshwater and salt water ice) on a plexiglass pane lit from below. Which looks quite fun! But this is not how I usually do kitchen oceanography!

Speaking of cultures clashing, this is the next thing that happened: test runs on the “eddy in a jar” experiment. I would never have stirred the jar with a power drill! But it definitely looks interesting with the large vortex.

Next time we met up, things were a bit more like what I had expected. Even though I had NO IDEA how long time it takes to fiddle with the lights and camera settings and what have you if you want to have artistically pleasing images rather than ones that just show the physics. Here, for example, is my overturning experiment.

This picture always makes me want to say “Schwester, Tupfer!” since it reminds me so much of what (I imagine) a surgery might look like with the green backdrop and the lights…

It’s funny to see my little overturning tank set into scene like this. Not what it is used to! (It’s the same one I’ve been using for decades, everywhere from primary schools to university teaching, but never this carefully lit!).

And I have to admit, it brings out features of the flow quite nicely!

And I love the reflection at the surface below!

This is what it looks like when David takes pictures.

And here is the setting.

Also interesting: At this point I would have long aborted the experiment, because for my taste colors were way too mixed to clearly distinguish the flow pattern that I want to highlight. But clearly that’s really when it starts being of artistic interest!

Still on the same setup…

New setup, showing pretty things — but not what I want to show. Here the dye wasn’t dripped on the cooling pad as I would have done it, but rather squirted diagonally into the tank.

But here is the one thing that always makes me happy: Salt fingers!

Curious about the actual pictures David took of the experiments? Then check out SCIENCE NOTES Magazin! :-) And curious about the experiments themselves? Here are my instructions (in german).


Recap of last week’s posts on my #WaveWatching Instagram @fascinocean_kiel!

Starting off with two newts, because sometimes I actually look at stuff in the water, not just the waves on top ;-)

As much as I love being in Hamburg, especially with my job taking me to the heart of the city, it always just makes me super happy to be back home in Kiel!

…and then I looked at waterfalls in Lüneburg!

All in all not the most active wave watching week for me; too much life stuff going on. But things will get better again! :-)

Telling ocean science stories on social media

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?

Better learning

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.

Career development

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.

Authentic connections

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?

The setting

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.

The training

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.

@doktorwissenschaft, a famous German science communication account for a young audience.


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.

“Scientific Adventures of Elin Darelius & Team” documents Elin Darelius & her team’s scientific life as well as teaching improvements. Posts are 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.

Science Stories

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

…to the fictitious story of Romeo and Juliette, two water drops that go through a lot of drama caused by cooling in a rotating water tank, simulating atmospheric instabilities…

…to the historical approach of how a process was understood over centuries of research…

…and to detailed physical explanations of Rossby waves.

Our team

Dr. Torge Martin (Kiel, Germany) teaches Ocean & Atmosphere Dynamics

Dr. Mirjam S. Glessmer (Kiel, Germany, and Bergen, Norway) works on improving ocean science communication and education

Dr. Elin Darelius (Bergen, Norway) teaches different topics within oceanography, both in lecture theatres, in the lab and at sea

Dr. Yasmin Appelhans (Kiel, Germany) gives workshops on how to effectively communicate science


Pop-up beach walk

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!

And even some rock pooling today!

#DryTheory2JuicyReality featured in our university’s newspaper!

We’ve had a busy couple of weeks at #DryTheory2JuicyReality with our new rotating table, our seminar presentation last week, attending BOOT in Düsseldorf, and more, all in the name of science communication.

Super nice to see our efforts recognized in print: Our project was featured in the university newspaper! Read about us here in German and in English!

Click to read the article on the university’s website

Happy #CTDAppreciationDay!

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!

Starting tomorrow: 24 Days of #KitchenOceanography

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!)

Find the whole story that connects all the experiments here (Links will be added to the experiments as they go live one each day).

Nansen’s dead water explained on YouTube

Remember the experiment on Nansen’s observation of “dead water” that Elin & myself set up as part of GEOF213? Our movies of this experiment are now featured in a brilliant Youtube video by my friend, the german science communicator Doktor Wissenschaft! Check it out! (English subtitles available)

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”

Burning soap bubbles

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!