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Alles andere als trockene Theorie (Repost)

Unser “DryTheory2JuicyReality” Projekt wurde durch den PerLe-Fonds für Lehrinnovation gefördert. Hier ist ein Repost eines Beitrages, den ich für den Blog “Einfach gute Lehre” geschrieben habe.

„Meeresströmungen im Wassertank“: Lehre, die Wissenschaft begreifbar macht

Über eine Lehrinnovation, die auf Kleingruppenarbeit und „hands-on“-Praxiselemente setzte – und was in Zeiten von Covid-19 daraus wurde.

In der Lehrveranstaltung „Atmosphären- und Ozeandynamik” im Bachelorstudiengang Physik des Erdsystems wird das theoretische Grundgerüst zum Verständnis der globalen Bewegung von Luft- und Wassermassen erarbeitet, welches zum Beispiel Wetter- und Klimavorhersagen ermöglicht.

Vor der Lehrinnovation von Dr. Torge Martin (GEOMAR) und Dr. Mirjam Gleßmer (fascinocean) geschah dies vorwiegend theoretisch auf Papier und an der Tafel. Die Verknüpfung der Theorie mit beobachtbaren Phänomenen der realen Welt kam dabei oft zu kurz. Um die Theorie begreifbar zu machen, haben wir praktische Experimente in rotierenden Wassertanks und am Computer eingebettet. Diese werden von den Studierenden gemeinsam durchgeführt und das Verständnis durch in Gruppenarbeit erarbeitete Blogposts vertieft. So zumindest im ersten Semester der zweisemestrigen Lehrinnovation…

Das erste Semester – der Plan geht auf

Schon in Vorbereitung der Antragstellung bei PerLe konnten wir nicht länger warten – wir mussten uns einfach privat einen rotierenden Tank für zuhause anschaffen und die Experimente schon mal probieren! Was normalerweise viele Hundert Euro kostet, ist Dank der Bauanleitung des DIYnamics Teams und der Verwendung einfachster Bauteile (wie zum Beispiel eines LEGO Motors) auf einmal erschwinglich. Und das Wissen, dass eventuelle Fehler nicht furchtbar teuer werden, lässt uns – und auch unsere Studierenden – viel unbeschwerter und kreativer experimentieren!

Rotierende Tankexperimente durchzuführen ist zeitaufwendig: Bis der gesamte Wasserkörper in gleichmäßiger Drehung ist und die Durchführung des eigentlichen Experimentes starten kann, vergehen schon mal 30 Minuten. Die Finanzierung unseres Lehrinnovationsprojektes durch PerLe ermöglichte uns, vier rotierende Tanks anzuschaffen – genug, dass Studierende in Kleingruppen experimentieren können und so vier Experimente gleichzeitig vorbereitet und je nach Anwendung direkt oder nacheinander durchgeführt werden können. So können Entscheidungen über Parameter individuell in den Gruppen oder gemeinsam besprochen und getroffen. Im Seminarraum entsteht so eine angeregte Diskussion über Effekte und Theorie, wie sie zuvor durch Vorrechnen an der Tafel nie entstand.  Und noch etwas haben wir gemeinsam erfahren: Bloß weil zwei Gruppen die gleichen Parameter ausgewählt haben, werden zwei Experimente noch lange nicht gleich aussehen! Diese Erfahrungen zu machen und zu diskutieren war sehr wertvoll und nur durch die vier parallellaufenden Tanks möglich.

Dr. Torge Martin und die Studierenden seines Kurses zur „Atmosphären- und Ozeandynamik” diskutieren ein rotierendes Tankexperiment, das von einer Gruppe vorgeführt wird.

Der zweite Aspekt unserer Lehrinnovation – frei nach dem Motto „Lernen durch Lehren“ – war ein Kurs zum populärwissenschaftlichen Schreiben, den Dr. Yasmin Appelhans durchgeführt hat. Die unglaublich kreativen Ergebnisse kann man auf unserem Blog „TeachingOceanScience“ bewundern! Es sei nur ein Beispiel herausgehoben: der beeindruckende Comic von Johanna Knauf. In dem Comic behandelt Johanna nicht nur fachlichen Inhalte, sondern hebt auch hervor, dass wir auf Lehrenden- wie Studierenden-Seite die Lehrinnovation mit Enthusiasmus und Spaß – und ganz viel Spielen! – durchgeführt haben.

Ein Bild aus dem Comic der Studentin Johanna Knauf, das zeigt, dass auch in der Wahrnehmung der Studierenden die beiden Lehrenden mit Enthusiasmus und Spaß bei der Sache waren.

Unser inoffizielles Motto „Man sollte einfach viel mehr spielen!“ haben wir sogar offiziell und zum Titel eines Seminars gemacht — natürlich immer unter dem Verständnis, dass „spielen“ die Art des explorativen, kreativen Herangehens an neue Fragestellungen bedeutet und sich nicht nur auf die LEGO-Bauteile beschränkt, bei dem wir alle Kolleg*innen des Instituts eingeladen haben, nach einer sehr kurzen Einführung zu den möglichen Versuchen einfach selbst mal mit unseren vier rotierenden Tanks zu „spielen“. Und wie das angenommen wurde? So dass wir den Hörsaal erst unter viel Gegrummel geräumt haben, als die nächste Lehrende nun aber wirklich anfangen wollte!

Auf vier rotierenden Tanks werden durch Studierende im Forschungsseminar unter großem Anklang vier unterschiedliche Experimente durchgeführt.

Alles Feedback, das wir bekamen, war also uneingeschränkt positiv. Doch dann kam Covid-19.

Das zweite Semester – hands-on und digital

Was tun, wenn auf ein Mal genau der enge Kontakt zwischen Studierenden, das gemeinsame Spielen und Beobachten, die das Herzstück unserer Lehrinnovation waren, nicht mehr möglich sind und alle Lehre digital stattfindet? Idealerweise hätten wir allen Studierenden einen eigenen rotierenden Tank zur Verfügung gestellt, aber das ging natürlich nicht. Aber da war doch ein privater Tank irgendwo zuhause…?

Dr. Martin verdeutlicht am Vergleich des rotierenden Experiments mit dem nicht-rotierenden Fall, welchen Einfluss die Erdrotation auf Meeresströmungen und atmosphärische Winde hat.

Der Einfluss der Erdrotation auf Meeresströmungen und atmosphärische Winde ist nicht gerade intuitiv. Um diesen gut zu verstehen, ist es oft hilfreich, ihn direkt mit dem analogen nicht-rotierenden Experiment zu vergleichen. Und so gelang es uns, auch in der virtuellen Lehre die hands-on Komponente zu erhalten: Die Studierenden führten bei sich zuhause die einfachen, nicht-rotierenden Fälle durch, und für die rotierenden Experimente kamen sie kurzerhand virtuell in Dr. Gleßmers Küche.

Abbildung 5: Ferngesteuerte Tankexperimente: In der Küche von Dr. Gleßmer steht der rotierende Tank, der mit zwei Endgeräten, die ihn von der Seite und von oben zeigen, an einer Zoom-Konferenz mit Dr. Martin und den Studierenden teilnimmt. Auf Zuruf kann Dr. Gleßmer jetzt Parameter verändern und die Studierenden können den Effekt aus der ersten Reihe beobachten und in der Konferenz diskutieren.

Bei dieser virtuellen Exkursion konnten Studierende durch Zuruf direkt das rotierende Experiment beeinflussen. Über zwei Endgeräte konnten sie das Experiment von der Seite und von oben beobachten und die Ergebnisse mit ihren eigenen, nicht-rotierenden Experimenten vergleichen. Als Backup, Vor- und Nachbereitung haben wir die Experimente mit dem gleichen Setup gefilmt und online zur Verfügung gestellt.

Abbildung 6: Dr. Gleßmer zeigt in diesem Video den Einfluss von Rotation auf Turbulenz (links im Bild der rotierende Tank in Seiten- und Aufsicht, rechts der nicht-rotierende Fall)

Unser Fazit? Für eine spontane Lösung ist uns das ziemlich gut geglückt. Auch hier steht am Ende die Erfahrung, dass es für einige Studierende eine wichtige, in der Vergangenheit oftmals vernachlässigte Komponente ist, Theorie tatsächlich „begreifen“ zu können. Mit einfachsten Mitteln lässt sich zuhause zumindest die Motivation für die nächste online Vorlesung deutlich steigern. Aber wir freuen uns auf die Zeiten, wenn wir mit unseren Studierenden wieder gemeinsam in einem Raum experimentieren können!

Marine energy: Tides. A guest post by Manel Camacho

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Manel Camacho. Manel and I met on Twitter and bonded over our joint love of wave watching — me as a dedicated amateur, Manel as PhD student in marine energy. Today, Manel is giving us a glimpse into what marine energy is all about. Enjoy! :-)

As a person that grew up in the coast of a tropical country will be weird for me to say that I was afraid of the sea during most of my childhood. I remember going outside of our parked car at the sand to meet the sea, was my 1st time and the day was warm; no clouds anywhere and no wind. Same moment an enormous wave came into my direction, I ran inside and never went out for all day.

Ironic as it is despite this fear, 25 years later I was doing a Ph.D. on marine energy. Marine energy engineering is the subject that involves the use of our oceans to produce electricity, the sea by itself it is involved in one of the biggest energy exchanges on the planet earth. The energy exchange involves the gravitational pull of the sun/moon and also the sun thermal radiation.

The first force that I will talk about causes a phenomena called “tide”, as we know the moon and the sun can exert a gravity force over the earth. The gravity force as we know tries to pull out any mass into its direction, as the continents and the sea bottom are made of dense rock they resist this pull; however the seas can deform more easily, the force will pull out the seas above its normal level. This rising and decay of the sea level is called “tide”. The difference on elevation from the low level to the higher level can be over half a meter in open ocean, when its pulled is called “high tide” ad when its not “low tide”. 

We might think that half a meter of difference is not too much, but when the ocean reaches a depth of more than 3000m is considerable. Comparing lets take a circle of 1 meter radius in the sea and lift it 1 meter, we’ll the same force to do this is to pull up almost 95 liberty statues just one meter above the ground.

Now that we know how much force is need it to pull that single cylinder of water, imagine again the force necessary to make an entire ocean to vary half a meter on level. The forces of the sun/moon will cause the ocean to bulge, then earth rotation will cause these bulges to move across the globe. When we are at the coast and we see the water rising at night and day, what we see is the water reacting to these forces creating this massive but imperceptible lumps in the ocean.

The water height increases more at the coast than in open sea, this will cause that certain parts to rise several meters at the “high tide”. These sudden increases on water will cause a flood on the coast, if it moves to the coast is called “flood” or away from the coast “ebb”. These flows will cause strong currents in certain locations, these currents work similar to the wind blowing; the currents produced then can be used to harvest energy, the easiest way to do it is using a device similar to a wind turbine.

Devices used to extract energy from the tidal stream currents are called, tidal stream turbines. These devices use knowledge learn from disciplines as wind energy, marine, civil and offshore engineering as naval, mechanical and aerospace areas.

As any new device to produce energy many problems need to be solved, problems related to: how it affects to the animals, to the people and its way of living, how they will survive in extreme weather and many many more. But thats something to discuss further.

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).

#WaveWatchingWednesday

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

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.

Youtube

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.

Blogs

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

Thanks!

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).