My March on Instagram

My private #SciCommChall for March was to start a science communication Instagram account, fascinocean_kiel. I had a pretty clear idea of where I wanted to go with this account:

  • The target group are people who live close to Kiel fjord who I want to talk to about oceanographic phenomena you can spot when walking along Kiel fjord
  • For that, I wanted to post daily pictures of whatever is going on that day, plus short explanations in German
  • I wanted to do this as a proof of concept, to get an idea of the amount of work involved, and to get a feel for how many people you can reach organically with this kind of content; basically to build my portfolio as a science communicator.

This post is for all of you who are curious about

a) how that has been going (I will reflect on that below); or

b) what I have actually done on Instagram, since you don’t actually use the app.

So here we go! :-)

a) How Instagram is working for me (or, at least, the first couple of weeks)

My first impression after four weeks on Instagram: It’s fun! I thought it would be less work than writing a blogpost, but it’s actually not, it is just different. I have to take and select pictures a lot more carefully, crop them, sometimes put a filter on or something (except the green lakes — those were 100% real!), but now I have to think about relevant hashtags so people can find my posts…

And social media are really that, social. Through Instagram, I have connected with a lot of people who I only met through Instagram: On my very first day actively posting on Instagram, I have received an invitation to visit something really cool (will let you know when it’s not a big secret any more). Then, several people who I didn’t know before, messaged me to tell me they liked my “feed”. And then I got recommended for an interview about scientists and social media by someone I don’t even know! I am very impressed with the community on Instagram. And connection also works the other way round: I have found amazing science communicators on Instagram whose posts I look forward to reading every day, for example stories.of.a.scientist, science.sam, bakingsciencetraveller, and sci_wilson, just to name a few.

As for how many people I’ve been reaching (after less than a month on Instagram!): A picture typically get 30-40 “likes”. My best picture currently has 87 likes, but that’s a really awesome picture if I say so myself (see below). I think this picture performed so well for two reasons: because it’s a really cool picture, but also because it’s showing an exclusive view of my favourite restaurant in really really bad weather. I think that people recognized the spot and that I had an exclusive pic really helped.

Continue reading My March on Instagram

Are you following fascinocean_kiel on Instagram already? You definitely should!

fascinocean_kiel is my latest scicomm project — I am posting daily pictures from Kiel fjord together with a german description of some cool oceanography stuff you can see on the picture. But Instagram has a pretty good translator built in, and I am happy to translate any post if you leave me a comment with the picture you are interested in!

My latest post is the picture above: Here you can calculate the dominant wave length from the length of the pier and where waves are breaking through the floor boards of said pier. Storms are awesome when you are safely on land!

And below you can take a look at the whole fascinocean_kiel Instagram feed. See you over on Instagram? :-)

Dipping a toe into instagramming

This month’s private* #scicommchall: Run a scicomm Instagram feed! See the feed below. I’m doing this for several reasons: First: curiosity, how Instagram works for me personally as a scicomm format. Second: more curiosity, whether I can actually reach a german-speaking audience** that isn’t “just” scientists who are interested in the topic anyway. Third: Building my portfolio as a scicommer. Fourth: A little bit of laziness. You might have noticed my long blogging hiatus. I was sick for a long time, and now that I am back at work, I feel like I should pay a little more attention to what I spend all my time and energy on. Of course I still have to talk about water! But maybe this format is a little better suited for me at the moment. So I will definitely still write posts on this blog, but maybe not as many as you’ve gotten used to over the last years. But if you want to hear from me regularly, follow me on Instagram!

*”private” as opposed to the public #scicommchall that I have started. Since the beginning of this year, I am one of two scientific coordinators for the Kiel Science Outreach Campus (KiSOC), and I am challenging my colleagues there now, too. But I will report on that one another time…

**if you see a post you are interested in and would like to know what it says, just comment on that post and I’ll happily provide a translation! I’ve just decided against posting in two languages because I am lazy… ;-)

Seeing is believing — A #scipoem

Seeing is believing

Climate change communication
Needs a good vis’alization
Political protesters and
politicians should best be shunned
to avoid defens’ve reaction’.

Show behaviour in relation:
not one car, but road congestion.
action’ble steps that can confront
Climate change…

Use real people’s real emotion
unfamiliar, thought-provoking.
Not overwhelmed, but rather stunned,
that’s how people best understand
unconscious habits’ implication’.
Climate change…

*This poem is a „rondeau”, and it is based on the findings in the “Climate Visuals – 7 Key Principles for Visual Climate Change Communication” report (http://climateoutreach.org/resources/visual-climate-change-communication/)

“A brief history of climate in the Nordic Seas” — A #scipoem

A brief history of climate in the Nordic Seas*

Understanding of climate change
explaining a record’s full range
playing the cause-and-effect game
needs a closed, mechanistic frame

data: proxies or direct obs
predicted future poses probs
relationship is not the same:
needs a closed, mechanistic frame

mechanism seems to differ
Gulf Stream currently seems stiffer
than in future or past, we claim,
needs a closed, mechanistic frame

Understanding of climate change
needs a closed, mechanistic frame

*based on an article by Eldevik et al. (2014). Form is a “kyrielle sonett”

Greenhouse Gases — A #SciPoem

Greenhouse Gases

Air around us: full of water
Vapour, clouds or rain
Warmer air holds
more. A feedback.

CO2 belongs in the air
Volcanoes or
Breathing cattle
Not burnt fossils

Natural sources for methane
Ampl’fied by us:
Farting cattle
Agriculture

Soil cultivation produces
nitrous oxide
Fertilizers
Burnt biomass

Chlorofluorocarbons are
synthetic stuff
industrial
reg’lated now

Those five main components changing
concentration
radiation
Changing climate

“Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal”: A #SciPoem

“Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal”

This quote’s source: the IPCC
On what in total ninety-sev’n
Percent of scientists agree
The evidence of climate change

Risen by more than one degree
The av’rage surface temperature
Since anno nineteenhundr’d. See?
The evidence of climate change

The oceans have absorbed some heat
And have become a lot warmer
Espec’lly in the surface sheet
The evidence of climate change

Combined, four-hundred k-m-square
In Greenland and Antarctica
Of ice did melt, flowed off somewhere
The evidence of climate change

And everywhere around the sphere
Glaciers are retreating. Andes,
Himalayas and everywhere
The evidence of climate change

Satellite observations show
Northern Hemisphere snow cover
Was much more five decades ago
The evidence of climate change

Sea levels rising by the flow
Accumulated in the sea
Of all that melting ice and snow
The evidence of climate change

Not changing levels of the sea
But its own area and height
Arct’c sea ice declines rapidly
The evidence of climate change

Intense rainfalls destroy down streams
Temperatures are at record highs
The weather reaching new extremes
The evidence of climate change

Getting sourer through and through
Ocean waters acidify
When oceans absorb CO2
The evidence of climate change

“Grubletegninger” — using sketches presenting alternative explanations of a situation to spark discussions

In my personal #SciCommChallenge, one thing on my things-to-try list were “grubletegninger” — pondering sketches, or sketches to ponder. It’s a format developed in Norway and there is quite a collection available at naturfag.no. (And that my sketches below happen to be on a Norway-themed note pad is pure coincidence :-))

The idea is that the sketch of a situation is given, along with a couple of people who each give a statement explaining the situation. For example on the topic of whether a sundial can be used in both hemispheres, the characters state things like “yes, you just have to position it the other way round”, “yes, if you swap the numbers”, “no, because the sun moves in the opposite direction”, “it will work, but with a 12 hour offset”.

This can then be used to spark discussion in a student group. Since many possible misconceptions are made explicit on the sketch itself, it is easy for students to identify with one of the answers and explain why they think that it is the correct one. It is also useful to use answers to argue against, to use them as a starting point for experimentation, to bridge between school science and the real world. I really like this format and think it could be a very useful tool in science outreach, too!

And I think making many different possible answers explicit is actually the most important feature of this tool. My first Grubletegning-sketch (which I did based on a vage memory and before checking out the naturfag.no website) is not nearly as good for sparking thoughts and discussions as it could be if it was laying out different lines of argumentation!

Of course, in the end it is not very different from a multiple-choice exercise, with the different distractors giving the different answer options. But how much more appealing is it when combined with a nice sketch, and actual people (albeit sketched ones) giving the answers, rather than your teacher giving you one correct answer and a couple false ones, and not telling you which one is which? I think this might actually be an excellent tool in outreach to engage people in discussions.

And I am looking forward to coming up with situations that could be used for grubletegninger, and to actually sketching them in a slightly nicer way than I did above. I am trying out a sketch pad next weekend, there might be a huge increase in the quality of graphics on this blog in the near future ;-) Or not, we’ll see ;-)

energie:labor at European Researchers’ Night 2017

Yesterday Alice and I spent the afternoon and evening in the cute coastal town of Eckernförde, enjoying the summer-y weather, the Baltic Sea, and — of course! — the science outreach. It was European Researchers’ Night!

We represented the energie:labor and our research group by entertaining many many people in our little blue tent:

The goal was to engage the public in thinking about physics, particularly about energy. What better tool to use than a thermal imaging camera?

I’ve talked about the many ways you can play with that sort of camera before (see here), but last night was special. To catch people’s eyes and engage children as well as grown-ups, we had prepared a couple of fun experiments, for example hitting gummi bears with a hammer and observing how that changes the temperature.

Despite the large media interest we didn’t make the local newspaper’s front page today ;-)

To get an impression of how much fun we had, watch the movie below. This was an hour before the official opening of the event, and the last seconds we had to actually do things ourselves before we got run over by curious crowds. Who knew that people are so keen on learning physics? ;-)

Thanks, Alice, we are a great team and I had so much fun! :-)