Science craft for kids — origami whales! April’s #SciCommChall

Nena had a great idea for an easy crafts project with kids to talk about whales (and check out her other posts for more great science communication related to whales, or follow her on Instagram (@nena_weiler) where she is doing a great feature posting one insect pic every day this month!).

So here are our instructions for easy (and cute!) little origami whales.

If you would like to craft some whales with us, why not visit us on June 19th where we’ll present our project at Kieler Woche? 😉

Walking on water with Sara’s #SciCommChall!

For April’s #SciCommChall, Sara (follow her on Instagram: @frauwissenschaft) came up with a really cool idea: DIY water striders for kids! This is a fun activity kids can do with us (or their parents, or anyone, really!) to learn about surface tension, nano technology, physics, all kinds of interesting subjects! And that they can take home to remind them and their parents of what they learned together.

We don’t have the diy instructions ready just yet, but isn’t this prototype adorable? If it inspires you to other cool scicomm crafts, let us know! 🙂

“Wimmelbild” of a research ship

Mirjam writing:

For April’s #SciCommChall, I did a quick sketch of a “Wimmelbild”* of a research ship, the idea being that kids can color it in and discover a lot about life on a research cruise: People taking water samples and measuring them in a lab, but also others doing some whale watching, people on the bridge steering the ship, a cook preparing meals, washing machines, people hanging out in the lounge or sleeping in their cabins, and many more.

I think something like this could work very well in combination with someone telling stories about all these aspects of life at sea and oceanographic research!

There is some stuff I will change when I draw this research ship for real: For example make sure that the ship itself looks like a ship, and like one that won’t topple over first chance it gets. But all in all I am quite pleased with this first sketch. What would you suggest I should improve on in the next version? Looking forward to your feedback and suggestions! 🙂

*In case you are wondering what the translation English of “Wimmelbild” might be: No idea how to properly translate it! Apparently they are used in the “I spy” books in the US, in “Where is Waldo?” in the UK, sometimes called “busy pictures”, sometimes called “look-and-see” pictures. How would you call something like this?

Toy trains explaining melting of shelf ice in Antarctica

Mirjam here!

Can we use our topics to come up with ideas for crafts projects that kids can do while we chat with them and their parents about our science? It would be cool if we could let them create something they proudly take home, that would always remind them of the science we talked about and spark conversations about it!

Here is one idea I came up with for April’s #SciCommChall: A postcard that kids can color in. The science that inspired this drawing is cutting-edge research by Elin Darelius and her team at the University of Bergen, Norway. Elin investigates how ocean currents influence melting of ice shelves floating on the water around Antarctica, and I have been involved in some of their research and outreach.

On the back of the postcard (or maybe an additional leaflet, I haven’t completely thought this through) I would print an explanation of what we see on the postcard (and obviously both the text and the drawing itself would have to be agreed upon with the research team, which they are not yet. I am just presenting an idea here!):

“This postcard shows research on how ocean currents melt ice in Antarctica.
When ocean bring warm water next to the ice, the ice melts. But where that happens, how fast, and how much ice melts depends on the properties of the currents. You can imagine the current like a toy train going past the ice, transporting warm water. But the train could go fast or slow. It could go on nice, smooth tracks, or around sharp corners, loosing some of its cargo on the way. It could be very warm or rather cold. It could carry heavy or not so heavy goods. And there are many more options that you could imagine that would influence how good a job the train does at melting the ice!
How do we know which of those options are important, and which settings are correct? To figure this out, Elin and her team go on research cruises to Antarctica and measure directly how fast the currents go, which pathways they take, their temperature and their density — all the properties that we know already we need to get right to drive our toy train like an Antarctic ocean current. Elin and her team also do experiments in large water tanks, where they can set those properties similarly to what they measured in Antarctica and see whether there are other properties they should also take into consideration.
It’s rather complicated, but it’s also very exciting! To find out more about this research, go to

What do you think? I can tell you that not everybody on the team is happy with how much I am simplifying by using the toy train as an analogy, and I completely understand and respect that. I don’t think I would have been able to talk about my own research in such simplified terms, I can completely relate to how that must feel, and maybe I have gone way too far down the rabbit hole of simplification. But I still think it’s a fun idea, and I welcome your feedback! Do you think I am simplifying too much here?


Fun #scicomm crafts for kids involving whale skeletons? Yes please!

Mirjam writing:

Remember that I gave you a sneak peek into my April #SciCommChall idea a little while back when I was drawing whale skeletons?

Here is where I wanted to go with that:

It’s a prototype of a “Oh, a whale! Now you see its skeleton! And now you don’t!” toy that kids could make with us while talking to Nena about the weird hip bone (did you know that what that detached bone was? I didn’t until she told me!). And then bring it home and think about it every time they see it…

If you like the idea, here is a printable .pdf. If you make your own toy, don’t forget to share a picture with us! (Here is how)


New #SciCommChall is out! April 2018

Summer is almost here, and with it science fair season! And we are planning ahead for several events this summer. From our experience with last year’s European Researchers’ Night we are expecting our audience to mainly consist of parents and grandparents with pre-school and primary school-aged children. So this months #SciCommChall idea: To funnel people into conversations about our science and keep them with us for some time, we lure in the children with some science-y handcrafts! The kids pick out pre-printed postcards, book marks, pins, maybe even t-shirts with different outlines of motives representing the science projects we are working on. While the kids are busy coloring in their new treasures, the adults will be happy to look at our other exhibits and chat to us. And when the kids proudly wear their newest handcrafts home, the adults can talk to them about the science behind what is displayed on those little works of art. And it’s going to spark conversations about the event every time they look at it in the days and weeks after.

So for the April #SciCommChall:

Draw a representation of your project that could be colored in by kids as part of a cool give-away!

Or if you have an even better idea, do that and please share it with us! I hear some of my colleagues already have other awesome crafty projects for kids in the making… 🙂