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? 😉

#SciCommChall in June: Let’s document a #dayofscience ! Join us! :-)

What if you documented a whole #dayofscience in pictures? From your commute, your first cup of coffee in the office, the chat with colleagues, the overflowing email inbox, your messy (or maybe totally neat and clean?) desk, your office plants, your lab safety gear, your teaching, your scicomm, your article editing, your data acquisition, your poster preparation, everything you do that day?

And what if you shared those pictures on social media? Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, anywhere you like. (Of course this part is not compulsory. If you are hesitant to do it, why not take the pictures and you can always decide for or against posting them later? And read other suggestions at the end of this post)

During the week June 18.-22. the Science-A-Thon will be happening, and a lot of people will do exactly what we described above, so you will be in good company! And it’s a great week for us in Kiel, too: It’s Kiel Week (the largest sailing event in the whole world! Tons of people in Kiel) and there is lots of science communication happening that (hopefully) makes for nice photo ops! And even in a “normal work week”, surely documenting a day is fun?

So after looking at what kind of pictures we could use to illustrate our work last month, this is our June #SciCommChall:

Document a day in your life as scientist (or scicommer or how ever you would call yourself) and share it with #dayofscience on social media!

P.S.: But what if I don’t want to have pictures of myself floating around the internet?

Even if you don’t want to show your face on the internet, I think it’s very interesting to think about how you would like to present yourself to the world if you were to document your day on social media. It is, for example, not necessary to include your face if you hate the idea. You could also take a figurine and have it stand in for you next to your coffee cup, looking at your computer screen, standing on your lab bench, whatever. I look forward to seeing all your creative ideas! 🙂

Nena’s take on the May #SciCommChall: 10 pictures illustrating her work!

In response to the May #SciCommChall, Nena has picked 10 images that represent her work. She writes…

The baseline of my project is the 14-metre long sperm whale skeleton in the Zoological Museum in Kiel. The fascinating biology of this marine mammal makes him to be the perfect exhibition object for my study.

With the help of virtual reality, we want to show the biology and ecology of whales in an understandable way. Therefore, we have three main target extensions

1) to visualize the complex evolution of whales from a mammal on land to one in the sea

2) to provide a fundamental understanding of the interactions of skeleton, muscles and organs

and 3) – the focus of the study – to clear about the connection of whales to the anthropogenic underwater noise.

Regarding to our third aim we want to study the assessment competency of our target groups – a wider society of teachers, students, pupils, visitors, families –  about the topic “underwater noise and whales” and the transfer of knowledge through virtual reality media in an informal learning placethe museum. Next to this, we started an inclusion project for visually impaired people – also they should make great experiences about the whales and their biology and get to know the structure of the sperm whale skeleton with a 3D model.

To do this, there is a lot of passion about whales and the aim to help people see their fascination and and a lot of motivation to manage this project from best friends to do it.

Join – learn – be astonished

10 pictures illustrating Mirjam’s professional identity for #SciCommChall. How would you illustrate yours?

In response to the May #SciCommChall, Mirjam has picked 10 pictures to illustrate her work. She writes…

1. This is where I work

This is my office. I love this space! Even though it is a small room, I am very lucky to have so much light and space for my plants and my posters and paintings, featuring (of course!) research ships, light houses, and jelly fish. Guess I can’t hide that I am an oceanographer through and through! 🙂 (And yes, there are puzzles in the bowl on the table. I also like to play…)

2. Another place I like to do work at

Despite having a great office, a lot of the creative work that I do as part of, or related to, my job does not happen in the office. It’s not always “creative work” in the sense that I will draw, but I get a lot of quality thinking, idea generation and broad background reading done when relaxing at the sea. And I definitely enjoy “taking work home” in this sense!

3. I see oceanography everywhere and need to share how ridiculously excited it makes me

The picture below isn’t an impressionist painting (although I am fond of art, too), it represents something that I am really passionate about: Observing the world around you and discovering physics, and specifically physical oceanography, everywhere. I can’t help seeing it, but I want other people to see it, too: In puddles or the sink, in rivers, lakes, the sea. Here you see pollen on the surface of the Kiel fjord and you can use this to deduct something about waves over the last couple of hours as well as ocean currents from it! (How? Check out the @fascinocean_kiel post on the topic).

4. Communicating science

I use several ways to communicate aspects of science that I am excited about. For example, I created the Instagram account @fascinocean_kiel, where I share daily pictures of water together with descriptions of what oceanographic phenomena you see in those pictures. Two years ago, I wrote a book called “Let’s go wave watching!“, where I point out all kinds of wave phenomena so parents can go wave watching with their kids. But I am also active in many other formats, all of whichI write about on my blog

5. I’m a #DigitalScientist

Being close to water is very important to me. So much that I chose this selfie of me inside a “Strandkorb” over more formal portrait shots to illustrate an interview that I gave on Social Media Consultant Susanne Geu’s blog (link!) on being a #DigitalScientist. Since a large part of my job is related to using social media as a scientist, I was very excited about getting this opportunity to present myself! Also I really enjoy the opportunities that the web presents to communicate science in many different formats to many different people.

6. I like sharing my excitement

You saw this in the previous pictures already, but I love to share what I am excited about. Part of my job is the scientific coordination of the Kiel Science Outreach Campus (KiSOC), and in that role I develop and conduct workshops on science communication, specifically social media in science communication. Here you see me (on the left) with two PhD students, looking at Instagram on my phone, and me clearly gushing about my experiences with it. All part of implementing an exciting social media strategy for KiSOC, which will go live shortly…

7. Designing learning opportunities

The second big part of my work revolves around creating informal learning opportunities, and I love doing this collaboratively. In the picture you see me and part of my team work on further improving the “energie:labor“, a school lab in which we have school classes visit us for a day to work on energy in the climate system with them. Here we brainstorm on how to better integrate all the different experiences the students make throughout the day in a final activity, and how to help them compile it into a take-home message that they will hopefully remember for a long time.

8. Running the school lab

In the “energie:labor”, students conduct experiments with me and my team to investigate different aspects of the climate system. They spend about half the day becoming experts on five different aspects, before they then come together into teams to combine their expertise and use it to explain things going on in a simple climate model. I really like how hands-on experiments complemented with the climate model give students an idea of how climate scientists work and where challenges might arise.

9. Hands-on experiments

Even though I am trained as an ocean modeller, what I love best are tank experiments. This is how I spend rainy weekends (or sunny ones, if there is something I really want to try) and I am trying to incorporate my expertise in how to use this kind of experiments in teaching in my day job. I just submitted an article on the process you see in the tank below, double-diffusive mixing.

10. And where are we going from here?

Actually, I have no idea. And as an example, below you see me and my sisters a loooong time ago, playing music at Ratzeburger Segelschule (where I used to work as sailing instructor for many years), to illustrate that there are things that have I have always been passionate about: Being in/on/near water. Doing creative things in one way or another. Working in a team. Leading. Instructing. Right now, all of this is combined in my job. Are there other ways these passions can be combined? For sure! For example when I finally fulfil my dream and live in my light house, from which I will watch the sea, create materials, run workshops, all related to oceanography scicomm.

If anyone has any good ideas how to get me there, I am all ears 🙂

That’s me and my work in 10 pictures. People who know me, tell me: What aspects of me & my work that you find important did I miss? What pictures would you have chosen instead of the ones I chose? Which of those I chose did surprise you? I am really curious to get feedback on this! 🙂

Nena’s research project in one sentence

Nena has recently started the instagram channel nena_weiler where she posted her response to the January #SciCommChall — her thesis in one sentence (which she kindly let us share here, too):

“I would like to know your opinion on the fact that animals that are louder than the Frankfurt Airport can’t communicate with each other any more”

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! 🙂

How do whales sleep?

Nena had yet another cool idea for our March #SciCommChall “science on the breakfast table” and she created the graphic below that would be amazing on, for example, a box of corn flakes. She writes:

The sleeping behaviour of whales and dolphins is fascinating and different in every specie. We want to present you amazing facts about how marine mammals sleep and how it works.
Very special in all of them is their ability of an active regulation of breathing. Humans breathe automatically, whales can control their breath. How they deal with them during sleeping varied from whale to whale.

“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?