“Sommer des Wissens” in Hamburg or how to teach (young) adults about climate models

The Universität Hamburg celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019. Instead of a “Nacht des Wissens” they organized a “Sommer des Wissens” on the town hall square. During the four-day event, we participated with a game as well as a presentation about how climate models work.

Our postdocs Stephan Juricke and Friederike Pollmann discuss the "climate model" game with the students.

On Thursday June 19, Stephan Juricke (Postdoc, M3) and Friederike Pollmann (Postdoc, S2) got up early to talk about climate models to two ninth grades in the small tents that look like igloos. They prepared a presentation about the difference between weather and climate models before starting with our new educational “climate modeling game”.

We got the idea for the game at this year’s EGU in Vienna, in the “Games in Geosciences” session. A colleague from Norway created it at the NORCE institute. The goal of the game is to help kids understand the difference between weather and climate models as well as visualizing the problems modeling faces.

With the help of studio ahoi, the agency we create the Scrollytelling with, we created a map of northern Germany with a grid overlay. The kids get large squares of four different color that they need to lay on the map. After finishing this step, they need to discuss what happened: We do not see the small features of the map using the large squares. So, we miss information that might be interesting for us.

The next step is to use smaller squares on the map. Now we can visualize more features, but it takes much more time to lay the grid. This helps kids understand the problem with the time it takes to run climate models and the limited capacities of server.

The young adults at the “Sommer des Wissens” participated nicely during the game, considering that they are teens and it was 9 am in the morning.

Our second time slot on Saturday noon was prominently announced in a Hamburg newspaper so the attendance was good. Almost every seat was taken when we started the presentation. It was announced as a presentation for young adults, instead the audience was heterogenous mixed with adults, students and mainly pensioners.

Stephan Juricke and Jennifer Fandrich showed the first results of the scrollytelling and the interview video that was taken during the research cruise with the POSEIDON in the Subtropical Atlantic. Unfortunately, there were some technical problems with the audio, so we weren’t able to show the explainity movies – but Stephan salvaged the situation with talking eloquently about his work instead! He gave an overview about how climate models work and explained that Eddies are the “weather of the ocean”. In the end, a discussion started about the importance of scientists informing the public about the impact of society to climate change and Stephan stated that there was always climate change, but now it is very fast climate change – this is a huge difference to the earth’s centuries before humanity.

Although we expected a much younger audience to present our digital outreach products, we were happy with the outcome. There was very positive feedback afterwards and some of the listeners asked where to find more information about the project and the outreach products.