TalentLab: Listening to the Earth - Session II

On February 15th we started the second session of the “Listening to the Earth” workshop, within the TalentLab project, with a visit to the centenary facilities of the Ebre Observatory (Observatori de l’Ebre de Roquetes). From the beginning the center was focused on the study of the relationships between the Sun and Earth, a pioneering research that, over time, has become increasingly important.

The visit focused on three main areas: the astronomical observatory, the meteorological station and the library. At the observatory we saw different telescopes used to observe the activity of the Sun and other less bright celestial bodies. At the weather station we saw different devices (traditional and modern) used to measure weather parameters. The Observatory owns a very homogeneous and stable data register (temperature, precipitation, humidity, etc.), which is highly relevant for climate studies. Finally, we accessed the library, specializing in Earth science, a pleasant place that over a century has accumulated more than one linear kilometer of publications. A centenary documentary essential for students of History of Science, where you can find technical books from the library of Narcís Monturiol.

After the visit, we went to a room to continue with the workshop in order to reach a specific proposal for an educational resource. We decided to join together in one group and to start working with our hands. But it took us a while: our engines were still cold!

Slowly, the first ideas arose: vegetation, facilities of the Observatory, videos, students, researchers, teachers, a wiki platform, a channel, weather stations, etc. From this point we began to mold the shape of the resource. It could be a wiki platform to work on the local climate combining the data collected with the observation of the vegetation. Students could try to find answers to the questions posed in a questionnaire and the results would be published on the platform with short videos easy to produce (MovieMaker). The idea is to offer an independent and interesting practice in itself, but could be complemented with a visit to the Ebro Observatory, thus adding value to the resource, comparing and discussing the data with professional researchers. The platform could also allow to compare data from different locations provided by different educational centers and, if done continuously, establish temporary records.

At this point, the proposal was contrasted with “future users”. They pointed the need for scheduled resources (files), that can be done in the classroom and in a cooperative way. Finally, the proposal was refined by introducing a wiki page for teachers and researchers where answer questions, include a protocol for making a rain gauge (if the school does not have one) and the possibility of comparing data between countries.

The group felt that the coordination between the Ebro Observatory and the CSIC Delegation is essential to go ahead with the project, both in preparing the contents and in managing the access to the wiki platform. The budget for this educational resource should not be too high. Finally, concluded that the title could be “My time and wether”. We could not ask for a more specific proposal.

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Laura Valls. Unitat de Cultura Científica Delegació del CSIC.
Irene Lapuente. La Mandarina de Newton S.L.

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TalentLab: Listening to the Eartch Session I

On January 25th we started the third TalentLab, workshop, “Listening to the Earth”. The place was the Ebre Observatory (Observatori de l’Ebre, CSIC-URL). As participants arrived they organized themselves into two groups, trying to find a balanced representation of backgrounds in each one. We introduced the workshop and the structure of the session, and we set ourselves to work.

First, to warm-up an spark inspiration, we put in common with all the groups the general context of climate change. We used images for that, ensued by a collection of the ideas that the images inspired to each participant. The first group emphasized the different scales (local, global) that we confront climate change and water problems. Also, they remarked the risks associated with water. It is a desirable and needed resource but it can also bring danger or disaster situations.

The second group suggested to visualize that the “path” to follow from one situation characterized by disasters (by natural or anthropic causes) to another, idealized, one where human action were harmonious with the natural environment, should go through the filter of scientific thought. This started a discussion with the first group. They thought that, nature (including big scale natural phenomena) had been harmonious before the human hand acted on it. We interpret that the “path” suggested by the second group wished to portray the ideal of a new rationality, a scientific thought that would act in a better accordance with the natural environment.

  

After this, we moved on to imagine future scenarios. Both groups focused on the local scale. The first one created a front page for the local newspaper (“La Veu de Roquetes”), for January 25th 2030. Headlines focused on water issues. Restrictions were damaging agriculture and the North-South water transfer had become obsolete. Energy also made headlines: they mentioned that oil was no longer the primary source of energy. They also reflected that life expectancy had reached 100 years.

The second group created a front page for the newspaper “Lo Sud”. The headlines emphasized the migratory movements originated by climate change (“Emergency world summit to solve a catastrophic situation: Norway reaches -30 Celsius and the Andalusia desert is offered as a relocation places for the displace Norweigan population”). They also mentioned the relevance of gene medicine to eradicate diabetes. The launching of a reusable space rocket was the last headline of “Lo Sud”.

After getting a view of the future, we moved on to imagine which type of user is hypothetically going to use the pedagogical contents resulting from Talentlab. Participants remarked user features related to general curiosity, as well as their interest in sports and culture. Also, a strong interest in using new communication technologies, specially Youtube. This started a short debate about the educational potential of this channel for science teaching. Different possibilities were mentioned. For example, its usefulness in showing scientific phenomena that are difficult to replicate in the classroom or, how to produce content for that channel. Also, how to get students into creating videos with experiences that they can upload to Youtube. In any case, it was clear that participants considered the channel as something to have into account.

In order summarize the ideas that emerged after these two activities, both groups created very comprehensive “paintings” that remarked the need to integrate natural and scientific aspects with social and economic considerations. The second group also depicted the need to introduce attitudes.

From this moment on, each group sketched an idea for an educative resource. The first group suggested the creation of a platform (wiki, blog, video, etc.) to work on the local effects of climate change. It should integrate scientific information (Physics, Biology, Chemistry, etc.). The second group suggested an “in situ” visit of the places and situations that users wished to get to know. Also, they also suggested graphic representations as a possible means of integrating knowledge and learning. For example, by using infographics, videos and other visual content.There are many things to be defined still. Nevertheless, it seems that there was a certain convergence towards the integration of different types of knowledge, to focus on local realities and the use of visual means. Let’s see what happens in the next meetings and how the initial proposal evolve.

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Laura Valls. Unitat de Cultura Científica Delegació del CSIC
Irene Lapuente. Co-Creating Cultures/La Mandarina de Newton SL 
Ramon Sangüesa. Co-Creating Cultures/La Mandarina de Newton SL
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