Tale of Two Valleys

Students in a working group - Alfred Nussbaumer

Students in a working group - Alfred Nussbaumer

Aims

To give students an understanding of working scientifically on complex matters like global warming and to get information on how they think about their future in the context of climate change.

Argument for inclusion

Very active involvement of children (secondary level) in research activities and multidisciplinary work; huge amount of interdisciplinarity among the involved school subjects.

Relevant information in short

Main Research Partners

Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG), Austria
Joanneum Research

Educational partners

Grammar Schools: BORG Spittal an der Drau, BG/BRG Zell am See, Stiftsgymnasium Melk,
Regular Secondary School: Hauptschule Rauris

Age classes

14 to 16 years

Thematic orientation

Impacts of climate change and global warming

Main Focus

Creation of future scenarios and strategy development of coping with complex matters

Duration of activity

REC one year, between 2005 and 2008

Resources

Funded by the Research Program proVISION of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research

Website

http://www.zamg.ac.at/a-tale-of-two-valleys/kooperation.html

Contact person

Dr. Ingeborg Auer, ZAMG

Context and conditions

The REC was part of the project “A Tale of Two Valleys – Two Valleys, Two Stories” (2005 – 2008) which investigates the impacts of climate change on two alpine valleys in Austria, the “Rauriser Tal” and the “Mölltal”. These valleys are adjacent but contrasting in respect to weather and climate, as well as to the socio-economic, land-use, and political development. The interdisciplinary team of researchers analyses the full prospect of climatic change and impacts with the help of extreme weather events, climatic trends, future scenarios, and adaptation strategies. These wide-ranging objectives require a research team consisting of natural and human scientists, but also the collaboration with the population, educational bodies and stakeholders.
The overall project is funded by the Research Programme “proVISION - Precaution for Nature and Society” of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research. In this programme collaboration with schools is required. Besides, as the overall project deals with experiences of the public population, the participation of schools in the project was indispensable anyway. Although they were initially sceptical about involvement of children, the research partners came to appreciate the collaboration with the schools within the project process. School involvement of the grammar schools started with the collaboration with Stiftsgymnasium Melk (academic secondary school) after the Science Night 2005. During an excursion to the Austrian Central Institute of Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) plans for the ongoing project were fixed.

Activities and Contents

Three grammar schools, (BORG Spittal an der Drau, BG/BRG Zell am See and Stiftsgymnasium Melk) were involved in the REC working on questions of climate variability, disaster occurrence, climate impact analyses and future scenarios. One important assignment for the students was creating a questionnaire about climate change, with support from researchers. They prepared issues on different topics concerning climate change and its possible and apparent impacts on environment and held interviews with other students. In interdisciplinary collaboration the questionnaires were analysed and interpreted. Preliminary results were presented by pupils at the Science Night 2006.

Another project activity was the investigation and analysis of media releases regarding ORF-radiofocus
„Climate Change“ in Autumn 2006. In a workshop at Bundesgymnasium Zell am See researchers and pupils together drew up a questionnaire regarding climate change. After a pre-test, pupils applied them in several schools. Each of the partner schools created a poster on their activities for the Conference of the European Meteorological Society in Ljubljana in September 2006. All three of them were accepted and presented at Session „IP03 – Education in Atmospheric Sciences“. In addition, the posters were presented at the renowned 'Rauriser Wissenschaftstage' (Rauriser Days of Science).

In March 2007, the pupils of the Regular Secondary School Rauris presented their ideas of „A Tale of Two Valleys” in the 37th Rauriser Literaturtage. (Rauriser Days of Literature). Their performance (see photo) of poems, songs and theatre sketches was an excellent example of an extensive integration of the project in the curriculum and the engagement of the school team.

image2

Erwin Simonitsch; Pinzgauer Nachrichten - Salzburger Woche

Methodologies and Curriculum relevance

The project created a basis for mutual communication between research and education. In the context of the Research Education Cooperation the pupils reflected on their local environment and surroundings and illustrated their positive and negative thoughts on these. They were supported in learning to think about their future. As the whole REC, also the creation and the analysis of the questionnaires were carried out in an interdisciplinary collaboration.
A main objective was to give students an understanding of working scientifically on complex matters like climate change. They learned to prepare issues on different topics to handle extensive subjects and to present the information gathered. The very complex matter created intensive discussions and motivated the students to act on their own initiative. Deeper occupation with the theme was in various disciplines such as Geography, Biology, History, German, English, Chemistry and Physics and Computer Sciences possible.

Mutual benefits

The collaboration of researchers and the partner schools offered a number of so far disregarded opportunities for the researchers, teachers and the students. Perspectives and thoughts of the future evolved concerning environmental and social matters of their local surroundings and the researchers got ideas for their analytical approach and strategy development. The pupils gathered experiences in research working procedures such as the design of questionnaires, collecting and analysing data and they gained or strengthened communication skills by presenting the project to the public.
The teachers were involved in an interesting process of working and learning of their pupils and experienced a new method of team teaching with researchers. And the researchers learned about the school system as an important recipient for spreading scientific results. They strengthened competencies in how to address students and teachers and raised interest for science amongst young people.

Evaluation /feedbacks

As the project is funded by the programme “proVISION - Precaution for Nature and Society” of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research, it was externally evaluated.

Limits and possibilities

The part of the total budget of the overall project dedicated to the realisation of the REC was low in relation to the time investment of the researchers in the Research Education Cooperation.

References

Auer I, Böhm R, Habsburg-Lothringen, Kirchengast A, Korus E, Prettenthaler F, Proske H, Schöner W, Vetters N, Wostal T., 2006: ProVision, the new strategy of Austrian Climate Change Research Policy demonstrated by the project “A tale of Two Valleys”. EMS2006 – A-00040 in 6th EMS/6th ECAC, EMS Annual Meeting Abstracts. Vol 3, 2006.

Nussbaumer A, Auer I, Böhm R, Kirchengast A, students of the 7th class of the Stiftsgymnasium Melk., 2006: A Tale of Two Valleys – Thoughts and Contributions of students of the Stiftgymnasium Melk to the Austrian Climate Change research project. EMS2006 – A-00042 in 6th EMS/6th ECAC, EMS Annual Meeting Abstracts. Vol 3, 2006.

Mark M, Auer I, Böhm R, students of the BORG Spittal an der Drau, 2006: A Tale of Two Valleys - Thoughts and Contributions of students of the BORG Spittal an der Drau to the Austrian Climate Change research project. EMS2006 – A-00086 in 6th EMS/6th ECAC, EMS Annual Meeting Abstracts. Vol 3, 2006.

Graf P, Hochhold-Falkner E, Auer I, Böhm R, Kirchengast A, Vetters N, Lainer F, students of the 5r and 5g class of the BG/BRG Zell am See., 2006: A Tale of Two Valleys – activities and collection of experiences with surveys and project management by the pupils of the BG/BRG Zell am See within the framework of the Austrian Climate Change research project. EMS2006 – A-00251 in 6th EMS/6th ECAC, EMS Annual Meeting Abstracts. Vol 3, 2006.

Auer I, Böhm R, Kirchengast A, Korus E, Prettenthaler F, Proske H, Vetters N., 2006: ProVision: A tale of Two Valleys – The Contrary Strategies in Two Neighbouring Valleys to Deal with Climate Variability and Climate Change. Tagungsband des 9. Österreichischen Klimatags “Klima, Klimawandel und Auswirkungen”, 16.- 17. März 2006, AustroClim, V 18. Proc.

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