goes back to school

17 April 2020

From 28 to 31 January 2020, the secondary school Beisenkamp Gymnasium in Hamm (Westphalia) hosted the 3rd project days; this year’s motto was “Beisenkamp for Future”.

In preparation for the project days, the teachers Ms Schmitt and Ms Turwitt, together with the teacher trainee Mr Jörn, had decided on a topic that at first blush would seem far removed from students’ day-to-day lives: sea ice. After a telephone call with Dr Renate Treffeisen, who is responsible for the at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Ms Turwitt, the school’s religion teacher, realised that the project would be a very exciting one for her students. Dr Treffeisen visited the school on 28 January. She gave a presentation on sea ice and answered many of the children’s questions; afterwards, they divided into groups to work on a diverse range of related questions.

In the course of the three days, 23 children from classes 5 through 11 intensively explored the topic of sea ice in different groups. The aspects they examined included Arctic fauna and what life is like for the peoples of the Arctic, as well as various measuring methods used in sea-ice physics. On the fourth day, the groups presented their findings to the assembled student body of Beisenkamp Gymnasium.

One student who took part in the project days, I. Doyen, had the following to report:

“In the context of these project days at Beisenkamp Gymnasium, with the motto ‘Beisenkamp for Future’, we chose to work on the project ‘sea ice’. We had a visit from Dr Renate Treffeisen, who had travelled all the way from Bremerhaven to tell us about her work at the Alfred Wegener Institute and about ‘sea ice’ in the form of a presentation.

After her talk, it was time for us to do some work ourselves. We ran online searches on a number of questions, for instance, on methods for measuring sea ice and on how animals and humans live in the Arctic.

With support from Dr Treffeisen, our teachers Ms Turwitt and Ms Schmitt, and our teacher trainee Mr Jörn, we split into groups and began working on our posters and models.

At some point Dr Treffeisen unfortunately had to leave again, so we continued to work on the different sub-topics on the Arctic and sea ice without her.

On the last day of our project we had a videoconference with Dr Treffeisen, where we were proud to present our findings, and had the chance to talk about questions that came up and points we still didn’t quite understand. Afterwards, we finished out models and posters.

On Friday, all of the results from the project week were presented, and all students could look at the work done by the other groups. The topic ‘sea ice’ received a lot of interest from our fellow students and from our teachers. After several presentations on our findings, a quiz, and the chance to take a closer look at all the models, this day, too, came to an end. We won’t forget the three days, which were full of work and new information, and we will tell others how important it is to protect the Arctic and Antarctic.

Thank you for the fun and informative project days!”

Once the project days were over, the responsible teachers determined that researching and discussing sea ice had shown all the participating students that it definitely influences our lives here in Germany, even though it’s thousands of kilometres away, and that the polar bears aren’t the only ones whose lives will change when it melts.

Ms Turwitt had the following to say about the project: “In retrospect, when I think about how the project came into being, even I’m surprised. During the autumn holidays in 2019, by sheer coincidence I attended a short talk by a member of the Alfred Wegener Institute, which spontaneously gave me an idea: this topic would be a perfect fit for our project days! Back then I could never have dreamt that, thanks to the competent and committed support provided by Dr Treffeisen, the project would become such a success!”

(Written by I. Doyen, K. Schmitt, I. Turwitt)

Contact: Dr Renate Treffeisen (AWI)