10 Jun 2022
10 Jun 2022

Hand-written letters and photo albums linking geoscientists with school classes

Mathew Stiller-Reeve1,2, Claudio Argentino3, Kate Alyse Waghorn3, Sunil Vadakkepuliyambatta3,4, Dimitri Kalenitchenko3,5,6, and Giuliana Panieri3 Mathew Stiller-Reeve et al.
  • 1Konsulent Stiller-Reeve, 5281 Valestrandsfossen, Norway
  • 2University of Bergen, Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation (CET), Faculty of Social Sciences, PO Box 7802, 5020 Bergen, Norway
  • 3CAGE, Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate, UiT, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, 9010, Norway
  • 4National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Vasco da Gama, Goa, India
  • 5LIttoral ENvironnement et Sociétés (LIENSs)—UMR 7266, La Rochelle, France
  • 6Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway

Abstract. Do we miss something about «traditional” media such as handwritten letters and photography before the digital age? Some of the authors remember this age fondly, and we wanted to see if this fondness could be translated into a science dialogue project with school classes. We designed and carried out a communication process with 4 classes at different schools across Europe. During this process, each class would interact with a single scientist primarily via hand-written questions & letters, and a Polaroid photo album. The scientists would make this unique, one-of-a-kind album whilst on board a research expedition in the Barents Sea. We asked the question whether this process might show any benefits to the school students involved. To answer this, we asked the students to write up their thoughts on communicating with a scientist in this way. We analysed the texts and found that most students thought the letters and polaroid albums were a “beautiful experience”. Others commented on how important it is to actually put pen to paper and write, since they use (almost) only digital media these days. Most importantly, the students learnt different elements of the science connected to the research expedition, but also about the scientific process in general. And, equally important, some of the students were surprised and thankful that the scientists took the time to communicate with them in such a personal way. These results could possibly have been achieved using other media, however the hand-written letters and Polaroids worked very well. They also seemed to conjure up some of the personal memories that we have about communication not so long ago. Maybe there is something to be said for slowing things down with our science communication projects and making them more personal and unique. This is something that snail-mail and making photo albums forces us to do.

Mathew Stiller-Reeve et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-320', Nicholas Kinar, 07 Jul 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Mathew Stiller-Reeve, 03 Sep 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-320', Anonymous Referee #2, 15 Jul 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Mathew Stiller-Reeve, 03 Sep 2022

Mathew Stiller-Reeve et al.

Mathew Stiller-Reeve et al.


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Short summary
In this paper we describe a process where geoscientists corresponded with school classes in 3 different countries using handwritten letters and polaroid photo albums. The stories they told were based on their experiences in a research expedition in the Arctic. We evaluated the process and show some of the benefits the students experienced corresponding with the scientists in this way.