Newspaper article about Visit to Alexander von Humboldt school in Konstanz, Germany

The newpaper article is below. Take a look. It was very nice of Sebastian to translate it into English.

Getting from Switzerland to Cologne, Germany

After our meeting with the teachers and student at the Alexander von Humboldt Gymnasium in Konstanz, Germany, we made our way up to Cologne, Germany so I could attend and present at the International Geographical Congress (IGC) meeting. I’ve posted pictures of the trip and the cities we visited. I included a little about each city so you can get a sense of the countryside.

Tirol Region of Austria

We started by going to Reutte, Austria. I was a little nervous going to Austria because most of the people do not speak English and I speak about two words of German, danke…. okay maybe just one. The nice thing about Austria is that it was very inexpensive compared to Switzerland. In Switzerland, a soda was $4.50 while in Austria it was $1.50. Diesel fuel was much less expensive as well so we filled up. We heard about a folk dance festival and decided to go. It was a night of traditional Tirol dances. Tirol is the area of Austria we were in. It was nice because it was something that the local people do and not meant for tourists. I strangely felt at home and fit right in. The middle-aged men were about the same height and build as I, wore glasses and are going bald on top in the same place as me. Some middle school students came and sat by us because they could tell we didn’t know German. They were in some of the dancing. They were very nice and wanted to practice their English with us. They told us what was going on. But, then, one of the girls wanted me to go with her to dance on the stage. I was thinking, “This is a bad idea.” But, the students brought many people on stage to dance with them. Not to make too big of a scene, I danced with them in front of all of those people. One of the mom’s took video of me dancing. I hope the camera broke and no one will ever see me dance. I hope we are able to stay in contact with the family.

Kathleen and I found a great river along the road going into Germany that has a large bed of cobble stones. The water was cold and we had a nice time wading in the river. I’m guessing that the riverbed is devoid of vegetation because the floods in the spring must scour everything away. Kathleen took some pictures of the stones while I took the surface temperature of the stones and water. You may be able to see that I had a helper. We noticed that the water was completely clear and did not seem to have any plant or animal life in it.


Neuschwanstein Castle

We had to stop at Neuschwanstein Castle near Fussen, Germany. It is a huge tourist trap but it is still very beautiful to see. This castle was built by Mad Kind Ludwig of Bavaria. He only lived in it for something like 170 days. It wasn’t completely finished either. The story goes that when he was about 24, he was institutionalized for being crazy. A couple of days later, he drowned in a lake in Munich, Germany with his psychiatrist. This is the castle that Walt Disney patterned the Magic Kingdom after. We didn’t see Mickey here though.

Rural southern Germany

As we drove through southern Germany north, we took the side roads instead of taking the autobahn. We went through many small towns where the road goes down to one lane. The country-side was beautiful. Germany has quite a significant amount of agriculture. I felt right at home since northern Ohio and southern Michigan where we live have a lot of agriculture as well. You may be able to see from the pictures that the barns and houses are connected. That must help to keep the people and animals warm in the winter. We stopped and took surface temperature observations just outside one of the small towns. Do you notice something out of place in the pictures? There are solar panels on almost every roof. We found out that Germany had a significant incentive program for people to put solar panels on their roofs. It just looked so out of place. But, they are also trying to generate electricity from alternative sources. Since the nuclear disaster in Japan, Germany has shut down all of it nuclear generating plants.

Along the route, there were many castles and old looking buildings. Below are pictures of Burg Harburg. We got to the castle too late to take a tour but we were able to use their restroom. Interestingly, the highway goes through a tunnel under the castle. As you may guess, most castles are on hills. I was surprised to see the road go under it.

Dinkelsbühl- the walled city

Dinkelsbuhl is a nice old village that is a walled city from the Middle Ages. My understanding is that the wall helped keep the people in the city safe from people who may want to hurt them. Dinkelsbuhl is named after a wheat farmer. Wheat can be called dinkel. There are towers around the city and there is water (i.e. mote) just outside the wall to make it hard to attack. One of the coolest surfaces I found on our trip was in Dinkelsbuhl. It was the traditional paving stones with grass growing in between. From what I understand, none of Dinkelsbuhl was destroyed during the world wars so much of the buildings are over 500 years old.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Our next stop was the walled city of Rothenburg. It is on the Tauber River and since there are more than one Rothenburgs in Germany, you need to specify which one it is. Rothenburg is much larger than Dinkelsbuhl. The wall was added to three separate times as the city grew. There are many fountains in the city with water running all of the time. We learned that the fountains were built hundreds of years ago. Since Rothenburg is on a plateau, there is no natural source of water. The Tauber River is several hundred feet below. So, the ingenious people pipe water from nearby hills (mountains) Since the hills are higher in elevation than the city, the pressure pushes the water through the fountains. It is really cool. During the Middle Ages, the people of the city had to keep the source of their water secret so people couldn’t sabotage their drinking water source.

Cologne, Germany

The last part of our trip to Cologne took us nearly twice and long as it should have. Traffic was horrible because people were heading off on vacation and there was an accident. Cologne is a beautiful city located on the Rhine River. The Rhine is famous for its castles and vineyards. The climate is perfect for growing grapes for wine. We stayed with our friends Karen and Karl Schneider. Herr Schneider as he is known here is the Dean of the School of Natural Sciences at the University of Cologne. I’ll write more about Cologne and the IGC meeting tomorrow.

Chris and Sebastian from the Alexander von Humboldt Gymnasium had a


newspaper article published about my visit. That is really special.;art372448,5657389

Here is the translation in English.

Professor honours students of the Humboldt Gymnasium

The American Kevin Czajkowski visited the Humboldt Gymnasium and honours the student for their scientific work.

In the middle of the summer vacation the high school Alexander-von-Humboldt Gymnasium was visited by a professor from the US who appeared to be quite taken with the work of this school. Prof. Kevin Czajkowski and his wife visited the GLOBE study group (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment). In this study group lower grade students aged 11-14 analyze the water of the River Rhine and collect data on the weather daily. This data is subsequently uploaded to the GLOBE website ( There the data is available to be used in research. With the help of the study group, students are not only introduced to experimental methods used in science but also learn that scientific work can only be successful if data are collected regularly over a longer period of time. In a press release it was said that since the GLOBE study group had been set up by teacher Christoph Goldstein in 2008 it had worked its way up to one of those schools which, within Germany, has uploaded the most data. Also on a worldwide scale Alexander-von-Humboldt Gymnasium is one of the most active schools concerning data collection. Worldwide there are over 25,000 schools within the GLOBE network.

            During his visit Professor Kevin Czajkowski, who teaches meteorology at Toledo University, Ohio and is one of the GLOBE scientists, complimented the students of the GLOBE study group and the teachers Christoph Goldstein and Sebastian Haber on the excellent work that had been done for the GLOBE program. Nicolai Scherer, 7th grader and GLOBE student at Humboldt Gymnasium, demonstrated water analyses to the guests and welcomed suggestions for further analyses. As a present Professor, Kevin Czajkowski gave the GLOBE study group school an infrared thermometer, which can be used for further series of measurements.

August 20, 2012: Vis


it to Alexander von Humboldt school in Konstanz, Germany

On Monday I visited the Alexander von Humboldt Gymnasium in Konstanz, Germany. It is a small part of Germany that is south of Lake Constance. Lake Constance is a beautiful lake with quite clean water. What is unique about Konstanz is that it would seem that it should be part of Switzerland. But, it isn’t. I met with Chris Goldstein, Chris’ wife Marlene, Sebastian Haber (the new GLOBE teacher at the school) and Nicolai (a 7th grade student). This is a great GLOBE school. They are one of the most prolific at taking observations in all of the world. They take hydrology observations in Lake Constance that is just a few steps from the school. Nicolai showed us how he takes the measurements. He has taken measurements all during his summer break. He is very proficient for a 7th grader. Actually, he is very proficient for any grade. I wish my graduate students would be as thorough. I hope they don't read this :). The students take GLOBE observations in the extra period which is recess. They also observe the clouds and the weather information from a weather station on the roof. As with many GLOBE schools, if they had it at ground level, it would get vandalized.

I showed the how to take surface temperature measurements and we went outside and took some. Their school is in the city so there is very little grass. In the pictures below, you can see Nikoli and myself taking the surface temperature readings on the stone play area. To take official GLOBE measurements we took 9 observations for each cover type. Since I am not at my school, I do not plan to upload the values. But, hopefully Sebastian is able to do so. The paved playing area (1 on the image below) that the students play on was 38.2 C on average while the nearby grass (2) was 30.9 C. This is closer than the other measurements I have made. By the way, skies were clear except for 4 short-lived contrails for the grass site.

It was great meeting everyone at the school and I hope that we have a productive future working together through GLOBE.


These pictures are of the area around Lake Constance. This is a very agricultural area with large orchards of apple trees. I read that many of the apples from here are put into McDonalds Happy Meals (the ones with the apple slices). It is interesting that the trees are very short and are grown like grape vines in a way but about twice as tall. Also, the farmers put a netting over the trees. I'm guessing it is to either keep bugs or birds from eating the apples. In the middle picture, the netting is the black rows in the background. The first picture is of a community garden in eastern Switzerland. Every village seems to have one or more of these community gardens. There are lots of sheds in the gardens which you can see. My wife and I had a section in a community garden when we lived in an apartment in Greenbelt, Maryland just after we got married. It was a lot of fun and we got some nice vegetables from it. What's interesting in Switzerland, is that the houses have very small plots of land around them. Then, to have a garden, the people have to go to a community garden. In many parts of the United States, our yards are big enough to have nice sized gardens.

More Glacier Pictures


Kathleen and I took a couple hundred pictures of the glacier. I thought  I would share a few more. Take a look at all of the gray ice. That is the old glacier melting. The white snow is the snow that fell last winter. So, in general, the Mount Titlis glacier is melting back.

Here are some other things to note about how the attraction is unsustainable. There is a watch store at the top of the mountain. The urinals in the men’s room are flush toilets instead of the no-flush ones. They also made a cave under the glacier that wasn't there. They dug it out. It was really neat to go into but is it necessary?

If you want to read my previous posts, click on Previous below!

We took surface temperature measurements at the base of Mount Titlis, part way up and at the top. A research question that can be asked is "How does surface temperature change with elevation?" You could also then relate that to the air temperature. The rate at which the temperature changes from the surface to the typical height above the surface, i.e. 2 m, changes with elevation above sea level.  This image shows the location of the different surface temperature observations that I took. I tried to take grass and pavement observations at each elevation. However, there was no grass at 3000 m.

Engelberg, 1060 m  1. asphalt 45.0 C  2. grass  29.1 C

Trubsee, 1800 m  3. gravel 40.2   4. grass  29.1 C

Mt. Titlis 3200 m 5. snow -0.5  6. gravel 2.4 C rocks 17.2 C  7. snow -0.2 C

All of the observations were taken we it was completely clear and quite hot. This was the hottest day in 100 years we were told by some Swiss people. As you can see, the grass temperature was the same at 1060 m and 1800 m while the gravel was cooler than the asphalt which may be expected. The gravel at 3200 m is a lot colder even though the air temperature was 14 C. Interestingly, the bare rocks that are not on top of snow were quite hot at 17.2 C. I can image that if the glacier melts, it exposes bare rock which can get quite hot in the sunshine. In the GLOBE database, there are many surface temperature observations at different elevations. Students could ask the question of how surface temperature changes with elevation while keeping other variables the same like latitude, surface cover and air temperature.


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