The University of Cologne and IGC


Cologne, Germany

We stayed in Cologne, Germany for several days. While in Cologne, we stayed with Dr. Karl Schneider, his wonderful wife Karen and children. They are always such great hosts. Their son Karl said that he played football. I assumed he meant soccer because the people in the United States are the ones that call the game soccer. The rest of the world says football. But, I was wrong. He plays American football (in Germany). That is interesting. The younger Karl was an exchange student in the United States and played on the school’s football team. Or, I should say that he practiced. The rules in the state he lived in would not allow exchange students to play sports if they hadn’t played the sport in the home school. That is terrible to me.

The senior Karl is the Dean of the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and he is a professor of Geography. Karl is quite modest of his accomplishments, but he is very well known and his research is top notch. He maintains his research program even when being dean which takes up a lot of his time. Karl studies remote sensing and he uses it to look at hydrology and water quality. One of his most recent studies is in India where he is working with colleagues to study runoff from the monsoon. One of his daughters went with him this past July. They are both very adventurous.

There are a couple things to note. Germany has been without a GLOBE country coordinator for a number of years now. Karl has been working to try to get Germany to more involved with GLOBE. Even without the government’s backing, some of the schools in Germany are the best schools in GLOBE, for example the Alexander von Humboldt Gymnasium that I visited. I hope that Germany can get more involved and the Karl is successful.

I gave a talk on GLOBE at the International Geographical Congress that was being held at the University of Cologne.

My talk was attended by over 50 people. That is one of the biggest audiences that I have had in a while. The focus of my presentation was on projects. I want teachers to have their students do projects. Sometimes teachers are reluctant to have their students do projects. To some degree, it is hard for the teacher to come up with frameworks for projects such that the students learn what the teacher wants them to learn. But, if the teacher can do it, the students learn much more. I say, “Learn Science by Doing Science.” I related it to soccer (football outside of the US). Professionals play soccer and they are very good. I am a professional scientist. But, just like almost everyone had played soccer in their lives, everyone needs to do science. GLOBE, of course, is perfect for projects. I hope that GLOBE has the Student Science Symposium again at next summer’s GLOBE meeting. It is up to GLOBE Partners to make sure that students do projects and that they have the funds to go to the annual meeting.

The IGC is very interesting in that people from all over the world come to it. I met people from Africa and Asia as well as North America and Europe. I went to a session on teaching geography on Sunday. What I found interesting (and a little sad) is that everywhere, the teachers and the professors that train teachers have the same struggles. Teachers do not have enough time in the classroom. It is hard for a pre-service teacher to learn everything they need to know in order to be an effective teacher. There are so many things we can learn from coming to a conference like this. The black cars in the one picture are for the Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand who attended the IGC conference. You may or may not know that Thailand is also a very good GLOBE country. I wonder if the princess knows about GLOBE? I did not get to talk to her.

Some things that I have noticed about Germany are that everything is very organized. The cities show little urban sprawl because where people can build houses is restricted. Also, Germany has many manufacturers. The people here complain that they purchase too many things from overseas. But, they still produce a lot of what they use.

Please take a look at my previous blog postings if you haven’t seen them already. Click on previous. 

More Blog Entries