17 January 2014

Young budding scientists observe the fractal features of the rain

by Rosa Vicari / École des Ponts ParisTech

The RainGain itinerant laboratory continues its trip.

After the success of the RainGain animations at Festival de l’Oh and in three high schools, new outreach activities were held in Sceaux (Paris Region) on 11th October 2013 and 17th January 2014.

Auguste Gires (École des Ponts ParisTech) created and presented two workshops to introduce a very young audience to some of the RainGain’s scientific challenges. Despite their little age, the pupils of Clos Saint-Marcel kinder garden experienced, with great enthusiasm and insight, the techniques of rain observation and modelling.

We asked to Auguste how he succeded in turning 5 to 6 years old children in hydrometereology scientists in only two lessons.

AG: During the first workshop, the children learnt how to build their own disdrometer and observe the raindrops. They first built a basic disdrometer with a container filled with flour and tested it with tinted water. The class went then outdoor and exposed the open disdrometer to the rain for few seconds. At the end of the workshop, it was asked to the children to analyse the results, draw what they saw, and observe the great size variability of the raindrops.


The second workshop was the occasion to implement a random fractal model in order to reproduce a time series of daily rainfall occurrence. The class recorded the daily rainfall occurrence during the previous two months. The day of the workshop each child was asked to launch several times a black and white dice and indicate the results by coloring a simple graph. The result was a simulation of daily rain occurrence: a realistic time series reproducing the fractal properties of the rain. It was finally asked to the children to compare their previous rain observations with their simulations.


Auguste Gires will present the output of these educational activities next spring at the EGU 2014 General Assembly, in the framework of the Educational and Outreach Symposia.