Educational activities of the French Meteorological Society: Météo et Climat

Météo et Climat, the French Meteorological Society, was founded in 1852 as a non-profit association. Its head office is in Saint-Mandé, near Paris, and it has a regional section in Toulouse.

Its main missions are:
– To unite the atmospheric and climate science communities
– To promote the interests of communities invested in these areas
– To play an expert role
– To enhance the impact of scientific work and innovations
– To increase awareness of weather impacts and climate change with the general public, media, businesses, teachers and school students.

To achieve its objectives in the field of education and training, “Météo et Climat” organises several activities. Many of these are co-organised with other scientific or educational associations. These events are described in detail in the sections below.

1. The “Forum International de Météo et Climat” (FIM)

This is an international event which started in 2004 and focuses on the issues of climate change and severe weather events that represent a major challenge for humanity. The event offers a session for the general public, teachers and students with separate sessions reserved for professionals. Its main objectives are to raise public awareness on climate and meteorological issues and to provide professionals with a platform for exchange and reflection, in order to enhance skills and create synergies.

The ESA booth at FIM 2018 (Photo credit: ©FIM)
The ESA booth at FIM 2018 (Photo credit: ©FIM)

Every year, the Forum welcomes primary to secondary school students and offers dedicated educational opportunities. The students are divided into groups and supervised by facilitators, with students becoming involved in various workshops and scientific experiments offered by organisations and laboratories present at the event. The aim of these pedagogical sessions is to encourage a scientific approach and to make sure that the student is active and not simply an observer. More than 15,000 school students participated in the FIM between 2010 and 2018.

 

Presentation of the Climate Education award at FIM 2018 (photo credit: ©FIM)
Presentation of the Climate Education award at FIM 2018 (photo credit: ©FIM)

2. The FIM climate education award

This award, initiated in 2017 as a part of the FIM, is for college and high school students. It aims to promote educational projects related to climate and has a different theme each year. For example, in 2018 the theme selected for college students was “My college against global warming” and the one for high school students was “Sustainable city tomorrow”. Twenty-six institutions participated in 2017 and 2018.

 

3. The Perrin de Brichambaut Award

The purpose of this award is to promote and encourage cultural and scientific actions in the fields of meteorology and climate. It is aimed at primary school, colleges and high school students and rewards a project carried out during the school year on the theme of meteorology, climate or related disciplines such as sustainable development, water, environment, energy, etc. The award commenced in 1997 to honour the memory of Christian Perrin Brichambaut (1928-1995), a former engineer at Météo-France and a former President of the association, who worked hard to popularise science.

There were 126 participants between 2010 and 2018. In 2018, the three winning projects were: “Meteorological measurements, climate change, citizenship and solidarity commitments”, “Production of a magazine on Scientific Warming” and “Case study on the hypothetical arrival of an IRMA-style cyclone in French Polynesia”.

4. The André Prud’homme Award

This award consists of a prize of €1,800 and is aimed at young scientists pursuing a doctoral thesis in meteorology, physics and chemistry of the atmosphere, paleoclimatology or climatology including oceanographic aspects. It was created in 1992 to honour the memory of André Prud’homme, an engineer at Météo-France who died in 1959, at the age of 39, while taking meteorological measurements at Dumont d’Urville in the Antarctic.
The last 4 laureates for this reward were:
2018: Alexandre Pohl for “Understanding the Ordovician climate using numerical modeling”
2017: Casimir de Lavergne for “Elements of the life cycle of the Antarctic water bottom”
2016: Neige Calonne for “Physics of the metamorphoses of the dry snow”
2015: Pierre Nabat for “Aerosol-radiation-cloud interactions and climate variability in the Mediterranean: An approach through coupled regional modeling”.

5. The “Rencontres Météo et Espace” (Weather and Space Meetings)

These meetings in Toulouse are co-organised by Météo-France, “Planète Sciences Occitanie”, “Météo et Climat” and the “Association des Anciens de la Météorologie” (Association of Former Meteorologists). Each year, they bring together 300 school students from the Occitanie region, in the south of France.

The programme includes various activities including:
– Promotion of student projects, where each group is invited to present its project to a jury.
– Technical workshops on various themes such as Meteoalarm maps, weather satellites, precipitation and storms, reading weather maps, etc.
– Scientific meetings with professional meteorologists; this gives young people the opportunity to interact with meteorologists to discover the practice of the profession (missions in the Antarctic, job of a forecaster or climatologist, etc.)
– Release of sounding balloons and recording of measurements made in the atmosphere during the ascent of the balloon up to an altitude of 30 km.
– Other activities -weather quizzes, film screenings, club exchanges and prize giving for the best project presentations, etc.

The Weather and Space meetings at the Météo-France headquarters in Toulouse (Photo credit: ©Météo-France)
The Weather and Space meetings at the Météo-France headquarters in Toulouse (Photo credit: ©Météo-France)

6. The magazine “La Météorologie

“La Météorologie” is a quarterly, peer-reviewed scientific journal published in French, in paper and electronic formats, by “Météo et Climat” with the support of Météo-France, the “Agence de l’environnement et de la maîtrise de l’énergie – ADEME” (Agency for environment and energy control) and the “Institut national des sciences de l’univers – INSU/CNRS” (National Institute for Universe Sciences). Its main objectives are to:
– Unite the French and French speaking meteorological and climate communities,
– Provide information on advances in the field of climate science
– Be involved in the popularisation of scientific culture among amateurs in order to enhance their understanding of meteorological phenomena and the risk of climate change.

In August 2014 the journal launched a new section “TEACHING” which aims to present useful educational material to teachers and students of secondary and higher levels, in order to help them understand meteorological phenomena, oceanography and climate. This material can be used as part of their courses, practical activities or personal initiatives. It may consist of, for example, laboratory experiments (qualitative or quantitative), the manipulation of instruments for the atmosphere or ocean, the use of educational software or web applications.
Examples of articles that have been published to date include:
– How are clouds formed? – The experience of the cloud in a bottle (C. Risi, 2014),
– Use of a simplified climate model (O. Boucher, 2014),
– The ice cream vendor and the chaos (C. Labadie, 2017),
– The colors of the sky (C. Risi, 2017).

7. The “Train du Climat”

“Le train du climat” is a traveling exhibition installed aboard a train, chartered by the company “Trains Expo Evénements”, to present information to the public on past, present and future climates of our Planet. It is a production by “Association Train du Climat” created by a collection of scientists “Les Messagers du Climat”, the French meteorological society, and the French national railways company “SNCF” and supported by the French Ministries of National Education, Higher Education and Research, and Ecology.

In October 2015, before COP21, the train travelled all over France. Forty-two scientists from 13 different institutes with diverse expertise were on board. On its 3-week journey, the train stopped at 19 cities, reached 23,000 people, including approximately 3000 school children and 1000 decision makers and elected representatives. It also received extensive media coverage. Following the success of this first edition, a new project was developed. Two trains were assembled and transformed to host a new scientific exhibition on climate, focussing on mitigation and adaptation strategies.. After opening to the public in Paris in December 2017, during the Climate Summit organised by the French Presidency, the new “Train du Climat” will be launched throughout France for regional tours in 2018 and 2019.
“Le Train du Climat” was awarded the EMS Outreach & Communication Award 2017 for being a very innovative and original concept.

8. The Office for Climate Education (OCE)

The Office for Climate Education (OCE) is an organisation devoted to promoting climate change education for school and college students and teachers, in both developed and developing countries. It was founded in cooperation with the association “La main à la pâte”, the “Institut Pierre Simon Laplace” (IPSL) and the “Institut de Recherche pour le Développement” (IRD). Its main objectives are to:
– Focus efforts on teachers at primary and secondary school levels, with particular emphasis on the 9-15 years of age range
– Follow the publication of IPCC reports throughout the period 2018-2022 by providing teachers with quality, multilingual, free and open educational resources
– Provide a diverse range of training opportunities for teachers
– Deploy the above actions around the world, with a particular focus on developing countries.

By Jean-Pierre Chalon

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