Oranssi Lumi: Learning through atmospheric events

Oranssi Lumi is an initiative led by the Finnish Meteorological Institute, funded by the Kone Foundation, aiming at bringing science and arts together in the form of educational materials for different educational levels around the phenomenon of desert dust transport and deposition and its connections to climate.

This project originates from the natural event that occurred on the 23rd February 2021, when a visible layer of Saharan dust deposited on snow in Finland. The phenomenon intrigued citizens, as such long-range transported dust is not commonly observed in northern latitudes.

A successful citizen science campaign was launched by the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) to collect dust samples from all around Finland. As a result, FMI obtained an incredible response from the community, who had not only collected valuable samples from the scientific point of view but also shared how inspirational being part of this event and process was.

Since the interest in the event came from all backgrounds and age groups, we believed that these types of natural events have the potential to serve a double purpose: contributing to the purely scientific knowledge about long-range dust transport and its effects on climate and acting as a trigger for developing science and arts activities for kindergartners, school children, teenagers, and families. It is our responsibility to bring this opportunity to the community in an accessible and multidisciplinary way.

Educational materials for a better understanding of natural events

Our main goal is to elaborate educational materials around the phenomenon of Saharan dust transport and deposition focusing on science and arts. Through the creation of these materials, we aim at better planning sample collection campaigns in the future by creating specific guidelines for different age groups that will lead to an increase in societal engagement in the process of science-making, contributing to building trust in scientific institutions.

We believe in portraying a multidisciplinary approach in which science and arts can complement each other. In our project, we want to highlight the human and artistic aspects of natural processes and events, since connecting with the emotional side of living in a changing world and environment brings us closer to society’s interests. All in all, our ultimate goal is raising awareness about climate change and the importance and impact of science on our lives and the planet.

Oranssi Lumi, connecting science and art to enact change

Oranssi Lumi (“orange snow” in English) is the branded name we created for the initiative, together with a visual identity that goes in line with the spirit of the project. The name and logo not only refer to the actual Saharan dust deposition phenomenon but also reflect the multidisciplinary approach that we want to portray: a balanced combination of science and art.

Co-creation workshops, an innovative methodology

The focus of this project is on an exploratory approach carried out by the core team, in contact with other researchers and educational professionals. The ideation and design of the informative, inspiring educational materials are performed through a framework of steps: from sample collecting methodologies research, co-creation workshops for the development of the education materials, a strong visual identity aligned with the goals of the project, dissemination of the activities and further ideation on future possibilities in the realm of citizen-driven initiatives.

The educational materials, available in Finnish, Swedish and English will be launched in the first half of 2023, in connection with in-person outreach activities for schoolchildren hosted by the Finnish Meteorological Institute.