MUCtrail – the environmental adventure trail
With Mia and Fritz through the Olympiapark
Jessica, what is the MUCtrail?
Jessica Neusser: MUCtrail is a virtual environmental adventure trail through the Olympiapark. It is primarily aimed at children between 8 and 12 years of age, and it conveys interesting facts about climate and climate change in Munich at six different stations. Using the web-based app "MUCtrail", you can follow the path for about 2.3 km, stopping at the various stations. MUC is not only the abbreviation of Munich Airport, but also stands for "Munich Urban Climate Trail".
How did you come up with this idea?
The motto for our year was "Multimodal Science Communication". My team's starting point was the question whether the people, in general, really understand science. In surveys, we found that more than half of the respondents thought that science was not communicated in an accessible manner at school – and that it wasn't fun.
In your opinion, what is going wrong?
The hard facts are often well communicated – but that's not what scientific work is all about. This might explain why, despite a scientific consensus that climate change exists, part of society is not willing to accept this.
Why was the MUCtrail primarily designed for children?
In our opinion, it makes sense to start with children if you want to bring scientific methodology closer to society. Children learn new things through play, so we wanted to develop a game that focuses on science. The message is the question "How does science work?", and the core aspects of the MUCtrail are observation, conjecture, experiments, and evaluation.
So what are the activities for children at the individual stations?
At each station, the children can learn something about climate change. For example, there are stations that focus on urban heat islands or on the aspect of trees in climate change. Everything is presented in a playful manner – for example in the form of an interactive dialogue between a girl, Mia, and the researcher Fritz.
Some of the content is drawn in comic form. That's a good idea!
For the comic, we were able to win over Reiner Stolte, the illustrator of the TKKG series. Further, the stations are linked with scientific methodology: The children can carry out their own experiments – including observation, focus, and hypothesis building.
What do you like most about the Junge Akademie?
The fact that you really learn a lot amount about project management. That was very exciting for me. I come from the field of Biology, where you don't really learn anything in this regard. Our team was very interdisciplinary, with two students of Medicine, an engineer, a TUM-BWLer, and me as a biologist. We first had to learn how to develop ideas together and hold meetings efficiently. At the Junge Akademie, you get support from all sides.
What will happen with the MUCtrail?
Unfortunately, because of the Corona pandemic, we had to cancel the official presentation of the MUCtrail with the press and the second mayor Katrin Habenschaden for the time being. There will be a catch-up date in spring. However, the app is already available at muctrail.de – and everyone who wants to can already go on a discovery tour in the Olympiapark.
Do you have time to continue working on it?
What makes our project different from others and what we are especially proud of is that our project is sustainable, because our project partner, the Department of Health and Environment of the City of Munich, will take over the project. It will then serve as a model for other environmental adventure trails in Munich.
(Interview: Sabrina Czechofsky)
Jessica Neusser, 25, is a student of Biology in Weihenstephan, currently in the final stages of working on her Master's thesis. Since the beginning of 2019, she was a participant of the Junge Akademie and developed the MUCtrail together with her team.