Interactive learning experiences with open source Jupyter Notebooks

25 March 2023

Educational project

Interactive learning experiences with open source Jupyter Notebooks

Activities in our society are generating large amounts of data, and organizations are becoming more dependent on this data for their day-to-day activities or long-term strategies. Climate science is no exception to this rule: vast amounts of data are produced and analyzed by various research groups. We need to prepare the next generation of students for these developments in and outside of science. This project aims to develop a tool without commercial software for students to train these skills. 


We propose to develop Jupyter Notebooks for use in the BSc Global Sustainability Science and MSc Sustainable Development. A Jupyter Notebook, is a document that can be opened in a web browser and that consists of multiple cells. These cells can contain text with mathematical equations, images and videos, but also code (e.g., Python, R). The code can then be executed (usually a calculation) on request of the user/student and the results of this are then shown below the executed cell in the Jupyter Notebook (see also

Jupyter Notebooks are used in research, but also attractive in teaching, for instance for computer practicals. In such applications, the Jupyter Notebook typically starts with a cell that contains an introductory text, followed by a cell that contains code for a calculation, which again is followed by a text cell that provides some reflection on the calculation. The use of Jupyter Notebooks has several attractive features e.g., benefiting from open source software, stimulate (inter)active learning, gain experience with programming and Jupyter Notebooks can be used in the cloud without installing software or downloading data by the student.

Project description

We will design several computer practicals for various topics related to the Earthsystem. Carefully a balance between the theory and concepts that we want to reinforce will be developed, whilst simultaneously giving attention to the technical skills (e.g., programming, data analysis) that we want to teach students. A student assistant will help with technical implementation and testing, and the educational expertise from EMP is requested to advise during the process.


In this project we aim to develop Jupyter Notebooks on a basic and more advanced level (1 for the first year BSc course Natural Processes GEO1-2412, and 3 for the MSc level course Integrated Assessment of Climate Change, that is currently still in development for the academic year 2023/2024). By using these two contrasting courses as ‘vehicle’ for this development, we aim to gain more practical experience with Jupyter Notebooks for teaching. We expect that this will help identify other courses where this innovation can be of added value.


A series of 4 Jupyter Notebooks that can be used in the first year BSc course Natural Processes (GEO1-2412) and in the MSc course Integrated Assessment of Climate Change, that is currently still in development. The Jupyter Notebooks should contribute to the learning goals of the respective courses. Furthermore, Jupyter Notebooks should offer challenging problems to advanced students, while remaining accessible to students that are struggling to keep up with the course, or that have less affinity with programming. Lastly, computer practicals will be developed for the courses ‘Natural Processes’ and ‘Integrated Assessment of Climate change’.

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