A year of photos from NOAA Education

We can’t help but reminisce on the impressive strides NOAA interns, fellows, and educators made in 2021. We asked the NOAA Education community to submit photos to us that summed up their year. From snappy screenshots to creative ways to educate in the time of COVID-19, here are some of our favorite photos from 2021.

A young girl reaches into a tide pool as she discovers something of interest. The sun is setting in the background, providing silhouettes of other people tidepooling in the distance with a low hillside and a tree in the frame.

During a pandemic, it is ideal to have outdoor spaces that children and families can enjoy far from others to prevent the spread of the virus. In this case, a young girl is tidepooling in a marine reserve off the University of California, Santa Barbara campus, during an exceptionally low king tide. This preserve is close to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, located offshore Southern California. Experiences in nature like this can re-engage children after they have spent so much time looking at a screen during remote instruction. (Claire Fackler, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries)

A naturalist is on their knee along a river edge with a turbidity tube, wearing a mask.  Another naturalist is using a tablet to record the activity. The river bank is made of cobblestones.

As part of the Pacific Northwest Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Program, Environmental Science Center’s naturalists Orian and Carolina virtually walked students through all aspects of water quality testing on the Duwamish River in Seattle, Washington. Students used the chat feature of Zoom to share their analyses of the tests. (Kharli Rose)

A young boy sits cross-legged on the floor of his living room with Oculus Go googles strapped to his head and a controller in his hand. The sticker on the front of the goggles says "Get into your Sanctuary."

Virtual reality like Sanctuaries 360° — a collection of immersive underwater experiences — can bring exceptional places to viewers all over the world. This student is exploring national marine sanctuaries from his home in California as part of 2021’s Get into Your Sanctuary celebrations. (Claire Fackler, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries)

Two students stand on a snow-covered sand dune on the edge of a lake holding whiteboards with drawings that appear to include conifer trees, foxes, deer, and eagles. The students are dressed for winter weather and are both wearing face masks.

Students drew their version of a Great Lakes dune ecosystem during a field day exploring local ecosystems as a part of the University of Wisconsin-Superior B-WET project. (Ryan Feldbrugge)

A screenshot of twenty-one adults wearing marine-themed hats participating in a Zoom call. Hats include jellyfish, squid, killer whales, crabs, an octopus, sharks, and an angler fish complete with an electric light on its lure.

On October 31, 2020, NOAA's Teacher at Sea Alumni Association offsite link launched its inaugural Great Lakes/Great Plains Regional group with a festive virtual meeting. Educators put on their “thinking caps,” which in this case featured a wide array of sea creatures. (TASAA via Zoom/Britta Culbertson)

Two adults pull a seine, or large net, through the surf to collect organisms.

In this NOAA B-WET outdoor experience as part of the Baylor Gulf of Mexico B-WET project offsite link, teachers participate in bag seining in the surf zone with the Matagorda Bay Foundation. The diversity and number of organisms using surf zone habitats is often surprising to teachers as they participate. (Dr. Stephanie Wong)

An educator holds up two skulls to the view of a laptop.

The pandemic halted in-person field trips, but that didn't stop the Education Team at Elkhorn Slough Reserve. A suite of distance-learning resources popped up over summer, and by the fall of 2020, the team was guiding students through virtual nature experiences. Here, Rose Bondurant guides students in a lesson on adaptation, guiding kids through comparisons between a deer skull and a mountain lion skull. (Photo Credit: Ariel Hunter/NOAA Subject: Rose Bondurant)

A teacher reads a children's book, The Secret Bay, in front of a web camera that is broadcast to elementary students in offsite classrooms. The educator is in a visitor center with plant and animal specimens and a map of the Gulf of Mexico.

In the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve classroom, education staff brought estuary learning virtually to hundreds of students during National Reading Month in March 2021. An education staff member read "The Secret Bay" to elementary students while students followed along remotely via e-book. The students then participated in a virtual marine touch lab and were able to engage in question-and-answer time with staff. (Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve)

Teachers standing at a table on the deck of a working research vessel wearing hard hats look up for a photo while sorting invertebrates on trays.

Teachers sort and identify invertebrates that were found in the Gulf of Mexico while aboard the R/V Weatherbird II offsite link before releasing them back into the Gulf. (Heather Judkins, The Florida Aquarium)

The long shadows of three young boys and two tween girls jumping in the sand with a bright orange sunset behind them making them silhouettes.

During a rough year with the pandemic, young students celebrate being outdoors in nature after a sunset tidepooling adventure at Coal Oil Point Nature Preserve offsite link along the California coast near Santa Barbara. (Claire Fackler, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries)