A fond farewell to the NOAA Live! 4 Kids series, for now

What a journey the NOAA Live! 4 Kids webinar series offsite link has been. With our heads held high and a tear in our eyes, we are bidding a fond farewell to the NOAA Live! 4 Kids webinar series (for now!).

A man holds up a horseshoe crab exoskeleton to a virtual webinar live event.
Chris Petrone, from NOAA's Delaware Sea Grant, was a guest speaker for a NOAA Live! 4 Kids webinar in May of 2020. Here, he shows off a horseshoe crab exoskeleton to the viewers of the webinar. (Woods Hole Sea Grant)

Created in response to COVID-19-related school closures by Nicole Bartlett of NOAA’s Regional Collaboration Network and Grace Simpkins of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution offsite link and Woods Hole Sea Grant offsite link, these webinars were live-streamed from March 2020 to January 2022. The webinars provided students access to scientists, real-life examples of career paths in STEM fields, and the opportunity to have fun interacting with others outside their home in a safe way.

The webinar series offered over 100 webinars with guest speakers from across the country, engaged more than 7,500 live participants from more than 30 countries, and garnered more than 40,000 views of the webinar archive offsite link. NOAA Live! webinars were invaluable to educators and parents over the past two years, especially while many schools were operating virtually and more parents were working to facilitate education at home. Now that many schools have returned to in-person instruction, fewer kids, families, and educators have been able to attend the live webinars. As a result, NOAA made the decision to discontinue the series.

“It was really a privilege to have the ability to use such a prominent platform to share NOAA's science with kids and families across the United States and beyond,” said Maggie Beetstra, a NOAA Education Strategic Planning Specialist, 2021 Knauss Fellow, and a host of the webinar series during the last seven webinars. “I learned about sea turtles, crabs, drought, stormwater runoff, tornadoes, and coral polyps from scientists and educators who are passionate about what they do and want to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with the next generation.”

Katherine Longmire, a 2021 Knauss Fellow and manager of the webinar series during the last seven webinars said, "I was incredibly honored to be a part of the NOAA Live! 4 Kids webinar series! It was rewarding to engage with the audience and see their excitement for science!"

Over the life of the series, Spanish captioning was provided for every webinar in the archive, and live American Sign Language interpretation was added in the second year. There were dozens of “regulars” — students from across the country who attended more than 20 webinars in the series, and regularly interacted with the hosts and speakers through the chat feature.

Maggie is proudest of the final webinar of the series. “We did the first NOAA Live! 4 Kids in Spanish offsite link, and I hope that NOAA continues to increase it's Spanish-language programming. The more accessible we make our work to our audiences, the more we are improving equity.”

Series co-creators Grace and Nicole also returned in November of 2021 for two special NOAA Live! webinars as part of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Family Days NOAA in Your Life offsite link program.

Although the recurring series is coming to a close, NOAA may continue to revive the NOAA Live 4 Kids! platform for special events like these. Keep an eye out for opportunities to hear from our talented NOAA scientists about their work and their passion for science.

You can find all 100+ webinars in the NOAA Live! 4 Kids webinar archive offsite link. Search by topic, state, NOAA office, or Next Generation Science Standards to find a webinar that’s right for you and your classroom or home.