Use the filter menu and interactive map to explore the past competitions offered and grants awarded through the Environmental Literacy Program.
To learn more about project findings and outcomes, view the summaries of our grantees’ summative evaluation reports.
CoCoRaHS: The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network
The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) involves thousands of people of all ages in the observation and study of weather, climate and water resources. In CoCoRaHS, citizens of all ages help measure and report rain, hail and snow from their own homes, schools and businesses. These data are then efficiently collected via the internet, archived in a national database, and made immediately available to participants, scientists and the general public showing the fascinating patterns of precipitation from each passing storm (see http://www.cocorahs.org). The measurement of precipitation and the patterns, variations and impacts that result, open the door to creative study of our environment. It is the "lowest common denominator" of hydroclimatic exploration. In this project, data from the CoCoRaHS citizen science network will be shared with and utilized by NOAA partners to help monitor drought, to help detect local severe storms, to alert local authorities to developing flash flood situations, to provide "ground truth" for NOAA and NASA remote sensing technologies, and to provide verification for both local and national weather and climate forecast products.
Bringing Knowledge of Planet Earth to a Wider Audience and Bringing a Diverse New Group to Careers in Science Teaching
Science On a Sphere (SOS) at Fiske Planetarium will raise awareness and understanding of Earth system science for over 30,000 visitors per year, using student docents and newly-developed, tested pedagogy. SOS will enhance Fiske’s ability to engage 3,000 university students and 30,000 K-12 students and members of the public. A student docent program will transform the traditionally passive experience of a planetarium visit into an interactive learning opportunity. The docents will be drawn from two sources: undergraduates who will be future science teachers, who we take from a selective CU program called "STEM-TP", and Hispanic university and high school students taught by Fiske's planetarium manager Francisco Salas. Docents will talk with visitors and help them understand key science issues that affect the earth, leading to more informed decision-making. Fiske will develop bilingual pedagogical material and new data sets, and share them with NOAA and SOS sites. To support the docents, and visiting students and teachers, Fiske Education Manager Traub-Metlay will lead development of explanatory materials that challenge visitors and provide context for what they are seeing. These will be translated into Spanish by Fiske Manager Salas. New data sets, contributed by faculty members, will expand the range of SOS, into space, adding solar interior models, the celestial sphere, and the cosmic background radiation from the Big Bang, along with new terrestrial data such as the worldwide distribution of forest fires. SOS will become a focal point in Fiske's longstanding tradition of teacher workshops, which are often done in cooperation with the University of Colorado and NOAA scientists and highlight NOAA’s role monitoring the earth and sun. It also will be integrated with a small suite of hands-on exhibits we are installing that explains how observations can be made in infrared, ultraviolet, and X-rays in addition to visible light. These would complement SOS, which features multi-wavelength data. Fiske and its Boulder Colorado-area partners have raised $75,000 to cover the full cost of SOS hardware, and have formal institutional commitments to long-term program development. This award from NOAA will go into materials development, evaluation, and student pay. Colorado communities are aware of NOAA’s important work and the nearby David Skaggs Center, but security measures make it difficult to visit there. Fiske is much more accessible. Fiske will improve the usefulness of all SOS sites by conducting formative evaluation to assess what kinds of SOS presentations work best with public and school audiences, giving feedback to NOAA and all SOS users.
Science on a Sphere - Upgrade 2009
This project works to: (1) Continue to develop software that allows a docent to easily control Science on a Sphere from a small touchpad computer while interacting with visitors. (2) Continue to develop software that allows easy "drag and drop" construction of playlists. (3) Put kiosk control of the sphere, already developed as a student project, into a real kiosk. (4) Assess the use of wireless response devices or "clickers" to enhance audience interaction, learning, and enjoyment, and gather information from visitor responses and share all these improvements with the network. (5) Improve the resolution of the 4 projectors of our SOS installation, in anticipation of new data on the moon and Mars coming to our university, which has been selected to lead NASA moon and Mars missions, and add flat screen TVs for the presentation of auxiliary data.
Worldviews Network: Ecological Literacy Programming for Digital Planetariums and Beyond
The Worldviews Network - a collaboration of institutions that have pioneered Earth systems research, education and evaluation methods - is creating innovative approaches for engaging the American public in dialogues about human-induced global changes. Leveraging the power of immersive scientific visualization environments at informal science centers across the US, we are developing transformative educational processes that integrate the benefits of visual thinking, systems thinking, and design thinking. This "seeing, knowing, doing" approach empowers educators with tools and techniques that help audiences to visualize, comprehend, and address complex issues from a whole-systems perspective. The Worldviews Network will make explicit the interconnections of Earth’s life support systems across time and space as well as inspire community participation in design processes by providing real-world examples of successful projects that are increasing the healthy functioning of regional and global ecosystems
Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS)
The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is a citizen science program where thousands of volunteers across the country measure and report the amount of precipitation that falls each day in their own neighborhood. In the next three years CoCoRaHS will use strategies from the “Citizen Science Toolkit” and align activities to the “Essential Principles to Climate Science” to engage thousands more participants in collecting, reporting and exploring precipitation. Evapotranspiration measurements will be added to teach and demonstrate the hydrologic cycle in action. Through strong NOAA partnerships with the National Weather Service, the National Climatic Data Center, the Earth Systems Research Lab and the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center, precipitation data quality and accessibility for professional users will be enhanced. The CoCoRaHS network will be constructing training, data entry and visualization tools utilizing Web 2.0 concepts, cyberlearning tools and hand-held device applications with a goal of increasing participation and expanding the volunteer network into broader, younger, more diverse audiences.
In the project entitled "The GLOBE Program 2010: Collaborative Environmental Research at Local to Global Scales", the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) will improve the functionality of the GLOBE Program (www.globe.gov) by providing: (1) new methods, tools, and services to enhance GLOBE Partner and teacher abilities to facilitate inquiry-based learning and student research, (2) initial pilot testing and assessment of student and teacher learning activities and events related to Climate Science research, (3) improvements in GLOBE's technology infrastructure and data systems (e.g. database, social networking, information management) to support collaborations between students, scientists, and teachers, and (4) development of a robust evaluation plan. In addition, the UCAR will continue to provide support to the worldwide GLOBE community, as well as program management and timely communication with program sponsors.
Environmental Service-Learning Project (ESLP)
The Great Lakes Science and Service Learning Initiative (GLSSLI) is a collaborative effort to take Earth Force's proven science-based service learning approach to scale in Michigan by institutionalizing the model within Michigan school districts. By working with the Michigan Community Service Commission's Learn & Serve program and the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative we are able to leverage statewide structures to make grants directly to school districts, support school districts as they institutionalize the programs and provide on-going professional development to educators. Scaling the GREEN model will deepen student understanding of science by working directly on the environmental problems facing their communities and develop the skills and personal commitment inherent in environmental literacy.
R4Ed: Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships in Resilience Education
In this project, high school students in Houma, Louisiana, will investigate which areas of their community are most vulnerable and what can be done to be resilient in the face of hurricanes and sea level rise, today and in the future. To do this, they will collect local stories of coastal erosion, hurricane damage, and disappearing land and compare them with data from the NOAA Digital Coast Tool and the NCAR Cyclone Damage Potential (CDP) Index. Linking the impacts that community members have experienced with the data about these events and future projections, students will identify vulnerable areas in their community, identify the types of hurricanes that have been the most destructive to their community, and make resilience recommendations that they will present to their peers and the community at large. Project partners, the UCAR Center for Science Education, the NCAR Capacity Center for Climate and Weather Extremes, and the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, will develop the curriculum, facilitate the instruction, and disseminate the educational resources to other coastal educators. The successful completion of this project will result in a model approach for how students in other coastal communities can use data, stories, and the CDP as they engage in coastal resilience planning. This model approach will be described in a collection of educational resources, allowing educators to implement the approach with students in other Gulf Coast and Atlantic locations affected by hurricanes and sea level rise.
HEARTForce: Hazard Education, Awareness & Resilience Taskforce
Communities in Colorado are increasingly experiencing major disruptions from environmental hazards, such as fire, flood, drought and extreme heat. With this rise in hazardous events, there is a pressing need for communities increase their resilience. An interdisciplinary team from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Education & Outreach Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder is developing and implementing an innovative, action-oriented youth engagement project targeting rural Colorado students, teachers and communities. Our engagement model empowers youth i) to envision community resilience through immersive scenario-based role play based on a solid understanding of the relevant science, ii) to learn about natural hazards through engaging Colorado-focused lessons, iii) to initiate conversations about hazard preparedness from within communities, and iv) to develop and implement student-led resilience action projects. The project team is developing instructional materials for middle and high school students: four lesson plans focused on different hazards (fire, flood, drought, extreme heat), four complementary scenario-based role-play games with a focus on youth empowerment and a teacher workshop based on these materials. Each school implementation follows a sequence in which the lesson plan activities are conducted, followed by a scenario-based role play game and reflection. Building on their experience with the game, students develop resilience strategies for their community and present those at a community Resilience Expo. The project has the following three objectives: 1) Increase Colorado secondary teachers’ knowledge and confidence to teach about local natural hazards, and to facilitate discussions about community resilience; 2) Increase Colorado youth’s understanding of natural hazards, their community’s vulnerability, and their involvement in resilience planning efforts, and 3) Enhance the capacity and empowerment of young people in Colorado to engage in dialogue with their peers, families, and community stakeholders about community resilience issues and identify, develop, and implement resilience actions. A needs assessment disseminated to Colorado teachers guides the project team in the development of all instructional materials and allows for customizing the content to teacher needs. The project evaluation explores the efficacy of the program model and studies the impact of the project activities on students and teachers. Specifically, the evaluation studies students’ confidence and ability to engage in dialogue around community resilience, level to which students increase their understanding of natural hazards and resilience planning, and the ways in which teachers increase their content knowledge and confidence in teaching about natural hazards. The project fills a critical gap in Colorado’s resilience planning which does not include teachers and youth. The project is guided by partners from the NOAA RISA program Western Water Assessment, seven NOAA science advisors, Science on the Sphere collaborators, and is being implemented together with over 20 community partners, school partners and collaborators from across Colorado. Over the course of the three-year program, the project activities will train and support 140 teachers, engage 400+ students and result in 11 Resilience Expo events across Colorado, from primarily rural communities. The instructional units and the games will be used in classrooms with 600+ students.
The Global Decision Room: An Interactive Science-on-a-Sphere Installation
The Orlando Science Center has assembled a project team to create a unique environmental science learning tool: THE GLOBAL DECISION ROOM. Founded on, and enhancing, the Science On a Sphere (SOS) digital globe, the Global Decision Room is an interactive theatre that puts visitors in the role of being decision makers on behalf of the behavior of large populations on the planet. The results of global decisions relating to the environment are seen played out on SOS. The interactive strategy that is created for the Global Decision Room will be flexible and well integrated into the SOS software platform, making it possible to design other educational story scenarios that can use the same system. The Global Decision Room is designed as a multi-use, high impact, exciting content delivery platform. This proposal is based on a well developed initial educational premise, but the resulting construction of the Global Decision Room will be the perfect environment for other educational topics of interest to NOAA's outreach strategy. As new datasets become available in the future, new interactive stories will be developed for the Global Decision Room. The Orlando project brings with it significant additional funding from the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Orlando Utilities Commission, and the Florida Hydrogen Initiative, which will greatly leverage the funding from NOAA. Partners in the project include a strong technical team from the University of Central Florida and the Florida Solar Energy Center, interactive digital media experts from the Institute for Simulation and Training, the creative design team "i.d.e.a.s." located at Disney-MGM Studios, and the XhibitNet interactive multimedia design team.
Climate Change Community Outreach Initiative
To promote ocean and climate change literacy that addresses the needs of our region, six aquariums based on the Gulf of Mexico will partner to educate our communities on both our risks and ways to contribute locally to sustainability. The aquariums will combine community outreach programs, stewardship promotion, social networking and workshops for non-formal educators to reach broad audiences throughout the Gulf in Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Mexico. Each partner will develop content that emphasizes local ecosystems and consequences of climate change, tailoring stewardship activities to address them. Over five years, the aquariums will reach out to diverse audiences in their communities, which have populations that total over five million people.
Hurricanes and Climate Change: Local Impacts and Global Systems
The Miami Science Museum, in collaboration with Ideum and the Institute for Learning Innovation, is designing and developing an interactive multi-user exhibit that allows visitors to explore the global dimensions and local impacts of climate change. The exhibit will raise public understanding about the underlying science, the human causes, and the potential impacts of climate change by combining the attraction of a 4-foot spherical display with a user-controlled interface that lets visitors control the sphere and choose from a range of global and local content they wish to explore. A particular focus is on climate-related impacts on coastal communities, including the dangers posed by rising sea level and the possibility of more intense hurricanes. The project emphasizes engagement of diverse, multigenerational audiences through development of an interface that is fully bilingual and that promotes social interaction. The open-source learning module will be adaptable by other museums, to explore climate impacts specific to their region.
Engaging ESL Adult and Youth Learners in Technologically Facilitated Outdoor Experiential Learning to Improve Environmental, Ocean, Climate and English Literacy
Literacy Volunteers America of Monroe County and The College of Exploration are developing and implementing a pilot project to target traditionally under-represented ethnic groups who are limited English proficient – many reading and writing in English at the grade 0 - grade 5.5 level. The project goals are for learners of English as a Second Language (ESL) to use digital photo cameras, digital video cameras, waterproof underwater HD cameras and GPS technologies to geo-locate, explore, observe, record, display and tell stories in English both in words, photos and short HD video clip sequences. Stories will be about the exploration of places like the National Marine Sanctuaries and other areas of the country and coasts where there are scientific observation and monitoring opportunities created and supported by NOAA partners.
Building Ocean Awareness Together (BOAT)
A consortium of Alaska SeaLife Center, Florida Aquarium and Monterey Bay Aquarium with their partner National Association for Interpretation will increase the effectiveness of informal science educators (ISE) to promote public understanding of three complex topics that impact the ocean (oil spills, ocean acidification, and energy literacy) and encourage stewardship of ocean and coastal resources. This project will have a direct impact on 252 interpreters in and around Alaska, California, and Florida through 12 weeklong trainings. Groups of interpreters will develop, assemble and produce online training toolkits, all of which will be widely disseminated to the ISE community. Each toolkit will utilize NOAA multimedia content, data visualization products, expertise and other relevant resources. Project participants – who interact with a diverse mix of local, regional, national and international visitors (including underserved local populations) – will provide enhanced training content for their colleagues through professional trainings, presentations, and online networks.
Climate Resilience Education and Action for Dedicated Youth Program (Climate READY Program)
The goal of the Climate Resilience Education and Action for Dedicated Youth Program (Climate READY Program) is to increase the environmental literacy of South Florida students, teachers, and the general community so they can become more resilient to extreme weather and/or other environmental hazards. To prepare for a future of increasing environmental hazards, communities will need an informed public that is willing to act on decisions on a personal and civic level. Education has the potential to play an important role in achieving that goal. However, despite dire predictions of the impacts of climate change, the topic has yet to make it into mainstream education in the South Florida classroom. Climate READY is a collaborative effort between FAU Pine Jog, the Palm Beach County Office of Resilience, the Coastal Resilience Partnership, South East Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, city sustainability offices in Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, the School District of Palm Beach County and Galaxy E3 Elementary School. Climate READY will focus on engaging some of the most underserved and socially vulnerable communities located in Palm Beach County, Florida. The Climate READY Program has four interconnected components: Climate READY Institute (training 48 students, grades 9-12) to become Climate READY Ambassadors, Afterschool Climate READY Program (engaging at least 300 after school students in grades 4-8), Climate READY Teacher Professional Development (training 48 teachers from targeted schools) and Climate READY Community Outreach (engaging at least 600 community members at local community events). This project will leverage NOAA assets including Science on a Sphere (SOS) technology and datasets, the SOS Explorer Mobile application, Weather Ready Nation, US Climate Resilience Toolkit, and Owlie's Weather-Ready Educational Activities. FAU Pine Jog will use the Climate Action Learning Process to develop all program lessons. The primary outcome of the program will be to enhance the adaptive capacities of identified vulnerable communities so that they are more prepared to respond to climate-related hazards and to increase civic engagement, inclusive decision-making, and equity.
Ocean Interpretive Stations: A Pilot Program for Coastal America Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers
This project creates a pilot program to deliver ocean literacy learning opportunities to 7 million people across the country through installation of dynamic Ocean Interpretive Stations at five Coastal America Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers: the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA; the J.L.Scott Marine Education Center in Ocean Springs, MS; the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL; the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD; and the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque, IA. These Interpretive Stations present vital messages of ocean literacy to the broad public using and expanding on a proven product in a free choice learning environment in four key sites across the country. The pilot kiosks provide the regional stories of Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River watershed and the Gulf of Mexico, and the Pacific. The Ocean Interpretive Stations enhance ocean literacy among museum goers through multimedia offerings, providing current, newsworthy and foundational ocean topics to encourage visitor learning. The project has the potential to be disseminated to 18 other Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers throughout the United States, with the possibility of reaching over 25 million visitors. The project outcomes are: Increased awareness of ocean issues on the part of visitors; increased knowledge of regional ocean issues; increased capacity of sites to provide additional resources to teachers in the four regions; and encouragement of additional partnerships in the future.
Science-on-a-Sphere Programming: Presenting NOAA Science at the Maryland Science Center, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and in the National Traveling Exhibition "Water Planet"
Using the relative strengths of each museum, the Science On a Sphere® Partnership between the Maryland Science Center and the Science Museum of Minnesota has developed two complementary exhibit approaches to Science On a Sphere® (SOS). Audiences interacting with SOS are able to observe global connections in geophysical phenomena not possible with any two dimensional representation of the Earth. The goal of the project is for museum visitors, particularly underserved audiences, to comprehend how human activities are influencing global processes now and might do so in the future. The project also tests new partnership models for working with NOAA and other science research organizations to broaden the educational impact on all groups.
Science-on-a-Sphere Installation: Presenting NOAA Science at the Maryland Science Center, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and in the National Traveling Exhibition "Water Planet"
This award supports the installation of a Science On a Sphere® in two museums comprising the SOS Partnership®, a collaboration between the Maryland Science Center ( Baltimore ) and the Science Museum of Minnesota ( St. Paul ). Each of the two museum installations will take advantage of the wide variety of NOAA data sets that Science On a Sphere® (SOS) projects onto a six-foot sphere, creating unique, animated, whole-planet views of real-time, past and forecasted, weather, climate and geophysical processes, and many other dramatic visualizations of the whole Earth.
Understanding the Impact of Science on a Sphere
The Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI) will undertake a rigorous study of the public learning impact of the Science on a Sphere (SOS) museum education program that was began by NOAA in 2005. As proposed, this study will identify and evaluate the range and depth of SOS audience impacts and outcomes to provide the essential baseline understanding for its ongoing and future uses. The study will further explore the role and impact of data visualization in contemporary society as an effective means of deepening public understanding of such complex issues as Earth natural systems.
A National Coalition of Aquariums Educating About Climate Change
This collaboration led by three major national aquariums - National Aquarium in Baltimore, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and New England Aquarium - will develop a leadership initiative to build capacity within aquariums and related informal science education institutions nation-wide, enabling education staff to engage and inspire millions of visitors to take action about climate change and the ocean. Over three years, the aquariums will increase climate literacy among informal science educators by: 1) creating a national network for training, resource sharing and support; 2) developing climate change activity carts to support exhibit interpretation; 3) providing training for youth interpreters; and 4) hosting regional and national summits to strengthen collaboration and showcase and disseminate model programs. Outcomes for educators will include increased knowledge of climate change science; knowledge of strategies, tools and materials for educating about climate change; and confidence in their ability to communicate about climate change.