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.
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.
Envirosphere Educational Project
McWane ScienceCenter (McWSC) is a non-profit, interactive science museum committed to showing the public how science and technology enrich their lives and help them solve problems. McWSC has a goal of extending the power of experiential learning to as many people as possible, particularly those who would otherwise not be able to do so on their own. McWane’s environmental education initiative, the Envirosphere Educational Project, uses NOAA’s Science on a Sphere (SOS) to provide environmental education and workforce development programs for an estimated 200,000 people. This number includes the general public, school groups from across the region, and 2,500 children in low-income communities from across the state of Alabama. All visitors have the opportunity to go to the SOS exhibit and participate in environmental education programs led by McWSC Education Staff. Each program corresponds to one of the SOS data sets and to the Alabama Course of Study Standards for elementary and secondary schools. The intended outcomes of the Project are to make complex environmental science concepts more accessible to people of all ages; to provide educational opportunities to children who would otherwise not have access to this type of information; to partner with local and state academic institutions, school boards and municipalities to improve environmental science curricula and awareness; and to increase the visitor’s knowledge of and pique his/her interest in science and its related real-world applications.
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.
Continuing of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) Competitions
The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) is a nationally recognized high school academic competition that provides a forum for talented students to excel in science, mathematics and technology and introduces team members, their teacher/coaches, schools and communities to ocean sciences as an interdisciplinary field of study and a possible future career path. Established by the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education in 1998 (the Year of the Ocean), the program operates within a supportive learning community framework that involves the ocean research community in pre-college education and stimulates broad interest in and excitement about science and the oceans. The basic model for NOSB is that of a two-tiered timed competition in which pairs of four-student teams answer multiple-choice, short-answer and critical thinking questions within multiple categories related to the oceans. Each fall, over 400 participating high schools prepare their teams for 25 regional ocean sciences bowl competitions held across the United States in February and early March. Winners of these Regional Bowls advance to the national finals in late April. The current structure layers a rich array of year-round academic elements onto the basic competition framework and offers a range of program enhancements including summer internships and scholarships for NOSB alumni and opportunities for teacher professional development. Four regional bowls currently receive additional funding to expand recruitment efforts and provide mentoring and field trip experiences for students from racial, ethnic and economic groups underrepresented in the ocean sciences. CORE proposes to continue to administer and manage the National Ocean Sciences Bowl for the next five years (April 2007-March 2012). Funds are requested to add two new sites and expand the diversity initiative. To improve the credentials of the nation's teachers and informal educators, the proposal seeks funding for coach and regional coordinator professional development including a focus on the fundamental principles and concepts of ocean literacy recently developed by the ocean education community. An additional new element is a longitudinal study of educational and career paths that will assess the role that the program plays in encouraging talented students to enter the pipeline into ocean science careers and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professions. By supporting and promoting the program's unique educational and experiential opportunities, all NOSB partners and sponsors contribute to helping our nation better prepare K-12 students in science and technology and identify and cultivate future scientists and technical experts.
Resources for Climate Literacy Instruction
Project 2061, the science education reform initiative of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS), proposes to identify and translate into classroom materials a range of real-world phenomena (e.g., objects, systems, events) and representations (e.g., models, diagrams, simulations) based largely on data from NOAA's Earth observation systems. These materials will be designed to help increase middle school students' understanding of essential ideas about weather and climate. Our objective is to provide a wide audience of teachers, curriculum developers, teacher education faculty, and professional development providers with online access to a set of high-quality and interrelated activities built around Earth, ocean, and atmospheric phenomena and representations that can supplement or enrich their existing lessons or be integrated into new curriculum materials. This collection of climate literacy materials will be carefully aligned to the learning goals in Climate Literacy: the Essential Principles of Climate Science and in national and state science content standards. By disseminating this online collection widely within the science education community, we also aim to expand the use of NOAA-related scientific data, simulations, animations, and other types of representations in middle school curriculum materials and instruction and to stimulate research on how these materials can be used most effectively.
Promoting Environmental Literacy through Teacher Professional Development Workshops and Climate Change Student Summits (C2S2)
This project will provide K-12 teacher professional development and focused student activities to promote environmental literacy using the essential principles of ocean and climate literacy. In partnerships with NOAA entities, school districts, and museums across the United States, we will provide: (1) high-energy face-to-face professional development workshops for teachers, facilitated by experienced educators; (2) ongoing support and interactions among teachers and students through an online collaborative website, or group-hub; and, (3) high-profile, focused events in which students interact with scientists and the public to share what they've learned, both locally and internationally. The primary goal of this project is to increase the environmental literacy of K-12 teachers and their students from school districts that are part of existing science museum networks. Each summer, we will work with 4 to 6 partner museums to invite 30 to 40 teachers from their local school districts to take part in a pair of workshops.
Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequence for Grades 6-8
The Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) at the University of California, Berkeley, in partnership with the Rutgers University Institute of Marine & Coastal Sciences, and the Curriculum Division of Carolina Biological Supply Company (Carolina Biological) propose to create an Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequence, Grades 6-8 that will provide a major step toward achieving a coherent, comprehensive, nationally disseminated K-12 ocean sciences curriculum with NOAA as the lead sponsor of the entire series. The Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequence, Grades 6-8 will be a powerful companion to the Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequence, Grades 3-5 already available, and the recently published, NASA-funded GEMS Space Science Curriculum Sequence, Grades 3-8 (see http://www.lhsgems.org/CurriculumSequences.htm). The Sequence will be built in part on repurposing and updating existing instructional materials from the LHS Marine Activities, Resources & Education (MARE) and Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS) programs. The materials will provide teachers with standards-based tools for teaching basic science using the ocean as an integrating context. This project will create instructional materials that have potential to become the most widely used middle school ocean sciences curriculum nationwide. The materials will be: (1) grounded in current research on teaching and learning, (2) aligned to the Ocean Literacy (OL) Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts, and national and state science standards, and (3) extensively field tested and evaluated to ensure their effectiveness and applicability nationwide. The Sequence will include print materials for teachers with inquiry-based learning activities, student readings and data sheets, pre-, post-, and embedded assessments, and readily available instructional materials "kits" that allow it to be adopted by whole school systems and/or states as part of their regular, mainstream science programs. The materials will provide classroom teachers with essential tools to advance ocean literacy and the discoveries of NOAA scientists. No comparable middle school ocean sciences curriculum is currently available.
NOAA Earth System Science Courses: Building on the Earth System Science Education Alliance (ESSEA)
The Earth System Science Education Alliance (ESSEA) is a successful teacher professional development program enhancing K-12 teachers' environmental literacy and ability to teach Earth System Science. The ESSEA 40+ educational institution consortium is supporting universities and other educational institutions in teacher preparation and professional development for pre-service and in-service K-12 teachers. This NOAA-funded project enhances and builds on this foundation by: 1) Using the ESSEA online courses as a model to introduce newly upgraded Earth system science undergraduate and graduate courses for teachers; 2) Introducing new Earth System Science data, analysis tools and educational resources to support the teacher courses; and 3) Disseminating model teaching practices and program success through annual conferences, continuing support, and presentations at geoscience and education conferences.
Measuring the Effectiveness of North American Environmental Education Programs with Respect to the Parameters of Environmental Literacy
The North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE) will assess environmental literacy levels of middle school students and compare the results to baseline data collected nationwide in 2007. In this study the research team will solicit and select a purposeful sample of schools and other program sites that represent the following categories: (1) Networks, e.g., Lieberman schools, Earth Force/Green Schools, Blue Ribbon School, etc.; (2) Programs, e.g. WET, WILD, PLT, IEEIA, etc.); (3) environmentally focused Charter and Magnet Schools; and (4) Independent Schools. By comparing 2008 programmatic assessments to the established 2007 base-line levels of environmental literacy (while investigating the variables that may contribute to school wide or classroom levels of literacy), the field of environmental education and NOAA may make future curricular and program decisions that are grounded in sound scientific data. The Research Team will review these results and generate a report to be submitted to NOAA and NAAEE (and other partners as needed). These results comprise a presentation at the annual NAAEE Conference and other venues. Articles will be submitted to professional newsletters and journals.
Applying Social Research to Build Environmental Literacy and Public Engagement in Protecting Ocean Resources
This project will expand and enhance an initiative that offers zoos, aquariums, and science museums the market research they need to engage and motivate the public on issues related to the ocean and climate change. The three-year project will measure changes in public awareness and action on ocean and climate-related issues. It will integrate these research findings into recommendations offered to staff working at zoos, aquariums, and science museums as well as to the ocean conservation community and provide professional development for staff members at these institutions in order to support and shape public outreach efforts that connect climate change, the ocean and individual actions, especially among our nation's youth.
Summer Research Program for Science Teachers
This project that will increase the knowledge and research skills of middle and high school earth science and environmental science teachers. By doing so, these teachers will be better able to elevate their students' overall interest and literacy in science, improve their understanding of ecosystem and sustainable development principles, and improve their stewardship of ecosystems. The teachers will learn how the tools, techniques, and information services are used by NOAA and its partners to improve ecosystem-based management. This will enable students to appreciate better the dynamism and excitement of these disciplines. This program targets schools with under-served minority populations.
Secondary Analyses of the National Environmental Literacy Assessment: Phase I & II Students, Teachers, Programs and School Survey
Phase Three of the National Environmental Literacy Assessment (NELA) will analyze the relationship between middle school students' scores on the MSELS and other measured variables that may have critically impacted the development of environmental literacy in these students. Phases One and Two of the National Environmental Literacy Assessment (NELA) relied on four data collection instruments: The Middle School Environmental Literacy Survey (MSELS), the School Information Form, the Program Information Form, and the Teacher Information Form. The primary outcomes of these phases were to identify general levels of environmental literacy (measured by the MSELS) and to compare these levels both within and across the studies. Through the comparison of these data sets, we could identify schools in which grade level cohorts of students displayed markedly higher levels of environmental literacy variables than their peer cohorts at other schools. However, questions remain concerning the magnitude and influence of variables that were reported on those survey forms, as well as the relationships among variables measured by the MSELS scales. The major research questions that will guide this Phase are: 1) To what extent do the variables measured by these Forms during Phase One and Two appear to have contributed to or influenced students' environmental literacy scores; 2) How do these variables appear to interact with each other; and 3) What are the relative contributions of knowledge, affect, and skill variables to actual commitment or behavior. The resulting analyses of this study will be shared both through peer-reviewed publications as well as appropriate professional conferences.