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.
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.
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 (Saint 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.
Planet Earth Decision Theater
Through the Planet Earth Decision Theater project, the Science Museum of Minnesota and its partners will upgrade the museum's current SOS exhibit with new SOS learning experiences, produce for the SOS community a new SOS film about the role of humans as the dominant agents of global change and two new presenter-led SOS programs based on the film with one version utilizing an audience feedback mechanism called iClickers. SMM also will complement its Planet Earth Decision Theater and the Maryland Science Center's SOS exhibit with the addition of Rain Table (a new interactive scientific visualization platform) at both locations to further reinforce the Anthropocene messages of the new SOS film and programs. SMM will conduct extensive evaluations of the new SOS film, programs and Rain Tables. SMM's partners on this project include the NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab, University of Minnesota's National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, University of Minnesota's Antarctic Geospatial Information Center, University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, Maryland Science Center, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Institute for Learning Innovation, George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication, and the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at University of Illinois-Chicago.
Families by the Seaside: Building Community-based Outdoor Ocean Science Learning Experiences
This 2-year program will advance the way informal ocean science education institutions reach underserved/underrepresented families by facilitating and formalizing relationships between informal science education centers and community based organizations. Project teams in five New England communities will collaborate to create a practicable, outdoor ocean-science learning experience specifically designed for families in their shared service area. Building on a needs assessment produced through target-audience focus groups, the program will combine coastal field experiences with web-based interactive and participatory learning activities developed and tested by the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL; www.eol.org/) and the Northeast Regional Association for Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS) to support in-field and ongoing learning. Science content will be informed and vetted by NOAA research scientists and work between the science centers and community organizations will be professionally facilitated. Formats and effectiveness will be evaluated by external evaluators and revised throughout the project.
National Model Earth Science Lab Course
A collaboration of five key states, an array of scientists and educators, and an experienced science curriculum team will develop and establish a National Model Earth Science Lab Course, providing standards and exemplary activities that will reach hundreds of thousands of students annually. The team will create a lab handbook with guidelines and exemplary activities in Earth system science and environmental literacy. All materials will be published on the web and available for free to teachers and students. The initial set of four exemplary labs will engage students in field experiences, classroom experiments and active use of data and computer visualizations dealing with oceans, atmosphere and other NOAA domains. These hands-on learning experiences will help students develop environmental literacy, build deep understandings of Earth as a system, and apply scientific thinking, problem-solving and data analysis. The participating states view this as filling a crucial gap in the approval and implementation of Earth science as a standard high school lab science. This project builds on planning done in a series of projects: National Conference on the Revolution in Earth Science Education, State Alliances for Earth Science Education, and Planning Grant for Earth System Science as a High School Lab Science. This National Model responds directly to essential needs expressed by the states. The labs will comply with national and state standards for Earth science and meet requirements for a true lab science course. This project is bold and ambitious, but also essential for states striving to strengthen their high school Earth science offerings, and it is a practical response to NOAA's need to infuse its resources into the fabric of public Earth science education.