Explore awards

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.

Exploring Inner Space: Linking Aquariums with Ocean Scientists

Funding: $1,799,964
Year: 2009
This program is a pilot project and collaborative effort to develop partnerships and educational programming using state of the art technology. The project partnership is comprised of a leading ocean science research and education institution, the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography and its new state of the art Inner Space Center (ISC), and two strong national ocean science education networks: the National Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Network and NOAA's Office of Exploration and Research (NOAA-OER) Education Alliance.

This program is a pilot project and collaborative effort to develop partnerships and educational programming using state of the art technology. The project partnership is comprised of a leading ocean science research and education institution, the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography and its new state of the art Inner Space Center (ISC), and two strong national ocean science education networks: the National Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Network and NOAA's Office of Exploration and Research (NOAA-OER) Education Alliance. In addition, two partner sites will serve as proof of concept sites and education hubs - Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration (CT) and South Carolina Aquarium (SC), both affiliated with COSEE, the Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center Network (CELC), and NOAA-OER. Through this initiative, the ISC will install new Exploration Command Stations (ECSs) and enhance Ocean Today kiosks at the partner sites, strategically selected aquariums. Through this pilot project, the ECSs and kiosks (modeled after the original Ocean Today kiosk in the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History’s Sant Ocean Hall) will form an Ocean Interpretive Station at the partner sites. The ISC will provide live links from the Center's facilities to the newly installed ECSs and kiosks using feeds from various remote Ocean Exploration platforms, including the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and the exploration vessel, E/V Nautilus. The project's Content Development Team (CDT) will develop associated educational materials for use in public programs at the partner sites.

Award Number: NA09SEC4690043
Grant Dates: 12/31/2009 to 12/30/2014
PI: Dwight Coleman
State: Connecticut   County:   New London District: CT02
Partners: Oregon State University (OSU) / Hatfield Marine Science Center · Seward Association for the Advancement of Marine Science / Alaska SeaLife Center · Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center (CELC) Network · Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) · University of Rhode Island (URI) / Inner Space Center (ISC) · South Carolina Aquarium ·

Sound Resilience-Get on Board!

Funding: $484,955
Year: 2016
The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is located at the mouth of the Norwalk River where it flows into Long Island Sound. Its mission is to inspire people to appreciate and protect the Sound and the global environment. As global climate change increases, extreme storms and sea levels continue to rise and a growing percentage of the 23 million people living within 50 miles of the Sound are directly affected by severe weather events, providing a timely opportunity to educate students, teachers, and the public about community resilience.

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is located at the mouth of the Norwalk River where it flows into Long Island Sound. Its mission is to inspire people to appreciate and protect the Sound and the global environment. As global climate change increases, extreme storms and sea levels continue to rise and a growing percentage of the 23 million people living within 50 miles of the Sound are directly affected by severe weather events, providing a timely opportunity to educate students, teachers, and the public about community resilience. From 2017-2020, the Aquarium developed and delivered an innovative three-session climate resilience education program to more than 2,000 middle and high school students in Fairfield County, Connecticut. The Sound Resilience student experience began in the classroom, where students learned about the impacts of hurricanes and coastal storms on their communities and used a hands-on “beach in a box” to model the effectiveness of built structures like seawalls and natural resilience features including salt marshes and oyster reefs. Then, during a two-hour research cruise on the Aquarium’s hybrid-electric research vessel, Spirit of the Sound, students collaborated to map their home coastlines from the water: identifying vulnerable locations from apartment buildings to power plants, as well as the existing resilience structures protecting their coast. On the vessel they also stepped into the role of climate scientists, conducting real-time weather and water sampling, including collecting and examining photosynthetic plankton that absorb carbon and help to slow down the effects of climate change. The third program session, back in the classroom, sent students on a design and decision-making journey, in which they compared their collaboratively created resilience map with flood-risk maps of their hometown, then worked together to identify gaps in resilience infrastructure and design a resilience plan for their community. As a result of Sound Resilience – Get on Board!, there were significant gains in students’ understanding of resilience science and their own sense of agency in creating a resilient future for their communities. Participants also reported deeper understanding of, and connection to, the Sound’s coastal ecosystems, which serve to buffer storm waves, sequester carbon, and protect communities from extreme weather and climate change. The Aquarium also developed and delivered a teacher professional development workshop focusing on effective and standards-aligned methods of teaching climate change, resilience, and environmental justice issues. Finally, an interactive experience was created for guests in one of the Aquarium’s most highly trafficked spaces. It includes a series of twenty-foot map projections of Long Island Sound showing present and future vulnerabilities and resilience methods, as well as a touch-screen kiosk where guests can interact with NOAA resources showing the risks that floods and sea level rise pose to their home communities. Although the grant period has ended, the resources created thanks to NOAA’s Environmental Literacy Program will live on. The guest experience on the Aquarium floor will continue for the foreseeable future and the student programs—in-person as well as virtual—and teacher workshops will remain available within the Aquarium’s program catalog.

Award Number: NA16SEC0080005
Grant Dates: 10/01/2016 to 09/30/2020
PI: Thomas Naiman
State: Connecticut   County:   Fairfield District: CT04
Partners: NOAA Office for Coastal Management (OCM) · National Sea Grant College Program / University of Connecticut · National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) / Northeast Fisheries Science Center · University of Connecticut / Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) · Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WestCOG) · Stamford Public Schools · Bridgeport Public Schools · City of Bridgeport · Norwalk Fire Department · City of Stamford · Fairfield Fire Department · Norwalk River Watershed Initiative (NRWI) · Norwalk Public Schools · State of Connecticut / Department of Economic and Community Development ·

Using Marine Mammals to Communicate Solutions to Ocean Issues: Improving Climate and Ocean Literacy

Funding: $583,218
Year: 2009
The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, along with the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, has created a comprehensive, innovative, and engaging approach to inspire ocean stewardship among young people. Through professional development, integration of advanced technology, and targeted presentations to underserved audiences, this project serves to build connections between marine mammals, ocean health, climate change, and people.

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, along with the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, has created a comprehensive, innovative, and engaging approach to inspire ocean stewardship among young people. Through professional development, integration of advanced technology, and targeted presentations to underserved audiences, this project serves to build connections between marine mammals, ocean health, climate change, and people. The project offers an innovative and engaging professional development opportunity, the Marine Mammal Institute (MMI), for 32 grassroots educators in North Carolina, with priority given to representatives from economically depressed areas. Participating educators gather information and gain experience to develop interactive marine mammal activities related to climate and ocean literacy. Upon returning to their home institutions, participants engage teenagers in climate and ocean literacy programming using innovative technology to illustrate climate change impacts on marine mammals.

Award Number: NA09SEC4690038
Grant Dates: 10/01/2009 to 12/30/2013
PI: Peggy Sloan
State: North Carolina   County:   New Hanover District: NC07
Partners: National Aquarium / National Aquarium In Baltimore (NAIB) · New England Aquarium Corporation / New England Aquarium (NEAq) · Sea Research Foundation / Mystic Aquarium · Discovery Place Science · Polar Bears International · Duke University Marine Laboratory (DUML) · Elumenati · University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) · Virginia Aquarium ·

NOAA Earth System Science Courses: Building on the Earth System Science Education Alliance (ESSEA)

Funding: $645,815
Year: 2009
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.

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.

Award Number: NA09SEC4690011
Grant Dates: 09/01/2009 to 08/31/2012
PI: Robert Myers
State: Virginia   County:   Arlington District: VA08
Partners: Birch Aquarium at Scripps · Texas A&M University at College Station · University of Maine / Ocean Systems Central Office School of Marine Sciences (COSEE) ·

Preparing Norfolk Area Students for America’s Second Highest Sea Level Rise

Elizabeth River Project offsite link · Portsmouth, Virginia
Funding: $497,774
Year: 2016
Children in the Norfolk, Va., area will inherit the highest sea level rise on the East Coast, second to New Orleans. In response, the non-profit Elizabeth River Project educated 25,333 students, 2,586 teachers, 63 Youth Resilience Leaders and 5 NEW River Ambassadors through a high school Youth Conservation Intern program for at-risk students. In addition, 180 River Star Schools and 13 new Resilient River Star Schools were recognized for implementing environmental projects addressing restoration, conservation, flooding and reducing their carbon footprint.

Children in the Norfolk, Va., area will inherit the highest sea level rise on the East Coast, second to New Orleans. In response, the non-profit Elizabeth River Project educated 25,333 students, 2,586 teachers, 63 Youth Resilience Leaders and 5 NEW River Ambassadors through a high school Youth Conservation Intern program for at-risk students. In addition, 180 River Star Schools and 13 new Resilient River Star Schools were recognized for implementing environmental projects addressing restoration, conservation, flooding and reducing their carbon footprint. The Elizabeth River Project prepared one of the first comprehensive youth education programs on resilience on this coast. The Elizabeth River Project, working since 1993 to restore the environmental health of the urban Elizabeth River, deployed its Dominion Energy Learning Barge, “America’s Greenest Vessel,” and its new urban park, Paradise Creek Nature Park, to empower K-12 students over three years to become informed decision makers and environmental stewards, prepared to adapt to rising seas. The project reached under-served schools in Norfolk and adjoining Portsmouth, Virginia. The lead science partner was Old Dominion University, on the forefront of climate change research and the University of Virginia for evaluation of education programs. Other partners included the Chrysler Museum of Art, ground zero for street flooding that has become routine in Norfolk. Elizabeth River Project’s first Youth Resilient Strategy Resilient Youth – South Hampton Roads A Pioneer Strategy of Hope and Action to Prepare Those Who Will Inherit Rising Seas. This plan is the first in America to call on educators, both in our schools and in the community, to help our youth prepare to inherit these extraordinary and increasing challenges. The youth plan will complement Norfolk Resilient City, a call to adults to prepare for rising seas and related challenges with a vision for our children to become hopeful, resilient leaders who innovate and persevere to safeguard our community as our lives change with a changing environment. The Elizabeth River Project will also serve as the Clearing House for education resources, activities and curriculum related to resilience as we launch a Youth Resilient Educators page at www.elizabethriver.org. Additional partners included: City of Norfolk Resilience Office, Norfolk and Portsmouth Public Schools, Wetland Watch and Hampton Roads Sanitation District.

Award Number: NA16SEC0080002
Grant Dates: 10/01/2016 to 09/30/2019
PI: Robin Dunbar
State: Virginia   County:   Portsmouth City District: VA03
Partners: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) · NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office · NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) Wakefield, VA Forecast Office · National Sea Grant College Program / Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) · Old Dominion University (ODU) · National Maritime Center (TNMC) Nauticus Museum · Groundwork Hudson Valley · The Chrysler Museum of Art · City of Norfolk · Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) · Norfolk Public Schools / Chesterfield Academy · Portsmouth Public Schools · Wetlands Watch · University of Virginia · City of Portsmouth · Norfolk Public Schools · Solar Services, Inc. · Chesapeake Public Schools · Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast (GSCCC) · Virginia Zoo · Norfolk Botanical Garden · Virginia State Parks / Youth Conservation Corps ·