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.
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.
Science Center Public Forums: Community Engagement for Environmental Literacy, Improved Resilience, and Decision-Making
By engaging diverse publics in immersive and deliberative learning forums, this three-year project will use NOAA data and expertise to strengthen community resilience and decision-making around a variety of climate and weather-related hazards across the United States. Led by Arizona State University’s Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes and the Museum of Science Boston, the project will develop citizen forums hosted by regional science centers to create a new, replicable model for learning and engagement. These forums, to be hosted initially in Boston and Phoenix and then expanded to an additional six sites around the U.S., will facilitate public deliberation on real-world issues of concern to local communities, including rising sea levels, extreme precipitation, heat waves, and drought. The forums will identify and clarify citizen values and perspectives while creating stakeholder networks in support of local resilience measures. The forum materials developed in collaboration with NOAA will foster better understanding of environmental changes and best practices for improving community resiliency, and will create a suite of materials and case studies adaptable for use by science centers, teachers, and students. With regional science centers bringing together the public, scientific experts, and local officials, the project will create resilience-centered partnerships and a framework for learning and engagement that can be replicated nationwide.
Recharge the Rain: Community Resilience through STEM Education
Recharge the Rain moves sixth through twelfth grade teachers, students and the public through a continuum from awareness, to knowledge gain, to conceptual understanding, to action; building community resiliency to hazards associated with increased temperatures, drought and flooding in Arizona. Watershed Management Group with Arizona Project WET will utilize NOAA assets and experts from the National Weather Service and Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) to inform citizens and galvanize their commitment to building a community, resilient to the effects of a warming climate. Project activities will be informed by Pima County’s hazard mitigation plan and planning tools related to preparing for and responding to flooding and extreme heat. Starting January 2017, this four-year project will 1) develop curriculum with Tucson-area teachers that incorporates systems-thinking and increases understanding of earth systems, weather and climate, and the engineering design of rainwater harvesting systems 2) immerse students in a curricular unit that results in the implementation of 8 teacher/student-led schoolyard water harvesting projects, 3) train community docents in water harvesting practices and citizen-science data collection, 4) involve Tucson community members in water harvesting principles through project implementation workshops, special events, and tours, and 5) expand program to incorporate curriculum use in Phoenix-area teachers’ classrooms and 6) finalize a replicable model for other communities facing similar threats. Environmental and community resiliency depends upon an informed society to make the best social, economic, and environmental decisions. This idea is not only at the core of NOAA’s mission, but is echoed in the programs provided by Watershed Management Group and Arizona Project WET.
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.
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.
Climate Strong—Building Tribal Youth Leadership for Climate Resiliency
Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in partnership with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, 1854 Treaty Authority, University of Wisconsin Extension’s G-WOW program, and Lake Superior Estuarine Research Reserve are proud to provide the Climate Strong-Building Tribal Youth Leadership for Climate Resiliency program. Our three-year project aims to increase the knowledge and readiness of middle to high school students to deal with the impacts of extreme weather and environmental hazards that face the Ojibwe Ceded Territories (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan) and build capacity for increased climate change community resiliency curriculum in the classroom. Climate change impacts everyone, but for indigenous peoples it threatens culturally significant traditions, such as wild rice harvesting, that relies on sustainable fish, plant, and wildlife resources. These resources are critical for subsistence, spiritual and cultural needs, and treaty rights. Culturally relevant, place-based education is an important tool to involve students, in particular, underrepresented students, in developing critical thinking skills to assess the issue of community resiliency to extreme weather events and engaging in action to help resolve it. In order to achieve our objectives, we will aim our educational efforts toward youth first, as well as reaching the communities we serve. Each year, six residential youth camps (18 total) will be hosted within the Ojibwe Ceded Territories. Each three-day camp will be focused on investigating issues of community resiliency, adaption, and mitigation associated with increasing extreme weather events as well as natural environmental hazards. Camps will use place-based, experiential lessons to teach resiliency issues demonstrated by climate change effects on Ojibwe culturally important natural resources. Our project will train formal and informal educators throughout the Ojibwe Ceded Territories on how to use indigenous climate curriculum using tribal traditional ecological knowledge and NOAA assets to investigate community climate resiliency issues. Using both teacher “train the trainer” workshops and our camps, this project will create a network of formal K-12 and informal educators trained to become leaders in providing culturally relevant climate resiliency outreach to students. We will increase community resiliency literacy through six community outreach events each year (18 total) that will highlight resiliency issues facing our region and the research being done on landscape and ecological vulnerabilities through NOAA and tribal assets. Our goals are increased community resiliency literacy and adaptation of stewardship behaviors that reduce climate change impacts and increases adaption and mitigation behaviors by our participants. These behaviors will help increase stewardship practices reducing extreme weather impacts affecting the sustainability of culturally relevant resources, thereby preserving important cultural, spiritual, subsistence, and treaty rights practices.