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.
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.
Interpretation of Real-Time Weather and Climate Data for Spherical Displays
The Interpretation of Real-time Weather and Climate for Spherical Displays (EarthNow) project utilizes the Science on a Sphere (SOS) Network to enable meaningful interpretation of real-time weather and climate data by museum docents and visitors viewing SOS exhibits nationwide. The project will generate and provide real-time NOAA weather, climate and ocean data to the SOS Network along with appropriate training for docents. It will also provide data interpretation summaries, data discussions and concise talking points on a regularly updated blog. This project is being implemented by a collaborative team of two weather and climate centers of NOAA/NESDIS: the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) and Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS), in association with the NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory, the I.M. Systems Group, and the Maryland Science Center.
Visualizing Change: Training and Tools to Support Informal Educators
A consortium of Aquarium of the Pacific, National Aquarium in Baltimore, New England Aquarium and Seattle Aquarium will build educator capacity in the aquarium community and informal science education field to more effectively communicate about climate change and its impact on coastal zones and marine life. The project will utilize NOAA datasets and visualizations in providing interpreters with training and strategic framing communication tools based on the best available social and cognitive research. The objectives of the project are to: (1) develop and test four exemplary interpretive “visual narratives” that integrate research-based strategic communication with NOAA data visualization resources; (2) test the application of the visual narratives in a variety of geographic regions and institution types (aquarium, science center, etc.) using multiple technology platforms; (3) build a professional development program for climate change interpretation with data visualization; and (4) leverage existing networks for dissemination and peer support. Other key partners include the NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory (VisLab), the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the Ocean Explorium in southern Massachusetts, FrameWorks Institute and New Knowledge Organization.
National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Education Partnerships
This project supports environmental education and outreach activities that promote the ocean and coastal stewardship and climate literacy goals of NOAA and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Specifically, the partnership supports: (1) development of education and outreach materials; (2) professional development to educators and science communicators, (3) competitions that promote the goals of the partnership; (4) the activities of the Science on a Sphere® Users Collaborative Network; and (4) evaluation of partners’ programs.
Interpreting Global, Half-hourly Cloud Observations to Promote Weather and Climate Literacy
AMNH will use NOAA weather satellite data to annotate 72 high definition (HD) video time-series global cloud cover visualizations using thermal infrared brightness temperature data acquired by five geostationary satellites and joined into global mosaics at half-hourly intervals. The HD visualizations will be used in informal and formal education activities and will be made available on the Web. These media pieces will be used for informal education activities at AMNH and 28 other informal science institutions (ISI) around the United States . The target population of visitors to subscribing ISIs is currently ten million and is projected to be over 15 million by the end of the grant. The HD visualizations will be used in formal settings, as well. Fifteen schools throughout New York City with large numbers of new English Language Learners will be targeted and professional development for teachers of ELL students will be provided through programs at AMNH as well. AMNH's effort focuses on weather and climate patterns that will be visible in the cloud-data visualizations. All viewers of the media will learn about general circulation patterns and changes in phase of water associated with the hydrologic cycle.
Signals of Spring - ACES [Animals in Curriculum-bases Ecosystem Studies]
Signals of Spring ACES (Animals in Curriculum-based Ecosystem Studies), will use NOAA remote sensing data with curriculum-based activities for middle and high school students (see http://www.signalsofspring.net/aces/). Students use Earth imagery to explain the movement of animals that are tracked by satellite with NOAA's ARGOS monitoring system. The project addresses the issues surrounding the animals and environments of NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries (NMS). Comprehensive teacher professional development will be delivered both onsite and online for 250 teachers. The project will impact 20,000 students and parents. Ten curriculum modules will be delivered to students, accompanied with an investigation of El Nino and animals, as well as ocean life and global climate change. ACES will provide classrooms with the curricular area of conservation and the ecological issues surrounding the ocean, using marine animals as the engaging component. Students will apply NOAA Earth data to animal migrations and the critical environmental issues that face these animals that are of depleting populations. Once teachers and students have the necessary skills to interpret data, students will perform the ACES investigations.
Here to the Ocean, a nationally traveling museum exhibition
The Sciencenter seeks to develop a 1,500-square-foot traveling exhibition, called "Here to the Ocean," on how activity in inland watersheds affects the health of the ocean, and therefore the planet. The unifying theme of the exhibition is "What we do here, has an impact there," and the key take-home message for museum visitors is that ocean water quality is not just a coastal issue. This exhibition will travel to museums throughout the United States, reaching an estimated 200,000+ visitors annually for at least seven years, resulting in an estimated total impact of 1.5 million visitors in at least 20 U.S. cities. The core audience of this exhibition will be families with children ages 6-12, and children visiting museums in school groups. "Here to the Ocean" will feature interactive open-ended exhibits that bring watershed science to life, including an immersive experience allowing visitors to conduct their own virtual underwater tours of watersheds by stepping inside and operating a submersible research vehicle on an expedition from a backyard creek all the way to the ocean. This and other exhibits will feature stunning high-definition video footage depicting fauna from various water ecosystems, as well as human activities that affect watershed health. Additional hands-on exhibits will help visitors to understand how watersheds are connected to the ocean, basic concepts in hydrology, the impact of pollution, and what science offers in the way of solutions to watershed problems. Exhibits will be designed to inspire visitors to adopt behaviors that protect their local watersheds. Visitors experiencing this exhibition will: 1) leave with an increased understanding of watershed science that will help them make informed, data-driven decisions on issues relating to watersheds; 2) have an increased awareness of the importance of watershed health and positive attitudes about the need to protect local watersheds; 3) have an increased understanding of the value of science in solving environmental problems and will be inspired to stay involved in science through school and/or career; and 4) feel an increased sense of personal watershed stewardship which they will share with others.
SOS Ocean-Atmosphere Literacy Partnership
The SOS Ocean-Atmosphere Literacy Partnership is a collaboration among the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, NY; Maryland Science Center (MSC) in Baltimore, MD; and Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM) in St. Paul, MN. This collaboration will create two six-minute programs and two 30-minute live presentations for the spherical display systems, including NOAA's Science on a Sphere. The SMM will produce "Ocean-Atmosphere Thermodynamics"; the AMNH will produce, "Tropical Cyclones: Theory, Models, and Observations."
Exploring Earth Systems: Expanding Data Visualization Experiences for Museum Learners
The American Museum of Natural History, in association with several NOAA entities, will be creating a suite of media products employing visualization of Earth-observation data as well as associated professional development programs to expand educational experiences in informal science institutions nationwide. Interactive versions of the visualizations will also be disseminated via the AMNH website. Visualization assets will be distributed to NOAA for utilization on climate.gov and Science on a Sphere. The creation of training programs and educational materials for informal education professionals will enhance the experience and efficacy of the data visualizations as tools to understand and build stewardship of Earth systems.
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.
Into the Woods (ITW)
Queens College’s Into the Woods (ITW) project is an environmental literacy program for New York City Elementary School Teachers enhancing content knowledge about the Earth System and extending their classrooms outdoors into Nature. The classrooms continue to evolve into school stewardship and service learning in partnerships with parks and environmental organizations. The ITW project starts with five Elementary Globe books that link science, math and literacy. Fiction becomes reality during field training that uses GLOBE books as blueprints for how teachers can guide their students to conduct their own research to enhance understanding of the environment. The project trains teachers to design and supervise grade-appropriate research projects using GLOBE protocols in local parks; support them during those projects; and host annual research symposia during which students present their results. The project's template of immersing teachers and students in environmental research is becoming a national model for improving environmental literacy in all school systems. The NYU Wallerstein Collaborative for Urban Environmental Education works in partnership with Into the Woods to connect teachers to the resources, materials, and strategies required to successfully implement environmental education, outdoor learning, service learning and hands-on experiences across all grade levels and curriculum areas.
Global, Local, Coastal: Preparing The Next Generation for A Changing Planet
This project, “Global, Local, Coastal: Preparing the Next Generation for A Changing Planet," was led by Groundwork Hudson Valley in partnership with Sarah Lawrence College's Center for the Urban River, to integrate and expand the work of three award-winning environmental education centers in Yonkers, NY – The Science Barge, Ecohouse and the Center for the Urban River (CURB). Its primary objective was to prepare low-income students for the impact of a changing climate so that they can participate both personally and professionally in a world in which these issues are increasingly prevalent. It reached an audience that is not well served by traditional programs and is most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. Over the course of two years, the project served 544 high school youth from the Yonkers public school system through a new, integrated curriculum that presented these issues from multiple perspectives in an experiential learning format. Beyond its impact on students, the project has had a broader impact on people in our region who have visited the Science Barge, Ecohouse and CURB, which together receive close to 10,000 people each year. The new exhibits have reinforced key themes related to resiliency and adaptation and staff have integrated these concepts into their public tours. Beyond our region, the project has further impacted STEM educators across the country with access to the newly created "Global, Local, Coastal" curriculum and web application which is posted on Groundwork's website and accessible without charge. Other partners included NOAA’s Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and Center for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN), and Yonkers Public Schools. The project has been carried out in a community that has been severely affected by extreme weather in the last decade, including three hurricanes. Outcomes have helped to create “an informed society to anticipate and respond to climate and its impacts” and served to support NOAA’s goal of a developing a “Weather-Ready Nation” and “Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies.”
Science On a Sphere in the Forces of Nature Exhibition
Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is developing a new permanent public exhibition gallery focusing on environmental and earth systems science to be called Forces of Nature. With NOAA support, Science On a Sphere will be the centerpiece for this new gallery. A collaboration is planned between Whitaker Center and the Department of Meteorology at The Pennsylvania State University in which existing datasets provided by Penn State researchers with NOAA data and meteorological models will be prepared for presentation on spherical display systems.
Science on a Sphere and Flood Forums: Education to Action
The Nurture Nature Center (NNC) in Easton, PA, a joint project of the multi-state Nurture Nature Foundation and NNC, Inc., will install a Science on a Sphere and develop a new SOS module about climate and flooding. Working with the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, PA, and science advisers from NOAA and research universities, NNC will use existing SOS datasets, as well as new data formats, to create a docent-guided program that explains the connections between climate patterns and flooding. The Flood Forums: Education to Action program will engage audiences in deliberative forum programming to promote public understanding of the atmospheric, oceanic, and other climatic factors affecting flooding in some regional communities. Project deliverables include a program on climate change and flooding for SOS users; the same program calibrated for Magic Planet users; Forum models on issues related to climate change and flooding; project and evaluation reports; and training materials for SOS network members and other informal educators.