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.
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.
Exploring Inner Space: Linking Aquariums with Ocean Scientists
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.
Sound Resilience-Get on Board!
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. Over the past decade, a large percentage of the region’s 23 million people living within 50 miles of the Sound were directly affected by severe weather events, providing a timely opportunity to educate students, teachers and the public about community resilience. In a three-year program, the Maritime Aquarium will deliver education related to environmental hazards, resilience, and the underlying science to schools from ten towns along or near Connecticut’s coast, including eight in the Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan Draft 2016-2021 for Southwestern Connecticut. In these towns as in many coastal regions, the most significant environmental threats are related to the nexus of land and water. To reflect that nexus, education will occur both in the classroom and on the water, aboard the Aquarium’s hybrid-electric research vessel, Spirit of the Sound. An exhibit featuring NOAA assets related to threats and resilience will also build environmental literacy as it engages Aquarium visitors. The project will be supported by an advisory board of local educators, planning and emergency management officials, representatives from Connecticut Sea Grant, the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation and the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.
Raindrop: An Innovative Educational Tool for River Awareness
This project will create a new educational tool for river awareness in the United States through a mobile device application called Raindrop. Raindrop traces the flow of water from the user's home location to a downstream watershed location. Raindrop is part of a larger installation named FLOW (Can You See the River?), which joins the cognitive power of science with the affective power of the arts by creating virtual and physical spaces for river awareness in the White River watershed in Indianapolis, IN. In addition to the flow path, Raindrop functionality includes watershed context and physical marker mapping, flow path water quality indicators, utilization of NOAA weather feeds and alerts, weather and climate comparisons, storm event size implications, and guidance on watershed restoration actions. Artist-designed physical markers are strategically located in the watershed to direct the virtual user to physical areas of interest.
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.
U.S. Virgin Islands Storm Strong Program
Under leadership from the University of the Virgin Islands, the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service, and local, non-profit, long-term, 2017 storm recovery groups, this 5-year project will create the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Storm Strong Program. To date, minimal efforts have been made to engage the USVI community in hurricane education and preparation. As a result, USVI communities face significant, but often preventable, storm risks. This is the Territory’s first sustained, community-based, hurricane hazard preparedness, and community leadership building program. The USVI Storm Strong Program will engage underserved and underrepresented middle- and high-school youth and their families on all of the Territory’s main islands - St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix - in a program modelled after the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit framework. Youth and their families will: (1) explore the science and hazards associated with hurricanes, (2) assess their communities’ vulnerabilities and associated risks, (3) evaluate personal and community assets and options to increase resilience, (4) prioritize and plan for events occurring before, during, and after a storm, and (5) take action, in this case, through Community Transfer Projects, which will turn the information gained through the Program into local actions to increase individual and community resilience, sharing knowledge and actions with the broader USVI community and beyond. Through this training, ~400 USVI youth and their families will be empowered as environmental leaders and change agents within their communities and important insights will be learned as to how best to engage underrepresented and underserved groups in hazard preparedness. Creation of the USVI Storm Strong Program is timely, given the significant impacts resulting from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, two Category 5 hurricanes that devastated the USVI in September 2017. These storms provide a window of opportunity to bring together partners from federal, territorial, non-governmental, academic, and the private sector, to develop a strategic, cohesive, long-term, high-impact, community-based program to improve environmental literacy and extreme weather hazard preparedness in the Territory, goals that align with the mission of NOAA’s Office of Education.