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.
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. 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.
Resilient Schools Consortium (RiSC) Program
Brooklyn College and the National Wildlife Federation Eco-Schools USA program in New York City created The Resilient Schools Consortium (RiSC) Program to increase the environmental literacy of middle school and high school students while providing opportunities for their voices to be heard. The City's long-term planning document, OneNYC, set forth a vision for a resilient city without specifying a role for students or including specific plans for their schools. This project addressed this gap by allowing students to interact with city, state and federal officials and resilience practitioners and present their ideas for resilience guidelines for NYC Public Schools. An active-learning RiSC Curriculum was developed by two middle school teachers in collaboration with their peers and the project team. The curriculum is available at https://riscnyc.org. RiSC teams at six middle schools and high schools used the curriculum to follow the UC Climate Resilience Toolkit’s Steps to Resilience. They learned about climate change and extreme weather, the vulnerability of their schools and their communities, options for addressing the risks, planned, and prioritized action, and executed small scale resilience projects on their school grounds when possible. Students were able to share what they had learned and have dialogue with professionals from government agencies and non-governmental about actions and solutions at two RiSC summits in June 2018 and June 2019. The RiSC program directly reached over 200 NYC public schools students through direct participation on the RiSC teams or RiSC-sponsored events, and indirectly reached hundreds more through the interaction of RiSC students with their peers. RiSC students were highly motivated by the program’s focus on action and the opportunity to speak directly to officials at the summits. The RiSC program also resulted in the creation of the New York City Climate and Resilience Education Taskforce (https://cretf.org), a group of NYC agencies, educators, and non-governmental organizations that are working towards providing climate and resilience education for all New York City students and their teachers. Key contributors to the success of the Resilient Schools Consortium program included New York Sea Grant and the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay.