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.
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.
Measuring the Effectiveness of North American Environmental Education Programs with Respect to the Parameters of Environmental Literacy
The North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE) will assess environmental literacy levels of middle school students and compare the results to baseline data collected nationwide in 2007. In this study the research team will solicit and select a purposeful sample of schools and other program sites that represent the following categories: (1) Networks, e.g., Lieberman schools, Earth Force/Green Schools, Blue Ribbon School, etc.; (2) Programs, e.g. WET, WILD, PLT, IEEIA, etc.); (3) environmentally focused Charter and Magnet Schools; and (4) Independent Schools. By comparing 2008 programmatic assessments to the established 2007 base-line levels of environmental literacy (while investigating the variables that may contribute to school wide or classroom levels of literacy), the field of environmental education and NOAA may make future curricular and program decisions that are grounded in sound scientific data. The Research Team will review these results and generate a report to be submitted to NOAA and NAAEE (and other partners as needed). These results comprise a presentation at the annual NAAEE Conference and other venues. Articles will be submitted to professional newsletters and journals.
Global Connections: Science on a Sphere
The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery/Discovery Zoo in Dayton, OH has developed and implemented a new, permanent exhibition featuring NOAA's Science on a Sphere. The exhibition builds environmental literacy among public visitors, K-12 students, and the myriad of groups that the Museum reaches. A significant portion of the audience is from underrepresented groups. A special display within the exhibition focuses on the Mississippi Watershed and how it is related to the health of the oceans. The exhibition also includes three interactive stations where visitors can engage in hands-on activities related to NOAA datasets.
Crossroads: Education through Spherical Projection Systems
Both Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii and Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo, Hawaii have installations of NOAA Science on a Sphere and experience with developing programs for spherical display systems. In collaboration with NOAA Pacific Services Center (PSC), these museums are producing and distributing four modules on earth system science topics for spherical display systems. These four modules will focus on climate change, the restless earth, weather and climate, and real-time planet earth. Hawaii State Department of Education will produce pre-visit and post-visit lessons for each of four school programs.
Science on a Sphere: Bringing the Oceans to You
Through this award, the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island (NCARI) has installed NOAA's Science on a Sphere (SOS) to enhance and expand their existing Storms exhibit. NCARI's location on the Outer Banks makes understanding ocean systems critically important. Installing SOS increases environmental literacy by exposing NCARI's 300,000 annual visitors to NOAA datasets and information. Additionally, through educational programming students, teachers, and visitors obtain current and accurate information to help them make better-informed decisions. Workshops hosted at NCARI have provided valuable professional development opportunities for both informal educators and NOAA staff.
Visitors and Visualizations: Creating Meaningful Experiences with Global Data
This project will establish a new spherical display system exhibit. The Hatfield Marine Science Visitor Center (Newport, Oregon) will acquire and install a 3 ft. Magic Planet as part of a larger interactive data visualization exhibit. Pacific Northwest regional data sets will complement NOAA global data to serve as a model education program. Specific focus areas include coastal climates, hypoxia/dead zones, algal blooms, and/or aquatic invasive species. The Principle Investigator for this project have unique expertise in K-12 education, teacher professional development, curriculum development and evaluation, particularly in free-choice learning environments.
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.
A NOAA Spherical Display System at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park
The Smithsonian National Zoological Park (SNZP) in Washington, DC is integrating the NOAA Science on a Sphere(SOS) spherical display system into SNZP's Amazonia Science Gallery (ASG). The SOS system at ASG will be seen in person by tens of thousands of visitors each year and potentially by millions more through electronic outreach programs. The SOS system will become an integral part of the exhibit and will be used for both informal and formal science education programs at the National Zoo.
Linking Evidence to Explanation in Global Science
The University of California, Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS), in partnership with the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, HI, propose to develop and evaluate curriculum-based content modules for spherical display systems. These modules will combine successful research-driven curriculum materials with the compelling nature of a spherical display to engage and inform museum visitors in the process of observing and interpreting patterns of global climate data.
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."
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.
Advancing Climate Literacy through Investment in In-service and Pre-service Science Educators (ACLIPSE)
This three-year project leverages NOAA assets including the NOAA-funded Ocean Sciences Sequence for Grades 6–8: The Ocean–Atmosphere Connection and Climate Change, data from NOAA-supported ocean, estuarine and atmospheric observing networks, and NOAA-affiliated scientists. The goal is to design and implement a complementary suite of materials, courses and workshops for university teacher educators to use with middle school in-service and preservice teachers. The project builds capacity of formal science educators by providing (1) opportunities to become knowledgeable about global environmental change and real-time data; (2) exposure to different climate knowledge systems through place-based connections with the ocean through technological and/or indigenous observing systems; and (3) materials and expertise to apply their learning to teaching practice in a long-term, sustainable manner. Educational partners in the project include Louisiana State University, Florida State University, California State University East Bay, and middle school teachers from Tribal communities in Washington state.
Continuing of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) Competitions
The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB), a nationwide high school academic competition managed by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, has increased high school students’ knowledge of the marine sciences, including the science disciplines of biology, chemistry, physics, and geology for 25 years. The program has exposed students to the breadth of environmental, conservation and sustainability issues facing our global ocean as well as ocean-related careers available in all job sectors. The NOSB has addressed the national gap in environmental and Earth sciences in K-12 education by introducing high school students to and engaging them in ocean sciences, preparing them for careers in ocean science and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Through preparing for and competing in the 25 regional competitions of the NOSB, up to 2,000 students from 300 schools across the nation each year have gained access to ocean science research, diverse marine environments, and experts in the field, all of which helped build the personal and career skills they need as our future leaders to weigh solutions to regional, national, and global ocean and environmental challenges such as climate change, resource exploitation, and habitat loss. The ocean, as a complex system, and focus of program, has also inspired student development of innovation, engineering, and technology skills.
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 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.
Public Libraries Advancing Community Engagement (PLACE)
The Public Libraries Advancing Community Engagement (PLACE) project was built on the idea that librarians can play a significant role in increasing a community's climate resiliency — the ability to recover quickly from or plan for and anticipate weather impacts. PLACE paired about 50 librarians in rural and under-resourced urban communities across the U.S. with local NOAA/NWS scientists to engage over 1,500 youth and adults in a series of public library programs tailored to the local geography. The programs used popular books and human-interest videos to stimulate discussion and critical thinking about resilient responses to environmental changes and extreme weather events, as well as introducing relevant NOAA tools and resources for data access and resiliency planning. For both audience members and librarians, PLACE enhanced environmental literacy specific to their own region’s geography, vulnerabilities, and threats, toward the longer-term goal of helping them to build local resilience.
Learn, Prepare, Act – Resilient Citizens Make Resilient Communities
The Science Museum of Virginia’s three-year informal climate change resilience education project, “Your Actions Matter: Resilient Citizens Make Resilient Communities,” yielded three overarching lessons learned: 1) understand and use organizational strengths and limitations to advance resilience education, 2) Arts and Humanities are critical for resilience education, and 3) localize the story of climate change and its solutions. Our programming relied on planning and executing two, 5-week “Climate Connections” Lecture Series featuring national climate science researchers, three annual “Prepareathon” events to connect communities with emergency management personnel and services (as well as local meteorologists and climate scientists), two community-focused workshops to engage guests in building resilience to extreme precipitation and urban heat, producing dozens of radio and video programs for public dissemination of climate science concepts, hosting several “Extreme Event Challenge” facilitations for guests to assume manager roles in a crisis, designed numerous scripts and dataset playlists for daily SOS presentations, production of a large format film about cosmic perspectives on climate change, performed theatrical scripts of human sides of climate impacts, leveraged artistic expression and sonification of climate science datasets in public events and exhibits, and undertook the first citizen science climate change campaign in the Museum’s history. Our audiences regularly stretched from preschool learners to retirement-aged individuals, served many thousands from formal education and professional organizations, and that our programming regularly attracted audiences from government agencies, policymakers, fine arts institutions, and urban planners. Our audience reach easily surpassed 1.2 million people locally, nationally, and internationally, with most from metro-Richmond, Virginia. Based on formative evaluation, our substantial restructuring of our initially proposed programming model yielded high-impact educational outcomes. “Ready Row Homes: Preparing for a Hotter, Wetter Virginia” experience achieved highest educational impact of communicating both climate change science and individual resilience behaviors. Our SOS facilitations and Large Format Film, Cosmic Climate Cookbook, performed highly in communicating climate science, but relatively limited in resilience behavior. Extreme Event Challenge has high impact for communicating resilience strategies, but not as well in communicating climate science. Our informative climate science Lecture Series were comparatively limited in communicating resilience. This array of programming successes was greatly improved by collaborations with project partners: WCVE disseminated audio and video programs; George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication guided our storytelling techniques for SOS; NOAA assets (i.e., NWS, Chesapeake Bay Office, SOS Network) contributed information and speakers; Randi Korn & Associates provided evaluation; Resilient Virginia marketed programs and designed workshops; and Virginia Institute of Marine Science provided significant expertise through speakers and datasets. New, substantial project partners included Groundwork RVA (co-developed “Throwing Shade in RVA” teen program and participated in urban heat island citizen science projects); Alliance for Chesapeake Bay (provided free rain barrels and workshop educational content); Richmond City’s Department of Planning Review and Sustainability Office coordinated dissemination of outreach materials and executed urban heat island citizen science project; and Franklin Institute (helped guide development of a Virginia-specific facilitation of Ready Row Home hands-on experiences).
Community Resilience Informed by Science and Experience (C-RISE)
The goal of Community Resilience Informed by Science and Experience (C-RISE) was to build the capacity of coastal communities to support resiliency planning and adaptation actions. To accomplish this the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) worked with an advisory group including representatives from NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, Maine Geological Survey, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the cities of Portland and South Portland, Greater Portland Council of Governments, New England Environmental Finance Center, and Axiom Technologies to develop public programming that provided participants with knowledge of and access to local sea level rise data. This program, "Preparing Coastal Communities for Sea Level Rise" is a community education event that built participant knowledge in sea level rise science, future projections, and local impacts. Through visual presentations and facilitated discussions, GMRI brought regional relevancy to global climate data using local history and case studies of past flooding events. Using technology and peer discussions, GMRI staff provided participants with access to interactive data sets and maps that visualized the impacts of sea level rise and weather events on community resources like roads, parks, hospitals, schools, and other valued assets—and how climate projections will increase these impacts over time. Over the course of this grant, GMRI staff facilitated over 60 community events in over 30 coastal communities in Maine, reaching over 2,000 individuals. While many of the participants had heard about sea level rise and storm surge prior to this program, few had internalized what this meant for their own communities. Post-event surveys indicated that participants discussed flooding issues with their families, friends, and neighbors, further examined local sea level rise maps, and engaged with community decision-makers about resiliency planning. GMRI believes that strong and informed representation of citizens is vital to addressing climate challenges and resiliency actions. We continue to leverage this work through various projects as we collaborate with coastal communities to provide them with knowledge, skills, and tools needed to develop community-focused resilience plans for sea level rise.
From Mt. Rainier to the Pacific Coast: Fostering Resilient Climate Leaders, Communities and Coastal Ecosystems
Nisqually River Foundation with partners (South Sound GREEN, Chehalis Basin Education Consortium, and Mount Rainier Institute) with support from NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region implemented their project, “From Mt. Rainier to the Pacific Coast: Fostering Resilient Climate Leaders, Communities and Coastal Ecosystems,” over 3 years, from 2016-2018. Our region faces the climate change threats of sea level rise, receding glaciers, extreme weather/flooding, ocean acidification and impacts on humans and important local resources, such as surface and groundwater, salmon, forests, and shellfish. Together we engaged more than 120 teachers and their 3,000+ students from the Nisqually, South Puget Sound and Chehalis watersheds to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts. We held three Summer Teachers Institutes to bring teachers connect teachers with local science experts in climate change impacts in the Pacific Northwest. Our 2017 Institute was held in partnership with Mount Rainier Institute, who also hosted Climate Resilient Youth Leadership Programs for 350 12-18-year olds. Participants generated and participated in Community Resilience Action Projects to conserve local ecosystems and increase resiliency in their communities to extreme weather events and changing climate. These projects included: riparian habitat restoration in the Nisqually, Chehalis, and Deschutes basins; creating recycling and composting programs on school campuses; eliminating Styrofoam from school cafeterias; creating a Migration Parade event to explore climate impacts on migratory species; the “Pick a DOT- Do One Thing - What’s your thing?” on-line videos; and the creation of high-impact environmental education art installations, to name a handful. Students also monitored local stream flows, temperatures, and water quality, building on a previous Targeted Watershed Grant from the EPA and a data set that goes back to 1992. NOAA’s mission of Service was supported as teachers and students shared their knowledge in their classrooms, with school districts, at community meetings, and through social media. NOAA assets used included the NW Marine Fisheries staff, Data in the Classroom, CoCoRaHS, NOAA-NASA Cloud Watcher Chart, NOAA’s Climate Literacy Principles, Beat the Uncertainty game, Game of Floods, Thermal Expansion label, the Marine Mammals of the US West Coast, and more. Other local contributing partners include the Nisqually Indian Tribe, the Squaxin Tribe, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Nisqually Land Trust, Thurston Conservation District and Capital Region Educational Service District 113.