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 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
Arizonans face environmental hazards from extreme heat, drought, and flooding. Watershed Management Group and partner Arizona Project WET’s “Recharge the Rain” project addressed these threats by building environmental literacy among 4-12th grade teachers, students, and the public. The project centered on educator professional training and hands-on water harvesting skills. Participants moved through a continuum from awareness to knowledge gain, to conceptual understanding, and ultimately to action. Utilizing data and experts from NOAA assets, we strengthened the capacity of residents to be resilient to our local climate threats. This 4.5 year project 1) developed and immersed 14,452 students in STEAM curriculum incorporating water harvesting that increases understanding of earth systems, engineering design, and weather; 2) applied systems thinking to train 52 teachers and 191 community volunteers in water harvesting practices and citizen-science data collection; 3) involved 8,289 Tucson community members in water harvesting principles; 4) implemented 21 teacher/student-led water harvesting projects at schools; and 5) celebrated our community work with student artwork. RtR became a call for action and an inspiration for change and adaptation to extreme weather conditions in the urban environments of the Sonoran Desert putting Tucson at the core of understanding climate, adaptation, and community.
HEARTForce: Resilient Colorado
Communities in Colorado are increasingly experiencing major disruptions from environmental hazards, such as fire, flood, and drought. Low-income housing neighborhoods and vulnerable community members in under-resourced rural areas are often disproportionately impacted by these hazards. With the rise in hazardous events across the state under a changing climate, there is a pressing need for communities to become more resilient through better preparation and planning. The Hazard Education, Awareness and Resilience Task Force (HEART Force) program, facilitated by the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Education & Outreach group at CU Boulder, empowers rural secondary students and teachers to act as the change agents to build community resilience against natural hazards. With continued funding, we will continue to support teachers statewide to implement HEART Force curriculum, a place-based curriculum that uses authentic data sources, scenario-based role-play games and the Earth Force process to inspire civic action. We will also be supporting four classrooms across Colorado to go deeper with the curriculum through a quarter or semester-long elective course, by selecting a vulnerable neighborhood to partner with and planning action steps together with more support from CIRES staff, community partners, and local emergency managers.
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
Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships in Coastal Louisiana Resilience Education (R4Ed) helped high school students in coastal Louisiana learn through data analysis about the science of hurricanes in a warming world, learn through local stories about impacts of hurricanes, and then identify resilient actions that could help keep their households and their communities safe. To accomplish this the UCAR Center for Science Education worked with the NCAR Capacity Center for Climate and Weather Extremes and the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center to develop a high school curriculum called Hurricane Resilience. During 20 days of instruction, students make connections between the science of hurricanes, how they affect their community and region, and how we can plan for a more resilient future. Making local connections, students develop an understanding of 1) the risks that their community faces now and in the future due to hurricanes and tropical storms, 2) how sea level rise increases the risk, and 3) how our actions can help us be less vulnerable and more resilient. The curriculum unit aims to empower high school students to have a voice in resilience planning and understand the relationship between the science of hurricanes and the local impacts these storms have on people and places. Hurricane Resilience is available online and adaptable for high schools in any coastal location where hurricanes pose a threat. The R4Ed project worked with science curriculum coordinators in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, Louisiana, to ensure that the curriculum would meet the needs of their districts. We pilot tested the curriculum in three high school environmental science classes at South Terrebonne High School in Houma, Louisiana. The final curriculum was modified to work for in-person, hybrid, and virtual learning formats during the pandemic. The implementation was scaled up to serve 600 students instructed by 12 teachers in Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, LA, during the 2020-2021 school year and then approximately 1000 students during the 2021-2022 school year. Teacher professional development workshops instructed virtually when Covid-19 risk was high and in-person when risk was lower, oriented teachers to the lessons. Over the course of this project, Hurricane Resilience reached 1658 students and approximately 80 educators. In addition, the project reached 220 members of the public during a community event in 2019. Evaluation results indicated that resilience was not part of the environmental science curriculum prior to Hurricane Resilience and 92% of the teachers in this project had never addressed resilience in their environmental science curriculum before this project. Teachers instructing Hurricane Resilience indicated that the curriculum engaged students in concepts that impact their daily lives and the future of their community. We continue to support implementation of Hurricane Resilience in area schools and find ways to build on this foundation, assisting young people as they develop decision making strategies that will help them navigate risk and decrease vulnerability as related to hurricanes, climate change, and sea level rise in the rapidly changing Louisiana Bayou.
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.
Connecting Tennessee to the World Ocean
Connecting Tennessee to the World Ocean is a three-year capacity building project of the Tennessee Aquarium and its partners, the Hamilton County Department of Education, Calvin Donaldson Environmental Science Academy, and NOAA’s National Weather Service. Expanded capacity, in turn, allows the institution to reach a broader audience with a message connecting Tennessee’s waterways to the world ocean. Primary project outcomes are increased ocean literacy and expanded ocean stewardship ethics in targeted Aquarium audiences. A series of specific activities focused on ocean literacy and global change make this possible, including expanding Aquarium classroom capacity by 60% to serve more students, expanded videoconferencing opportunities in partnership with NWS, free admission and programming for underrepresented students from across the region, expanded educational opportunities on the Aquarium’s website, updated interpretive panels focusing on global change, installation of a NOAA WeatherBug station, a civic engagement series, and professional development for Aquarium educators.
Building Heat Resilience in Southwestern Virginia through Education
Of all weather-related disasters, heat waves cause the most deaths every year in the United States and climate change is already increasing their frequency, duration, and intensity. In urban areas, heat exposure and risk are highly related to the built environment and the everyday lived experiences of urban residents. Building heat resilience—the capacity for communities to adapt to and cope with higher temperatures and heat waves—therefore necessitates a comprehensive and place-based approach that includes education about the factors affecting risk and vulnerability, consequences of heat on health and livability, as well as potential long-term and short-term actions that residents can take to reduce risk and vulnerability. In this project, we will promote environmental literacy and strengthen climate resilience in Southwest Virginia by building a cross-sector urban heat resilience environmental literacy network that includes: the public education system, students and families, community health professionals, and City government. The project is led by Carilion Clinic in partnership with Virginia Tech, Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action, and Roanoke City Government. Through these partnerships, we will build resilience pathways for dealing with long-term higher temperatures and emergency heatwaves using combined urban planning and public health approaches. We will extend and expand Virginia Tech’s previous engagement with Roanoke youth (2-week summer STEM and Heat Resilience summer school program for middle school students) to involve the community more broadly to co-produce neighborhood-specific heat mitigation plans that address resident concerns in Roanoke and improve environmental literacy around the problem of urban heat as both an acute and chronic issue. We will work with teachers and administrators in the Roanoke City Public School system to institutionalize the STEM/urban planning-based curriculum we develop so that more children can benefit from it. Using youth education as an entry to engage the broader community, we will also host a family-based STEM-Urban Planning Family Summit, which will inform residents about urban planning processes and how changes to urban landscapes can make neighborhoods cooler, more comfortable, and more resilient to rising temperatures. We will also build capacity among health professionals and integrate them into community planning by: educating and enlisting the support of health professionals and Carilion’s community outreach network to work with community groups and families; engaging three Carilion clinicians to participate in an eight-hour educational training to learn more about impacts of climate and health in the region and provide tools for educating other clinicians and community; and training Carilion’s 37 Community Health Educators and Community Health Workers and developing community education/outreach materials on climate change impacts on health with a focus on heat illness. The urban planning and public health components to increasing heat resilience will come together in a culminating Heat Resilience Fair, at which participants in our program (students, families, residents, clinicians, health workers, and City government officials) will present ideas and solicit feedback from the broader community. The solicited ideas will be incorporated into the City’s planning processes, enabling formalization of long-term goals for public health and the built environment with respect to rising temperatures.
Building and Distributing SciGuides and Science Objects
In 2004, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) embarked on a cooperative agreement with the NOAA National Ocean Service (NOS) to develop a series of education products for teachers corresponding to topics aligned to NOAA’s mission. The products--called Science Objects and SciGuides--address teacher professional development needs, and provide classroom resources. The agreement includes both evaluative components and a means for dissemination. The topics are drawn from science education standards, specifically a draft Oceans map AAAS produced that is modeled after the benchmark maps found in the Atlas of Science Literacy (2001). The topics are also informed by the National Science Educations Standards (1996). The topics were selected to support the curriculum at the high school level. These topics were in turn aligned to science research produced by NOAA scientists. Several months after the cooperative agreement was formalized, NSTA and the NOAA Office of Education and Sustainable Development agreed to a work order to produce a single SciGuide at the middle school level that will draw on topics found in the AAAS Weather and Climate map. Production for this SciGuide is due to start in June 2005 and will be completed in November 2005. To ensure topic choices, NSTA standards experts proposed a list from which to choose. Its experts also concentrated their analysis of the maps to the grade bands that interested each line office – high school for the NOS and middle school for the OESD. The universe of topics is far from exhausted. NSTA would like to expand on these partnerships to plan, implement, and evaluate two additional Science Objects and two SciGuides at the middle level, which will be disseminated through two Symposia that take place at NSTA conventions in fall 2006 and spring 2007. The additional development will fill in two of the gaps left open in the maps, and equip even more science educators to better teach the science of the NOAA, namely oceans, coasts, charting and navigation, weather, energy flow through an ecosystem, and climate. This partnership will bring NSTA educational professionals and master teachers together in an ongoing working relationship with NOAA scientists, writers, content experts, and communications professionals.
Multicultural students At Sea Together -3 (MAST-3)
The primary goal of MAST-3 is to increase the diversity of students, particularly those from underrepresented groups, electing careers in NOAA related marine sciences. This is done through a multidisciplinary program that engages students in NOAA-related marine research, and explores marine policy, the heritage of African Americans and Native Americans in the coastal environment, and seamanship. MAST students use the Chesapeake Bay to understand efforts to protect, restore and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources through an ecosystem approach to management. To do this, Hampton University has formed partnerships with various NOAA labs/sites, several university laboratories, the USEPA, various museums, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the menhaden fishing industry.
Educational Applications of the National Maritime Center Science on a Sphere
This project is developing and implementing a strong environmental literacy and science education program to accompany NOAA's Science on a Sphere® (SOS) at The National Maritime Center's Nauticus museum. The program will use the SOS as a focal point to support learning about global oceanic and atmospheric circulations and their effect on local environments. The team is creating real-time global displays of environmental phenomena for the SOS from the expansive University of Wisconsin environmental satellite database. Computer visualization systems and user-driven interactive displays will allow viewers to move from global scale to regional and local scale in order to explore specific features of the phenomena being visualized and to understand them in greater detail. The displays will be integrated with high quality education materials that are aligned with national standards and specifically address the NOAA Education Strategic Plan. The teaming of the University of Wisconsin, Hampton University, and the National Maritime Center offers the opportunity to expose students from ethnic minority groups to various NOAA career paths and help produce graduates with solid technical backgrounds.
Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program
The Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education provides a competitive program that selects & provides financial assistance to current science and math teachers for 10-month fellowship in the federal government. This project would allow NOAA to continue to be one of the host agencies, with one teacher fellow hosted in FY08, and up to two teacher fellows in FY09 and FY10. These teacher fellows will work with NOAA's Office of Education to learn about how federal science and math education policy and programs are structured. The Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education provides coordinated training and professional development activities and trips for the fellows that work in up to 10 different federal agencies.
NOAA Earth System Science Courses: Building on the Earth System Science Education Alliance (ESSEA)
The Earth System Science Education Alliance (ESSEA) is a successful teacher professional development program enhancing K-12 teachers' environmental literacy and ability to teach Earth System Science. The ESSEA 40+ educational institution consortium is supporting universities and other educational institutions in teacher preparation and professional development for pre-service and in-service K-12 teachers. This NOAA-funded project enhances and builds on this foundation by: 1) Using the ESSEA online courses as a model to introduce newly upgraded Earth system science undergraduate and graduate courses for teachers; 2) Introducing new Earth System Science data, analysis tools and educational resources to support the teacher courses; and 3) Disseminating model teaching practices and program success through annual conferences, continuing support, and presentations at geoscience and education conferences.
Engaging ESL Adult and Youth Learners in Technologically Facilitated Outdoor Experiential Learning to Improve Environmental, Ocean, Climate and English Literacy
Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA) - Monroe County, Inc. and The College of Exploration are developing and implementing a pilot project to target traditionally under-represented ethnic groups who are limited English proficient-- many reading and writing in English at the grade 0 - grade 5.5 level. The project goals are for learners of English as a Second Language (ESL) to use digital photo cameras, digital video cameras, waterproof underwater HD cameras and GPS technologies to geo-locate, explore, observe, record, display and tell stories in English both in words, photos and short HD video clip sequences. Stories will be about the exploration of places like the National Marine Sanctuaries and other areas of the country and coasts where there are scientific observation and monitoring opportunities created and supported by NOAA partners.