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.
The Global Decision Room: An Interactive Science-on-a-Sphere Installation
The Orlando Science Center has assembled a project team to create a unique environmental science learning tool: THE GLOBAL DECISION ROOM. Founded on, and enhancing, the Science On a Sphere (SOS) digital globe, the Global Decision Room is an interactive theatre that puts visitors in the role of being decision makers on behalf of the behavior of large populations on the planet. The results of global decisions relating to the environment are seen played out on SOS. The interactive strategy that is created for the Global Decision Room will be flexible and well integrated into the SOS software platform, making it possible to design other educational story scenarios that can use the same system. The Global Decision Room is designed as a multi-use, high impact, exciting content delivery platform. This proposal is based on a well developed initial educational premise, but the resulting construction of the Global Decision Room will be the perfect environment for other educational topics of interest to NOAA's outreach strategy. As new datasets become available in the future, new interactive stories will be developed for the Global Decision Room. The Orlando project brings with it significant additional funding from the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Orlando Utilities Commission, and the Florida Hydrogen Initiative, which will greatly leverage the funding from NOAA. Partners in the project include a strong technical team from the University of Central Florida and the Florida Solar Energy Center, interactive digital media experts from the Institute for Simulation and Training, the creative design team "i.d.e.a.s." located at Disney-MGM Studios, and the XhibitNet interactive multimedia design team.
Envirosphere Educational Project
McWane ScienceCenter (McWSC) is a non-profit, interactive science museum committed to showing the public how science and technology enrich their lives and help them solve problems. McWSC has a goal of extending the power of experiential learning to as many people as possible, particularly those who would otherwise not be able to do so on their own. McWane’s environmental education initiative, the Envirosphere Educational Project, uses NOAA’s Science on a Sphere (SOS) to provide environmental education and workforce development programs for an estimated 200,000 people. This number includes the general public, school groups from across the region, and 2,500 children in low-income communities from across the state of Alabama. All visitors have the opportunity to go to the SOS exhibit and participate in environmental education programs led by McWSC Education Staff. Each program corresponds to one of the SOS data sets and to the Alabama Course of Study Standards for elementary and secondary schools. The intended outcomes of the Project are to make complex environmental science concepts more accessible to people of all ages; to provide educational opportunities to children who would otherwise not have access to this type of information; to partner with local and state academic institutions, school boards and municipalities to improve environmental science curricula and awareness; and to increase the visitor’s knowledge of and pique his/her interest in science and its related real-world applications.
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.
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.
Into the Woods (ITW)
Queens College’s Into the Woods (ITW) project is an environmental literacy program for New York City Elementary School Teachers enhancing content knowledge about the Earth System and extending their classrooms outdoors into Nature. The classrooms continue to evolve into school stewardship and service learning in partnerships with parks and environmental organizations. The ITW project starts with five Elementary Globe books that link science, math and literacy. Fiction becomes reality during field training that uses GLOBE books as blueprints for how teachers can guide their students to conduct their own research to enhance understanding of the environment. The project trains teachers to design and supervise grade-appropriate research projects using GLOBE protocols in local parks; support them during those projects; and host annual research symposia during which students present their results. The project's template of immersing teachers and students in environmental research is becoming a national model for improving environmental literacy in all school systems. The NYU Wallerstein Collaborative for Urban Environmental Education works in partnership with Into the Woods to connect teachers to the resources, materials, and strategies required to successfully implement environmental education, outdoor learning, service learning and hands-on experiences across all grade levels and curriculum areas.
Environmental Literacy for All: Creating Comprehensive Environmental Service Learning and Professional Development for Diverse K-12 Students and Teachers
NatureBridge is expanding its highly successful, 41-year environmental education model through teacher engagement and service learning programs to empower the next diverse generation of climate and environmentally literate citizens. Through partnerships with schools, districts, and environmental organizations, service learning opportunities will be established for civic engagement in NatureBridge students' home communities. This engagement effort includes the creation of new climate literacy curriculum, the application of cutting-edge monitoring technology and online resources for public participation in scientific research, the exposure of youth to STEM career options, and the significant increase in diversity of students served by NatureBridge programming. This work will be informed by and benefit from NOAA assets across our service areas. By strengthening existing and creating new engagement programs throughout our organization, teachers will become fully versed in the principles of environmental and climate literacy. These programs will focus on increasing accessibility, diversifying our participants, and incorporating best practices and climate literacy content.
Earth System Science for Elementary Teachers (ESSET)
Angelo State University (ASU), in partnership with Texas borderlands school districts and the National Weather Service Office in San Angelo, Texas, are recipients of a NOAA Environmental Literacy Grant Priority 1 grant titled "Earth System Sciences for Elementary Teachers" (ESSET). This project will: 1) Increase the knowledge and skills level of 25 elementary in-service teachers regarding best practices for teaching integrated Earth System Science concepts in a learner-centered, outdoor environment; 2) Increase teachers' ability to align integrated science content with Texas standards-based curriculum and NOAA's Education Strategic Plan; and 3) Integrate concepts of environmental stewardship with teachers' newly acquired pedagogy and science content. Participants will receive nine semester-hours of ASU graduate credit, and a variety of tools and equipment for their classrooms following successful completion of this 18-month project. Anticipated results include increases in overall integrated science content knowledge, best practices, and self-efficacy for participating teachers. Scaling-up this proof-of-concept project to catalyze change across Texas will occur near the end of ESSET.
Great Lakes Rocks: Earth Systems Science Teacher Professional Development
The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) offers teacher professional development courses geared toward 4-8th grade teachers in high needs schools and with limited experience in science content. Through the Great Lakes Revealed (GLR) education course, teachers explored the interconnectedness of the Earth’s systems through the unique lens of the Great Lakes region, and learned how climate has changed through time. Through hands-on and inquiry-based activities, MSI Senior Educators guided teacher through lessons and other resources, modeling content and pedagogy best practices, and encouraging knowledge building through a combination of experience, critical thinking and reflection. Participants also interacted with NOAA’s Science on a Sphere, with educators at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and with scientists from Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. Formal evaluation shows that GLR teachers complete the program with substantially improved content knowledge, teaching skills, and confidence in science teaching, many becoming teacher leaders at their schools. The second stage of the GLR program involves a select group of teachers from the first year’s cohort who will deepen their understanding of climate change in the Great Lakes region by engaging in data-driven problem-based activities. Building on teachers’ content knowledge, this program will help teachers develop mechanisms to search, access, and use high quality tabular, graphical, and visual data to support effective climate change education. NOAA’s Science on a Sphere datasets will play a central role as teachers explore and then develop their own problem-based lessons to deliver to their own students during a Student Summit at MSI.
The National Ocean Sciences Bowl: Using An Academic Competition To Engage High School Students in Ocean Science Education and STEM Career Preparation
The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) is a program that uses a quiz bowl competition, along with supporting educational activities for students and teachers, to develop the next generation of ocean scientists, stewards, and leaders. The NOSB is managed by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, a Washington, D.C. based non-profit and supported by 25 research institutions, federal laboratories, state Sea Grant programs, and aquaria across the United States. The NOSB develops knowledgeable ocean stewards that understand the ocean’s impact on daily life and the importance of scientific research. The program fosters use of the ocean as an interdisciplinary vehicle to teach science and mathematics and encourages its inclusion in curricula. It encourages and support the involvement of under-represented and geographically diverse communities in ocean science. Lastly, it provides students interactive education that develops critical thinking and skills for the workforce and exposes them to ocean science professionals and career opportunities. These objectives are achieved through a fast-paced and engaging quiz bowl competition that is supplemented by career mentoring events, yearly competition themes, and experiential field trips to help students gain a broader and deeper understanding of ocean science content than they would in a traditional classroom setting. The primary audience of the NOSB is high school students and teachers (formal educators serving as coaches). Secondary audiences include the academic and professional ocean science community, many of whom serve as mentors or volunteers, and students who benefit from the participation of their teachers and schools even though they have not participated in a competition. Each year, the NOSB directly engages approximately 2,000 students from 325 schools in 34 states plus the District of Columbia through 25 regional competitions. The top team from each region then competes in the national final competition, which changes location each year. The NOSB’s focus on ocean science is crucial as our nation’s need for an ocean-literate society is increasing given growing environmental challenges as well as opportunities in a sustainable ocean-based economy. Formal coursework in ocean and environmental sciences is not prevalent in most U.S. schools; thus, the NOSB fills a critical role in engaging high school students in ocean learning and expands their knowledge of the ocean’s role in issues affecting our nation’s citizens, such as a changing climate, extreme weather events, coastal resilience, food provision and security, and our economy. The NOSB supports NOAA’s Education Strategic Plan goals of a Science-Informed Society, Conservation and Stewardship, and Future Workforce. NOSB students are introduced to ocean-related STEM fields and career pathways. The NOSB also engages all participants in the competition and other program elements, resulting in ocean science and environmental awareness and increased interest in stewardship of ocean resources within these audiences. The program operates with the involvement of the ocean science research, education, and technology community, including NOAA laboratories and Sea Grant programs.