Explore awards

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.

Bringing Knowledge of Planet Earth to a Wider Audience and Bringing a Diverse New Group to Careers in Science Teaching

Funding: $99,966
Year: 2006
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.

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.

Award Number: NA06SEC4690012
Grant Dates: 10/01/2006 to 09/30/2007
PI: Douglas Duncan
State: Colorado   County:   Boulder District: CO02
Partners: Nature Conservancy Headquarters · University of Colorado Boulder / Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) ·

Science on a Sphere - Upgrade 2009

Funding: $75,790
Year: 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.

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.

Award Number: NA09SEC4810032
Grant Dates: 08/01/2009 to 07/31/2010
PI: Douglas Duncan
State: Colorado   County:   Boulder District: CO02
Partners: University of Colorado Boulder / Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) ·

Worldviews Network: Ecological Literacy Programming for Digital Planetariums and Beyond

Funding: $850,314
Year: 2010
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.

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

Award Number: NA10SEC0080011
Grant Dates: 10/01/2010 to 09/30/2014
PI: Ka Chun Yu
State: Colorado   County:   Denver District: CO01
Partners: American Museum of Natural History · California Academy of Sciences · Institute for Learning Innovation · Fort Worth Museum of Science and History · NASA Ames Exploration Center · NASA Goddard Space Flight Center · Bell Museum of Natural History · Elumenati · Journey Museum & Learning Center · University of Michigan / Museum of Natural History · University of North Carolina at Asheville · WGBH Educational Foundation · University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) National Center for Atmospheric Research · Fort Collins Museum of Discovery · Colorado State University / Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) ·

Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS)

Colorado State University offsite link · Fort Collins, Colorado
Funding: $1,252,392
Year: 2010
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.

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.

Award Number: NA10SEC0080012
Grant Dates: 10/01/2010 to 09/30/2015
PI: Chris Kummerow
State: Colorado   County:   Larimer District: CO02
Partners: Denver Museum of Nature and Science · Birch Aquarium at Scripps · Cornell University / Cornell Lab of Ornithology · Oregon State University / PRISM Climate Group · Colorado Division of Water Resources, State Engineers Office · University of South Carolina (USC) / Department of Geography · National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) · NOAA National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center · NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center · NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) / National Centers for Environmental Prediction · National Avalanche Center · U.S. Department of Agriculture Headquarters · Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) ·

Interpretation of Real-Time Weather and Climate Data for Spherical Displays

Funding: $158,250
Year: 2010
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.

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.

Award Number: NA10SEC0080013
Grant Dates: 11/01/2010 to 10/31/2015
PI: Phillip Arkin
State: Maryland   County:   Prince George's District: MD05
Partners: Maryland Science Center · Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) Chicago · University of Wisconsin-Madison / Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) · National Maritime Center (TNMC) Nauticus Museum · Aldo Leopold Nature Center · Grand Canyon Visitor Center · Space Foundation · NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory ·