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-on-a-Sphere Programming: Presenting NOAA Science at the Maryland Science Center, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and in the National Traveling Exhibition "Water Planet"
Using the relative strengths of each museum, the Science On a Sphere® Partnership between the Maryland Science Center and the Science Museum of Minnesota has developed two complementary exhibit approaches to Science On a Sphere® (SOS). Audiences interacting with SOS are able to observe global connections in geophysical phenomena not possible with any two dimensional representation of the Earth. The goal of the project is for museum visitors, particularly underserved audiences, to comprehend how human activities are influencing global processes now and might do so in the future. The project also tests new partnership models for working with NOAA and other science research organizations to broaden the educational impact on all groups.
Science-on-a-Sphere Installation: Presenting NOAA Science at the Maryland Science Center, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and in the National Traveling Exhibition "Water Planet"
This award supports the installation of a Science On a Sphere® in two museums comprising the SOS Partnership®, a collaboration between the Maryland Science Center ( Baltimore ) and the Science Museum of Minnesota ( St. Paul ). Each of the two museum installations will take advantage of the wide variety of NOAA data sets that Science On a Sphere® (SOS) projects onto a six-foot sphere, creating unique, animated, whole-planet views of real-time, past and forecasted, weather, climate and geophysical processes, and many other dramatic visualizations of the whole Earth.
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.
A National Coalition of Aquariums Educating About Climate Change
This collaboration led by three major national aquariums - National Aquarium in Baltimore, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and New England Aquarium - will develop a leadership initiative to build capacity within aquariums and related informal science education institutions nation-wide, enabling education staff to engage and inspire millions of visitors to take action about climate change and the ocean. Over three years, the aquariums will increase climate literacy among informal science educators by: 1) creating a national network for training, resource sharing and support; 2) developing climate change activity carts to support exhibit interpretation; 3) providing training for youth interpreters; and 4) hosting regional and national summits to strengthen collaboration and showcase and disseminate model programs. Outcomes for educators will include increased knowledge of climate change science; knowledge of strategies, tools and materials for educating about climate change; and confidence in their ability to communicate about climate change.
Interpretation of Real-Time Weather and Climate Data for Spherical Displays
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.
Visualizing Change: Training and Tools to Support Informal Educators
A consortium of Aquarium of the Pacific, National Aquarium in Baltimore, New England Aquarium and Seattle Aquarium will build educator capacity in the aquarium community and informal science education field to more effectively communicate about climate change and its impact on coastal zones and marine life. The project will utilize NOAA datasets and visualizations in providing interpreters with training and strategic framing communication tools based on the best available social and cognitive research. The objectives of the project are to: (1) develop and test four exemplary interpretive “visual narratives” that integrate research-based strategic communication with NOAA data visualization resources; (2) test the application of the visual narratives in a variety of geographic regions and institution types (aquarium, science center, etc.) using multiple technology platforms; (3) build a professional development program for climate change interpretation with data visualization; and (4) leverage existing networks for dissemination and peer support. Other key partners include the NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory (VisLab), the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), the Exploratorium in San Francisco, the Ocean Explorium in southern Massachusetts, FrameWorks Institute and New Knowledge Organization.
National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Education Partnerships
This project supports environmental education and outreach activities that promote the ocean and coastal stewardship and climate literacy goals of NOAA and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Specifically, the partnership supports: (1) development of education and outreach materials; (2) professional development to educators and science communicators, (3) competitions that promote the goals of the partnership; (4) the activities of the Science on a Sphere® Users Collaborative Network; and (4) evaluation of partners’ programs.
Families by the Seaside: Building Community-based Outdoor Ocean Science Learning Experiences
This 2-year program will advance the way informal ocean science education institutions reach underserved/underrepresented families by facilitating and formalizing relationships between informal science education centers and community based organizations. Project teams in five New England communities will collaborate to create a practicable, outdoor ocean-science learning experience specifically designed for families in their shared service area. Building on a needs assessment produced through target-audience focus groups, the program will combine coastal field experiences with web-based interactive and participatory learning activities developed and tested by the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL; www.eol.org/) and the Northeast Regional Association for Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS) to support in-field and ongoing learning. Science content will be informed and vetted by NOAA research scientists and work between the science centers and community organizations will be professionally facilitated. Formats and effectiveness will be evaluated by external evaluators and revised throughout the project.
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 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.
Science on a Sphere – Earth Systems Display Center at Science Museum of Virginia
The Science Museum of Virginia has assembled a unique team of federal, state, and private institutions to create The Earth System Display Center based on the Science on a Sphere (SOS) platform. The goal of the Center is to capture the visitor's attention and spur interest in climate change literacy and how impacts on a local scale can have an aggregate effect globally. Of particular significance are a docent training program to stimulate and facilitate visitor interaction with the Sphere through dialogue, and formative and summative evaluation of the impact of docent led Sphere experiences with the general public. SOS will anchor a new data display center for examining global impacts of energy consumption, stormwater management, agriculture practices, and climate change - tying together Earth system themes from four major projects now underway at the Science Museum in Richmond, Virginia. Use of NOAA data sets and the Sphere as a dynamic presentation tools coupled with flatscreens will enable the conveyance of local and statewide trends and issues into a compelling global context.
Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program
The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program was enacted by Congress and is administered by the Department of Energy-Office of Science and managed by the Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education. Participation includes the Department of Energy (DOE), NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The program provides an opportunity for current public or private elementary and secondary mathematics, technology, and science classroom teachers with demonstrated excellence in teaching an opportunity to serve in the national public policy arena. This proposal seeks funds to place Einstein Fellows at NOAA over the five-year period 2010-2015. The NOAA Einstein Fellows will support NOAA's education vision of an environmentally literate public and a diverse workforce who will use NOAA's products and services to make informed decisions that enable responsible action. The Fellows provide practical insight in establishing and operating education programs and they provide "real world" perspectives to program managers developing or managing education programs.
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).
Preparing Norfolk Area Students for America’s Second Highest Sea Level Rise
Children in the Norfolk, Va., area will inherit the highest sea level rise on the East Coast, second to New Orleans. In response, the non-profit Elizabeth River Project educated 25,333 students, 2,586 teachers, 63 Youth Resilience Leaders and 5 NEW River Ambassadors through a high school Youth Conservation Intern program for at-risk students. In addition, 180 River Star Schools and 13 new Resilient River Star Schools were recognized for implementing environmental projects addressing restoration, conservation, flooding and reducing their carbon footprint. The Elizabeth River Project prepared one of the first comprehensive youth education programs on resilience on this coast. The Elizabeth River Project, working since 1993 to restore the environmental health of the urban Elizabeth River, deployed its Dominion Energy Learning Barge, “America’s Greenest Vessel,” and its new urban park, Paradise Creek Nature Park, to empower K-12 students over three years to become informed decision makers and environmental stewards, prepared to adapt to rising seas. The project reached under-served schools in Norfolk and adjoining Portsmouth, Virginia. The lead science partner was Old Dominion University, on the forefront of climate change research and the University of Virginia for evaluation of education programs. Other partners included the Chrysler Museum of Art, ground zero for street flooding that has become routine in Norfolk. Elizabeth River Project’s first Youth Resilient Strategy Resilient Youth – South Hampton Roads A Pioneer Strategy of Hope and Action to Prepare Those Who Will Inherit Rising Seas. This plan is the first in America to call on educators, both in our schools and in the community, to help our youth prepare to inherit these extraordinary and increasing challenges. The youth plan will complement Norfolk Resilient City, a call to adults to prepare for rising seas and related challenges with a vision for our children to become hopeful, resilient leaders who innovate and persevere to safeguard our community as our lives change with a changing environment. The Elizabeth River Project will also serve as the Clearing House for education resources, activities and curriculum related to resilience as we launch a Youth Resilient Educators page at www.elizabethriver.org. Additional partners included: City of Norfolk Resilience Office, Norfolk and Portsmouth Public Schools, Wetland Watch and Hampton Roads Sanitation District.
Climate Resilience and Community-driven Action With a Hyperlocalized Public Forum
The Science Museum of Virginia will build upon its community science experience and its role as a trusted source of climate science information to lead “Climate Resilience and Community-driven Action with a Hyperlocalized Public Forum in Richmond, VA” in partnership with Virginia Community Voice, Groundwork RVA, Happily Natural Day, and Southside ReLeaf - local nonprofits with proven track records of effecting change through community engagement and urban greening initiatives. This project supports Richmond’s work to heal social, racial, and environmental injustices by increasing community resilience to climate change through placemaking. Richmond served as both the Capital of the Confederacy and the United States’ second largest trading port for enslaved persons during the 19th century. In the 1930s and 1940s, redlining - the systematic denial of access to home loans, mortgage insurance, or credit based on an applicant’s race or ethnicity - effectively segregated people of color into less desirable urban neighborhoods. Research conducted both in Richmond and nationwide demonstrates that, today, formerly redlined neighborhoods tend to be significantly hotter, more prone to flooding, and experience poorer air quality than non-redlined areas. These neighborhoods also tend to be home to individuals - mostly Black and brown - with the fewest resources to adapt to the health and financial impacts of human-caused climate change, which continues to intensify each year. Richmond’s mayor and Office of Sustainability support this project, which will align community vision with existing planning efforts that seek to build a Richmond that is “a sustainable and resilient city with healthy air, clean water, and a flourishing ecosystem that nurtures healthy communities, increases resiliency to the effects of a changing climate through adaptation and mitigation, develops the built environment to enhance natural assets, and ensures all people have access to nature and healthy communities.” Because resiliency is a process, youth and adults participating in this project will explore hazards (specifically flooding and extreme heat); assess their vulnerability and risks (determine how climate change is currently harming, or will most likely harm, neighborhoods); investigate options (by determining which resilience-building strategies are most effective for each community and vision); prioritize and plan local resilience-building strategies (ensuring that residents’ vision can be realized); and take action by implementing and sustaining projects in the community with project partners. Strategies may include placemaking through planting trees, building permeable pathways, constructing shade structures, and creating community gardens to provide shade, fresh food, and neighborhood gathering spaces, as well as rainwater harvesting and bioretention rain gardens to mitigate stormwater issues. This project is unique because it will actively support nonprofits that engage historically underserved people whose voice is commonly left out of City planning efforts, increase their environmental literacy, and provide resources needed to enact their vision. RK&A will evaluate the project, which will build upon evaluation data from the Science Museum’s previous NOAA ELP-funded project - “Learn, Prepare, Act - Resilient Citizens Make Resilient Communities” - and a NOAA-funded project by the Museum of Science Boston - “Citizen Science, Civics, and Resilient Communities: Increasing Resilience Through Citizen-Created Data, Local Knowledge and Community Values.”