Using Marine Mammals to Communicate Solutions to Ocean Issues: Improving Climate and Ocean Literacy
The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, along with the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, has created a comprehensive, innovative, and engaging approach to inspire ocean stewardship among young people. Through professional development, integration of advanced technology, and targeted presentations to underserved audiences, this project serves to build connections between marine mammals, ocean health, climate change, and people. The project offers an innovative and engaging professional development opportunity, the Marine Mammal Institute (MMI), for 32 grassroots educators in North Carolina, with priority given to representatives from economically depressed areas. Participating educators gather information and gain experience to develop interactive marine mammal activities related to climate and ocean literacy. Upon returning to their home institutions, participants engage teenagers in climate and ocean literacy programming using innovative technology to illustrate climate change impacts on marine mammals.
Summer Science in New England: Ocean Education through Informal Science Centers
The Summer Science in New England project has established a regional network of summer camp programs grounded in ocean science. In year one, six institutions - New England Aquarium, Northeastern University's Marine Science Center, University of Rhode Island's Alton Jones Camp, the University of Connecticut's Project Oceanology, the Seacoast Science Center in NH, and the Marine Environmental Research Institute in Maine - work alongside research scientists to engage campers, ages 14 and up, in near-shore biodiversity monitoring. In years two and three, the number of partners increases to 10, then 12. The project provides a citizen science experience across a wide geographical area, supports and trains informal science center staff to incorporate citizen science while using environmental literacy principles with teens, and offers opportunities for all participants to share findings with peers at annual forums.
Aquarium of the Pacific's Ocean Science Center (SOS): Ocean-Earth Stories Connecting People, the Ocean and Climate Change
The Aquarium of the Pacific is creating an immersive exhibit for exploring the role of the ocean in climate change and its responses under different scenarios. The center of the experience is NOAA's Science On a Sphere (SOS), a proven platform for displaying a rich variety of earth system datasets that reveal global and large scale region processes and phenomena that are easily grasped by the general public. Combining SOS with a system of linked plasma screens allows additional local and regional stories that bring global messages down to a more personal level. Two programs are being developed initially focusing on: (1) implications of sea level rise, and (2) marine ecosystems. Both explore how the vulnerability of systems can be reduced and their resiliency enhanced through mitigation and adaptation.
A National Coalition of Aquariums Educating About Climate Change
This collaboration led by three major national aquariums - Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBAq), National Aquarium in Baltimore (NAIB), and New England Aquarium (NEAq) - is developing 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. The project increases 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 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.