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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.

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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"

Science Museum of Minnesota offsite link · Saint Paul, Minnesota
Funding: $219,999
Year: 2005
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.

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.

Award Number: NA05SEC4691009
Grant Dates: 10/01/2005 to 09/30/2007
PI: Patrick Hamilton
State: Minnesota   County:   Ramsey District: MN04
Partners: American Museum of Natural History · Maryland Science Center · Augsburg College · Macalester College · Field Museum of Natural History · Great Lakes Science Center · Johns Hopkins University · Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) · Morgan State University · San Diego Natural History Museum · University of Maryland / Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research · University of Maryland (UMD) Baltimore County · University of Saint Catherine · University of Saint Thomas · WMAR-Television ·

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"

Science Museum of Minnesota offsite link · Saint Paul, Minnesota
Funding: $170,000
Year: 2005
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 (Saint 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.

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 (Saint 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.

Award Number: NA05SEC4691012
Grant Dates: 10/01/2005 to 09/30/2007
PI: Patrick Hamilton
State: Minnesota   County:   Ramsey District: MN04
Partners: American Museum of Natural History · Maryland Science Center · Field Museum of Natural History · Great Lakes Science Center · San Diego Natural History Museum ·

Planet Earth Decision Theater

Science Museum of Minnesota offsite link · Saint Paul, Minnesota
Funding: $504,386
Year: 2010
Through the Planet Earth Decision Theater project, the Science Museum of Minnesota and its partners will upgrade the museum's current SOS exhibit with new SOS learning experiences, produce for the SOS community a new SOS film about the role of humans as the dominant agents of global change and two new presenter-led SOS programs based on the film with one version utilizing an audience feedback mechanism called iClickers.

Through the Planet Earth Decision Theater project, the Science Museum of Minnesota and its partners will upgrade the museum's current SOS exhibit with new SOS learning experiences, produce for the SOS community a new SOS film about the role of humans as the dominant agents of global change and two new presenter-led SOS programs based on the film with one version utilizing an audience feedback mechanism called iClickers. SMM also will complement its Planet Earth Decision Theater and the Maryland Science Center's SOS exhibit with the addition of Rain Table (a new interactive scientific visualization platform) at both locations to further reinforce the Anthropocene messages of the new SOS film and programs. SMM will conduct extensive evaluations of the new SOS film, programs and Rain Tables. SMM's partners on this project include the NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab, University of Minnesota's National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, University of Minnesota's Antarctic Geospatial Information Center, University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, Maryland Science Center, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Institute for Learning Innovation, George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication, and the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at University of Illinois-Chicago.

Award Number: NA10SEC0080021
Grant Dates: 10/01/2010 to 09/30/2014
PI: Patrick Hamilton
State: Minnesota   County:   Ramsey District: MN04
Partners: Boonshoft Museum of Discovery · Institute for Learning Innovation · Maryland Science Center · Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) Chicago · Lawrence Hall of Science · University of Colorado Boulder / Fiske Planetarium · Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts · George Mason University / Center for Climate Change Communication (4C) · University of Minnesota / Institute on the Environment · University of Minnesota / National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED) ·

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) ·