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.
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.
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.
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, and FrameWorks Institute.
Community Partnership for Resilience
The New England Aquarium worked with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to establish Community Partnerships for Resilience (CPR) starting in 2017. CPR created partnerships in three Boston-area communities that face severe risk from a changing climate – Chelsea, Hull, and Lynn, MA. Project leads worked with local professionals with diverse and relevant expertise in climate science, engineering, community planning and community action, as well as representatives from local schools or school-based educational programs serving youth in Grades 4 through 8. Partners determined the most critical, climate-related hazards for their area that would benefit from public involvement and understanding. With a focus on extreme heat, inland flooding and storm surge, project leads, and educators developed a curriculum framework. The framework was used as a guide for the creation of a unit that had students explore the identified hazards and create a Public Education Project (PEP) to communicate with community stakeholders to drive both understanding and action. Through a series of collaborative working Summer Institutes, project partners led teachers on an exploration of the framework materials, relevant science content, and a crash course on Project Based Learning techniques. Implementation of the unit in the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years led to further refinement of the curriculum framework, insight on the need for further teacher supports, and improved relationships and connections with municipal and community contacts. The resulting curriculum framework was finalized alongside partner teachers in the spring and summer of 2020 and can be adapted to different climate resilience topics and PEPs, as driven by student interest. Students themselves represent a key constituency – they will be most directly impacted by future changes, and they will need civic capacity to foster positive change. Teacher resources also include a rubric to evaluate PEP plans to meet project objectives, resources on trauma-informed teachers from colleagues at Riverside Trauma Center (Needham, MA), instructional and motivation videos from educator partners on key unit phases, and a beta version of a mapping portal developed with partners at Metropolitan Area Planning Council using layered data across a variety of sources. As a result of this project, participating educators showed an increase in knowledge and awareness about climate change on a broad level, as well as local impacts in their specific Massachusetts region. CPR participation also made educators more comfortable collaborating with other educators and inviting outside expert voices for lessons. By working collaboratively, participating teachers felt they were able to better support their students to impact their communities in a positive way. CPR provided the opportunity to have students work together to communicate with the public using PEPs, allowing students and community members to collaborate in “a common effort to increase climate resilience.” As a result of this, CPR was able to expand the group of change agents who could tackle critical environmental challenges and strengthen their communities.
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.
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.