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 Center Public Forums: Community Engagement for Environmental Literacy, Improved Resilience, and Decision-Making
By engaging diverse publics in immersive and deliberative learning forums, this three-year project will use NOAA data and expertise to strengthen community resilience and decision-making around a variety of climate and weather-related hazards across the United States. Led by Arizona State University’s Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes and the Museum of Science Boston, the project will develop citizen forums hosted by regional science centers to create a new, replicable model for learning and engagement. These forums, to be hosted initially in Boston and Phoenix and then expanded to an additional six sites around the U.S., will facilitate public deliberation on real-world issues of concern to local communities, including rising sea levels, extreme precipitation, heat waves, and drought. The forums will identify and clarify citizen values and perspectives while creating stakeholder networks in support of local resilience measures. The forum materials developed in collaboration with NOAA will foster better understanding of environmental changes and best practices for improving community resiliency, and will create a suite of materials and case studies adaptable for use by science centers, teachers, and students. With regional science centers bringing together the public, scientific experts, and local officials, the project will create resilience-centered partnerships and a framework for learning and engagement that can be replicated nationwide.
Integrating Science on a Sphere into The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA.
This cooperative agreement will support the Tech Museum of Innovation (The Tech) in San Jose, California in acquiring SOS-related hardware and software, as well as providing the technical support to facilitate the installation of SOS in The Tech's Exploration Gallery in 2005-2006. Science On a Sphere® will be the focal point of The Tech Museum's newly renovated Explorations gallery. The dramatic sphere will draw visitors to the center of the 8,000 square-foot space. Hands-on experiences around the sphere will engage visitors in meaningful explorations of NOAA data. The Tech Museum will apply its exhibit and program development expertise to make SOS accessible to people of all ages, backgrounds, and educational levels. All panel text, audio, and captions will be presented in both English and Spanish to allow greater accessibility for local audiences. The Tech's SOS system will focus on three topics of great interest to Californians: Earthquakes, Oceans, Space. NOAA data will enable us to showcase the technology that is used to measure, monitor, and track environmental changes in our world. We hope to further address the potential of data modeling to aid in predicting the future state of the environment based on our actions. The Tech is also opening a new environment exhibition, Green By Design (GBD) in 2006. This exhibit focuses on how sustainable design and technological innovation offer potential solutions to many of our global environmental challenges. SOS will provide a compelling centerpiece to support the educational purpose of this gallery as it effectively illustrates how data collected with remote sensing technologies are helping us understand and make predictions about our dynamic environment and the future of our planet. SOS will illustrate how these data collecting technologies assist us in developing our knowledge about our planet and its solar system.
The Tech Museum Environmental Literacy Programming Grant
The Tech Museum of Innovation (The Tech) in San Jose, California proposes to partner with NOAA to integrate Science On a Sphere® (SOS) into The Tech's Exploration gallery and to facilitate the development of informal and formal learning programs. Exhibits and programs at The Tech focus on the integration of emerging technologies into hands-on visitor experiences. In 2004, The Tech partnered with NOAA, the Maryland Science Center (MSC), and a consortium of national science centers to explore the potential and effectiveness of SOS as a method of engaging and informing the general public about NOAA-related sciences. Initial testing of SOS at the Maryland Science Center revealed that SOS is a visually compelling and engaging medium for conveying complex scientific information to museum visitors. Ninety-eight percent of visitors tested regarded a facilitated SOS program as a good or excellent experience with strong visitor retention suggesting the potential of SOS as a compelling visitor tool. However, when the experience was not facilitated this retention dropped dramatically. Support from NOAA will enable The Tech to test SOS and NOAA data in a number of formats to determine the most effective ways to utilize this incredible technology. The results of this evaluation will be shared with other museums using SOS to improve its reach in teaching informal audiences and promoting interest in both STEM content and NOAA research. The SOS exhibit will bring together scientists, technologists, informal education specialists, and young users to unlock the educational potential of NOAA's datasets and further NOAA's educational plan. Hands-on experiences using SOS will engage visitors in meaningful explorations of NOAA data. The Tech Museum will make SOS accessible to people of all ages, backgrounds, and educational levels. All panel text, audio, and captions will be presented in both English and Spanish to allow greater accessibility for local audiences. SOS will provide the programming platform upon which to explore the educational opportunities of this gallery as it illustrates how data collected with remote sensing technologies is helping us understand and make predictions about our dynamic environment and the future of our planet. SOS will illustrate how these data collecting technologies assist us in developing our knowledge about our planet and its solar system.
Aquarium-wide Climate Change and the Ocean Initiative: Public Engagement from Awareness to Action
As part of its on-going commitment to engage, inform, and inspire visitors around issues of critical importance to ocean conservation, the Monterey Bay Aquarium opened the nation's first live aquatic animal exhibition on climate change and the ocean. This award supports a comprehensive and integrated suite of associated informal educational activities, designed to extend the exhibit experience and allow visitors to explore this critically important topic in more depth during their visit and after leaving the Aquarium. These activities include: community engagement events, virtual reality auditorium programs using Google Earth, musical theater presentations, and exhibit interactives that allow audiences to discuss solutions to ocean issues. Over the course of three years, this initiative will reach more than 4.5 million people and: 1) raise public awareness about the connection between climate change and ocean health; 2) demonstrate that public actions do have an impact on climate change (and therefore ocean health); and 3) encourage meaningful action to address climate change.
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.
Public Libraries Advancing Community Engagement (PLACE)
Public Libraries Advancing Community Engagement: Environmental Literacy Through Climate Change Discussions (PLACE) is a nationally disseminated, locally-based program that engages adults in geographic-specific discussions and critical thinking about resilient responses to environmental changes and extreme weather events, through programs in their local public libraries. Historically, opportunities to increase adults’ environmental literacy have typically been available only through established science centers, and/or tended to target citizens who are already interested in environmental topics and issues. While science center hosted events and exhibits are important, reaching new and underserved audiences is imperative. PLACE engages new audiences — in their own libraries and with their own communities — by discussing their challenges, threats and helping their communities prepare for and respond to climate change and extreme weather events. PLACE will help rural and under-resourced communities build resilience to their region's’ unique vulnerabilities and threats through the following: (1) Select 50 rural and under-resourced libraries across the United States, (2) Create environmental literacy materials for library programs and professional development materials for librarians, (3) Provide professional development to participating librarians, developing their environmental literacy and fostering the use of NOAA assets for library patron services, (4) Assist libraries in finding and partnering with NOAA scientists, (5) Support libraries implementing a three-part, environmental literacy book/video/discussion program series for adults, complemented by a curated collection of NOAA assets that align with each program’s topic, and (6) Perform a summative evaluation of the impact and outcomes of the program. The project has a sustainability plan and a network in place to support the activities in an ongoing, national model for years beyond the initial project funding. PLACE leverages the model and resources of an earlier, similar program, Pushing the Limits (funded by the National Science Foundation), which demonstrated significant success in raising adults’ general science literacy in rural libraries across the United States. The project is being created, disseminated and evaluated through a partnership of The Califa Group (a California library consortium) and the National Weather Service, working in tandem with NOAA’s Office of Education.
Shedd-NOAA Partnership for Student, Teacher and Public Engagement
Shedd Aquarium has launched a large-scale effort to address the long-standing need to better connect citizens in the Great Lakes region to their local Great Lakes watershed, to engage them in making positive changes to help the ecosystem, and to engage decision-makers and leaders to enact large scale change to improve the ecosystem over the long term. Through this award, Shedd is positioning itself strategically as the regional hub for Great Lakes education and behavior change by promoting Great Lakes civic engagement. Shedd Aquarium's Center for the Great Lakes is designed to bring scientists, business and government leaders, visionaries, and Great Lakes citizens together to formalize a strategic framework for increasing Great Lakes literacy and fostering Great Lakes stewardship. With the help of leading organizations: NOAA, COSEE Great Lakes, and members of the Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition, a new vision for the Great Lakes region is being created. This civic engagement project is producing needed outcomes: increasing Great Lakes literacy while promoting policies of sustainability that ultimately will support the adoption of a stewardship ethic among our target audiences in the Midwest. Shedd's efforts empower citizens and civic entities to be critical thinkers who fully participate in the advancement of a sustainable society.