Explore awards

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.

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) ·

R4Ed: Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships in Resilience Education

Funding: $389,427
Year: 2018
In this project, high school students in Houma, Louisiana, will investigate which areas of their community are most vulnerable and what can be done to be resilient in the face of hurricanes and sea level rise, today and in the future. To do this, they will collect local stories of coastal erosion, hurricane damage, and disappearing land and compare them with data from the NOAA Digital Coast Tool and the NCAR Cyclone Damage Potential (CDP) Index.

In this project, high school students in Houma, Louisiana, will investigate which areas of their community are most vulnerable and what can be done to be resilient in the face of hurricanes and sea level rise, today and in the future. To do this, they will collect local stories of coastal erosion, hurricane damage, and disappearing land and compare them with data from the NOAA Digital Coast Tool and the NCAR Cyclone Damage Potential (CDP) Index. Linking the impacts that community members have experienced with the data about these events and future projections, students will identify vulnerable areas in their community, identify the types of hurricanes that have been the most destructive to their community, and make resilience recommendations that they will present to their peers and the community at large. Project partners, the UCAR Center for Science Education, the NCAR Capacity Center for Climate and Weather Extremes, and the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, will develop the curriculum, facilitate the instruction, and disseminate the educational resources to other coastal educators. The successful completion of this project will result in a model approach for how students in other coastal communities can use data, stories, and the CDP as they engage in coastal resilience planning. This model approach will be described in a collection of educational resources, allowing educators to implement the approach with students in other Gulf Coast and Atlantic locations affected by hurricanes and sea level rise.

Award Number: NA18SEC0080003
Grant Dates: 10/01/2018 to 12/30/2021
PI: Elizabeth "Lisa" Gardiner
State: Colorado   County:   Boulder District: CO02
Partners: University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) National Center for Atmospheric Research · NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) · Louisiana State University (LSU) / College of Art + Design · Center for Planning Excellence · University of New Orleans / Center for Hazards Assessment, Response & Technology (UNO-CHART) · Terrebonne Parish School District / South Terrebonne High School · South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center · Louisiana Department of Education · Lafourche Parish School District · Terrebonne Parish School District ·

HEARTForce: Hazard Education, Awareness & Resilience Taskforce

Funding: $500,000
Year: 2018
Communities in Colorado are increasingly experiencing major disruptions from environmental hazards, such as fire, flood, drought and extreme heat. With this rise in hazardous events, there is a pressing need for communities increase their resilience. An interdisciplinary team from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Education & Outreach Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder is developing and implementing an innovative, action-oriented youth engagement project targeting rural Colorado students, teachers and communities.

Communities in Colorado are increasingly experiencing major disruptions from environmental hazards, such as fire, flood, drought and extreme heat. With this rise in hazardous events, there is a pressing need for communities increase their resilience. An interdisciplinary team from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Education & Outreach Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder is developing and implementing an innovative, action-oriented youth engagement project targeting rural Colorado students, teachers and communities. Our engagement model empowers youth i) to envision community resilience through immersive scenario-based role play based on a solid understanding of the relevant science, ii) to learn about natural hazards through engaging Colorado-focused lessons, iii) to initiate conversations about hazard preparedness from within communities, and iv) to develop and implement student-led resilience action projects. The project team is developing instructional materials for middle and high school students: four lesson plans focused on different hazards (fire, flood, drought, extreme heat), four complementary scenario-based role-play games with a focus on youth empowerment and a teacher workshop based on these materials. Each school implementation follows a sequence in which the lesson plan activities are conducted, followed by a scenario-based role play game and reflection. Building on their experience with the game, students develop resilience strategies for their community and present those at a community Resilience Expo. The project has the following three objectives: 1) Increase Colorado secondary teachers’ knowledge and confidence to teach about local natural hazards, and to facilitate discussions about community resilience; 2) Increase Colorado youth’s understanding of natural hazards, their community’s vulnerability, and their involvement in resilience planning efforts, and 3) Enhance the capacity and empowerment of young people in Colorado to engage in dialogue with their peers, families, and community stakeholders about community resilience issues and identify, develop, and implement resilience actions. A needs assessment disseminated to Colorado teachers guides the project team in the development of all instructional materials and allows for customizing the content to teacher needs. The project evaluation explores the efficacy of the program model and studies the impact of the project activities on students and teachers. Specifically, the evaluation studies students’ confidence and ability to engage in dialogue around community resilience, level to which students increase their understanding of natural hazards and resilience planning, and the ways in which teachers increase their content knowledge and confidence in teaching about natural hazards. The project fills a critical gap in Colorado’s resilience planning which does not include teachers and youth. The project is guided by partners from the NOAA RISA program Western Water Assessment, seven NOAA science advisors, Science on the Sphere collaborators, and is being implemented together with over 20 community partners, school partners and collaborators from across Colorado. Over the course of the three-year program, the project activities will train and support 140 teachers, engage 400+ students and result in 11 Resilience Expo events across Colorado, from primarily rural communities. The instructional units and the games will be used in classrooms with 600+ students.

Award Number: NA18SEC0080007
Grant Dates: 10/01/2018 to 10/31/2022
PI: Anne Gold (Reuther)
State: Colorado   County:   Boulder District: CO02
Partners: Earth Force · NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) · Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks / The Wild Center · NOAA Climate Program Office (CPO) · NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) Boulder, Colorado Forecast Office · NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) Pueblo, Colorado Forecast Office · NOAA National Ocean Service (NOS) / NOAA Planet Stewards · Foothills United Way · City of Boulder / Office of Emergency Management · University of Massachusetts (UMASS) Lowell / Climate Change Initiative · Wild Rose Education · Roaring Fork School District No. Re-1 / Glenwood Springs Middle School · Montrose County Re-1j School District / Montrose High School · Gunnison Watershed Re1J School District / Gunnison Middle School · Early College of Arvada · St. Vrain Valley Re 1j School District / Westview Middle School · Estes Park R-3 School District / Estes Park High School · Estes Park R-3 School District / Estes Park Middle School · Garfield County / Community Development · Gunnison County / Office of Emergency Management · City of Arvada / Office of the City Manager · City of Longmont / Public Works & Natural Resources · Larimer County / Office of Emergency Management · City of Boulder / Resilient Boulder · Colorado Department of Public Safety · Colorado Department of Natural Resources · Colorado Department of Local Affairs · University of Colorado Boulder / CIRES / Education & Outreach · Mountain Studies Institute · University of Colorado Boulder / CIRES / Western Water Assessment · Adams State University / Luter Bean Museum / Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center · Northeast Colorado BOCES · Western Colorado University · Republican River Water · Colorado State University / Colorado Water Center (CoWC) · Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District · Grand County Wildfire Council · Upper Colorado River Watershed Group · NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) / Chemical Sciences Laboratory (CSL) · NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) / Physical Sciences Laboratory (PSL) ·