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.
The Global Decision Room: An Interactive Science-on-a-Sphere Installation
The Orlando Science Center has assembled a project team to create a unique environmental science learning tool: THE GLOBAL DECISION ROOM. Founded on, and enhancing, the Science On a Sphere (SOS) digital globe, the Global Decision Room is an interactive theatre that puts visitors in the role of being decision makers on behalf of the behavior of large populations on the planet. The results of global decisions relating to the environment are seen played out on SOS. The interactive strategy that is created for the Global Decision Room will be flexible and well integrated into the SOS software platform, making it possible to design other educational story scenarios that can use the same system. The Global Decision Room is designed as a multi-use, high impact, exciting content delivery platform. This proposal is based on a well developed initial educational premise, but the resulting construction of the Global Decision Room will be the perfect environment for other educational topics of interest to NOAA's outreach strategy. As new datasets become available in the future, new interactive stories will be developed for the Global Decision Room. The Orlando project brings with it significant additional funding from the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Orlando Utilities Commission, and the Florida Hydrogen Initiative, which will greatly leverage the funding from NOAA. Partners in the project include a strong technical team from the University of Central Florida and the Florida Solar Energy Center, interactive digital media experts from the Institute for Simulation and Training, the creative design team "i.d.e.a.s." located at Disney-MGM Studios, and the XhibitNet interactive multimedia design team.
Envirosphere Educational Project
McWane ScienceCenter (McWSC) is a non-profit, interactive science museum committed to showing the public how science and technology enrich their lives and help them solve problems. McWSC has a goal of extending the power of experiential learning to as many people as possible, particularly those who would otherwise not be able to do so on their own. McWane’s environmental education initiative, the Envirosphere Educational Project, uses NOAA’s Science on a Sphere (SOS) to provide environmental education and workforce development programs for an estimated 200,000 people. This number includes the general public, school groups from across the region, and 2,500 children in low-income communities from across the state of Alabama. All visitors have the opportunity to go to the SOS exhibit and participate in environmental education programs led by McWSC Education Staff. Each program corresponds to one of the SOS data sets and to the Alabama Course of Study Standards for elementary and secondary schools. The intended outcomes of the Project are to make complex environmental science concepts more accessible to people of all ages; to provide educational opportunities to children who would otherwise not have access to this type of information; to partner with local and state academic institutions, school boards and municipalities to improve environmental science curricula and awareness; and to increase the visitor’s knowledge of and pique his/her interest in science and its related real-world applications.
Bringing Knowledge of Planet Earth to a Wider Audience and Bringing a Diverse New Group to Careers in Science Teaching
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.
Earth as a System is Essential- Seasons and the Seas (EaSiE- SS)
The project will fill the critical need for a relevant, contextual curricular theme for middle school learning. Its goal is to incorporate NOAA resources and virtual visits by NOAA scientists to integrate authentic earth systems science content into existing instructional units using the theme of seasons on land and in the ocean. Development of these materials -- in association with appropriate standards-based middle school learning goals and pedagogy, supported by substantive professional development, collegial networking, and supplied with the tools to meet this need, -- form the rationale for this project. In EaSiE-SS, thirty middle school teachers from Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts will become Teacher Resource Agents. Working with state science supervisors, NOAA scientists, educators, and MMSA staff, these individuals will complete 120 hours of professional development over 24-months including two Summer Institutes, two Fall Conferences, one Spring Conference, two web conferences, two unit implementations, webinars, podcasts, and web discussion boards. They will gain content background, integrate MMSA staff reviewed and aligned materials into their instruction, conduct field tests of the materials, and share them with colleagues in their own states and across the country through state science supervisors, the project web ite, marine science teachers, and state science teachers associations.
Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequence for Grades 3-5
In close collaboration and partnership, the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) at the University of California, Berkeley, the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Coastal Ocean Observation Laboratory (COOL), Rutgers University Institute of Marine & Coastal Sciences, and the Carolina Biological Supply Company will update, adapt, transform, and widely disseminate existing instructional materials from the LHS Marine Activities Resources & Education (MARE) and Great Explorations in Mathematics and Sciences (GEMS) programs. The materials will provide teachers with a standards-based tool for teaching basic science using the ocean as a compelling integrating context. The materials will be grounded in current research on teaching and learning and designed to connect to the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts, and national and state science standards. The activities will be thoroughly pilot and field tested to ensure their effectiveness and applicability nationwide. The finished product will include print materials for teachers, with inquiry-based learning activities, student readings and data sheets, curriculum-embedded assessments, and commercially available materials kits that will allow the Sequence to be adopted by whole school systems and/or states (see http://www.lhsgems.org/CurriculumSequences.htm).
Sailing Elementary Teachers Towards Ocean Literacy Using Familiar Water Resources
This project plans to increase elementary and undergraduate ocean science and related Great Lakes science literacy that aligns with the Michigan Curriculum, the national science standards, and the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts. We will 1) develop an elementary storybook and other elementary classroom materials that support ocean and Great Lakes literacy, 2) train pre-service elementary teachers to use this Storybook, 3) develop undergraduate activities that support the NOAA Education Plan and Ocean Literacy in teacher education courses at Eastern Michigan University (EMU), and 4) train teachers in Detroit and Dexter (MI) and Golden (CO) to use an elementary storybook and related activities that support Ocean Literacy. The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and oceanographic experts at EMU and the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) will partner with us to develop the elementary storybook. This elementary resource will be freely available to all teachers, via the internet (see http://www.windows2universe.org/teacher_resources/ocean_education/curre…). Our second objective is that teachers will relate ocean and Great Lakes science to theirs and their students' lives. We will accomplish this by 1) producing teacher-friendly web resources that make Great Lakes data from GLERL accessible for use by elementary teachers and 2) teaching pre-service teachers to interpret these data during undergraduate, inquiry activities at EMU. Our third objective is to measure environmental, ocean and Great Lakes literacy among pre-service teachers and their students before and after implementation of targeted instruction. We will accomplish this via 1) assessing pre- and in-service teachers' content knowledge and ability to apply content knowledge in ocean and Great Lakes science, 2) assessing elementary children for content knowledge and ability to apply content knowledge in ocean and Great Lakes science, 3) performance assessments of pre- and in-service teachers' abilities to interpret environmental data, 4) standardized tests of Earth Science content knowledge, and 5) surveys of pre- and in-service teachers' attitudes towards ocean literacy and supporting materials.
Measuring the Effectiveness of North American Environmental Education Programs with Respect to the Parameters of Environmental Literacy
The North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE) will assess environmental literacy levels of middle school students and compare the results to baseline data collected nationwide in 2007. In this study the research team will solicit and select a purposeful sample of schools and other program sites that represent the following categories: (1) Networks, e.g., Lieberman schools, Earth Force/Green Schools, Blue Ribbon School, etc.; (2) Programs, e.g. WET, WILD, PLT, IEEIA, etc.); (3) environmentally focused Charter and Magnet Schools; and (4) Independent Schools. By comparing 2008 programmatic assessments to the established 2007 base-line levels of environmental literacy (while investigating the variables that may contribute to school wide or classroom levels of literacy), the field of environmental education and NOAA may make future curricular and program decisions that are grounded in sound scientific data. The Research Team will review these results and generate a report to be submitted to NOAA and NAAEE (and other partners as needed). These results comprise a presentation at the annual NAAEE Conference and other venues. Articles will be submitted to professional newsletters and journals.
Science On a Sphere Revitalization Act for ASTC 2010 and Beyond
The Bishop Museum is installing new Science On a Sphere (SOS) projectors and computers in advance of the 2010 Association of Science Technology Centers (ASTC) conference in Honolulu, HI. The state of the art hardware will allow the Bishop Museum and Lawrence Hall of Science to showcase NOAA-funded programming for the museum community during the conference. The project also seeks to build network capacity by creating and maintaining a database on SOS sites' hardware within the existing NOAA yahoo usergroup forum and through conference participation. Project evaluation efforts will focus on the aesthetics of SOS imagery pre and post installation and whether or not it significantly impacts the visitor experience.
Science on a Sphere - Upgrade 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. (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.