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.
Preparing Norfolk Area Students for America’s Second Highest Sea Level Rise
Children in the Norfolk, Va., area will inherit the highest sea level rise on the East Coast, second to New Orleans. In response, the non-profit Elizabeth River Project educated 25,333 students, 2,586 teachers, 63 Youth Resilience Leaders and 5 NEW River Ambassadors through a high school Youth Conservation Intern program for at-risk students. In addition, 180 River Star Schools and 13 new Resilient River Star Schools were recognized for implementing environmental projects addressing restoration, conservation, flooding and reducing their carbon footprint. The Elizabeth River Project prepared one of the first comprehensive youth education programs on resilience on this coast. The Elizabeth River Project, working since 1993 to restore the environmental health of the urban Elizabeth River, deployed its Dominion Energy Learning Barge, “America’s Greenest Vessel,” and its new urban park, Paradise Creek Nature Park, to empower K-12 students over three years to become informed decision makers and environmental stewards, prepared to adapt to rising seas. The project reached under-served schools in Norfolk and adjoining Portsmouth, Virginia. The lead science partner was Old Dominion University, on the forefront of climate change research and the University of Virginia for evaluation of education programs. Other partners included the Chrysler Museum of Art, ground zero for street flooding that has become routine in Norfolk. Elizabeth River Project’s first Youth Resilient Strategy Resilient Youth – South Hampton Roads A Pioneer Strategy of Hope and Action to Prepare Those Who Will Inherit Rising Seas. This plan is the first in America to call on educators, both in our schools and in the community, to help our youth prepare to inherit these extraordinary and increasing challenges. The youth plan will complement Norfolk Resilient City, a call to adults to prepare for rising seas and related challenges with a vision for our children to become hopeful, resilient leaders who innovate and persevere to safeguard our community as our lives change with a changing environment. The Elizabeth River Project will also serve as the Clearing House for education resources, activities and curriculum related to resilience as we launch a Youth Resilient Educators page at www.elizabethriver.org. Additional partners included: City of Norfolk Resilience Office, Norfolk and Portsmouth Public Schools, Wetland Watch and Hampton Roads Sanitation District.
Global, Local, Coastal: Preparing The Next Generation for A Changing Planet
This project, “Global, Local, Coastal: Preparing the Next Generation for A Changing Planet," was led by Groundwork Hudson Valley in partnership with Sarah Lawrence College's Center for the Urban River, to integrate and expand the work of three award-winning environmental education centers in Yonkers, NY – The Science Barge, Ecohouse and the Center for the Urban River (CURB). Its primary objective was to prepare low-income students for the impact of a changing climate so that they can participate both personally and professionally in a world in which these issues are increasingly prevalent. It reached an audience that is not well served by traditional programs and is most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. Over the course of two years, the project served 544 high school youth from the Yonkers public school system through a new, integrated curriculum that presented these issues from multiple perspectives in an experiential learning format. Beyond its impact on students, the project has had a broader impact on people in our region who have visited the Science Barge, Ecohouse and CURB, which together receive close to 10,000 people each year. The new exhibits have reinforced key themes related to resiliency and adaptation and staff have integrated these concepts into their public tours. Beyond our region, the project has further impacted STEM educators across the country with access to the newly created "Global, Local, Coastal" curriculum and web application which is posted on Groundwork's website and accessible without charge. Other partners included NOAA’s Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and Center for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN), and Yonkers Public Schools. The project has been carried out in a community that has been severely affected by extreme weather in the last decade, including three hurricanes. Outcomes have helped to create “an informed society to anticipate and respond to climate and its impacts” and served to support NOAA’s goal of a developing a “Weather-Ready Nation” and “Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies.”