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.
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.
Increasing Community Resilience to Weather-Related Events Through Public Education
This project will convene a workshop to develop a framework to support Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers in delivering coordinated educational programming focused on weather-related events. The workshop will be organized by a collaborative group of aquariums and involve institutions from multiple regions of the United States. It will be held at the Aquarium of the Pacific in the winter or early spring of 2013.
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, FrameWorks Institute and New Knowledge Organization.
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.
Science-on-a-Sphere Programming: Presenting NOAA Science at the Maryland Science Center, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and in the National Traveling Exhibition "Water Planet"
Using the relative strengths of each museum, the Science On a Sphere® Partnership between the Maryland Science Center and the Science Museum of Minnesota has developed two complementary exhibit approaches to Science On a Sphere® (SOS). Audiences interacting with SOS are able to observe global connections in geophysical phenomena not possible with any two dimensional representation of the Earth. The goal of the project is for museum visitors, particularly underserved audiences, to comprehend how human activities are influencing global processes now and might do so in the future. The project also tests new partnership models for working with NOAA and other science research organizations to broaden the educational impact on all groups.
Science-on-a-Sphere Installation: Presenting NOAA Science at the Maryland Science Center, the Science Museum of Minnesota, and in the National Traveling Exhibition "Water Planet"
This award supports the installation of a Science On a Sphere® in two museums comprising the SOS Partnership®, a collaboration between the Maryland Science Center (Baltimore) and the Science Museum of Minnesota (Saint Paul). Each of the two museum installations will take advantage of the wide variety of NOAA data sets that Science On a Sphere® (SOS) projects onto a six-foot sphere, creating unique, animated, whole-planet views of real-time, past and forecasted, weather, climate and geophysical processes, and many other dramatic visualizations of the whole Earth.
Planet Earth Decision Theater
Through the Planet Earth Decision Theater project, the Science Museum of Minnesota and its partners will upgrade the museum's current SOS exhibit with new SOS learning experiences, produce for the SOS community a new SOS film about the role of humans as the dominant agents of global change and two new presenter-led SOS programs based on the film with one version utilizing an audience feedback mechanism called iClickers. SMM also will complement its Planet Earth Decision Theater and the Maryland Science Center's SOS exhibit with the addition of Rain Table (a new interactive scientific visualization platform) at both locations to further reinforce the Anthropocene messages of the new SOS film and programs. SMM will conduct extensive evaluations of the new SOS film, programs and Rain Tables. SMM's partners on this project include the NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab, University of Minnesota's National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics, University of Minnesota's Antarctic Geospatial Information Center, University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment, Maryland Science Center, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Institute for Learning Innovation, George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication, and the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at University of Illinois-Chicago.
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.
National Model Earth Science Lab Course
A collaboration of five key states, an array of scientists and educators, and an experienced science curriculum team will develop and establish a National Model Earth Science Lab Course, providing standards and exemplary activities that will reach hundreds of thousands of students annually. The team will create a lab handbook with guidelines and exemplary activities in Earth system science and environmental literacy. All materials will be published on the web and available for free to teachers and students. The initial set of four exemplary labs will engage students in field experiences, classroom experiments and active use of data and computer visualizations dealing with oceans, atmosphere and other NOAA domains. These hands-on learning experiences will help students develop environmental literacy, build deep understandings of Earth as a system, and apply scientific thinking, problem-solving and data analysis. The participating states view this as filling a crucial gap in the approval and implementation of Earth science as a standard high school lab science. This project builds on planning done in a series of projects: National Conference on the Revolution in Earth Science Education, State Alliances for Earth Science Education, and Planning Grant for Earth System Science as a High School Lab Science. This National Model responds directly to essential needs expressed by the states. The labs will comply with national and state standards for Earth science and meet requirements for a true lab science course. This project is bold and ambitious, but also essential for states striving to strengthen their high school Earth science offerings, and it is a practical response to NOAA's need to infuse its resources into the fabric of public Earth science education.