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.
Exploring Inner Space: Linking Aquariums with Ocean Scientists
This program is a pilot project and collaborative effort to develop partnerships and educational programming using state of the art technology. The project partnership is comprised of a leading ocean science research and education institution, the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography and its new state of the art Inner Space Center (ISC), and two strong national ocean science education networks: the National Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Network and NOAA's Office of Exploration and Research (NOAA-OER) Education Alliance. In addition, two partner sites will serve as proof of concept sites and education hubs - Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration (CT) and South Carolina Aquarium (SC), both affiliated with COSEE, the Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center Network (CELC), and NOAA-OER. Through this initiative, the ISC will install new Exploration Command Stations (ECSs) and enhance Ocean Today kiosks at the partner sites, strategically selected aquariums. Through this pilot project, the ECSs and kiosks (modeled after the original Ocean Today kiosk in the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History’s Sant Ocean Hall) will form an Ocean Interpretive Station at the partner sites. The ISC will provide live links from the Center's facilities to the newly installed ECSs and kiosks using feeds from various remote Ocean Exploration platforms, including the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer and the exploration vessel, E/V Nautilus. The project's Content Development Team (CDT) will develop associated educational materials for use in public programs at the partner sites.
Continuing of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) Competitions
The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) is a nationally recognized high school academic competition that provides a forum for talented students to excel in science, mathematics and technology and introduces team members, their teacher/coaches, schools and communities to ocean sciences as an interdisciplinary field of study and a possible future career path. Established by the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education in 1998 (the Year of the Ocean), the program operates within a supportive learning community framework that involves the ocean research community in pre-college education and stimulates broad interest in and excitement about science and the oceans. The basic model for NOSB is that of a two-tiered timed competition in which pairs of four-student teams answer multiple-choice, short-answer and critical thinking questions within multiple categories related to the oceans. Each fall, over 400 participating high schools prepare their teams for 25 regional ocean sciences bowl competitions held across the United States in February and early March. Winners of these Regional Bowls advance to the national finals in late April. The current structure layers a rich array of year-round academic elements onto the basic competition framework and offers a range of program enhancements including summer internships and scholarships for NOSB alumni and opportunities for teacher professional development. Four regional bowls currently receive additional funding to expand recruitment efforts and provide mentoring and field trip experiences for students from racial, ethnic and economic groups underrepresented in the ocean sciences. CORE proposes to continue to administer and manage the National Ocean Sciences Bowl for the next five years (April 2007-March 2012). Funds are requested to add two new sites and expand the diversity initiative. To improve the credentials of the nation's teachers and informal educators, the proposal seeks funding for coach and regional coordinator professional development including a focus on the fundamental principles and concepts of ocean literacy recently developed by the ocean education community. An additional new element is a longitudinal study of educational and career paths that will assess the role that the program plays in encouraging talented students to enter the pipeline into ocean science careers and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professions. By supporting and promoting the program's unique educational and experiential opportunities, all NOSB partners and sponsors contribute to helping our nation better prepare K-12 students in science and technology and identify and cultivate future scientists and technical experts.
Building Environmental Literacy: How the Ocean Community Can Connect More Effectively With the American Public
In 1999, The Ocean Project completed a comprehensive opinion research on public attitudes, perceptions, and knowledge of the ocean ever conducted. The research identified a broad vacuum in public understanding of the ocean; a fundamental issue of ocean literacy. To further increase effectiveness in building ocean literacy, this project updates and expands The Ocean Project's research to create a more highly detailed database of public awareness, knowledge, and attitudes about the ocean and the impact of climate change on the ocean. It develops recommendations to enable free-choice learning educators to improve the ocean and climate literacy of their visitors. The study includes a comprehensive review of existing literature, qualitative and quantitative research, analysis of the data, and publication and broad dissemination, including recommendations for programs and content that build ocean and climate literacy. The work done by The Ocean Project is helping the ocean education community better understand the motivations, psychology, and emotions behind segments of the public's attitudes toward the ocean. These data are essential as the institutions, agencies and organizations of the ocean community work together and independently to engage people, inform decision-makers, and enhance ocean and climate literacy throughout the Nation.
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.
A NOAA Spherical Display System at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park
The Smithsonian National Zoological Park (SNZP) in Washington, DC is integrating the NOAA Science on a Sphere(SOS) spherical display system into SNZP's Amazonia Science Gallery (ASG). The SOS system at ASG will be seen in person by tens of thousands of visitors each year and potentially by millions more through electronic outreach programs. The SOS system will become an integral part of the exhibit and will be used for both informal and formal science education programs at the National Zoo.
Resources for Climate Literacy Instruction
Project 2061, the science education reform initiative of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS), proposes to identify and translate into classroom materials a range of real-world phenomena (e.g., objects, systems, events) and representations (e.g., models, diagrams, simulations) based largely on data from NOAA's Earth observation systems. These materials will be designed to help increase middle school students' understanding of essential ideas about weather and climate. Our objective is to provide a wide audience of teachers, curriculum developers, teacher education faculty, and professional development providers with online access to a set of high-quality and interrelated activities built around Earth, ocean, and atmospheric phenomena and representations that can supplement or enrich their existing lessons or be integrated into new curriculum materials. This collection of climate literacy materials will be carefully aligned to the learning goals in Climate Literacy: the Essential Principles of Climate Science and in national and state science content standards. By disseminating this online collection widely within the science education community, we also aim to expand the use of NOAA-related scientific data, simulations, animations, and other types of representations in middle school curriculum materials and instruction and to stimulate research on how these materials can be used most effectively.
Applying Social Research to Build Environmental Literacy and Public Engagement in Protecting Ocean Resources
This project will expand and enhance an initiative that offers zoos, aquariums, and science museums the market research they need to engage and motivate the public on issues related to the ocean and climate change. The three-year project will measure changes in public awareness and action on ocean and climate-related issues. It will integrate these research findings into recommendations offered to staff working at zoos, aquariums, and science museums as well as to the ocean conservation community and provide professional development for staff members at these institutions in order to support and shape public outreach efforts that connect climate change, the ocean and individual actions, especially among our nation's youth.
Secondary Analyses of the National Environmental Literacy Assessment: Phase I & II Students, Teachers, Programs and School Survey
Phase Three of the National Environmental Literacy Assessment (NELA) will analyze the relationship between middle school students' scores on the MSELS and other measured variables that may have critically impacted the development of environmental literacy in these students. Phases One and Two of the National Environmental Literacy Assessment (NELA) relied on four data collection instruments: The Middle School Environmental Literacy Survey (MSELS), the School Information Form, the Program Information Form, and the Teacher Information Form. The primary outcomes of these phases were to identify general levels of environmental literacy (measured by the MSELS) and to compare these levels both within and across the studies. Through the comparison of these data sets, we could identify schools in which grade level cohorts of students displayed markedly higher levels of environmental literacy variables than their peer cohorts at other schools. However, questions remain concerning the magnitude and influence of variables that were reported on those survey forms, as well as the relationships among variables measured by the MSELS scales. The major research questions that will guide this Phase are: 1) To what extent do the variables measured by these Forms during Phase One and Two appear to have contributed to or influenced students' environmental literacy scores; 2) How do these variables appear to interact with each other; and 3) What are the relative contributions of knowledge, affect, and skill variables to actual commitment or behavior. The resulting analyses of this study will be shared both through peer-reviewed publications as well as appropriate professional conferences.
Continuing of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) Competitions
The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) is a nationally recognized high school academic competition. NOSB provides a forum for talented students to excel in science and math and introduces team members, their teachers, schools and communities to ocean sciences as an interdisciplinary field of study and a possible future career path. The program operates within a supportive ocean science learning community that involves the research community in pre-college education. Its focal point is a national competition that expands high school students' knowledge of the ocean and career pathways in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program's goals are to: (1) cultivate environments which develop knowledgeable ocean stewards; (2) foster the use of the ocean as an interdisciplinary vehicle to teach science and mathematics; (3) reach out to and support the involvement of under-represented and geographically diverse communities in the ocean sciences; and (4) provide students with interactive education and career opportunities that develop critical thinking and workforce development skills.
Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education Scale-up Initiative
The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education Scale-up Initiative is a project-based educational program that engages students in 21st century investigations of watershed concepts using real-time geospatial technology. The project's goal is to provide as many as 20,000 students across eight states with a dynamic, geographic learning experience that combines classroom learning activities with outdoor field experiences and technology-supported inquiry. To achieve this goal, the project will provide professional development for 400 educators across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. This project builds on an existing educational citizen science project launched by the National Geographic Society in 2009 to study water quality in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and has been designed to serve as a national model for the implementation of classroom and field-based learning.
Conservation Solutions: Developing America's Zoos and Aquariums into Centers for Leadership and Innovation
The Ocean Project will empower America's zoos, aquariums and science museums to become centers of innovation and effective leadership for healthy oceans and conservation in their communities, providing meaningful engagement opportunities for their 200 million annual visitors to become involved in helping with solutions. To help them do so, The Ocean Project is launching a competitive "Innovative Solutions Grants Program" that will provide financial resources for zoos, aquariums and science museums to develop innovative local and regional ocean conservation solutions and stewardship initiatives, with a special emphasis on engaging youth and minorities. To leverage and maximize the benefit of this small grants program, The Ocean Project will also provide the awardees with opportunities for capacity building in strategic communications and share the resulting new strategies and successes with our growing partner network of 2000 zoos, aquariums, science museums and other conservation and education organizations in all 50 States and worldwide.
Continuing of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) Competitions
The National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB), initiated in 1998, is a nationally recognized high school academic competition through which talented students excel in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields and are introduced to ocean science as an interdisciplinary field of study and a possible career path. As the NOSB also engages high school teachers, schools, and local communities in the competition and other program elements, it results in broader awareness of the ocean sciences and environmental issues and increased attitudes toward stewardship of ocean resources within these audiences. The program operates with the involvement of the ocean science research and professional community. Support from NOAA is requested to support about 20% of NOSB national office staff time needed for total program implementation, subawards to the regional competitions, and site visits for planning the 2015 national finals.
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.
Great Lakes Rocks: Earth Systems Science Teacher Professional Development
The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) offers teacher professional development courses geared toward 4-8th grade teachers in high needs schools and with limited experience in science content. Through the Great Lakes Revealed (GLR) education course, teachers explored the interconnectedness of the Earth’s systems through the unique lens of the Great Lakes region, and learned how climate has changed through time. Through hands-on and inquiry-based activities, MSI Senior Educators guided teacher through lessons and other resources, modeling content and pedagogy best practices, and encouraging knowledge building through a combination of experience, critical thinking and reflection. Participants also interacted with NOAA’s Science on a Sphere, with educators at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and with scientists from Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. Formal evaluation shows that GLR teachers complete the program with substantially improved content knowledge, teaching skills, and confidence in science teaching, many becoming teacher leaders at their schools. The second stage of the GLR program involves a select group of teachers from the first year’s cohort who will deepen their understanding of climate change in the Great Lakes region by engaging in data-driven problem-based activities. Building on teachers’ content knowledge, this program will help teachers develop mechanisms to search, access, and use high quality tabular, graphical, and visual data to support effective climate change education. NOAA’s Science on a Sphere datasets will play a central role as teachers explore and then develop their own problem-based lessons to deliver to their own students during a Student Summit at MSI.
Teen Advocates for Community and Environmental Sustainability (Teen ACES)
The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) developed museum-based education resources to engage high school-age youth in the exploration of climate literacy and Earth systems science through its Teen ACES (Teen Advocates for Community and Environmental Sustainability) project. As the future leaders who will make decisions about the issues they face in their communities, youth participants were positioned to act as advocates for establishing resilient communities in the Midwest. The project utilized a variety of resources, including NOAA Science On a Sphere® (SOS) technology and datasets, Great Lakes and local climate assets from the Midwest Regional Climate Center and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, and existing local planning guides to develop museum-based youth programming. Teens explored environmental hazards including severe weather events and temperature extremes and considered the impact of the Great Lakes on regional climate. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Resilient Chicago, the Institute of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University Chicago, and the South Metropolitan Higher Education Consortium advised on the project to support the integration of municipal resiliency plans and their related adaptation and mitigation measures into the program. After completing a 30-hour course with MSI, teen participants had the opportunity to facilitate SOS® experiences for museum guests. Teens also shared their learning with the Chicago community through programs at Chicago Public Library branches and Chicago Park District sites. The project revised content for use in 102 after-school science clubs for students from diverse communities across the Chicago area. Educational resources and experiences created through this grant reached nearly 150,000 students, educators and guests over four years.
Promoting Environmental Literacy through Teacher Professional Development Workshops and Climate Change Student Summits (C2S2)
This project will provide K-12 teacher professional development and focused student activities to promote environmental literacy using the essential principles of ocean and climate literacy. In partnerships with NOAA entities, school districts, and museums across the United States, we will provide: (1) high-energy face-to-face professional development workshops for teachers, facilitated by experienced educators; (2) ongoing support and interactions among teachers and students through an online collaborative website, or group-hub; and, (3) high-profile, focused events in which students interact with scientists and the public to share what they've learned, both locally and internationally. The primary goal of this project is to increase the environmental literacy of K-12 teachers and their students from school districts that are part of existing science museum networks. Each summer, we will work with 4 to 6 partner museums to invite 30 to 40 teachers from their local school districts to take part in a pair of workshops.
Science on a Sphere: Bringing the Oceans to You
Through this award, the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island (NCARI) has installed NOAA's Science on a Sphere (SOS) to enhance and expand their existing Storms exhibit. NCARI's location on the Outer Banks makes understanding ocean systems critically important. Installing SOS increases environmental literacy by exposing NCARI's 300,000 annual visitors to NOAA datasets and information. Additionally, through educational programming students, teachers, and visitors obtain current and accurate information to help them make better-informed decisions. Workshops hosted at NCARI have provided valuable professional development opportunities for both informal educators and NOAA staff.
Using Marine Mammals to Communicate Solutions to Ocean Issues: Improving Climate and Ocean Literacy
The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, along with the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, has created a comprehensive, innovative, and engaging approach to inspire ocean stewardship among young people. Through professional development, integration of advanced technology, and targeted presentations to underserved audiences, this project serves to build connections between marine mammals, ocean health, climate change, and people. The project offers an innovative and engaging professional development opportunity, the Marine Mammal Institute (MMI), for 32 grassroots educators in North Carolina, with priority given to representatives from economically depressed areas. Participating educators gather information and gain experience to develop interactive marine mammal activities related to climate and ocean literacy. Upon returning to their home institutions, participants engage teenagers in climate and ocean literacy programming using innovative technology to illustrate climate change impacts on marine mammals.