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.
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.
Aquarium-wide Climate Change and the Ocean Initiative: Public Engagement from Awareness to Action
As part of its on-going commitment to engage, inform, and inspire visitors around issues of critical importance to ocean conservation, the Monterey Bay Aquarium opened the nation's first live aquatic animal exhibition on climate change and the ocean. This award supports a comprehensive and integrated suite of associated informal educational activities, designed to extend the exhibit experience and allow visitors to explore this critically important topic in more depth during their visit and after leaving the Aquarium. These activities include: community engagement events, virtual reality auditorium programs using Google Earth, musical theater presentations, and exhibit interactives that allow audiences to discuss solutions to ocean issues. Over the course of three years, this initiative will reach more than 4.5 million people and: 1) raise public awareness about the connection between climate change and ocean health; 2) demonstrate that public actions do have an impact on climate change (and therefore ocean health); and 3) encourage meaningful action to address climate change.
A National Coalition of Aquariums Educating About Climate Change
This collaboration led by three major national aquariums - Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBAq), National Aquarium in Baltimore (NAIB), and New England Aquarium (NEAq) - is developing a leadership initiative to build capacity within aquariums and related informal science education institutions nation-wide, enabling education staff to engage and inspire millions of visitors to take action about climate change and the ocean. The project increases climate literacy among informal science educators by: 1) creating a national network for training, resource sharing and support; 2) developing climate change activity carts to support exhibit interpretation; 3) providing training for youth interpreters; and 4) hosting regional and national summits to strengthen collaboration and showcase and disseminate model programs. Outcomes for educators include increased knowledge of climate change science; knowledge of strategies, tools and materials for educating about climate change; and confidence in their ability to communicate about climate change.
Teen Conservation Leadership
Teen Conservation Leadership is a major integration and expansion of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's existing teen education programs (Student Oceanography Club, Young Women in Science and Student Guides). The project is growing and enhancing these programs through the following activities: Service Learning and Leadership Activities – including: 1) Guest Service Track: professional development and training as interpreters 2) Camp and Club Track: serving as a mentor for other participants 3) Program Track: assisting in the delivery of programs - Conservation and Science Activities, including participating in and leading projects with local organizations, and participating in technologically facilitated outdoor learning experiences – Teen Network and Technology Activities, including onsite networking and information sharing through Web 2.0 technology The project will reach 930 teens. Each teen will provide 200 service-learning hours per year. The sequential nature of this project will encourage many teens to participate for multiple years.
Building Ocean Awareness Together (BOAT)
A consortium of Alaska SeaLife Center, Florida Aquarium and Monterey Bay Aquarium with their partner National Association for Interpretation will increase the effectiveness of informal science educators (ISE) to promote public understanding of three complex topics that impact the ocean (oil spills, ocean acidification, and energy literacy) and encourage stewardship of ocean and coastal resources. This project will have a direct impact on 252 interpreters in and around Alaska, California, and Florida through 12 weeklong trainings. Groups of interpreters will develop, assemble and produce online training toolkits, all of which will be widely disseminated to the ISE community. Each toolkit will utilize NOAA multimedia content, data visualization products, expertise and other relevant resources. Project participants – who interact with a diverse mix of local, regional, national and international visitors (including underserved local populations) – will provide enhanced training content for their colleagues through professional trainings, presentations, and online networks.
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.
Families by the Seaside: Building Community-based Outdoor Ocean Science Learning Experiences
This 2-year program will advance the way informal ocean science education institutions reach underserved/underrepresented families by facilitating and formalizing relationships between informal science education centers and community based organizations. Project teams in five New England communities will collaborate to create a practicable, outdoor ocean-science learning experience specifically designed for families in their shared service area. Building on a needs assessment produced through target-audience focus groups, the program will combine coastal field experiences with web-based interactive and participatory learning activities developed and tested by the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL; www.eol.org/) and the Northeast Regional Association for Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS) to support in-field and ongoing learning. Science content will be informed and vetted by NOAA research scientists and work between the science centers and community organizations will be professionally facilitated. Formats and effectiveness will be evaluated by external evaluators and revised throughout the project.