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.
Worldviews Network: Ecological Literacy Programming for Digital Planetariums and Beyond
The Worldviews Network - a collaboration of institutions that have pioneered Earth systems research, education and evaluation methods - is creating innovative approaches for engaging the American public in dialogues about human-induced global changes. Leveraging the power of immersive scientific visualization environments at informal science centers across the US, we are developing transformative educational processes that integrate the benefits of visual thinking, systems thinking, and design thinking. This "seeing, knowing, doing" approach empowers educators with tools and techniques that help audiences to visualize, comprehend, and address complex issues from a whole-systems perspective. The Worldviews Network will make explicit the interconnections of Earth's life support systems across time and space as well as inspire community participation in design processes by providing real-world examples of successful projects that are increasing the healthy functioning of regional and global ecosystems.
Hurricanes and Climate Change: Local Impacts and Global Systems
The Miami Science Museum, in collaboration with Ideum and the Institute for Learning Innovation, is designing and developing an interactive multi-user exhibit that allows visitors to explore the global dimensions and local impacts of climate change. The exhibit will raise public understanding about the underlying science, the human causes, and the potential impacts of climate change by combining the attraction of a 4-foot spherical display with a user-controlled interface that lets visitors control the sphere and choose from a range of global and local content they wish to explore. A particular focus is on climate-related impacts on coastal communities, including the dangers posed by rising sea level and the possibility of more intense hurricanes. The project emphasizes engagement of diverse, multigenerational audiences through development of an interface that is fully bilingual and that promotes social interaction. The open-source learning module will be adaptable by other museums, to explore climate impacts specific to their region.
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.
Here to the Ocean, a nationally traveling museum exhibition
The Sciencenter seeks to develop a 1,500-square-foot traveling exhibition, called "Here to the Ocean," on how activity in inland watersheds affects the health of the ocean, and therefore the planet. The unifying theme of the exhibition is "What we do here, has an impact there," and the key take-home message for museum visitors is that ocean water quality is not just a coastal issue. This exhibition will travel to museums throughout the United States, reaching an estimated 200,000+ visitors annually for at least seven years, resulting in an estimated total impact of 1.5 million visitors in at least 20 U.S. cities. The core audience of this exhibition will be families with children ages 6-12, and children visiting museums in school groups. "Here to the Ocean" will feature interactive open-ended exhibits that bring watershed science to life, including an immersive experience allowing visitors to conduct their own virtual underwater tours of watersheds by stepping inside and operating a submersible research vehicle on an expedition from a backyard creek all the way to the ocean. This and other exhibits will feature stunning high-definition video footage depicting fauna from various water ecosystems, as well as human activities that affect watershed health. Additional hands-on exhibits will help visitors to understand how watersheds are connected to the ocean, basic concepts in hydrology, the impact of pollution, and what science offers in the way of solutions to watershed problems. Exhibits will be designed to inspire visitors to adopt behaviors that protect their local watersheds. Visitors experiencing this exhibition will: 1) leave with an increased understanding of watershed science that will help them make informed, data-driven decisions on issues relating to watersheds; 2) have an increased awareness of the importance of watershed health and positive attitudes about the need to protect local watersheds; 3) have an increased understanding of the value of science in solving environmental problems and will be inspired to stay involved in science through school and/or career; and 4) feel an increased sense of personal watershed stewardship which they will share with others.
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.
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.