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.
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 ( St. 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.
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.
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.
Science on a Sphere and Flood Forums: Education to Action
The Nurture Nature Center (NNC) in Easton, PA, a joint project of the multi-state Nurture Nature Foundation and NNC, Inc., will install a Science on a Sphere and develop a new SOS module about climate and flooding. Working with the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, PA, and science advisers from NOAA and research universities, NNC will use existing SOS datasets, as well as new data formats, to create a docent-guided program that explains the connections between climate patterns and flooding. The Flood Forums: Education to Action program will engage audiences in deliberative forum programming to promote public understanding of the atmospheric, oceanic, and other climatic factors affecting flooding in some regional communities. Project deliverables include a program on climate change and flooding for SOS users; the same program calibrated for Magic Planet users; Forum models on issues related to climate change and flooding; project and evaluation reports; and training materials for SOS network members and other informal educators.
Bringing Knowledge of Planet Earth to a Wider Audience and Bringing a Diverse New Group to Careers in Science Teaching
Science On a Sphere (SOS) at Fiske Planetarium will raise awareness and understanding of Earth system science for over 30,000 visitors per year, using student docents and newly-developed, tested pedagogy. SOS will enhance Fiske’s ability to engage 3,000 university students and 30,000 K-12 students and members of the public. A student docent program will transform the traditionally passive experience of a planetarium visit into an interactive learning opportunity. The docents will be drawn from two sources: undergraduates who will be future science teachers, who we take from a selective CU program called "STEM-TP", and Hispanic university and high school students taught by Fiske's planetarium manager Francisco Salas. Docents will talk with visitors and help them understand key science issues that affect the earth, leading to more informed decision-making. Fiske will develop bilingual pedagogical material and new data sets, and share them with NOAA and SOS sites. To support the docents, and visiting students and teachers, Fiske Education Manager Traub-Metlay will lead development of explanatory materials that challenge visitors and provide context for what they are seeing. These will be translated into Spanish by Fiske Manager Salas. New data sets, contributed by faculty members, will expand the range of SOS, into space, adding solar interior models, the celestial sphere, and the cosmic background radiation from the Big Bang, along with new terrestrial data such as the worldwide distribution of forest fires. SOS will become a focal point in Fiske's longstanding tradition of teacher workshops, which are often done in cooperation with the University of Colorado and NOAA scientists and highlight NOAA’s role monitoring the earth and sun. It also will be integrated with a small suite of hands-on exhibits we are installing that explains how observations can be made in infrared, ultraviolet, and X-rays in addition to visible light. These would complement SOS, which features multi-wavelength data. Fiske and its Boulder Colorado-area partners have raised $75,000 to cover the full cost of SOS hardware, and have formal institutional commitments to long-term program development. This award from NOAA will go into materials development, evaluation, and student pay. Colorado communities are aware of NOAA’s important work and the nearby David Skaggs Center, but security measures make it difficult to visit there. Fiske is much more accessible. Fiske will improve the usefulness of all SOS sites by conducting formative evaluation to assess what kinds of SOS presentations work best with public and school audiences, giving feedback to NOAA and all SOS users.
Science on a Sphere - Upgrade 2009
This project works to: (1) Continue to develop software that allows a docent to easily control Science on a Sphere from a small touchpad computer while interacting with visitors. (2) Continue to develop software that allows easy "drag and drop" construction of playlists. (3) Put kiosk control of the sphere, already developed as a student project, into a real kiosk. (4) Assess the use of wireless response devices or "clickers" to enhance audience interaction, learning, and enjoyment, and gather information from visitor responses and share all these improvements with the network. (5) Improve the resolution of the 4 projectors of our SOS installation, in anticipation of new data on the moon and Mars coming to our university, which has been selected to lead NASA moon and Mars missions, and add flat screen TVs for the presentation of auxiliary data.
Interpretation of Real-Time Weather and Climate Data for Spherical Displays
The Interpretation of Real-time Weather and Climate for Spherical Displays (EarthNow) project utilizes the Science on a Sphere (SOS) Network to enable meaningful interpretation of real-time weather and climate data by museum docents and visitors viewing SOS exhibits nationwide. The project will generate and provide real-time NOAA weather, climate and ocean data to the SOS Network along with appropriate training for docents. It will also provide data interpretation summaries, data discussions and concise talking points on a regularly updated blog. This project is being implemented by a collaborative team of two weather and climate centers of NOAA/NESDIS: the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) and Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS), in association with the NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory, the I.M. Systems Group, and the Maryland Science Center.