In 2012 we continued work begun in 2010 with three projects funded through spring 2013 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) through our partnership with the New England Ocean Science Education Collaborative (NEOSEC). These projects include:
Get WET in New England
Project name: Get WET in New England: Ocean Literacy Through Watershed Education and Training
Goal: Get WET in New England is a region-wide program that trains K-12 teachers in watershed education.
Details: NEOSEC received an award of funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for Get WET as part of the NOAA Bay-Watershed Education Program (B-WET), an environmental education program that promotes locally relevant, experiential learning in the K-12 environment. The primary delivery of B-WET is through competitive funding that promotes Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs).
Get WET in New England: Ocean Literacy Through Watershed Education and Training is a sponsored project of NEOSEC. In the Get WET program, New England Aquarium leads NEOSEC institutional members to provide professional development that is grounded in Ocean Literacy and that addresses the goals of the NOAA Education Plan.
Get WET trains and supports teachers to allow them to lead their own field experiences and follow-up activities for students, facilitating longer-term meaningful watershed education experiences that do not rely on external expertise. The project will serve at least 50 new middle- and high-school teachers per year during the first two years; 110+ new teachers over 3 years; and, through them, approximately 4,700 students from across New England. The project will continue through March 30, 2013.
BOAT CAMP Nature School has been working with teachers from the Merrimack River bordering school systems, including Newburport Public Schools, Amesbury Elementary School, Whittier Vocational Tech, Salisbury Elementary School, Newburyport Montessori School and Haverhill Public Schools. Through this grant, we have been able to offer funding support for outdoor field experiences on teh Merrimack River and to Moseley Woods, Salisbury Rail Trail and Plum Island for more than 900 school children ranging in age from Pre-K to high school.
Employing a collaborative project structure, Get WET in New England will generate greater impact than each partner could effect on their own. Participating teachers will benefit from each partner’s unique expertise; opportunities to work with peers from other states; and connections with regional marine educator networks. The Get WET institutions are leaders in their communities and closely tied to local school districts. All are nonprofits dedicated to advancing Ocean Literacy and excellence in environmental education. Each partner institution has identified a local school system to take part in the 3-year effort, encompassing both urban and rural districts, and is matched with a NOAA Advisor. Other NEOSEC institutions with existing B-WET programs (Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and Project Oceanology) also provide connections across the region.
Participating NEOSEC members: Gundalow Company, BOAT CAMP Inc., New England Aquarium, Sea Research Foundation, Inc./Mystic Aquarium (Connecticut)
Principal Investigator: William S. Spitzer, New England Aquarium
Families By the Seaside
Project name: Families By the Seaside: Building Community-Based Outdoor Ocean Science Learning Experiences
Goal: To create meaningful learning experiences for underserved/underrepresented (UU) families at informal science education centers (ISECs).
Details: It is difficult for many informal science education centers (ISECs) to create meaningful learning experiences for underserved/underrepresented (UU) families. Often, ISEC program staff lack the tools and awareness required to do so; yet, it is these families who can benefit most from outdoor, informal science education. Although most ISECs work with community-based organizations (CBOs) who serve UU families, the institutional and staff relationships are usually built on a program-by-program basis. Additionally, finding ways to include the right Web 2.0 platform on the right device is challenging enough when attempting to reach “traditional” science center audiences; it is compounded when working with UU families.
This project will work over three years with ISEC/CBO teams from five coastal communities from Portsmouth, NH to Mystic, CT in order to:
- (1) create audience-informed outdoor ocean-literacy learning experiences for underserved/underrepresented (UU) families by including them in the program development process;
- (2) customize Encyclopedia of Life’s (EOL)Web 2.0 tools for use by UU families; and
- (3) formalize working relationships between informal science education centers (ISEC) and community based organizations (CBO) by creating five teams of ISEC/CBO staff to develop and implement the family program.
BOAT CAMP Nature School is be working with Amesbury’s JumpStart Youth Connection Inc.
The project is divided into four phases of activity:
Phase 1: Establishing a Community of Practice. CBO and ISEC staff will work together in a series of facilitated and evaluated meetings and content workshops. RMC Research Corporation (RMC) will solicit input from program partners to develop a needs assessment (established via focus groups) of the target audiences. These efforts will lay the groundwork for Phase 2.
Phase 2: Developing a field program. CBO-ISEC teams design their own site-specific field programs for Worlds Oceans Day. The programs are based on results of focus groups and informed by science/community programs workshop and will focus on ocean literacy principles and concepts with input from NOAA-scientists.
Phase 3: Applying Web2.0 technology. Concurrent with the field program development, the science and technology group (led by EOL) will evaluate existing Web2.0 tools and train project staff through a Technology Workshop. These will be field tested in a family program for International Coastal Cleanup Day.
Phase 4: Supporting continuing and ongoing learning. Partners will determine the best ways to support continued participation via Web2.0 applications, revise programming according to participant feedback, implement revised field programs to reach new participants, and support follow-up learning among past participants.
This project will extend ocean literacy to reach a broader public audience. Outcomes will include: enriching the content of existing coastal education programs using ocean literacy principles; extending audience engagement using new technology; building capacity of informal educators through professional development; expanding partnerships with community based organizations; strengthening collaboration among informal science education institutions in the region.
Principal Investigator: Wendy Lull, President, Seacoast Science Center
Participating NEOSEC Members: Seacoast Science Center, BOAT CAMP Inc., New England Aquarium, NERACOOS, Mystic Aquarium, Northeastern University Marine Science Center, Encyclopedia of life
Project name: Summer Science in New England: Ocean Education Through Informal Science Centers
Goal: To establish a new regional network of summer camp programs grounded in ocean science
Details: Seven institutions – New England Aquarium (NEAq), Boston Boys and Girls Club’s Camp Harbor View, Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, University of Rhode Island’s Alton Jones Camp, Project Oceanology, Seacoast Science Center, and the Marine Environmental Research Institute – are working with international Census of Marine Life (COML) scientist Thomas Trott and additional research scientists to engage campers, ages 14 and up, in near-shore biodiversity monitoring. The project provides a citizen science experience for teens across a wide geographical area, supports and trains informal science center staff to incorporate citizen science while using environmental literacy principles with teens, and offers opportunities for all participants – teens, educators, and scientists – to share findings with peers at annual regional forums.
Year One of the three-year initiative started in December 2009 with a planning workshop, focusing on refining the parameters of the monitoring project, logistics, and protocol. All NEAq personnel (PI, Project Director, Instructors, and Scientists), leads at partnering science center camps, and a representative from COML participated.
Project Implementation at Centers: Year One partners are running the monitoring program during their camps between June and August 2010, focusing on campers ages 14 and up. Scientists are participating in onsite data collection with their respective assigned centers. All camps are using the NaGISA monitoring protocol developed for COML.
Annual Teen Ocean Summit: The NEAq Camp Director will plan the Teen Ocean Summit for October 2010 based on a successful model developed at NEAq. Each partner institution will extend their contact with campers from their programs and facilitate their participation in this Fall Saturday event. NEAq teens from the institution’s existing programs will help to facilitate their peers’ participation in the Summit, along with partner lead personnel and scientists. One hundred participants are anticipated in total. At the Summit, teens will present findings and discuss how their research project and resulting data can be used to impact decision-making regarding climate change.
Year Two will follow a similar format, building on the experiences of Year One, with the primary difference that the NEOSEC OL Summit will not be held again until the end of Year Three (November 2012). All seven partners from Year One (including NEAq’s Harbor Discoveries Camp) will continue in Years Two and Three, as we recruit additional partners. BOAT CAMP Inc. has been invited to participate in 2011. An initial planning workshop in Spring 2011, steps to revise the field handbook, and refinements by partner camp staff will all allow for additional reflection on and incorporation of improvements to the program. The monitoring program will again take place during the Summer of 2011 and the Teen Ocean Summit in October 2011.
During Year Three, two additional partners will be recruited, bringing the total group to twelve centers. The OL Summit at the end of Year Three (November 2012) will allow partners to share lessons learned during the project, disseminate findings to a larger group (an estimated 200), and discuss sustainability. Similar discussions will be included in the project’s final Teen Ocean Summit in October 2012.
Participating NEOSEC members: University of Rhode Island, Project Oceanology, Seacoast Science Center, Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, New England Aquarium
Principal Investigator: William S. Spitzer, New England Aquarium