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Highlights Archive
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Highlights Archive


National Ocean Sciences Bowl® Students Brief Leaders in Washington, DC

Published October 2015

Team members from Boise High School (ID) give their recommendations for the ICOOS Act reauthorization. (Photo credit: Consortium for Ocean Leadership)

In June 2015, the National Champions of the 18th Annual National Ocean Sciences Bowl® (NOSB), Boise High School from Boise, Idaho, were invited to participate in Capitol Hill Oceans Week (CHOW), organized by the National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation. During the first-ever youth panel at CHOW, “The Wave of the Future: What Do the Youth of America Think?”  Boise team captain, Nate Marshall, discussed how being part of NOSB has raised their awareness of ocean issues and careers, as well as the impact residents of interior states have on the ocean.

Nate Marshall on the youth panel at CHOW 2015. . (Photo credit: Consortium for Ocean Leadership)

The piece of legislation that students reviewed for the 2015 Science Expert Briefing— the mock congressional testimony that is a component of NOSB Final Competition — was the reauthorization of the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System (ICOOS) Act of 2009.

The top placing team in the 2015 Science Expert Briefing was Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (Alexandria, Virginia) while Boise High School placed second. At the request of Zdenka Willis, Director of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System at NOAA, both teams presented and discussed their recommendations with her and other federal agency representatives on June 10 in Washington DC.

Since 1998, NOAA has supported the National Ocean Sciences Bowl® with grants and volunteer time. The program introduces talented U.S. high school students to ocean-related science, technology, engineering, and math fields and career pathways. This program affords learning opportunities to the students as well as their teachers, schools, and local communities that result in increased knowledge of ocean sciences and interest in stewardship of ocean resources.

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NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) Hosts Weather Camps to Inspire and Develop the Next Generation of Atmospheric Scientists

Published Jul 2015

If you ask most meteorologists or atmospheric scientists, they will tell you that they spent most of their adolescence fascinated by the weather. These are the kids who are glued to The Weather Channel or get inspired while visiting their local forecast office for Career Day. Did you know that there is a growing network of Weather Camps around the country which provide unique and exciting opportunities for these weather interested students?

The NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS)one of four NOAA Educational Partnership Program Cooperative Science Centers, will host five Channeling Atmospheric Research into Educational Experiences Reaching Students (CAREERS) Weather Camps this summer in four locations. These weather camps include a high school residential camp, and a new middle school commuter camp at Jackson State University; a bilingual, residential high school camp at University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez; an Upward Bound commuter camp at the University of Texas at El Paso; and a two-week residential high school camp at Howard University, in Washington, DC.

Each camp has a slightly different focus as they take advantage of local resources and locally relevant science topics. The camps are free of charge and provide housing and meals for the students. CAREERS Weather Camp was developed to encourage students, particularly from underrepresented minority communities, to consider college majors and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). More than 300 students have been trained in atmospheric sciences at NCAS Weather Camps since the beginning of the program.

Jackson State University Weather Camp 2013

Jackson State University- This year, Jackson State University (JSU) hosted a week-long, residential weather camp and a new middle school commuter camp. Both camps target students interested in weather-related topics and impacts on daily life. The majority of activities are conducted in the lab facilities on campus. Weather campers also have the opportunity to conduct field work in meteorology, for example, past weather campers at JSU have gone out to survey sites affected by tornado damage.

University of Puerto Rico Weather Camp 2013

University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez- Weather camp began at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM) in 2005, and last year 17 high school students explored topics such as tropical weather and climate, atmosphere and ocean connections, the impact of climate change on the Caribbean region and atmospheric science research through seminars, workshops, interactive activities, and field trips. The bilingual camp is organized by the UPRM Department of Marine Sciences.

Last year, campers took a day trip to a tropical marine ecosystem to learn about oceanography and also participated in a marine robotics workshop. In the past, students have helped deploy oceanographic instruments and visited NOAA data buoys. Weather campers also visit the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in San Juan, PR. Also, hurricane forecasters with NOAA's National Hurricane Center in Miami, FL, have given special presentations to students in Puerto Rico via teleconference, as well as on site. In a region in which tropical weather and ocean conditions can impact day to day life, UPRM’s weather camp inspires students to pursue oceanography and atmospheric sciences. In fact, in 2014, a weather camp alumna and Educational Partnership Program Undergraduate Scholar, Ana Patricia Torres, graduated with her BS in Theoretical Physics from UPRM.

UTEP Weather Camp 2014 at the Tramway

University of Texas at El Paso- CAREERS Weather Camp at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) partners with Upward Bound, a program which prepares students for college, to provide in-depth learning experiences in weather, climate, and air quality for high school students. Last year, weather campers learned about NOAA’s HYSPLIT model, which is used to study atmospheric dispersion. In 2013, campers visited the local KFOX weather studio. Students have also visited a local paleontologist study site and the Tramway to obtain a vertical profile of the atmosphere in the city of El Paso. This year, Howard University and University of Texas El Paso weather campers participated in a webinar together on extreme weather with meteorologists from the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Shreveport, LA.

HU Weather Camp visits Noblis, 2014 2015 CAREERS HU Campers during webinar on extreme weather

Howard University- Weather Campers at Howard University (HU) are able to take advantage of the strong NOAA presence in the Washington, DC, area, as well as visit NOAA partners such as NOBLIS and the Smithsonian Institution. This year, students will also visit the NOAA National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and the University of Maryland’s Earth Systems Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), which is associated with NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS). The students will learn about the research conducted at NCEP and UMD and participate in a weather briefing. They will also visit the science-focused nonprofit NOBLIS, which is headquartered in Falls Church, VA. At NOBLIS, atmospheric scientists and professionals from the NOAA National Weather Service and NOAA NESDIS will give presentations on a variety of atmospheric science topics, including space weather, climate, air quality, and aviation.

Weather campers at HU get a chance to conduct their own hands-on scientific research through a capstone project. At the end of the two weeks, the students present the results of their projects. This summer marks the 13th year of weather camp at Howard University. Kayla Hawkins, one of the chaperones, is a CAREERS alumna, who is now an undergraduate student studying biology at Howard University. In addition to local students from the DC metropolitan area, more than half of the 12 Howard University weather campers are traveling from across the country, including Florida, California, and as far as Puerto Rico.

NCAS CAREERS Weather Camps allow students to be immersed in the atmospheric sciences, from learning about how weather is observed and predicted, to interacting with scientists and professionals. Additionally, the camps aim to prepare students for the college experience through team-based projects and exposure to the university laboratory setting. The program has been successful in inspiring students to pursue STEM degrees, and several weather campers have matriculated to Howard University or one of the NCAS partner institutions. As the Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions aims to increase the number of students from underrepresented communities who are trained and graduate with degrees in NOAA mission fields, the NCAS weather camps play a critical role in inspiring and developing the next generation of scientists.

Contributors: Kadidia Thiero (NCAS); Rosa Fitzgerald, PhD (NCAS; UTEP); Kristen Jabanoski (NOAA)
For more information on the CAREERS Weather Camps, click here

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Teachers and Students Get a Superior Education with B-WET

Published Feb 2015

Winter water quality monitoring. Students snowshoe to collect winter water quality data with their teacher Anna Clark and staff from the Lake Superior NERR and Fond du Lac Resource Management

In 2014, the Great Lakes B-WET-funded Rivers2Lake program used year-long mentoring and in-school collaboration with teachers and researchers to integrate the Lake Superior watershed and the St. Louis River Estuary into classrooms, forming the core of the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve’s education efforts.

Rivers2Lake tackles NOAA’s goal of creating a science-informed society by connecting teachers and their students to their watershed. They do this by engaging teachers and students in the process of identifying local issues, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting their findings. A 2014 example of this was at the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School on the Fond du Lac Reservation near Cloquet, MN. Regular stream monitoring by 8th grade students resulted in a professional presentation at the St. Louis River Summit, a gathering of researchers and land managers hosted by the Lake Superior NERR and Wisconsin Coastal Management. 

Using data about Otter Creek, a tributary of the St. Louis River, the students presented a valuable water quality profile of a stream that had been heavily affected by floods in 2012.  Thirteen students worked over a period of four months with NERR educators and Fond du Lac Resource Management water quality experts to collect and analyze water quality data, then create and present a poster at the St. Louis River Summit in February 2014.  During the Summit, the students spoke with officials from NOAA headquarters, EPA leadership, university students and even a National Geographic photographer. 

This work built on two successful years of implementing this comprehensive place-based education program. Evaluation data demonstrated that the program was effective in increasing teachers’ competency in using outdoor and place-based learning, as well as their sense of place, a strong indicator for stewardship behavior and program continuation.  Moreover, the students in the Rivers2Lake program have shown a significant increase in academic engagement. To date, 36 teachers and over 1200 students have participated in Rivers2Lake, and continue to work with the Reserve long after mentoring by Reserve education staff has passed.

Contributors: Cathy Green, NOAA; and Deanna Erickson, Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve; Bronwen Rice, NOAA

Fond du Lac Poster Presentation. Eighth grade students from the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School present
their poster at the St. Louis River Summit

Winter data collection with eighth grade students from the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School

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Queens College's Into the Woods Project Hosts Science and Art Symposium

Published June 2014

Students from PS 205Q present "Trash to Treasure", a composting project using cafeteria waste to create compost for the school's garden.  The fourth grade students asked their teacher if they could do something to improve the soil after engaging in a study of soils around the school. 

On May 9th, 630 elementary school students, representing 10 schools from four boroughs of New York City, gathered for a special event to celebrate their forays into natural areas around their schools. Queens College's GLOBE New York Metro Program hosted the Science and Art Symposium. It was the culminating event for a group of teachers and their classes participating in the Into the Woods (ITW) project funded through NOAA's Environmental Literacy Grants Program. This four-year project is now finishing its second year.

At the heart of ITW is a series of professional development workshops for teachers designed to help them become comfortable leading classes outdoors. During the workshops the teachers learn about and explore natural systems and develop class management skills that work outdoors. They work together to identify areas in the curriculum where they can replace traditional indoor lesson activities with appropriate outdoor alternatives. The Symposium is a forum for their students to showcase the work they have done related to these outdoor activities. This work consists of year long research projects focused on natural areas around the school, including soil studies, pond studies, cloud observations, phenology, and general explorations of local areas. ITW has deep roots in art, social studies, and language arts, and there were samples of students' artwork and writing on display.

Third grade students from PS 32x created individual dioramas based on their investigation of macro-invertebrates in pond of Crotona Park in the Bronx.

Beyond showing their presentations and viewing the presentations of other classes, the students were entertained with a science show put on by members of the college's Science is Fun club. The students were led on a tour of the campus by volunteers from the college's Elementary & Early Childhood Education Department and a number of science departments.

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Office of Education participates in Upward Bound "STEM Careers Day" at Howard University

Published April 2014

Dr. DaNa Carlis conducts "weight of the world" experiment with students.

On Saturday March 29, 2014 the NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) and Howard University's Upward Bound/TRIO hosted a "STEM Careers Day" event at Howard University in Washington, DC. NCAS is a Cooperative Science Center led by Howard University in collaboration with three other minority-serving institutions (MSIs): Jackson State University, University of Texas at El Paso, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, and two majority institutions: University of Maryland College Park, and State University of New York at Albany. The Center has been funded by the NOAA Educational Partnership Program (EPP) since September 2001 and has formed a cooperative partnership with the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS). The four minority institutions consist of the highest enrollments of African American and Hispanic students in the physical sciences, engineering, and atmospheric-related disciplines (including meteorology) at the undergraduate and graduate levels.


The Howard University Upward Bound Program is a college preparatory program for high school students designed to develop the skills and motivation necessary for success at the collegiate level.

Dr. Jude Abanulo instructs students on circuits and robotics.

This professional development seminar was geared towards area high school students that are college-bound, and eager to learn about careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The overall theme for the event was "STEM Careers Day". The audience was comprised of approximately 60 High School students, who currently participate in the Howard University Upward Bound/TRIO Program. The students are a part of the Math & Science program of Upward Bound.

Presenters included: Dr. DaNa Carlis from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Dr. Jude Abanulo from the HU CREST Nanoscale Analytical Sciences Research & Education Center, and Mr. Osaretin Obaseki from NOAA's Office of Education. The presenters engaged students in interactive activities related to the work/research performed in their respective fields.


Osaretin Obaseki discusses web technology at NOAA.
Dr. Carlis gave a demonstration on weather forecasting and the accuracy of forecasts from private and government weather enterprises such as The Weather Channel, Accuweather, Weather Underground, and the National Weather Service. Dr. Abanulo introduced students to the exciting world of radio communications and electronics, while working with Snap-On electronic circuit components such as diodes, transistors, operational amplifiers and timer circuits. Mr. Obaseki invited youth to explore the world of web design at NOAA, as well as how the Internet and social media are used to accomplish mission goals in technology and science education.

Kadidia Thiero, the Outreach Coordinator for NCAS, had this to say about the event, "NCAS endeavours to create opportunities with partners to encourage students to explore STEM careers. We had shining examples of the possibilities in web design, robotics, and weather forecasting. I think the event was very successful."

Presenters at Howard Upward Bound STEM Careers Day
From left to right: Dr. DaNa Carlis, Dr. Jude Abanulo, and Mr. Osaretin Obaseki

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The 2013 Climate Change Education Principal Investigators Meeting

Published November 2013

Despite the absence of federal agency representatives, the third annual Climate Change Education Principal Investigators (CCE PI) Meeting went on as planned, with some changes to the agenda and a lot of help from attendees who stepped in at the last minute to cover federal agency colleagues' roles in the meeting. The annual CCE PI meeting is a working meeting of principal investigators and other key personnel of climate change education projects currently or recently funded by NASA, NOAA and NSF.

Lisa Discussing the role of Env. Policy
2013 Climate Change Education Principal Investigators Meeting

The purpose of this jointly held meeting is to facilitate synergy and collaboration among project partners as well as with other external networks to expand their projects' impacts and leverage results. This year's meeting provided grant recipients with information on current climate change science findings and policies, how communities are responding to those findings, and how projects can be scaled up and sustained. On the first day, attendees heard from Dr. Don Wuebbles of the University of Illinois on the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC 5th Assessment Report, Dr. Don Boesch of the University of Maryland on the President Obama's Climate Action Plan, and Dr. Robert Summers, Secretary of the Environment and Chair of the Maryland Climate Change Commission, on state-level planning for climate change. On day two, attendees heard from Reverend Sally Bingham, President of the Regeneration Project, Interfaith Power and Light, on engaging faith communities and individuals in collective action, from education on climate change to energy saving activities and policy advocacy.

Attendees also heard from Ms. Leah Qusba, Deputy Director, Strategic Partnerships & Campaigns, Alliance for Climate Education, on educating America's high school students about climate change science and inspiring them to take action. A third speaker, Ms. Michele Madia, Director of Sustainability Finance and Policy of Second Nature, was unable to attend the meeting due to illness; nevertheless, Mr. Mark McCaffrey, Programs and Policy Director of National Center for Science Education, stepped in and presented on behalf of the organization. Mr. McCaffrey spoke about Second Nature's work with thousands of faculty and administrators at more than 500 colleges and universities committed to making sustainable living the foundation of all learning and practice in higher education.

On the final day, Mr. Jim Elder, Director of the Campaign for Environmental Literacy and Mr. William Heaton, Chief of Staff and Strategic Advisor to the President at the Council on Foundations, spoke to the attendees about the current trends and future opportunities for climate change education funding. Additionally, the scientists, educators and evaluators representing approximately 100 climate change education projects acknowledged advances made by the community and shared the latest information about their projects' impacts and lessons learned.

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Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC), Acadia B-WET Project

Published July 2013

The Acadia B-WET project, implemented by the Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC) Institute, engages teachers and students in the study of living marine and watershed resources; contributes to data collection for scientists in support of studies on human impacts on watershed ecosystems; and serves NOAA's trifold mission of Science, Service and Stewardship. Acadia B-WET is part of the larger Acadia Learning program led by the SERC Institute at Acadia National Park, in collaboration with Maine Sea Grant and the University of Maine George J. Mitchell Center. Acadia B-WET provides professional development for teachers and works with students to conduct citizen science research in Gulf of Maine coastal watersheds. Through fieldwork and data collection, students in grades 6-12 gain an understanding of the interconnectedness of coastal watershed ecosystems while engaging in authentic scientific inquiry.

Supported by a New England B-WET grant, Acadia Learning implements research projects that successfully pair student inquiries with scientists' data needs. Teachers and students learn sampling protocols from partner scientists and sample watersheds at field sites in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The students gain first-hand experiences with their local watersheds and then use these field studies to develop research questions that are answered through analysis of data collected across the network of field sites.

Photo Credit: Hannah Webber, SERC Institute
Photo Credit: Hannah Webber, SERC Institute
In addition to acquiring field sampling skills, students learn about watershed systems and macro-invertebrates and gain habits of scientific practice associated with collecting, organizing, and analyzing high quality data. Working side-by-side with scientists, students collect data to pursue their own inquiries while also providing samples and data that are useful to the scientist. For example, in one study, scientists and student partners collected dragonflies to support a student investigation of mercury concentrations in different local watersheds. The same data supported the scientist's research on two questions; whether dragonflies could be used as reliable proxies for overall mercury concentrations, and identification of watershed factors related to differences in mercury concentrations. Because Acadia Learning's citizen science programs require students to develop and research their own scientific questions rather than just collect samples for the scientists, academic curriculum content knowledge is easily integrated into the projects.

Bill Zoellick, Acadia B-WET project lead, along with project partners, articulated some of the challenges and successful elements of their program in a recent article; Participatory science and education: bringing both views into focus, in the Ecological Society of America's Journal, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. In addition to relating their success in helping scientists and educators collaborate to design and implement a program that respects the two groups' different desired outputs and outcomes, the authors present an elegant logic model summarizing the process.

The B-WET best practices of the meaningful watershed educational experience (MWEE) are fully implemented in Acadia B-WET; the students' watershed experiences are investigative and project oriented, integrated into instructional programs, sustained, include preparation, action and reflection phases, and investigate the watersheds as interconnected systems. For more information about B-WET and MWEEs, see our website.

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NCAS, Howard University Scientists

Published February 2013

NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) is one of four NOAA Educational Partnership Program (EPP) with Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), Cooperative Science Centers (CSCs). EPP CSCs are educating students and participating in collaborative research funded through a cooperative agreement.

Most recently, NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) at Howard University, completed a campaign in the Aerosols and Ocean Science Expeditions (AEROSE) science teams, along with the Pilot Research Moored Array in the Tropical Atlantic (PIRATA) oceanographic scientific team, aboard the NOAA vessel Ronald H. Brown. On arrival in San Juan, Puerto Rico, marking the end of the AEROSEVII campaign, scientists co-sponsored an open house aboard the Ronald H. Brown.

NOAA ship and team
Scientists Mayra Oyola (left) and Ebony Roper (right) enjoying the bad weather. Photo courtesy:

The AEROSEVIII campaign focused on two primary objectives, studying the physical, chemical and marine meteorology characteristics of biomass and other aerosols, particularly those emerging from the African coast during the peak of their biomass burning season, and providing validation for the newest NOAA/NASA Earth-observing research satellite, Suomi NPP.

Led by Dr. Vernon Morris, Director of the NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) at Howard University,and AEROSE Principal Investigator, the mission was divided into three main components: Aerosol and Trace Gas (ATG) operations, by Dr. Morris (Howard University), Dr. Ebony Roper (Howard), Mr. Chris Spells (Hampton) and Ms. Elsa Castillo (UTEP); Atmospheric Physics and Radiation (APR) operations, by Dr. Everette Joseph (Deputy Director of NCAS and Director of the Beltsville Center for Climate System Observation), and Ms. Mayra Oyola (Howard); Satellite Validation operations, by Dr. Nick Nalli (NOAA/NESDIS), Dr. Everette Joseph, Deputy Director of the NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) at Howard University and Ms. Mayra Oyola, NCAS Graduate student. PIRATA operations were headed by NOAA scientist Dr. Claudia Schmid.

A key aspect of the mission was investigating the connection between African winds, the Saharan dust particles they carry (aerosols), and the weather patterns across the tropical Atlantic. It is estimated that between 60 and 200 millions of tons of Saharan dust can be aerosolized, and transported worldwide, per year. These quantities of Saharan dust can be found in the tropical Atlantic along the same path where hurricanes and tropical storms form. The data collected on the cruise, and studying how aerosolized particles affect weather in the U.S. and Caribbean, could potentially improve hurricane forecasting. You can visit the team at aerosecampaigns and on facebook, to see their photos, read their log entries, and learn more about NOAA sciences.

NOAA's Office of Education (OED) Educational Partnership Programs (EPP) with Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) provides financial assistance through open competition to support students and build capacity in NOAA mission critical sciences to train the next generation of scientists and managers to carry NOAA and our nation into the future. The Educational Partnership Program (EPP) established Cooperative Science Centers (CSCs) at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). These Centers are each comprised of a consortium of academic institutions with the principal goal of providing formal education to students in coursework directly related to NOAA's mission. Each Center strengthens and builds sustainable capacity in education and research in NOAA's mission scientific and technology areas. For more information about the outcomes of Educational Partnership Program, visit:

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Dr. Lubchenco Visits Queen's College

Published October 2012

On September 26th, NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco presented a certificate of congratulations to Queens College staff and partners in Queens, N.Y. The institution recently won a $1.3 million Environmental Literacy Grant award from NOAA to implement a project that will expose New York City elementary school students to hands-on activities in outdoor environments and provide professional development to teachers. Partnerships with local parks and environmental organizations will provide stewardship and service learning opportunities, enhancing students' environmental literacy and building an appreciation and understanding of Earth system science.

During the visit, Dr. Lubchenco spoke with the PIs for the project, met with a participating teacher, and viewed student project reports. You can learn more about the project at our: grants listing page.

Queens College Group

From left to right: Dr. James Stellar, Queens College (provost); Dr. Allan Ludman, Queens College & GLOBE New York Metro director; Roy Harris, New York Dept. of Education; Frances Bosi, Alexander Graham Bell School; Dr. James Muyskens, Queens College (president); Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA Administrator; Peter Schmidt, GLOBE New York Metro & project principal investigator; Dr. James Ammerman, New York Sea Grant (director).

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Miami Science Museum Opens an Interactive Exhibit

Published September 2012

Student Picture

Through support from an Environmental Literacy Grant, the Miami Science Museum opened an interactive exhibit called Climate Change Miami, which allows visitors to explore Earth's climate system, the human activities contributing to change, and the potential impacts of global warming at the global level and as they are likely to be experienced in Miami. Visitors can take turns controlling a Magic Planet to view global data on the spherical display, while others can browse related local examples on touchscreen kiosks and adjacent display monitors.

The exhibit was developed in collaboration with Ideum, who designed the multi-user interface and touchscreen application. Visitors control the sphere by manipulating a 2-D representation of the spherical display on the touchscreen. The exhibit is fully bilingual, and provides an engaging experience regardless of whether visitors decide to use one of the kiosks, or just watch the displays.

Following installation, the Institute for Learning Innovation completed a second round of formative testing, providing valuable insights that will be used to refine the exhibit in the coming months. Initial findings show that visitors are ‘enamored with the interactive nature of the entire exhibit', with many commenting on the attractiveness of the displays, and the power of the images to draw visitors in for further investigation. The design is also proving successful in supporting engagement by multi-generational groups, with grown-ups explaining the content and children often displaying more ease with the touchscreen interface.

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The Great Lakes - A Great New Region for B-WET

Published May 2012

High school students study macroinvertebrate populations in Northeast Michigan.

NOAA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have partnered to establish a new Bay-Watershed Education Training (B-WET) Program in the Great Lakes. The health of these vast inland freshwater seas, containing 84 percent of North America's fresh surface water, has long been a focus of environmental groups in the Midwest. In 2011, many of these organizations helped encourage NOAA's interest in expanding its B-WET program into the region. This coincided with an opportunity to fund environmental educational programs as part of EPA's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The initial Great Lakes B-WET competition drew applicants from all eight Great Lakes watershed states. Twelve one-year projects are set to begin summer 2012 across the region, taking place around all five Great Lakes.

Great Lakes B-WET programs are grounded in the Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEE) that form the core of all B-WET projects around the country. Much more than self-contained field trips, or individual hands-on activities, MWEEs weave together classroom learning with field experiences. They are sustained activities that take place throughout the year. MWEEs also align with state, regional and national standards of learning.

Students seining in the Lake Huron watershed. Students seining as part of a long-term fisheries monitoring project on the Trout River in the Lake Huron watershed.

To better address Great Lakes issues and to achieve the goal of leaving the Great Lakes better for the next generation, in addition to providing MWEEs, B-WET projects also align with the goals, strategies and principles of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan and the Great Lakes Literacy Principles .

Funds are available for eligible applicants throughout the Great Lakes watersheds in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. This includes K-12 public and independent schools and school systems, institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, state or local government agencies, and Indian tribal governments. To learn more about the Great Lakes B-WET Program, contact Cathy Green: or visit

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Citizen Scientists are "Cuckoo for CoCoRaHS"!

Published March 2012


CoCoRaHS (the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network) is a nationwide "citizen science" project, supported by an Environmental Literacy Grant (ELG) award, that engages thousands of people (currently over 15,000 active volunteers) of all ages in measuring and investigating precipitation. Participants use low-cost, high-capacity rain gauges along with rulers and foil-wrapped Styrofoam "hail pads" to accurately measure rain, hail and snow.

Map of CoCoRaHS volunteer-collected precipitation data for January 23, 2012. Source:

The measurement and communication of precipitation information are lowest common denominators for connecting the public to atmospheric and hydrologic processes and impacts. Precipitation affects the lives and activities of nearly everyone. Precipitation is episodic and sometimes destructive. Its characteristics change with the seasons. It may be the most noticeable, variable and impactful element of our climate.

Volunteer networks, such as with National Weather Service's Cooperative Observer Program, have a long history in NOAA. Volunteered data are used extensively within the agency. What is unique about CoCoRaHS is the use of Internet technologies along with social networking and great ties with local National Weather Service Offices and State Climate Offices to effectively connect people from across the entire country with environmental science, weather prediction, the climate system and the scientific community.

CoCoRaHS has twice received ELG awards from the NOAA Office of Education. The current award is helping CoCoRaHS enhance the "volunteer experience" by improving access to and visualization of the data collected by volunteers. This allows the volunteers to be data analysts, not just collectors. New mapping capabilities are being added to view both recent and historic national, regional or local precipitation. Through collaborations with Oregon State University, volunteers will soon be able to view their recent precipitation data in context with 100-year geospatial time series of precipitation data. Graphing capabilities have been added and more features are planned. A very exciting new addition for 2012 is the measurement of "reference evapotranspiration" to improve the visualization and understanding of the water cycle in action.

Thousands of new volunteers will be recruited and trained during the next two years with emphasis on reaching younger audiences (the most common age range for current volunteers is 45-80 years old). Facebook and Twitter have already become effective recruiting tools. Animations are being developed and disseminated via YouTube to introduce CoCoRaHS to broader audiences. Live and archived webinars are becoming a mainstay for volunteer training. An educational series of monthly webinars called CoCoRaHS WxTalk provides opportunities for CoCoRaHS participants to learn special topics directly from top atmospheric scientists and educators.

CoCoRaHS welcomes anyone with an interest in learning about precipitation. Please sign up today at: (

More information on this exciting project, including how to join, is available from their web site.


Mark Anderson of Univ. of Nebraska, a CoCoRaHS volunteer, explains how to use a rain guage. Credit:Henry Reges/CoCoRaHS

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