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Highlights Archive
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Highlights Archive


OUTREACH:The fall is a busy time for those of us in NOAA Education!

Published Dec 2015

Staff from NOAA Education participated in a number of science teacher conferences in the fall of 2015. These conferences included the regional National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) conferences in Reno, NV; Philadelphia, PA; Kansas City, MO; as well as the state science teacher conferences for Virginia in Chantilly, VA and Texas in Ft. Worth, TX. With a total attendance of nearly 15,000 educators NOAA education staff fully engaged with more than 2,500 and distributed materials to many more eager to receive them. Additionally, presentations at these conferences included topics on corals, data in the classroom, the water cycle, “NOAA in Your Backyard” as well as weather education.

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STUDENT:Notes from the 2015 Harmful Algal Cyst Sampling Cruise: An EPP/MSI Student Blog

Published Dec 2015

Eric Gulledge (back left) with his sampling shift team, Dave Kidwell, Steve Kibler, and Leslie Irwin. Credit: NOAA.

By Eric Gulledge, Ph.D. candidate at Jackson State University
I am a NOAA-Environmental Cooperative Science Center (ECSC) Fellow supported by the Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI). I’m currently pursuing an Environmental Science Ph.D. at Jackson State University. The NOAA-ECSC strives to train and develop student’s skills related to interdisciplinary science in support of coastal management. In keeping with NOAA’s mission, NOAA-ECSC afforded me an opportunity to participate in the 2015 Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) cruise in the Gulf of Maine. The HAB cruise is used to forecast a potential algal bloom caused by the algae Alexandrium fundyense.

A sunset view from the upper deck of the NOAA ship Bigelow in the Gulf of Maine. Credit: NOAA.

Working with NOAA scientists and traveling aboard NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow was an experience to remember. The Henry B. Bigelow is a state-of-the-art research ship that carries equipment and systems to conduct fisheries, oceanographic, and hydrographic research. I was given a tour of the whole vessel with my colleagues. Along with the fascinating vessel, the opportunity to work with NOAA scientists and engineers was inspiring. The NOAA crew was highly skilled, educated, and passionate about their work, and were willing to explain and teach scientific techniques employed to forecast Alexandrium blooms. The NOAA team demonstrated the use of various disciplines such as meteorology, statistics, oceanography, marine biology, and physics to obtain a complete harmful algal bloom forecast product. The experience was insightful and beneficial to my own research. The most rewarding part of the HAB cruise is that our collaborative efforts to produce a forecast model will benefit the local community.

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GRANTEE: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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CITIZEN SCIENCE:White House Highlights Open Science and Innovation

Published October 2015

Volunteers count and identify crab molts at Deer Lagoon on Whidbey Island, WA, as part of the Washington Sea Grant Green Crab Monitoring Project. Photo credit: P. Sean McDonald

On September 30, 2015 NOAA participated in a White House forum on citizen science and crowdsourcing entitled “Open Science and Innovation: Of the People, By the People, For the People.” Hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Domestic Policy Council (DPC), the forum was designed to raise awareness of the benefits of citizen science and to encourage the growth of such programs across Federal agencies. NOAA is an active participant in a Federal government-wide effort to support the use of citizen science and crowdsourcing, and we are excited that NOAA’s mPING project and CoCoRaHS, an Environmental Literacy Grants recipient, were highlighted by the White House as successful examples of citizen science efforts in the federal government.

The Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Toolkit, a key resource launched in conjunction with the White House forum, provides case studies and ‘best practice’ insights for implementing citizen science and crowdsourcing in a federal context. NOAA was one of over 25 federal agencies that offered input into the development of the toolkit.

You can find more information about the support we offer citizen science and crowdsourcing here.

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CITIZEN SCIENCE:NOAA Education Participates in GLOBE Program Annual Meeting

Published August 2015

Participants of the 19th GLOBE Annual Partner Meeting and the 3rd Student Research Exhibition represent countries from around the world .Credit: The GLOBE Program..

The NOAA Office of Education was pleased to participate in the 19th GLOBE Annual Partner Meeting and the 3rd Student Research Exhibition.  This international event, which took place 19-24 July in the city of Los Angeles, provided a chance for its 225 participants to reflect on and celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the GLOBE Program.   We offer thanks to the event host, GLOBE Partner Mr. Henry Ortiz, and the rest of the planning team, and the sponsors (NASA and NSF) for the chance to discuss the present and future of this unique program

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LEADERSHIP:NOAA Education Publishes Updated Strategic Plan

Published July 2015

We are pleased to announce the release of the 2015 – 2035 NOAA Education Strategic Plan: Advancing NOAA’s Mission through Education. In a truly collaborative fashion, NOAA educators, staff, and leadership combined efforts with the broader education and resource management community, nongovernmental organizations, teachers, and interested citizens to produce this document. We are grateful for the input we received and we look forward to working with you to implement this blueprint for NOAA’s future work in education.

The Strategic Plan is available here:

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STUDENT:Hollings Alumni Spotlight: NOAA Corps Officers

Published July 2015

Have you ever considered a career with the NOAA Corps? Several Hollings undergraduate scholars have progressed into exciting careers with the NOAA Corps after completing their degrees. These Hollings alumni have had the opportunity to build a strong foundation of scientific and leadership skills while advancing mission critical research and traveling the world’s oceans. NOAA Corps Officers are trained in ocean sciences, meteorology, engineering, as well as other NOAA-related fields, and play a critical role in NOAA’s scientific and environmental missions.

The NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, or ‘NOAA Corps’, is one of seven uniformed services of the United States. Tracing its history back to the Survey of the Coast established by President Thomas Jefferson in 1807, today’s NOAA Corps Officers operate specialized research vessels and aircraft, facilitate research projects and conduct diving operations. Applications for the next class of NOAA Corps Officers are due July 1st, 2015 and Basic Officer Training begins in January 2016.

Brian Yannutz: Prior to Brian’s Hollings internship experience, he traveled on a sailing vessel for 15 days, which whetted his appetite for life at sea. Brian was a 2009 Hollings scholar from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, where he earned his B.S. in marine science. During his summer internship, Brian conducted research in Seattle, WA, at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (part of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research). Brian was engaged in water quality sampling from hydrothermal vents aboard the R/V Atlantis, using the ALVIN submersible from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He used high definition video from another remotely operated vehicle to measure the relationship between hydrogen sulfide concentrations and shrimp densities in hydrothermal vent communities near the Juan de Fuca Ridge. While in Silver Spring, MD, for final presentation week, Brian learned about the NOAA Corps, and began considering the Corps as a potential career path. In the summer of 2012, while he was doing field work on a marine debris cruise in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, Brian decided it was time to apply. He graduated BOTC training in fall of 2014 with Chris and Kyle. Brian says that the NOAA Corps is the ‘best kept secret’ of NOAA.

Brian began his first assignment in December 2014 aboard the Oregon II. He will be based in Pascagoula, MS, and mainly serving on research cruises in the Gulf. His field season began in March and this season he will serve on groundfish cruises during the summer and fall, as well as a few shark longline cruises. Brian hopes to become a confident ship driver and navigator, and is very excited that his vessel facilitates NOAA’s shark research. Within 3-5 years, Brian hopes to become a NOAA Working Diver, and eventually a Dive Master. Brian serves as the Environmental Compliance Officer on his ship, and he hopes other NOAA vessels will implement some of his ideas to become more environmentally sustainable.

Christopher Pickens: Chris Pickens was a 2012 Hollings Scholar and graduated with a double major in biology and geology from Oberlin College. As a Hollings Scholar, Chris interned with the phytoplankton monitoring program at the NOAA Kachemak Bay Laboratory in Seldovia, Alaska, under Kris Holdereid. He spent many days out on small boats doing phytoplankton tows, CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) casts and water sampling in the Gulf of Alaska to investigate seasonal and inter-annual patterns in phytoplankton growth related to ocean chemistry. Chris enjoyed working on a hands-on project that required significant time in the field and was determined to pursue a career with NOAA after the 2012 summer internship. He learned about opportunities with the NOAA Corps during a presentation by a recruiter at Hollings orientation. Following his growing interest in field work and ambition to be a NOAA diver, he applied and was selected for the NOAA Corps.

Chris participated in the 124th class BOTC (Basic Officer) Training at the Coast Guard Academy, and his first assignment was in Charleston, SC, aboard the NOAA Nancy Foster, which facilitates monitoring of National Marine Sanctuaries, habitat characterization, oceanographic monitoring and coral reef monitoring in the Caribbean. Chris is the newest junior officer on the NOAA Nancy Foster and spent the winter months learning emergency procedures and training for the upcoming field season. During Chris’s first field season as a NOAA Corps Officer, he hopes to apply his scientific education in the field and become confident in facilitating all kinds of scientific research projects. Christopher hopes to build a fulfilling career with the NOAA Corps and eventually pursue his PhD in science.

Kyle Cosentino: Ensign Kyle Cosentino reported to the NOAA Corps Officer Training Center in August 2014 to begin his basic training in the NOAA Commissioned Corps. Kyle graduated from Eckerd College in May 2014 with a B.S. in marine science and a minor in chemistry. During his time at Eckerd, he developed a strong interest in understanding the fundamental components and mechanisms of the natural world.

Kyle was also a 2012 Hollings Scholar, and conducted his summer internship with the NOAA NWS Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, CO. He co-authored a publication for the Journal of Geophysical Research entitled "Characterizing Interplanetary Shocks for Development and Optimization of an Automated Solar Wind Shock Detection Algorithm", which was the result of his work with Dr. Michele Cash. His interest in a career in the NOAA Corps developed after attending a NOAA Corps recruitment session for Hollings scholars in Boulder.

Kyle’s first assignment is aboard the Oscar Elton Sette, home-ported in Honolulu, HI. So far, he has traveled to American Samoa for a Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program cruise and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands on a cruise to study endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals. Later this summer, Kyle will return to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands for an annual marine debris cruise. Kyle is very interested in entering the NOAA dive program and is considering the NOAA aviation program as a potential career path after his initial sea assignment. His recreational interests include fishing, windsurfing, running, and traveling.

Brian Kennedy: Brian attended the Honors College at the College of Charleston (C of C) in South Carolina, where he majored in Marine Biology and minored in Marine Geology. While at C of C, he had the opportunity to sail on multiple research cruises aboard two different National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research vessels and was selected as a NOAA Hollings Scholar. As part of the Hollings Scholarship, Brian completed his summer internship with NOAA’s Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2008. The majority of Brian time as an intern with CRED was spent assisting with the Automatous Reef Monitoring Structures (ARMS) program. Brian was involved in the logistical support of an ongoing operation and the analysis of preliminary data. This was a nascent project to monitor the effects of ocean acidification on calcifying organisms. Through this project, Brian learned about and influenced the first steps of experimental design and participated in numerous brainstorming sessions with researchers from around the county on how best to monitor this aspect of global climate change.

After completing his Hollings internship and graduating with honors from C of C, Brian wanted to continue his connection with NOAA and gain more experience in operational science, which brought him to the NOAA Corps. He was selected for a commission as part of BOTC 125 and was in one of the last classes to complete their training at the US Merchant Marine Academy at King Point, NY.

Brian’s first NOAA sea assignment was as a Junior Officer aboard NOAA’s Okeanos Explorer, America’s Ship for Ocean Exploration. During this assignment, Brian participated in more than 25 expeditions of exploration taking him to two oceans (Atlantic and Pacific), three continents (North America, South America and Asia) and through the territorial waters of more than five countries (Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Indonesia). After two wonderful years aboard the Okeanos Explorer, Brian was able to continue his work in ocean exploration while on a land assignment with NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER). During his more than three years on assignment with the NOAA Office of Exploration and Research, Brian has taken on more responsibility, advancing from an expedition coordinator for OER-led Expeditions to presently serving as the Acting Deputy Program Manager for the Okeanos Explorer Program.

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LEADERSHIP:FY14 NOAA Education Accomplishments Report

Published May 2015

The FY14 NOAA Education Accomplishments Report highlights 36 stories from across NOAA education programs. The stories illustrate how the education community is working towards its goals of increasing the public’s environmental literacy and developing a diverse workforce in science, technology, engineering, and math.

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OUTREACH:On Thursday, April 23, 2015 the annual “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day”

Published April 2015

The annual “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” was celebrated and NOAA offices around the country participated in this annual event. In the Washington, DC metropolitan area, more than 600 children registered and participated in the event at NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, MD, College Park, MD; Suitland, MD; and Germantown, MD., The day is a great way for girls and boys to explore career opportunities.

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CITIZEN SCIENCE:Citizen Science at the White House

Published April 2015

Nolan Doesken, founder of the CoCoRaHS Network, proudly displaying a rain gauge at the 5th White House Science Fair (credit: Darlene Cavalier/SciStarter).

NOAA’s Office of Education is excited to have partnered with the White House and the National Park Service to install a rain gauge in the First Lady’s Kitchen Garden to help recognize contributions of citizen scientists to our Nation. This installation was part of the 5th White House Science Fair and measurements from the gauge are being shared as part of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) Network, the largest source of daily precipitation data in the United States.

CoCoRaHS is a citizen science network that has received two NOAA Environmental Literacy Grant (ELG) awards and is a Weather Ready Nation Ambassador™. The Network engages thousands of people (currently over 20,000 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. More information on this exciting project, including how to join, is available from their web site.

As a science mission agency, NOAA has a rich tradition of supporting citizen science. Today that tradition is being carried on with citizen science projects fostered and supported across the Agency. There are currently over 65 active such projects, many of which began within the past few years. A NOAA Citizen Science Community of Practice was launched in the fall of 2013 to help foster sharing and collaboration among these projects. The Community of Practice is facilitated by NOAA's Office of Education and in the spirit of the citizen science field, relies on grassroots participation from community members throughout the Agency.

Through citizen science, millions of volunteers across our Nation actively contribute valuable time and expertise to help advance our understanding of the world around us. The ability to empower a single individual or local community to contribute to a much larger initiative makes citizen science a powerful concept. The contributions of citizen scientists are valued, and the power of the concept is recognized. In the 2013 Second Open Government National Action Plan President Obama called on agencies to harness the ingenuity of the public by accelerating and scaling the use of open innovation methods such as citizen science and crowdsourcing. A blog post from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy provides more details about the CoCoRaHS rain gauge at the White House and federal support for citizen science.

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STUDENT: Educational Partnership Program -- Building Diverse Capacity by Providing Hands-on Training Experiences

Published Mar 2015

The Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI) Cooperative Science Center (CSC) students participate in NOAA Experiential Research and Training Opportunities (NERTO). These 21st Century students are preparing for the future workforce at NOAA, other science-mission agencies, and the Nation.

The NOAA EPP/MSI was established in 2001 to increase the number of students, particularly from underrepresented communities, who are trained and graduate with degrees in disciplines that support NOAA’s mission.  An important requirement of the EPP/MSI program is the engagement of program sponsored students in hands-on research and training activities at NOAA facilities.  Students compete for internships where they are immersed in research alongside NOAA scientist and managers.     EPP/MSI graduates are available to bring diverse and innovative talent to NOAA.

Maria Cardona-Maldonado - NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS), University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, is a PhD. student in Biological Oceanography.   During February 23 – March 11, 2015 Maria participated in a research cruise aboard the R/V Okeanos Explorer Cruise to Puerto Rico.  In September 2014, Maria sailed on the E/V Nautilus Seamounts Cruise to the British Virgin Islands.  During both research cruises Maria sought to improve her skills in the management and processing of acoustic data from different sonars and use of different data processing and analysis software. The internship has strengthened previously acquired concepts while integrating them with her current bio-optical and remote sensing knowledge and experience.  Her interest in habitat mapping at various scales using acoustic systems was reinforced. Additionally, hands-on experience with various onboard instruments enriched her practical experience with oceanographic field techniques.  Maria found the opportunity to work and learn from leading experts in this area an invaluable experience.  The interaction with research scientists and other interns also led to new contacts with the potential for new collaborative efforts as well as possible points of contact for future professional opportunities at NOAA.  Maria will share the value of her internship experience, as she did after her 2014 E/V Nautilus Expedition, through conferences and at schools in Puerto Rico. She plans to write articles for local newsletters and magazines such as Sea Grant’s Marejadas. Internship Supervisor: Derek Sowers

Maria Cooksey of the NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center (ECSC) at the University of Texas - Brownsville, competed successfully for an EPP/MSI internship onboard the R/V Okeanos Explorer.  As a graduate student working on her Master’s in Biology, Maria is studying the benthic invertebrate communities of 5 hard bottom banks on the South Texas continental shelf.  Her research is closely related to NOAA's Ocean Exploration mission.   Maria’s graduate thesis research involves data from a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to record video data of the soft coral and invertebrate communities at the South Texas Banks.   While her work depends heavily on multibeam maps, she has not had the opportunity to learn how to collect or georeference a multibeam sonar image.   Maria believes this internship on the R/V Okeanos Explorer will give her that valuable experience, not only in multibeam data collection and processing, but also develop valuable skills required to work on a research expedition.   Ultimately Maria hopes to correlate invertebrate population data to benthic terrain data from multibeam sonar images to create a habitat suitability model.   Maria is very excited to be able to work for some of NOAA's most prestigious scientists and researchers.  After the expedition, she will share her experience and new skills via webinars/ presentations hosted by the NOAA ECSC. Internship Supervisor: Derek Sowers

Melinda Martinez – Environmental Cooperative Science Center is a Master’s student at Texas A&M University – Corpus ChristiHer research topic focuses on short-term wetland sediment accretion rates on Mustang Island, Texas where she is examining sedimentation rates over a range of time scales to provide insight into the factors that control marsh elevation and sedimentation processes.   Melinda’s interests include coastal research, using Geographic Information System, remote sensing, and field techniques for inventory and monitoring of the coastal environment.  During her internship on the R/V Nautilus she will learn how to process digital data to help create useful information.  Melinda will learn how the multibeam echosounder sonar collects data, such as surface sediment characteristics, and how it is used these data to locate hydrothermal vents or oil seeps. She is also interested in ROV deployments and dive planning.   Melida’s research will contribute to the fields of coastal research by providing modern accretion rates and assess the major influences that may be used to improve models used to predict evolutionary changes of coastal wetlands, such as the Sea-Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM).   While aboard the R/V Nautilus, Melinda will share information about her experiences through a daily blog that will also be disseminated through the NOAA ECSC website and Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies webpage through the Coastal and Marine Geospatial Lab blog. Internship Supervisors: Nicole Raineault & Allison Fundis

Kafayat Olayinka - NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS) is a graduate student at Howard Univerity, who participated in the  NOAA CALWATER2 Cruise aboard the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown from January 14 – February 13, 2015.  As a student scientist, Kafayat had the opportunity to collaborate with NOAA scientists investigating the atmospheric river and its impact on the northern United States.  The focus of the cruise was to validate the satellite imagery of the “Atmospheric River”.   Kafayat was responsible for launching weather balloons attached to a RS92 &/ Ozonesonde to investigate the condition and composition of the atmosphere particular points.   This internship was a good opportunity for Kafayat to strengthen her knowledge and experience in air quality monitoring. The internship increased her interest in the importance of satellite validation and data analysis.It is also an opportunity to learn the usefulness of scientific instruments onboard a research vessel and to measure the composition of the atmosphere and ocean. Meeting other scientists from NOAA who were conducting atmospheric research was a great opportunity for this budding scientist to conduct collaborative work and to better prepare her for her professional career – perhaps at NOAA.  Kafayat shared her experiences along with data retrieved from the cruise with colleagues and faculty at NCAS.  She plans to present results from the cruise at the Howard University Research Day in April 2015 and write articles on the Ozone climatology in land versus ocean. Internship Supervisor: Vernon Morris

Sabrina Persaud, is a NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center (ECSC), Florida A&M University College of Law second year student, pursuing a Juris Doctorate degree.  As a NOAA ECSC (Human Dimensions focal area) student, Sabrina’s eyes and mind were opened to the field of environmental law as an area in which she will consider practicing. Sabrina has accepted the offer from the Office of General Council Southeast Section (GCSE) as an Educational Partnership Program Legal Intern. During this 10-week summer internship, Sabrina will be immersed in: developing an annotation to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), creating an office manual on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora; other assignments that may include reviewing MSA actions, and rules, reviewing Endangered Species Act rules and consultations; and have the option to attend meetings of the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils.  Sabrina expects to hone her research skills, learn more about fisheries management and the rules and regulations that govern fisheries, and be exposed to some aspects of international environmental law.  Internship Supervisor: Mara Levy.

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GRANTEE: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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LEADERSHIP:NOAA Programs Proposed for Termination in FY16 Proposal

Published Feb 2015

Six NOAA STEM education programs are proposed for termination in the FY16 President’s Budget.  Details can be found in NOAA’s Fiscal Year 2016 Congressional Justification on the pages listed below.  Click here to link to the Congressional Justification. Additional information on the Administrations FY16 STEM proposal can be found here.

  • Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program* (page NOS-61)
  • Teacher at Sea Program* (page NMFS-69, OMAO-8)
  • Sea Grant STEM education activities including all state Sea Grant Program STEM activities and the Sea Grant/National Marine Fisheries Service Graduate Fellowship Program* (page OAR-131)
  • Ocean Exploration and Research STEM education activities* (page OAR-144)
  • Competitive Education Grants Program** (page PS-24)
  • Bay Watershed Education and Training Program** (page PS-28)

*Proposed to be terminated, but funds stay within the home office to be reinvested in other activities.**Proposed to be terminated, resulting in a funding decrease for the home office as a whole.

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GRANTEE: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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LEADERSHIP:Citizen Science in America’s DNA

Published Jan 2015

NOAA Chief Scientist, Dr. Richard Spinrad, presents a keynote talk at the Tracking a Changing Climate Forum. Credit: Commons Lab at Wilson Center.

Note:This article is drawn from a keynote by NOAA Chief Scientist, Dr. Richard Spinrad, at a forum hosted by the U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program, the Wilson Center Commons Lab, and the Federal Community of Practice for Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science, the forum was entitled, Tracking a Changing Climate .

Citizen science is part of America’s DNA.  For centuries, citizens not trained in science have helped shaped our understanding of Earth.

Thomas Jefferson turned Lewis and Clark into citizen scientists when he asked them to explore the landscape, wildlife and weather during their journeys of the West.They investigated plants, animals and geography, and came back with maps, sketches and journals.  These new data were some of the first pieces of environmental intelligence defining our young nation.  President Jefferson instilled citizen science in my own agency’s DNA by creating the Survey of the Coast, a NOAA legacy agency focused on charting  and protecting the entire coast of our Nation.

National Weather Service’s Cooperative Observer Program, begun in 1890, is an outstanding example of citizen science.  Last year, NOAA honored an observer who has provided weather observations every day for 80 years. Volunteer citizen scientists have transcribed more than 68,000 pages of Arctic ship logs, adding to the long-term climate record by populating a database with historic weather and sea ice observations. Also, citizen scientists are providing new estimates of cyclone intensity by interpreting satellite images.

There is tremendous value in the capability of citizen scientists to feed local data into their own communities’ forecasts. In September 2013, for example, formal observation systems and tracking instruments were washed out when extreme floods struck Colorado and New Mexico. By ensuring that real-time forecasts were still integrated into the National Weather Service Flood Warning System, the reports of about 200 citizen scientists contributed to what has been called the best mapped extreme rain event in Colorado history and possibly nationwide.

The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow (CoCoRaHS) Network played a pivotal role in this mapping. CoCoRaHS also shows how citizen science can help make data collection straightforward and inexpensive. To measure the impact and size of hail, for example, it uses a Styrofoam sheet covered with tin foil, creating a “hail pad” that has proven to be quite accurate.

The recognized value of citizen science is growing rapidly.  NOAA has an app to crowdsource real-time precipitation data. If you feel a raindrop, or spot a snowflake, report it through NOAA’s mPING app. Precipitation reports have already topped 600,000, and the National Weather Service uses them to fine-tune forecasts.

To improve the usefulness of climate information for the Nation, the recently released National Climate Assessment engaged a wide range of scientists and citizens across the U.S. The National Climate Assessment, made public by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, provides a detailed look at how climate change is affecting and will increasingly affect our lives.  For the second assessment, there were 30 authors. For the third assessment, released last May, 5,000 people were directly engaged, including about 1,000 people providing technical input, 300 authors and more than 150 organizations.

The National Climate Assessment is among several initiatives providing critical climate information to the public, stakeholders across all sectors, and scientific communities. In June 2013, President Obama announced the National Climate Action Plan. The Climate Data Initiative, a part of the Climate Action Plan, is making large volumes of data from multiple sources accessible to all.  The Climate and Natural Resources Priority Agenda has actions to help States, Tribes, and local governments make our nation’s natural resources more resilient to climate change.  In November of 2014, the Climate Resilience Toolkit was introduced. It is a powerful and practical tool that offers steps to build more resilient communities. It helps a business owner, for example, understand how future sea level rise may affect property values and what adjustments might be needed to business plans and loan requests.   

All of these climate-resilient initiatives will benefit greatly from a set of national indicators. Indicators, which are physical, societal and ecological measures of change, are envisioned as an important foundational product of the National Climate Assessment.  They will help communicate key impacts of a changing environment, identify vulnerabilities, and support informed decisions at every level of government.

Citizen scientists can play a huge role in contributing to these indicators, not only by maximizing the input of local knowledge, but by moving beyond the role of data-collector to become actual evaluators, or co-pilots test-driving products and services. Identifying what is needed, and how and under what conditions it can best work, should come directly from those whose lives, livelihoods, and community economies will be affected.

At NOAA, for example, citizen scientists participate in more than 65 projects, contributing to the environmental intelligence required to advance NOAA core missions.  Building more resilient communities (ecologically, socially and economically) means not only durable infrastructure but making sure the fishing community is able to plan for the effects of climate change on commercially-valuable species.  Evolving the National Weather Service means anticipating that, for example, in some parts of the nation, NOAA customers will benefit from harmful algal bloom forecasts along with traditional weather information.  Ensuring robust observations goes right to the heart of citizen science, requiring the quality and vast breadth of data that only comes with local knowledge.  Citizen scientists can serve as role as co-designers of the products and services developed to advance these priorities.

NOAA has launched a Citizen Science Community of Practice, and we’re pleased to partner with the Citizen Science Association and our Federal partners. Collectively our challenge, and it’s a two-way street, is to fully optimize Federal and local capacities, and to make sure that climate-related indicators truly meet community and sector-specific needs.  Citizen science will be indispensable in gauging the value of these efforts.   

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