COSEE Island Earth Program Highlights

COSEE Island Earth Program Highlights

Here in Hawaii we are surrounded by the ocean; however, surprisingly few students and communities have access to ocean sciences and conservation education. COSEE Island Earth values many ways of learning and understands that, in order to encourage stewardship of the ocean, education must draw from all facets of knowledge, including the cultural contexts of the location. We are working to achieve these connections through some of our unique and collaborative programs. Our name, COSEE Island Earth, symbolizes our ocean planet as an island, emphasizes our connectivity to the ocean, and focuses on bringing these connections to the public by partnering with local entities to engage communities and visitors alike in science learning for an ocean literate population. Below are a few of the programs we have been working on.


 seaHarmony home page
seaHarmony is an online collaboration network created by COSEE Island Earth that aims to connect ocean scientists and educators. seaHarmony is designed for ocean scientists wanting to become involved in broader impact education activities, and formal or informal educators and organizations who want to bring science to their students and communities. We do this by matching these professionals based on collaboration opportunities, preferences, common interests, and availability. Targeted particularly at ocean scientists new to outreach, researchers can find education and outreach projects with which to collaborate that match their specific interests and needs.

Graduate students 
University of Hawaii graduate students provide critical insight into the development of seaHarmony's website
Similarly, educators or community groups can find scientists in a particular subject area who are willing to give classroom or public presentations, guide student or community research, or collaborate on other projects. seaHarmony uses simple algorithms to align compatibility criteria and collaboration preferences for the best possible matching of scientists with community, education, and outreach partners. The aim is to help build synergistic relationships while augmenting the growing body of knowledge regarding predictors of successful partnerships between ocean scientists and educators. After a year of focus group testing and refining, the first version of seaHarmony was launched on a small scale in late 2012. We are pleased to announce that seaHarmony will be publicly launched in Hawaii in April.

All Things Marine Radio Show

Popular talk radio show Hawaii's Tomorrow 760 AM has joined forces with COSEE Island Earth to broadcast a monthly marine science-themed show titled All Things Marine. Hosted by COSEE Island Earth program manager Carlie Wiener, this hour-long program covers local and global marine science and conservation topics. Interviews are conducted with students and faculty from University of Hawaii (UH), as well as other Federal partners in marine sciences and management, to introduce local listeners to the research currently being conducted at UH School for Ocean Engineering Science and Technology, and elsewhere in the Hawaiian Islands. The program has been running since May 2012 and is in the process of expanding to provide a daily “marine science fact of the day” sponsored by COSEE Island Earth on every Hawaii’s Tomorrow program (five days per week). All programs are podcast and available for download on the COSEE Island Earth website.


 Jan TenBruggencate
Journalist Jan TenBruggencate at the Communicating Ocean Sciences Workshop
COSEE Island Earth is currently working to develop a Journalist-at-Sea program to provide opportunities for journalism students to interact with ocean scientists and participate in oceanographic cruises and marine science research. By offering opportunities for both journalism and marine science students to foster relationships, we hope to form lasting partnerships that will ensure frequent and balanced science reporting. This program will allow for journalism students to deepen their understanding of marine sciences and likely result in more coverage of these topics; in exchange, science students learn to communicate their research to non-science audiences and develop media relationships. As part of this effort, COSEE Island Earth facilitated a Communicating Ocean Sciences Workshop with long-time science journalist Jan TenBruggencate to train twenty participants who will be sailing Hokulea, a Hawaiian traditional sailing canoe, for its world-wide voyage. Plans to continue the program for 2013 include forming a new partnership with NOAA Fisheries for science and journalism student training.

COSEE IE educators also participated in the 2012 Reef Assessment Monitoring Program (RAMP) Expedition to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to provide educational and media coverage during the actual cruise. Activities included blogging and radio broadcasts aboard the ship, scientist and science graduate students school presentations, and media relations and communications training for marine science graduate students.

HI Sci Hui and Cafés

 Speakers engage in fish-bowl format discussion
Speakers engage in fish-bowl format discussion at the first 2013 HI Sci café
Hawaiian Islands Science Hui (HI Sci) is a grassroots Native Hawaiian student group that aims to amplify the presence, knowledge and voices of the Hawaiian Islands science community. A University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) Native Hawaiian graduate student-driven initiative, HI Sci is raising awareness and interaction between Native Hawaiians, the UHM student body, administration, affiliates, the Hawaiian Islands public and members of the Hawai‘i Science community. Supported and facilitated by COSEE IE, HI Sci provides general community members a chance to explore the potential benefits of traditional and scientific knowledge, how these methodologies are being applied to contemporary issues, as well as cultural and social implications that may come from these forms of inquiry. By creating a focused space where the general community and Native Hawaiians feel welcomed, HI Sci aims to empower Hawai‘i’s residents to make informed decisions, through direct interaction with scientists, managers and community resource specialists for the benefit and prolonged sustainability of our island communities. COSEE Island Earth is pleased to sponsor this group. The first HI Sci café took place last month focusing on water resources and climate change in Hawaii. Over 60 students, community members and faculty were in attendance to participate in this open forum. COSEE Island Earth and HI Sci aim to provide four science cafés annually.

Danielle Hull and Leina'ala Bright 
Danielle Hull and Leina'ala Bright are this year’s interdisciplinary fellowship recipients
Interdisciplinary Fellowships

COSEE IE has established interdisciplinary fellowships that bridge research, formal and informal education, and traditional cultural practices. Each year, up to four fellowships are awarded to graduate students working as a team from Ocean Sciences and Hawaiian Studies departments to bridge traditional knowledge and ways of knowing with current science research. Students will produce a joint paper for submission to an appropriate natural or social science publication, or presentation at a conference. They will also produce outreach materials for the COSEE IE resource network and for distribution to partners that explain the nature and relevance of their work to a specific audience (e.g., resource managers, tour operators, educators, etc.). Finally, they will give a presentation at the Hanauma Bay Education Program public lecture series.

The first set of COSEE Collaborative Fellowships have been awarded to Danielle Hull (UH Manoa Oceanography) and Leina'ala Bright (UH Manoa Hawaiian Studies). Danielle and Leina'ala are working together to investigate aquaponic vs. soil cultivation of the native plant 'Auhuhu (Tephrosia purpurea) and the effects of cultivation types on it's use as a fish anesthetic.

Communicating Ocean Sciences Courses

Current world issues, such as global climate change and collapsing world fisheries, have local and global implications and are tied to ocean processes. Communicating Ocean Sciences courses help science students improve their teaching skills and ability to communicate about complex science concepts using inquiry-based pedagogy. Continuing a long-standing collaboration with COSEE California, the COSEE Island Earth courses have been specifically adapted for Hawaii to include important concepts such as traditional knowledge and ways of knowing through a curricular framework that links indigenous concepts of environmental stewardship with ocean literacy principles. Students are also given the opportunity to apply these concepts in an educational setting at partner institutions. This course has previously been offered at the University of Hawaii Manoa and Maui Community College. Over the past six months, COSEE Island Earth has been working with local partnering organizations and our Traditional Knowledge committee to revamp the curriculum, making it more applicable to Hawaii and the ocean culture we live in. We recently partnered with Kapiolani Community College to survey interest in and adapt the course for community college students to include more marine science content and self-reflection/learning skills. We hope to be offering this course in Spring 2014. Recently, we partnered with educators and tour boat operators on Hawaii Island to develop a hybrid ocean awareness/marine educator certificate course for ocean tour operators in the Kona district that will be taught this fall. For more information on this course or registration contact

Ocean Topics Public Knowledge Survey

 Marine science activities
COSEE Island Earth offered marine science activities in conjunction with the OTPKS at the 2012 Hawaii Ocean Expo
In 2012, COSEE Island Earth developed the Ocean Topics Public Knowledge Survey (OTPKS) to gather more information on ocean conservation topics that were of most interest to the Hawaii ocean users. The survey instrument was administered to over 250 members of the public at the Hawaii Ocean Expo in April of 2012, and will be re-administered this April 2013. Respondents answered questions about their ocean use and activities, perceptions about current ocean issues, interest in learning about these issues, preference for media format, and interest in participating in ocean conservation activities. Responses were compared across gender, age, and Native Hawaiian status groups. Data gathered from these surveys will be used to inform COSEE IE and SOEST outreach and education decisions over the next two years, and will be shared with all of our partner organizations. Additionally, the survey results and analysis will be presented in a paper at the 2013 World Environmental Education Congress, and is currently being written into a manuscript for submission to a science education journal.

Community Outreach

COSEE Island Earth participates in many community events and programs to enhance ocean science literacy, and the communication of ocean sciences of both residents and visitors in Hawaii. Focusing on the multidisciplinary knowledge of Hawai‘i’s unique marine environment, COSEE Island Earth has been able to collaborate and support many programs such as Ocean Awareness Training (OAT) sponsored by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, the Science of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands course hosted at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Ocean FEST (Families Exploring Science Together), Hawaii Environmental Education Alliance (HEEA) Symposium, as well as host ocean science booths at large events like the Hawai‘i Ocean Expo, OCEANIA workshops, and Earth Day events to name a few. COSEE Island Earth also supports several science competitions and career fairs. This year we launched the COSEE Island Earth Spirit Award at Ocean Science Bowl and the Science in Society Award for senior projects at the Hawaii State Science Fair. Community lectures are also an important component of COSEE Island Earth’s outreach with the Hanauma Bay Thursday Evening Lecture series, and science talks at the 2013 Waimea Film Festival. In total, COSEE Island Earth has participated in over 50 events reaching approximately 5,000 participants since the program’s inception.

All Things Marine radio show presentations span a wide variety of topics including Hawaiian fish ponds; women in science; marine science graduate students; and live updates from in-the field research expeditions. Outreach events and tables that COSEE Island Earth has participated in over the past year include the Marine Option Program interest survey at Kapiolani Community College; the marine-themed session at the Hawaii Environmental Education Alliance (HEEA) Symposium; Welcome Back Whale Day at Turtle Bay; limu exploration at the HEEA Symposium; Ocean FEST (Families Exploring Science Together); and the outreach booth at the Hawaii Ocean Expo. Click images to enlarge.

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