COSEE Alaska Highlights (January 2013)

At COSEE Alaska we are investing our energies in further developing current program components with an eye on transition if future COSEE funding is not available. This means enhancing our program assets for future transition to other organizations, reorganizing among PI organizations, and rethinking our budget priorities. We see this as a challenge that will ultimately strengthen and stabilize COSEE impact over the long term.

Traditional Knowledge: Ways of Knowing Ocean Climate Change in Alaska

Faces of Climate Change
Throughout this past summer at the Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward, COSEE PI Laurie Morrow, Alaska Sea Life Center Education Manager, arranged for the showing of Faces of Climate Change in their auditorium. Faces of Climate Change was shown to thousands of Alaskan tourists who might otherwise miss the opportunity to consider climate change through the eyes, voices and perspective of Alaska Natives. To view these videos, go to:

COSEE Ocean Science Fairs
The COSEE Ocean Science Fair is imbedded within the Alaska Science and Engineering Fair each year and includes two judging platforms, scientific process and the inclusion of traditional Native and/or local knowledge. As we look forward, oversight will move from COSEE PI Ray Barnhardt, Director of the Center for Cross-cultural Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, to COSEE PI Laurie Morrow, with transition support from COSEE Alaska ED Robin Dublin and COSEE Manager Marilyn Sigman.

Scoring process, judging recruitment, training, materials and other program components are under review during this transition. The 2013 Fair is March 22-24, 2013 in Anchorage. Creating a spotlight on oceans and traditional and local knowledge has provided an excellent platform for COSEE Alaska in an effort to increase diversity. Anyone interested in learning more about this program may contact Robin Dublin.

Alaska Marine Science Symposium (AMSS) Traditional Knowledge and Western Science Student Poster Award
The AMSS brings approximately 1,000 ocean scientists, students and other interested parties together each January in Anchorage for a four-day symposium that includes key note presentations, plenary sessions, workshops and a poster session. At the AMSS Poster Session, there were 80 student posters including 6 high school and 1 junior high school project in addition to posters by ocean scientists working in the field.

While weather and funding prevented high school students and their teacher from the remote community of St. Paul in the Pribilof Islands from attending AMSS 2013, their posters did arrive and ultimately received COSEE recognition for their inclusion of traditional and local knowledge. The posters, “Alaska community based king crab ecological and economic research program” and “Aleut ecological studies in Pribilof domain - highlights of marine investigations conducted by student researchers from the Pribilof Islands 2008-2012” are excellent examples of student research that includes community and cultural input. Judging criteria from the ocean science fairs described above were used to identify winning poster projects.

Journal of Geoscience Education
An article submitted earlier this year on the use of culturally inclusive projects within science fairs is currently under review.

Engaging Ocean Scientists

SEANET is an interactive network and listserve that promotes Alaska ocean and climate literacy through networking, communication and collaboration. It is sponsored by COSEE Alaska. In the coming months, COSEE Alaska will actively recruit new users while dramatically increasing the site’s content. We are currently exploring ideal hosts for SEANET in the future if COSEE Alaska is unable to secure future funding. If a transition does need to occur, this site will have enhanced substance and a strong following. To join SEANET, go to and to join COSEE’s listserve, email us at In 2013, we will also launch a Facebook page in support of SEANET.

Communicating Ocean Science Workshop (COS-W)
Captions: 1) Participants Carrie Eichens and Mary Engel working on 3-sentence descriptions of each other’s projects during a break-out session on radio techniques. 2) Presenter Jennifer Magnuson discussed the wide array of social networking sites and ways to maximize their use. 3) Presenter Judith Connor leads a discussion in one of four break-out sessions. 4) Presenter/AMSS Keynote Nancy Lord listens in a break-out session to a participant’s questions. 5) Presenter Lisa Busch illustrates effective radio techniques using Encounters: Experiences in the North, a radio show she produces. Listen to the radio show.

At the January 2013 Alaska Marine Science Symposium (AMSS), COSEE Alaska co-hosted the AMSS/COS-W in partnership with the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS) and the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB). Guest presenters included:

  • Jennifer Magnusson, Marine Educator and NAME Web Master discussing shipboard outreach and use of web-based communication,
  • AMSS Keynote Speaker Judith Connor, Director of Information and Technology Dissemination for Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) discussing communication about ocean acidification and climate change and use of video,
  • Nancy Lord, Alaskan Author, discussing ways to work with artists in research settings and the use of writing, and
  • Lisa Busch, Sitka Sound Science Center Executive Director discussing ways to create scientist-community connections and the use of radio.

The 4-hour workshop included presentations by each speaker and break-out sessions during which the 100+ participants could discuss their projects and organizations with presenters based on the topics each presenter introduced. In addition, there was an open all-group sharing session with discussion and feedback from the presenters, participants, and COSEE staff.

COSEE Alaska will likely offer a Communicating Ocean Science Workshop at the Sitka Whale Fest in November 2013 in partnership with the Sitka Sound Science Center.

Communicating Science Courses (Modified COS)
This course has been modified to include multiple disciplines at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), where it is currently being taught by Laura Connor of UAF’s CNSM Office of Education and Public Outreach and COSEE Alaska’s Manager, Marilyn Sigman. We are pleased to announce that UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences Associate Professor Ginny Eckert is offering a similar course for the first time during this semester at the Juneau campus of UAF.

Large Ecosystem Workshops and AMSS 2013
In May COSEE Alaska, in partnership with AOOS, NPRB and the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS), hosted the third in a series of Large Ecosystem Workshops in Barrow, Alaska. The Arctic Ocean Workshop brought together scientists and teachers from around the country to learn about the arctic in the arctic. The three workshops (Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean) included scientific presentations by researchers and collaborative teaching unit development, resulting in activities that are in the process of being finalized by COSEE staff for posting on the COSEE website and in SEANET later this year.

In 2013, COSEE Alaska will document and disseminate the process and results of these three workshops to the COSEE Network.

 St. Mark’s Catholic School students
St. Mark’s Catholic School students with teacher Elizabeth Eubanks and COSEE Alaska ED Robin Dublin after receiving recognition for their AMSS poster and active participation as the first junior high school group to attend the AMSS
A teacher from the May 2012 Arctic Ocean Workshop returned to Alaska with five students to attend the 2013 AMSS and reconnect with COSEE staff and ocean researchers from the workshop. A news report from that teacher and her students is here.

COSEE Alaska ED Robin Dublin presented the findings of the COSEE/NSF Scientist Evaluation coupled with preliminary results from the three workshops to over 900 scientists at the 2013 AMSS.

Journal of Geoscience Education
An article submitted earlier this year on the integration of cultural and local perspective in workshop development is currently under review.

Virtual Field Trips
Watching Walrus! Is the first in a series of Virtual Field Trips that COSEE Alaska is developing as a tool for scientists to reach far beyond their field study into the classroom, for teachers and their students to explore ocean science and ocean science-related careers that go far beyond their classroom. Take a look.

COSEE Alaska continues to provide support for ocean scientists working on education and outreach. In addition to working with individuals, COSEE Alaska is now providing education and outreach support to PI organizations to strategically increase the long-term impact of COSEE beyond the current funding landscape.

Some Additional Activities

Alaska Environmental Literacy Plan
COSEE Alaska ED Robin Dublin and COSEE Alaska Manager Marilyn Sigman continue to take an active role in the development of the Alaska Environmental Literacy Plan in an effort to increase the amount of time K-12 students and teachers explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) outside instead of in their classrooms. We encourage you to review the current AKELP draft and also to investigate the progress your state has made in developing an environmental literacy plan. [Read the draft}.

AMSS Workshop: Writing Science Creatively
Sponsored by COSEE Alaska, NPRB, AOOD, the University of Alaska Anchorage Department of Creative Writing and Literary Arts, and 49 Writers, this workshop included panel members Sherry Simpson, Nancy Lord, and Andromeda Romano-Lax, faculty members, the UAA Creative Writing and Literary Arts Program

The workshop is described as follows: How can you begin, or continue, writing creatively about science? How do you translate scientific facts and journal articles into engaging and even poetic language and your “scientific voice” into a more personal one? Join this panel discussion by writers whose science writing spans the spectrum from outreach for science institutions and interpretation of natural resources on public lands to creative non-fiction, novels, and poetry. You will receive practical writing advice, a reading list, ideas for places to publish, and an opportunity to participate in a new Alaska science writing blog.

Visit COSEE Alaska!