The National COSEE Network is most familiar with the COSEE California initiatives such as Engaging Scientists, Communicating Ocean Sciences and the Ocean Literacy Campaign. Over the last six months we have launched several new activities. Following are some highlights from both new and ongoing efforts.
COSEE California has long focused on facilitating collaborations between scientists, including graduate students, and a wide range of science educators. From 2005-2007, COSEE California facilitated the inclusion of Broader Impact and education/outreach components in more than 130 research proposals to the National Science Foundation, California Sea Grant and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. More than 200 scientists from 18 institutions benefited from COSEE California services. COSEE California continues this work on an ongoing basis.
Teaching Ocean Sciences in the 21st Century Classroom
This year, COSEE California added a key strategic partner - San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). SDUSD provides us access to a cadre of teachers and administrators who have embraced the online learning environment and are poised to design and test online ocean sciences instructional resources. As the second largest district in California and the 8th largest urban district in the country, SDUSD is an ideal testing ground for infusing Ocean Literacy into the middle and high school curriculum.
SDUSD recently adopted district-wide Earth Science high school courses and is designing an Advanced Earth Systems lab science course. COSEE California is helping to design the courses and a set of standards-based online resources that support them. Over half of California Science Content Standards for Earth science directly align to the Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts of Ocean Literacy. There are 100 Earth science classes being taught at 16 SDUSD Schools by 42 teachers. SDUSD also established the Enhancing Science Education Through Technology (ESETT) program in 16 of its 20 middle schools.
ESETT and COSEE California plan to design, test and implement ocean sciences learning modules for Earth, life and physical science classes, and will connect ocean researchers, teachers and students through lab-to-class video teleconferencing and research experiences for teachers.
COSEE California builds on established SDUSD programs to investigate effective integration of ocean sciences into online instructional environments. Our goal is to create a model for effective development and widespread use of online ocean sciences resources. These efforts will pave the way for future education initiatives associated with global earth and ocean observing systems.
Communicating Ocean Sciences to Informal Audiences
In 2006-2007 we developed Communicating Ocean Sciences to Informal Audiences (COSIA) as an adaptation of the original Communicating Ocean Sciences course. COSEE California is now evaluating the impact of both courses and disseminating them nationwide. COSIA develops partnerships between universities and informal science education institutions to help the next generation of ocean scientists learn to communicate with the public about their research and passion for ocean sciences.
By June 2008, COSIA will have been taught twice each at seven pairs of universities and science institutions. Within COSEE California, COSIA has proven an excellent fit for Scripps and UC Berkeley, both of which have informal "partners" (Birch Aquarium and Lawrence Hall of Science, respectively) on their own campuses. There are other institutions that have informal partners within their universities, such as UC Santa Barbara and Oregon State University, but more often universities have established new relationships with informal partners. For example, Rutgers University and Liberty Science Center had been looking for a reason to work together for years. Hampton University and Virginia Aquarium had likewise been gazing over the fence at one another. COSIA fit their needs - providing students needed experience with education and outreach, and providing museum visitors with enriched experiences through interacting with science students.
Regardless of where the courses are taught or who teaches them, students give the course extraordinarily high marks, often using phrases such as 'best course I've taken here.' One Scripps graduate student noted, 'This course is so important - communicating science! I know many students who want to take it in the future so I hope it continues to be offered. I learned many valuable tools that I will use in my teaching career, not only in an informal setting.'
We are once again expanding the COS network and would like to install the courses in as many COSEE institutions as possible. The next COS/COSIA Instructors' Workshop will be held at UC Berkley June 2-4, and all COSEE Centers are encouraged to consider sending a team for training. If you are interested in teaching the course but can't make the workshop, we will come to you!
K-8 Ocean Immersion Site at Scripps
The Ocean Immersion Center at Birch Aquarium/Scripps (BAS) builds on the veteran marine science curriculum and whole-school "immersion" model developed by MARE at UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science. The Ocean Immersion Center is now a fully functioning regional center for ocean sciences professional development throughout San Diego County and beyond, providing professional development and support for MARE schools in Rancho Santa Fe, La Jolla Elementary, Torrey Pines Elementary, Cardiff Elementary, and Torrey Hills Elementary.
This past year, BAS has added the Cajon Valley School District to its expanding base of Ocean Immersion clients. Ocean Immersion is the centerpiece for Cajon Valley's summer school science program, with 24 teachers in grades one through eight using the MARE curriculum to teach science. Since adoption of MARE, Cajon Valley saw the highest-ever level of enrollment in its summer school - by both students and teachers! Several teachers are also teaching the MARE curriculum during the academic year. The program is scheduled to run again this summer.
COSEE California is also working with COSEE-West to complete the Ocean Literacy Scope & Sequence for Grades K-12; embarking on an Ocean Literacy Learning Progression Study; developing a new Ocean Sciences Curriculum Sequence for Grades 3-5, funded by a NOAA Environmental Literacy Grant, that will be distributed nationally by Carolina Biological; and engaging Latino middle school students in ocean sciences while improving their literacy skills through an NSF OEDG-funded project, YO! Youth & the Ocean.
Visit COSEE California!
Contributed by Craig Strang and Cheryl Peach
Photographs courtesy of Michael Senise, SDUSD