COSEE-OLC moved into its 8th year flush with the success and growth achieved in years 6 and 7. We continued to emphasize three strategies for achieving our mission. Our Core Signature Events are programs, workshops and efforts that involve and integrate the Center’s collaboration and address many of the proposed goals. Our Catalytic Programs are workshops, events and ongoing work that leverage the Center’s expertise to create or promote deep learning and/or scientific experiences for varied audiences (K-12, scientists, public), and our Leveraged Programs are workshops and events already in existence prior to COSEE-OLC support that provide an opportunity for our center’s involvement and enrichment.
Among the accomplishments in our 8th year, several stand out. We implemented a highly successful “Lightning Talk” evening at the Seattle Aquarium where marine scientists, learning scientists, informal educators and marine volunteers mingled and interacted via a series of brief talks (using a 5-minute lightning format) and open conversations. We plan to host the event again in 2013. We continued our Boat-Based Educators Workshops (shared with Washington Sea Grant) which are aimed at bringing marine scientists interested in citizen science together with educators who use boats and beach visits as their platform. These workshops have resulted in new collaborations and proposals that promise to broaden COSEE-OLC’s influence and spread our ethic. Our flagship citizen science effort SoundCitizen began full operation in its new labs at the University of Washington Tacoma campus, and the program now focuses almost exclusively on interacting with youth from underserved communities. SoundCitizen’s afterschool program Project COOL completed its fourth year (and has an additional two years of NSF funding remaining). Our high school curriculum My Place in Puget Sound was expanded to include more high schools and more students. Our collaboration with the Seattle Aquarium for Discover Science Weekend and the Sound Conversations speaker series allowed more than 5000 individuals to meet with and learn about the ocean and COSEE. In addition to this, our partner Ocean Inquiry Project hosted more than a dozen research cruises bringing youth to sea, often for the first time, and our education research team continued its efforts by publishing research on how people learn about the ocean and the environment. Finally, COSEE-OLC has a strong relationship with the Puget Sound region’s Marine Volunteer Community (MVC), which is made up of various marine centers, organizations and institutions with many hundreds of volunteers. Our activities have a high amplification factor owing to the MVC’s broad reach to the general public, families and schools visiting beaches. An example of this is an annual event held in August to highlight ocean/marine science being conducted in the region. The event includes presentations by scientists with opportunity for informal conversations and networking among all the participants. As part of COSEE-OLC wrapping up its work a follow-up survey was sent in late Spring to members of the MVC (400+). This was an opportunity for our Center to gather background information regarding the community, feedback about their experiences when participating in OLC events and programs over the past 8 years, and suggestions for what type of programming they would like see in the future. The data is in the process of being analyzed.
With an eye to the end of COSEE-OLC, we have been gathering monthly for writing retreats. The idea is to get away from the day-to-day distractions of our jobs to find a quiet social place to focus exclusively on COSEE-OLC products. Using an internet-free location for our writing retreats we have generated and are working on a series of products (mostly peer-reviewed papers). We are proud to say that some of our projects are sustainably funded into the future. Examples include SoundCitizen, Sound Conversations and many aspects of My Place in Puget Sound.