Informal science center staff at the COSEE-West Exhibit Design Retreat
When asked what we do for a living, those of us at COSEE-West find ourselves in a bit of a dilemma. Do we teach teachers, educate students, help scientists speak to the public, advise individuals and groups, judge science fair projects, present at special events and conferences, teach online courses, or partner with local informal science education centers to get the word out about ocean sciences? Well, yes, yes we do. The thing about being a COSEE center, and thus a hub for ocean sciences related information, is that you end up wearing a lot of different hats.
This past year was no different. 2008 has truly been dizzying at times. COSEE-West’s reach has run the gamut from local to global, with tens of local educators at our workshops, hundreds of people in countries around the globe for our online workshop, to a thousand students at the joint JPL/COSEE-West Climate Day.
The first five years of COSEE-West consisted partly of a very well received public lecture series. 2008 saw the institutionalization of that lecture series with the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. COSEE-West co-hosted a series of five public lectures (Public Health Issues in Coastal Waters, Exploration & Evolution: Discoveries in the Lakes of Palau and the Deep Basin of the Celebes Sea , the Sea Food Watch Program at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, California’s Marine Life Protection Act, and From the Tidepools to the Stars: The Life and Times of Edward Ricketts) with the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium this year, and next year the aquarium will be hosting a public lecture series on their own.
Map of participant locations during an online workshop
Our teacher workshops continue to be a success, with topics ranging from bioluminescence in the ocean, to the evolution of pinnipeds and the earth’s carbon cycle. Our weeklong workshops have garnered particular attention. We were approached by the newly formed Marine Science Academy at Marina del Rey middle school to help prepare their teachers (from all subjects) to teach in a marine themed track. 2008 focused on 6th grade, with 2009 and 2010 to focus on 7th and 8th grade respectively. We have since been approached by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for a similar weeklong workshop for other schools in the area.
Our week-long Ocean Observing Systems (OOS) workshop gave us an opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Laura Murray at COSEE Coastal Trends, and to host a couple of educators from the East coast. Moreover, it allowed us to deepen our collaborations with a few of our partners (NASA-JPL, Ocean Institute, and Cabrillo Aquarium) who provided exceptional on-site locations, scientists/speakers and learning opportunities.
Teacher participants at the Marina del Rey Marine Science Academy workshop playing the Santa Monica Bay game
COSEE-West ran two online workshops in 2008. Our first online workshop in the spring paired educators with undergraduate students at the University of California, Los Angeles in the Marine Biology Quarter course. Students spent the quarter engaged in research projects at the Gump Research Station on Moorea, French Polynesia. Educators viewed online lectures by the UCLA faculty teaching the course, and then advised and learned from the undergraduates during their research projects.
Map of participant locatons for the online workshop on Sea Level Rise, Weather and Cllimate Change]]Our second online workshop in November 2008 focused on weather, sea level rise and climate change. We ended up with over 600 people from countries/territories/states in North America (including Alaska and Hawaii), South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, New Zealand, the Indo-Pacific, the south Pacific and the Caribbean.
Members of the COSEE-West staff were also busy attending and presenting our activities at professional meetings and conferences all over the country. From ASLO, PACON, NSTA, NMEA, the Satellites and Education conference and CSTA, dissemination of our online workshop models, lesson plans, ideas and networking made for fruitful encounters.
Touring the Jet Propulsion Lab during the Ocean Observing Systems workshop
We were also asked to participate in our local community by helping to judge science fairs for a local middle school (Hollenbeck middle school), the Los Angeles Unified School District and Los Angeles County. Members of the COSEE-West staff were also judges for the QuikSCience Challenge and the National Ocean Sciences Bowl.
A number of past associations have turned into advisory roles. COSEE-West advised a number of projects, from a marine biology course aligned to California State Science standards (so that marine biology can be taught in lieu of biology) and collaborating on and providing support for the Ocean Literacy Scope and Sequence endeavors, to assisting GLATSA (Greater Los Angeles Teachers Science Association) and helping the graduate students in Environmental Science and Engineering at UCLA with their community service project.
2008 was a year of transition for COSEE-West. And yet, amid the shifting staff members and principle investigators, members of the COSEE-West staff have managed to juggle many different hats. It is exciting (and a little overwhelming) to think that 2008 is only the beginning. 2009 is sure to hold the promise of continued partnerships, new collaborations, and more work! But when we are asked what we do and we can answer “All of the above,” we are secure in the knowledge that our network of ocean sciences literate people is growing by leaps and bounds - as is our hat collection.
Contributed by Jane Lee