The formation of COSEE occurred at a time when other significant national-level initiatives were embracing ocean sciences education. President Clinton's Panel on Ocean Exploration presented their report "Discovering Earth's Final Frontier: A U.S. Strategy for Ocean Exploration" in which "reaching out in new ways to stakeholders to improve the literacy of learners of all ages with respect to ocean issues" was a key objective of a national ocean exploration program. About the same time, the Pew Oceans Commission recognized the importance of an educated public in making decisions about marine and coastal resources, and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy released a comprehensive report on the oceans, detailing 17 recommendations for enhancing ocean science literacy.
The COSEE Network recognized early on the importance of linking the ocean sciences research community with educators and the general public as a way to disseminate knowledge, create broader public awareness of the role of scientific discovery in society, and enhance educational opportunities. To this end, COSEE has provided formal and informal educators access to a variety of innovative research experiences ranging from intense, placed-based, and field-oriented initiatives to collaborative projects with nationally-recognized scientists, thus expanding the reach of ocean scientists to K-12 classrooms and public venues.
COSEE Central Gulf of Mexico's Summer Institutes were intense, placed-based, and field-oriented experiences. The Institutes focused on enhanced oceanography and coastal processes content, strengthening instructional skills, and developing lesson plans/activities that were aligned with the National Science Education Standards and the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts.
COSEE Florida's Research Experience for Pre-Service Teachers (REPT) program offers college juniors and seniors the opportunity to learn first-hand about the process of scientific discovery and research. The goals of this program are for participants to gain valuable experience doing authentic science, to increase understanding of and enthusiasm for scientific research and to provide resources and strategies for applying REPT experience to the middle school classroom.
Through a multi-agency partnership, students and teachers from Bangor High School (Bangor, Maine) have participated in a science and research program specifically targeting the restoration of eelgrass in Frenchman Bay. This ongoing program is the first of its kind where high school students and teachers from the same inland school have served as the sole investigators supporting this on-going research and restoration program at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory.
Sea Scholars, a component of COSEE Central Gulf of Mexico, is an educational outreach initiative consisting of an interdisciplinary curriculum program designed to impart real-world information about oceanographic science, social science, maritime cultures, communication, literature, and the language arts.
COSEE Great Lakes' yearly cruises aboard the USEPA R/V Lake Guardian
were designed to promote the Great Lakes and marine sciences in formal and informal education, as well as forge lasting relationships between science researchers and educators. These popular workshops offered first-hand explorations of lake ecology, geology, geography, weather, and biogeochemical processes, with particular emphasis on human impacts and parallels between the Great Lakes and ocean systems.