The COSEE Colorado Collaborative - 09.01.2008

The COSEE Colorado Collaborative (CCC) proposes to develop a synergistic partnership between the University of Colorado-Boulder (CU) and COSEE West (University of Southern California and University of CA at Los Angeles) to bring ocean sciences education to inland audiences, make it personally relevant to their lives and increase ocean literacy. By combining the intellectual strengths of each organization, CCC will expose non-coastal teachers and students to high quality ocean sciences education. The hallmark of CCC will be an ocean scientist lecture series combined with a Summer Teacher Institute that will engage regional ocean scientists in ocean sciences education to facilitate the integration of ocean sciences research and education. Each year will have a different focus on cutting edge ocean science research, such as air-sea interactions and regional climates; polar ice and sea level; and oceans, climate and public policy. Running themes of the CCC will include stewardship of the oceans and a systems approach to earth science. The use of videoconferencing to deliver presentations to teachers across Colorado and in the Los Angeles Unified School District, along with a summer teacher exchange program, will allow teachers from diverse geographic and cultural backgrounds to interact and develop a camaraderie that will carry to their students' classroom experiences. By reaching out to teachers and schools with ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic diversity, we hope to increase opportunities for under-represented populations to participate in ocean sciences education and consider careers ocean science.

The overall intellectual merit of this project is in the value of collaboration between coastal and inland research scientists, classroom teachers and outreach educators to develop ocean literate students, who will in turn impact their community and become informed voters. The intellectual merits and anticipated outcomes of the proposed partnership include: enhanced teaching and communication skills of the research scientists and graduate students; K-12 students who are motivated and excited about ocean sciences and are exposed to new ideas, resources and potential careers; interaction of teachers with scientists will allow teachers to incorporate cutting edge research into their teaching; and interactions between teachers in Colorado and California will promote a global awareness of the impacts of a changing hydrosphere in different regions, as well as cross-fertilization of ideas and future collaborations among teachers and scientists. Evaluation of the program will help elucidate the ocean science education needs of inland audiences, which will be shared with the COSEE Network.

The broader impacts of the proposed program are three-fold. First, we will deliver a high quality teacher professional development program to a segment of Colorado school districts, the rural schools, which are traditionally under-served. This program will open new pathways for students who rarely get a chance to interact with scientists or get first-hand knowledge of the ocean-- a realm that that to some may seem light-years away from their home. Second, we plan to develop the scientist lecture/Summer Teacher Institute program into a sustainable model CU scientists can plug into when proposing their education outreach portion of their research proposals. Finally, the partnership between COSEE WEST and CCC will yield a richer program that combines the intellectual strengths of each organization and will have impact beyond their local school districts.

Source: NSF Award Abstract #0828805

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