Ocean Inquiry Project - 09.01.2008

COSEE Ocean Learning Communities sampling expedition
The Ocean Inquiry Project (OIP) will collaborate with COSEE Ocean Learning Communities to create, promote, and study learning collaborations among diverse communities that care about the oceanic environment, a specific goal of COSEE Ocean Learning Communities. Both OIP and COSEE Ocean Learning Communities share the goal of making citizens more knowledgeable about ocean science and informed by current research in order to become better, more involved stewards of the marine environment.

COSEE Ocean Learning Communities is currently developing an Ocean Learning Community composed of the following communities: volunteer-based marine conservation and environmental groups, ocean scientists, formal and informal educators, local business leaders, and science-learning experts. To this end COSEE Ocean Learning Communities provides speaker presentations, community gatherings, workshops, and field experiences during which participants interact and learn from each other's expertise and experiences. All events are designed to facilitate ocean sciences learning and foster continued dialogue about related issues.

OIP provides inquiry-based, ship-board oceanographic field experiences to a diverse population of primary and secondary students, community college groups, and clubs serving inner-city disadvantaged groups. Collaborating with OIP will provide research cruises as a vehicle for interaction between volunteer-based organizations, local businesses groups, and ocean scientists. The cruises facilitate two-way communication between volunteers and scientists in a non-academic, real world setting. COSEE Ocean Learning Communities learning community members benefit through acquisition of ocean science knowledge, better understanding of oceanographic research and techniques, the impact of large-scale oceanographic processes on their work, and new connections with ocean scientists. Participating scientists will gain experience by delivering material to non-scientific audiences, seeing new perspectives and questions to ponder, and making new connections to local groups interested in science. Collaborating to provide field learning experiences will augment the range of learning experiences that COSEE Ocean Learning Communities is developing and testing. The two-way interaction through a field experience furthers the overarching goal of the center to cultivate functional, contributing and ocean-literate citizens who are aware of the impact oceans have on their daily lives. With this approach, the center progresses toward building a common language among diverse groups to promote science-based ocean education and learning at the public level.

By exposing volunteers from environmental organizations, informal educators, and local business leaders to oceanographic research during field learning experiences on Puget Sound, OIP complements and enhances the work of COSEE Ocean Learning Communities. These groups, in turn, reach audiences that the center would not directly affect: the general public engaged in casual interaction with volunteers on a beach at low tide, a fellow corporate executive chatting after a business meeting, or conservation activists during a wetlands project. One significant means of expanding ocean literacy is through word of mouth distribution to make ocean science principles part of common knowledge. Further, oceanography graduate students who participate in these field experiences will be exposed to a range of citizen-level activities they should be knowledgeable about and appreciate for the beneficial effects on the marine environment. Over all, this collaboration will reach a far more diverse and widely distributed audience than that which it directly engages due the free-choice learning character of the activities of these groups.

Source: NSF Award Abstract #0828940

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