“A study of forty schools in twelve states found that integration of environment-based programs into the overall education system increased student academic achievement in a number of areas, underscoring the power of using the student's world, including both natural and sociocultural environments, as a conduit for reaching and engaging students” (1).  With “over 90 Percent of Teachers Reporting a Measured Increase in Student Comprehension when natural and sociocultural environments were used as a context for learning a range of subjects”(2).  Nassau County Coastal Ecology Learning System intends to develop, implement, and promote ocean literacy materials directly to students, teachers, and citizens.

 (i) Objective

The vision is to fascinate students, motivate teachers, and excite professionals by fostering interaction to demonstrate and advance ocean science literacy.

There are four main outcomes that are propelled by this funding:

1.  Development and testing of new materials to support spatial learning about our oceans based upon existing standards, materials, and theories of learning,

2.  Implementation of the curriculum materials via the classroom, field trips, after-school activity, teacher training, and publicly-available web site,

3.  Development and installation of interactive kiosks at science centers to provide ocean literacy content directly to visitors, support science data collection, and elicit responses to track effectiveness of center programs,

4.  Development and dissemination of GIS data through cooperation of all participants that will enhance safety, knowledge, economic value, and natural resource management.

There are ten specific activities that will lead to these outcomes:

1.  Creation of map atlas that shows and explains environmental, economic, and social factors related to living on the edge of the ocean, on scales ranging from global to personal, incorporating NOAA, NASA, and USGS materials publicly available, as well as locally licensed data,

2.  Determination of the appropriate schools, teachers, and grades levels to actively participate in ocean literacy development process,

3.  Analysis of current national and state standards, followed by the creation of documentation that blends ocean literacy into existing frameworks to develop integrated learning based upon ecosystems,

4.  Alteration of current curricula to infuse ocean literacy in an iterative process over the next five years, expanding to new school districts and grade levels, 

5.  Implementation of after-school and summer programs for students and teachers to participate in science through the development and testing of the ocean literacy materials, including a college intern program,

6.  Development and delivery of web sites, newsletters, surveys, posters, and other promotional materials to expand visibility and support of NOAA’s ocean science initiatives as they relate to local science and student learning,

7.  Design and implementation of web sensor collection devices that produce reliable, consistent measurements of environmental data that support NOAA’s mission of ecosystem science and provide real-world experiences for students,

8.  Posting of regional science projects and data on map-based interactive web site to provide information and direction to citizens, teachers, industry, officials, and students for effective coastal zone management and enjoyment,

9.  Design and implementation of coastal zone management GIS layers, protocols, metadata, and associated documentation to support regional decisions based on reliable, consistent, coordinated science information for licensed, secured users,

10.  Measurement of change of public understanding and use of NOAA products, missions, and services, as they apply to these initiatives.

With 287 square miles to manage, Nassau County embarked on an initiative to develop a Geographic Information System (NCGIS) in 1990.  After sixteen years, and approximately 25 million dollars, this system has expanded its role in the community, with over five hundred agencies, municipalities, educational institutions, governmental entities, and non-profit organizations licensing its data for a common framework of knowledge.  In addition, with over one hundred layers of FGDC-compliant GIS data, the NCGIS is first and foremost an enterprise-wide decision-support system for day-to-day operations in over thirty departments in Nassau County government, supplementing the management of its annual 2.8 billion dollar budget.

Nassau County intends to extend its geographic expertise to the topic of environmental science.  Since Nassau is an ocean community, the interaction between the population and the ocean realm is an ongoing source of recreation, economy, and enjoyment.  At the same time, it is a fully developed community, which necessitates the appropriate management of its remaining natural resources, also known as Smart Growth.  Nassau County intends to integrate this proposal’s effort with the state and local government entities with which it has ongoing coastal management plans, councils, and federal initiatives.  The overall vision is to follow the model of federal initiatives related to science, education, and the citizen.  For example, just as the USGS has a section on its web site for Science in your State, the Nassau County web site will have a section for Science in your Community which will show scientific projects, links, and applications by geography, with a special highlight to all NOAA projects in the region.

The Board Of Cooperative Educational Services of Nassau County (Nassau BOCES) is a partnership of the county's school districts and is dedicated to providing the best possible education for learners of all ages and abilities.  Nassau BOCES serves the 56 school districts of Nassau County, Long Island, by providing cost-effective shared services, including career training for high-school students and adults, special education, alternative schools, technology education, and teacher training, as well as dozens of programs to expand educational opportunities. Nassau BOCES offers approximately 100 different programs and services, which change constantly in response to school-district needs.  

The Outdoor and Environmental Education Program offers experiences that take place in a variety of outdoor settings throughout Long Island and New York State and are closely coordinated with school curriculum and New York State Learning Standards. Emphasis is placed on firsthand, multidisciplinary experiences that are designed to develop sensitivity to the environment. The Program also acts as the Primary Interactive Network Site for the JASON Project for New York State as well as for Immersion Presents. Both of these programs, founded by oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard, are designed to excite and engage students through themed expeditions and provide professional development,  award-winning curricula to teachers and the latest developments in science and technology through their content sponsors, NASA and NOAA.  Nassau BOCES has produced award-winning curricula to teachers and the latest developments in science and technology through their content sponsors, NASA and NOAA.  Nassau BOCES has been in this role for over 14 years and has been a facilitator to thousands of teachers' awareness and use of NOAA and the National Marine Sanctuary's resources such as the website and curricular materials. Specifically, past expeditions have included studies of Monterrey Bay, the Channel Islands, the Hawaiian Island Reserve, Flower Garden Banks, and Florida Keys.

Nassau BOCES’ role for the grant would be to assess current curricula, chair the NCCELS curriculum development work project with selected teachers; assist in selection of the local districts for participation and design and conduct the professional development component. In addition the curriculum activities and content will be incorporated into existing Nassau BOCES programs.  Currently approximately 18,000 students participate in hands-on, environmental programs, including field trips focused on seashore and salt marsh, and shipboard-based programs on both the north and south shores of Long Island.

(ii) The relationship to other ongoing environmental education activities and/or programs that are funded by NOAA, conducted by NOAA, or conducted by NOAA partners;

NCCELS intends to participate in ongoing environmental education activities that are related to NOAA in any way that matches the intentions of this proposal.  The College of Exploration is a wonderful resource that provides students, teachers, and researchers with the opportunity to participate in an online learning experience that promotes ocean science (3).  The Oceans for Life EdNet offers curriculum content, workshops, and an online portal that can serve teachers NCCELS directly, or serve as templates for development of the local educational materials (4).  The Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence - Mid-Atlantic offers tools and resources to promote the development of effective partnerships between research scientists and educators; to disseminate effective ocean sciences programs and the best practices that do not duplicate but rather build on existing resources; and to promote a vision of ocean education as a charismatic, interdisciplinary vehicle for creating a more scientifically literate workforce and citizenry (5).  NCCELS will research their efforts and take full advantage of their expertise and resources to streamline the introduction of ocean literacy to our local jurisdiction.  Nassau County intends to participate in the upcoming National Marine Educators Association meeting in New York City, and establish ties to advance our common interests (6).  The Long Island Sound Study is a federally supported initiative that has made significant strides to restore and protect Long Island Sound, giving priority to hypoxia, habitat restoration, public involvement and education, and water quality monitoring (7).  NCCELS will provide references to their work, and use materials as part of the field trip, as appropriate.  Similarly, Long Island’s South Shore Estuary receives salt water from the Atlantic Ocean through inlets in the protective barrier island system and fresh water from groundwater and over one hundred rivers and streams (8). The South Shore Estuary was formed during the past 5,000 - 10,000 years by the interaction of rising seas and the glacially-deposited material that makes up Long Island. This interaction shaped the barrier island system and enclosed 173 square miles of bays now characterized by tidal marshes, mud and sand flats, beds of underwater vegetation, and extensive shallows. This barrier and bay system continues to be re-worked by the constant actions of the tides, wind, waves, and coastal storms. The South Shore Estuary Reserve was formed by the New York State and extends from mean high tide on the ocean side of the barrier islands to the inland limits of the watersheds that drain into the bays. The relatively calm, protected waters of the South Shore Estuary provide the basis for the water-related economic and recreational activities that have evolved from boat building and the harvesting of oysters, hard clams, and salt hay, to recreational boating, sport fishing, waterborne transportation, and tourism. Today, the Estuary is home to the largest concentrations of commercial and recreational vessels, marinas, and other water-dependent businesses in the State, and some of the finest recreational opportunities around.

(iii) NOAA Education Plan  

NCCELS provides the opportunity to establish a multi-level, phased approach to address exponential increases in our society’s information needs and bring the riches of NOAA data and information to teachers, students, citizens, and the government decision-makers in direct contact with them.  NCCELS has as its guiding principle to establish an environmental literacy program to educate present and future generations about the changing Earth and its processes, to inspire our nation’s youth to pursue scientific careers, and to improve the public’s understanding and appreciation of NOAA’s missions (9). This program will develop learning materials, including field trip experiments, permanent measuring devices, and school district atlases that will incorporate math, science, history, and geography standards according to a template process of analysis for understanding and effective decision making.  That template of understanding will be designed, tested, and evaluated to ensure efficacy, and will then be extended into the local government decision making process.

As a local governmental entity with significant resources and responsibilities affecting the daily life of over 2 million citizens, Nassau County is in a uniquely powerful position to implement a NOAA funded project which will provide the impetus and appropriate direction to improve the public’s understanding of the natural environment and emergency response to environmental hazards, assist state and local natural resources managers through the creation, licensing, and management of coastal GIS information, and ensure that decision makers have access to, and the knowledge to use, the information they need to reduce significant human impacts on the environment and to respond to storm warnings and environmental change through the integration of NOAA products and services at the desktop level.

Governmental decision makers currently utilize desktop access to over 100 layers of sub-meter accurate GIS data, including FGDC-compliant metadata, through high-level ARCGIS workstations, and enterprise-wide web portals specifically designed for the task of the agency or department.  NCCELS would extend the exposure of NOAA products, services, research, and models of environmental interactions to a new audience directly responsible for decisions impacting the management of coastal resources.  This opportunity to extend federally funded science to the desktop of stakeholders and active participants in local management strategies in a coherent and educative manner is a unique opportunity to build institutional knowledge

on topics relevant to the regions atmosphere, climate, oceans, and coastal ecosystems

in order to achieve greater environmental literacy, personal safety, and an improved

economy (10).  A concomitant outcome may be a demand-driven alteration of hiring needs throughout the community that will expand the need for persons with advanced math and science knowledge, skills and abilities to appropriately lead the integration of the higher level quantitative and qualitative analyses into the decision making process.  It is one thing to have excellent maps on a screen for end users, it is another to have the ability to understand and explain the justification underlying the maps, and provide the appropriate direction for the implementation of changes in policy, landforms, or public communication.

The inclusion of field trips emphasizes the atmosphere, oceans, coasts, and inland seas as natural laboratories to demonstrate fundamental processes across many disciplines (11).  Since Nassau County school districts and local parks, preserves, and museums already run field trips to support the standards-based educational curriculum, it is a natural extension to incorporate NOAA’s focus on ocean science into our ongoing efforts.  These efforts exhibit standards of high quality and educational excellence, as evidenced by our participation in the Jason Project.

While they are not listed as direct partners on this grant application, Nassau County has ongoing, cooperative, coordinated relationships with a number of institutions involved with environmental management and education, and intends to make full use of the prior, ongoing, and future efforts of these organizations.  Each has a particular niche of activity that plays a role in educational outreach, environmental management, public safety, and scientific research.  It is the intention of this proposal to utilize as much of these ocean and environmental projects and professional relationships as possible to enhance environmental literacy, as well as to highlight NOAA’s products, services and research.  In addition, NCCELS will provide a map-based website that defines the geographical location of these entities with links to their web sites.

 (iv) Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts

The ocean literacy document provided in the grant announcement describes essential principles and fundamental concepts.  In the interests of conciseness, each principle and concept is referred to by number and letter, and is followed by the discussion of the role that NCCELS will play for each (12).

1. The Earth has one big ocean with many features.

1a.  While the Atlantic Ocean touches the south shore of Nassau County, the north shore touches the Long Island Sound.  The intention is to create materials that explain that these are connected water bodies that share influences, and provide a template of understanding to describe these water bodies.  Moving from the local to the global, the template will then be used to examine the other oceans, thereby extending the visited sites to the as yet unvisited sites.  It is expected that the template developed for students and teachers will serve to provide them with a method to examine the other oceans in their life’s travels, or when events occur that draw attention to them.

1b.  Long Island has a complex and varied geology.  The region was formed due to lithospheric plate activity which is still spreading the Atlantic Ocean wider.  A puzzle game will be created that matches the edges of the continents to their prior, joined positions, and provide an interactive learning lesson that matches time to position, along with important descriptions of topology, and the impact on biologic, economic, and physical processes.

1c.  Animations from the NASA Science Visualization Studio (SVS) will be used to show students the latest understanding of ocean currents (13).  Supporting text materials will provide descriptions of the research on the topic, highlighting the need for a firm knowledge of math and science principles.  NOAA satellite images of the gulf stream will provide resource materials to support standard-based descriptions of its effects (14).  Real-time measurements from NOWCOAST will be incorporated into the discussion to provide students with a sense of currency, as well as help them discover the NOAA resources independently online (15).

1d.  The Topex satellite gathers information about sea surface height (16).  The animation covering 16 days of tidal movements provides a dynamic visual which fascinates students and provides direction for the creation of a local version (17).  It is the intention of this grant to create a representation of the local tidal movements through temporal data collection on a variety of scales.  The goal is to gather digital images of sea shore water changes at a variety of relevant locations and provide a learning module that integrates the issues about tides with the mathematics of slope and time, and represent the changes in an animation.

1e.  The salinity of the waters surrounding Long Island varies significantly and creates unique ecosystems.  These ecosystems are easily visible at the area parks and preserves and provide a hands-on opportunity for citizens to develop a sense of stewardship.  The park-based data gathering sites will include chemical measurements of local waters that will provide a monitoring system to record the dynamic changes and the interactions between weather, human activity, and water systems.  The local examples of salinity will be expanded to explain ocean currents, heat transfer systems, and their impact on climate.

1f.  The water cycle is currently a part of the learning curriculum in New York State.  The importance of the ocean waters in this process will be enhanced.

1g.  The geography of school district neighborhoods will be examined to tie the home to the local watershed, with a comparison to neighboring watersheds, and thereafter expanded to include the relevance to larger water systems.  There are a number of significant regional health, safety, and economy issues pertaining to the connections between these water systems.  The issues of lobster die-off, algae blooms, non-point source pollution, as well as salt-marsh loss will be addressed as part of the learning materials created which will highlight the importance of NOAA’s data gathering and analysis mission to the local community.

1h.  Materials will be developed that examine the National Fish and Wildlife Service, the NYS Department of State, and other regional science-based management projects for their role as manager of local and regional ocean fish populations.

2. The ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of the Earth.

2 a.  The sea level and topographic changes over time will be examined and incorporated to include the specific role of oceans in regional sedimentary processes.  Similarly, our effort will ensure that the global role of ocean life, and the chemical processes associated with siliceous and carbonate cycles, are tied into the local and regional systems. 

2b.  In transition from the examination of local tidal cycles, the geologic time scales currently present in the NYS earth science curriculum will be examined.  Materials will be appended to describe the local ramifications of these processes to ensure that the student retains and is capable of applying the knowledge of the material to other locations where oceans have played a role.

2c.  The forces of erosion have been changed due to the impact of human settlements.  Through the use of historical aerial photography, the expansion of development over eighty years will be examined in the school district and surrounding communities.  Since the earliest development occurred along the coast, changes to the streams and watersheds will be examined to provide an understanding of how erosion occurs, and how it changes with development.

2d.  There is currently significant interest, as well as scientific research, on the issue of beach sand and how it is redistributed in our regional area.  NCCELS will provide students with the aerial photographs showing beach sand change over time, along with the published studies that address the issues.  At the same time, it is the intention of this project to establish locations for the installation of digital cameras to obtain time series imagery of tides, currents, and a record of shifting sands.

2e.  The physical structure and landforms of the coast will be explained in the geographic atlas.  Short explanations of the primary forces will be provided.  The potential for tectonic activity in the region will be explained and consequences outlined, with references to tsunamis.  Similarly, since Long Island lies along the path of hurricane activity, a special module will be created to provide an understanding of the role of NOAA products and services play in protecting our region.

3. The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate.

3 a. Earth’s energy, water and carbon systems all play a role in the local environment.  Single page descriptions of these systems will serve as overviews to place the finer detail materials in a context.  The interplay between local coastal activities and these systems will be demonstrated in a context that students can directly relate to.  These three will be fundamental modules for learning that will lead the student to answer questions about sea shells (carbon), fishing (water), and surfing (hurricane energy).

3b. Animations from SVS about Sea Surface Temperature will provide the highly descriptive imagery to support explanations of models of ocean heat, evaporation, and regional effects (18).

3c. The SVS provides significant El Nino Southern Oscillation materials and explanations that will fascinate students and lead them to participate in the learning process (19).  The effects on local climate from the changes occurring in the Pacific Ocean provide a true example of the fundamental global power of the oceans.  However, materials regarding this phenomenon have been fully developed by others.  This grant would ensure that they are available to teachers, where applicable to ongoing lesson plans.

3d. Part of the field trip would be to participate in an evaporation experiment wherein the evaporation of a small tank of water would be shown over the time frame of the trip, along with videos of prior experiments that show how much water is evaporated on the small scale, as an analogy to the large scale of the ocean.  From there, the grant products will take students to local rain gauges and weather stations to further lead them along the trail of scientific measurement of weather.

3e. The carbon cycle is an important component of earth processes.  Field trip demonstrations would explain the role of the carbon cycle in the local environment, and SVS animations and images will provide high-end demonstrations of the SeaWIFS and Carbon Cycle studies (20).  The impact of local industry and automobile traffic will be placed in the global context.

3f. The continuum from ancient past, through recent past, to potential future will place current climate activity in a time and scale context.  NOAA products and services will be highlighted for their role in measuring and modeling climate change, and local potential impacts will be modeled.

3g.  The ocean conveyor belt has strengthened and weakened, with concomitant effects on regional climate.  Recent scientific evidence regarding the climate on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean provides an example of our shared reliance on the gulf stream and other ocean currents.

4. The ocean makes Earth habitable.

4 a. As a foundation of life, plants capture energy from the sun and create oxygen.  However, photosynthetic organisms in the ocean have a greater impact on available oxygen that land plants.  Examples of the types of photosynthetic organisms, as well as examples of all types of local water organisms, will be identified and placed in a context of a dynamic system of imbalance.

4b. Historical settings provide a foundation for a full understanding of life.  By looking at the fossil evidence from the ocean, insight can be gained, and excitement generated, about the process of evolution.  Undersea exploration using NOAA equipment and staff provide unique opportunities to show the role of advanced math and science skills to help manage our earth environment (21).

5. The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.

5a. Developing materials about the local diversity of life and ecosystems allows students to generate a personal knowledge upon which other ocean systems can be readily understood.  Much of the material currently exists in the curriculum.  An examination of the curriculum will be performed, and the impact of ocean ecology will be introduced, where necessary.

5b. The role of microbial life in our ecosystem is a foundational process that deserves more attention.  While NCCELS does not foresee developing new materials on microbial life itself as part of this project, it will research the availability of materials to serve as reference for teachers, students, and the general public.

5c. Undersea examinations of biological growth can be an interesting learning experience for coastal residents (22).  Presenting a full rendition of all organisms would be an overwhelming experience.  However, the opportunity to enhance local museum and field trip experiences with archival material of biological exploration through the use of interactive kiosks allows visitors the opportunity to explore at will the information that matches the moment.  It is expected that the interactive map of science research will allow users to find relevant information by geography, as well as through normal searching methods.

5d. The dynamic and complex interactive processes and relationships of ocean biology would be addressed based upon the grade level of the students.  Existing textbooks describe these relationships in great detail, therefore any work emanating from this project would be to inform teachers of the opportunity to utilize examples from the ocean to support coursework.

5e. Undersea photography and videography is available that provides an opportunity to develop a sense of inquiry to discover how organisms developed over time based upon their niche environment, and the range of life cycles that exist in water, as compared to on land (23).

5f. The mathematical examples that involved three dimensional coordinate systems could employ the ocean as a source of material for example problems.  Ten discrete examples of three dimensional mathematics will be developed that will emphasize the vastness of difference in the living space of the ocean.

5g. Just as the concept of two-dimensional ecosystems and regional groups will be developed to meet the geographical standards (see National Geographic Standards # 5 below), three dimensional aquatic ecosystems will extend the concept of land development and utilization to the realm of waters and materials in solution.  Grouping of local land ecosystems will be based on the materials developed for regions, while the ocean ecosystems offer the teachers and students an opportunity to stretch their knowledge and prove their understanding of the geographical concepts.  The Long-Term Ecosystem observatory offers a regional ecosystem example of real-time ocean observations and analysis (24).

5h. Deep ocean ecosystems offer the opportunity to discover life forms that utilize energy sources that challenge explanation.  The frontier of scientific discovery is still out there in the ocean, and students should learn that their choice of career can include the search for answers to unknown questions.

5i. Since tides play a major role in Long Island aquatic life, safety, and recreation, significant resources will be devoted to examining the tides.  NOWCOAST tides gauges and observations will provide real-time data for a wide variety of student learning situations, including graphing, interpolation, and prediction.  One hundred examples of using tidal information in the curriculum will be developed that also highlight significant aspects of tidal flows.  At the same time, exploration of the tidal ecosystems allows for hands-on discovery of a variety of life forms that will be documented on an ongoing part of the field trip experience.

5j. The South Shore Estuary Reserve is an area of ongoing coastal management, and has provided a broad range of educational opportunities for educators.  Significant materials are available to be brought into the classroom.  The challenge is to select noteworthy, representative content which does not overload the student, or the curriculum.  The geographic atlas will provide reference to the South Shore Estuary Reserve, and explain its ecological significance.

6. The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.

6a. Information will be provided to students that explains the global climate cycles in summary form, and provides references to the work of the appropriate federal agencies performing research.  The local influence of the ocean on weather, water, and ecosystems will be defined.

6b. The economic value of the local waters will be explained (25).  Math, history, and reading materials will be provided that focus on the ocean as a vital part of the region.

6c. Field trips to area preserves and museums provide students with the information about our region.  Interactive kiosks will provide them with information about NOAA’s products and services, as well as an assortment of materials about ocean science.  Visitors will be provided with a list of an annotated list of websites that they can view at home which will allow them a greater amount of time to follow their inspiration.

6d. Statistics regarding the population in the local coastal areas will be developed, and the importance of properly managing coastal areas will be explained.

6e. People have an effect on the ocean environment.  Properly managing that affect is an important component of management strategies to ensure the future availability of the resource for recreational and economic value.  Materials are currently available that explain these issues, and will be part of the curriculum, where appropriate, and at the local visitor centers (26).

6f. Natural hazards are very important to Nassau County residents.  Telling the story of the calamities that occur around the world provides the opportunity to add science to the chatter of the news.  Hurricane preparedness materials are currently made available to residents.  References to NOAA’s role in providing support services and products to predict and manage natural hazards will be added to our next version of those materials (27).  NOAA internet materials regarding natural hazards will be made available through the interactive kiosk, and through appropriate links from the Nassau County web site.

6g. Local stewardship opportunities help develop a sense of stewardship throughout the environmental world.  There are a wide variety of professional and volunteer programs that support participation in the region’s environmental management strategies.  Promotion of these opportunities will be pursued, as well as the continued implementation of an internship program for area residents.

7. The ocean is largely unexplored.

7a. In general, NCCELS will lead students and visitors toward exploring what is known about our ocean realm, and toward following new research as it appears.  At the same time, ocean discoveries that provide direct benefits to society will excite the pragmatic with the common sense of protecting that which delivers benefits (28).

7b. By developing skills at inquiry and study pertaining to local environmental systems and processes, students and citizen caretakers can follow a path toward judicial management of that resource.

7c. Future sustainability and stability of the ocean realm relates directly to the future sustainability and stability of the human population, and the rate of change has increased dramatically in the past 40 years, sending out a call for action for those interested in careers in environmental science and political action.  NCCELS will provide an avenue to reach students and citizens with that message.

7d. By installing weather stations with environmental sensors, examples of remote data collections techniques will provide students with the ability to compare what they see for themselves with what they can detect from the data device.  That mental capacity has a broad range of applications in the environmental science field, since researchers are not always afforded a direct view of a site or situation, and must formulate the necessary representation within their mind.

7e. Models of the ocean and environmental systems will be presented to students, visitors, and teachers to provide an opportunity to understand the process by which they are created and the purposes to which they are applied.

7f. Ocean exploration is truly interdisciplinary.  It is intended that the NCCELS project will provide tools and techniques for understanding ocean and environmental science.  Furthermore, the point will be made that whatever the career interest of a student might be, a full understanding of environmental science will help provide a differential advantage to advance a student’s chances of obtaining acceptance to the college of their choice, as well as to provide a safer life to all citizens.

(v) Relevant National or State Science Standards

The eighteen standards created by the National Council on Geographic Education are a significant resource for the development of a geographic understanding of ocean resources (29).  As such, each standard is listed by number, and a short discussion of the role of the NCCELS in addressing each of them is provided.

1. The geographic atlas will supplement current materials by providing a local representation of the community surrounding the school.  The intention is to allow students to participate in generating additional map-based information that is plotted against the state plane coordinate system and published on a web site.  The template for participation will require students to provide objective data and subjective interpretation to create an online database of the community through the eyes of the student.  The additional focus on the impact of local geography on coastal ecology and ocean science provides students with an additional level of context for their efforts.

2. Once the students participate in geography lessons, they will start to have the ability to generate mental representations of their community as seen through the normal reporting modes of maps, air photos, satellite images and personal interpretations.  Thereafter, when students utilize classroom curriculum materials, as well as new online services to examine other places, they will have an improved ability to organize the information based upon how information about their home community was organized.  Many students already enjoy their coastal and ocean resources, and would benefit from putting that enjoyment into a greater context and level of understanding.

3. While the development of a comprehensive Earth observation system benefits people around the world by improving their ability to monitor, understand, and predict changes to the Earth, enabling citizens and leaders to make more informed decisions affecting their lives, environment, and economies, it is important that citizens are aware of the technical, policy, and economic analysis behind decisions (30).  A full understanding of the spatial organization of the local community is an important component for understanding the issues facing other communities.  

4. The field trips help to provide students with a directed activity in which they develop a sense of place through a template of analysis.  The intent of the format of the field trip support is to provide information about the place in the classroom, to then visit and see the data gathering system in action, and then to go back to the classroom for further extension, anchoring, and assessment.

5. The concept of regional variation provides a number of opportunities for education.  Defining groups that are similar enough to be given a single regional definition requires some understanding of variability, setting the stage for a fundamental understanding of a major component of science: statistics.  Similarly, simplifying complexity permits evaluation based on models.  Student will participate in an exercise to define local regions based on qualities of the ecosystem.

6. Culture influences decisions about the environment.  Students will explore how different people build regions based upon their cultural framework.  Models of stakeholders will provide examples of how significantly different end points arise from the same environmental setting.

7. Providing real-world examples of recent measurements of the local landscape provide a firm foundation and relevancy for students to push themselves to engage the more difficult aspects of math and science.  NOAA measurements of the environment provide the direct observations that excite students.  With the development of visualization tools for the data, along with advances in representing efficacious models of the processes that affect the world, science educators are taking a larger role in developing informed citizenry.

8. As a coastal community, Nassau County has a wide range of ecosystems that rely on a well-developed populace to manage them.  The geographic atlas will be designed to place the student in a spatial and environmental context.  By taking students directly to the places that they see in the atlas, and providing them with supporting math, science, and history, they will develop a fuller understanding of the characteristics of the land-based portion of the ocean ecosystem.  From that context, the materials will extend into the local ocean ecosystem, and thereafter embrace the deeper ocean environment.

9. Human populations directly affect the ocean realm.  Developing materials that describe the interplay between human decisions and the long -term viability of ocean health will be one of the most important portions of the atlas.  Fully describing the neighborhood, and the local ocean realm, as well as the decisions that have led to its development, will permit a greater sense of ownership, and place value on the stewardship role of the community.  Similarly, continual changes in the demographics of the community create the need for the coastal resource managers to tailor their public message to engage the new citizenry.  At the same time, census maps showing changes in the population provide school district students with an understanding of how their own community is changing, with the opportunity to explore how the cultural change will affect the stewardship of the coastal environment.

10. As a suburb of New York City, Nassau County has a rich variety of cultures interacting to create a cultural mosaic.  Improving ocean environmental literacy in this setting offers NOAA a unique opportunity to offer an embrace to people’s around the world who have a cultural envoy in our region.  At the same time, those cultural systems that place a high value on coastal and ocean waters can be tapped as a resource to provide leadership for the community.

11. The economy of ocean resources is a large and complex issue.  The Commission on Ocean Policy in 2004 reported that “Standard government data are not designed to measure the complex ocean economy. They also ignore the intangible values associated with healthy ecosystems, including clean water, safe seafood, healthy habitats, and desirable living and recreational environments.  This lack of basic information has prevented Americans from fully understanding and appreciating the economic importance of our oceans and coasts.” (31)  It is the intention of this grant to incorporate regional economic analyses into the geographic materials and tie them into decision-making criteria on the varying scales in the atlas.

12. Coastal human settlement directly affects the ocean environment, and developing materials that address it is the prime directive of the overall project.

13. Local conflict is present in everyday society.  Students and citizens can be guided toward amicable resolutions and cooperative management of small issues.  Thereafter, larger issues can be placed in a familiar context, with the appropriate skills playing a role in fomenting a reasonable outcome.  Part of the outcome of the field trip is to provide students and citizens with a synopsis of the creation of the museum preserve and its importance over the years, garnishing the ongoing support that continues the benefit into the future.  The analogy will be drawn that our oceans have played a vital role in the health, wealth, and happiness of the peoples of the world, and the United States plays a significant role in its appropriate management for the future.

14. Nassau County has been significantly modified by human action.  The air photos from 1926 provide dramatic evidence of the change.  It is the intention of this project to engage students through internships, projects, and classroom study to provide scientific analysis of the extent and ramification of that change.

15. Physical systems directly affect human systems in a substantial way.  The most dramatic example for Nassau County would be a hurricane.  Preparing the citizenry for a regional devastation is an ongoing process for local government.  Part of that effort is teaching children about earth science.  A portion of this project will highlight the leadership role that NOAA plays in providing scientific instruments, gathering real-time data, and developing models that protect the local community.

16. Ocean resources play a significant role in the local community.  As the characteristics and uses of these resources change over time, threats and opportunities must be managed effectively.  The balance between recreational and industrial fishing in the region provides a local example of how resource use changes over time in a dynamic system. 

17. Geographic theory provides tools for interpretation and application that rival the scientific method in their breadth and depth of opportunity for higher level thinking.  Interpreting the past is a fundamental human function that permits a greater sense of well being in the future.  It is the intention of this project to provide a full understanding of geographic analysis and its use in managing our land, atmosphere, and ocean realms.

18. “Societal demand for information and integrated management solutions provided by NOAA on the state of the atmosphere and oceans, the condition of living marine resources, water rights, ocean navigation and weather prediction will increase dramatically in extent and urgency during this century. The fundamental, overarching reality of growth in worldwide population will create many of these new demands as economies, human welfare, and the environment are affected. Impacts from globalization and associated trends will likewise result in increasing demands on society”(32).  The overall intention of the project is to provide the citizenry with the geographic tools to examine the activities of the people and institutions affecting the ocean environment, and determine future courses of action that maximize the well being of the current inhabitants, the natural world they are an integral part of, and the future generations that will live in it.

New York State has a fully developed, standards-based curriculum and assessment model that continues to examine and implement the best practices of the national educational community (33).  The related standards that apply to environmental literacy are designed to broadly cover the general intentions of the educational system of New York, and leave some flexibility to districts and teachers to adapt materials to specific conditions.  The specifications by grade level provide greater detail in the construction of materials to meet learning goals.

This grant will weave curriculum materials on ocean environmental literacy into the existing framework of New York State standards.  At the same time NCCELS is building ocean environmental literacy curriculum materials, we will lobby the New York State Board of Regents with the suggestion to include “interconnected nature of the ocean, land, and atmosphere” into the wording of the standards, where appropriate.

(vi) Coordination with project partners

Nassau County is dedicated to providing the best level of service to its citizens as possible.  To ensure effective participation with NOAA on this project, Nassau County is interested in establishing formal partnerships with the appropriate NOAA entities responsible for topics related to this proposal.  Determination of the appropriate partners is contingent upon the direction of the NOAA Office of Education, which would be an important and  necessary partnership to engage from the start of this proposal.  Nassau County has reached out to the NOAA Coastal Services Center and is expecting to be provided with a letter of support for the GIS development portion of the NCGIS coastal management support system..

(vii) Dissemination Strategy

A quarterly newsletter will be developed that will introduce and follow the progress of the various objectives of this proposal.  It will be distributed to the local coastal managers, educators, and stakeholders in ocean and environmental education, management, and stewardship.  

Similarly, quarterly meetings will be held that will provide researchers, educators, and the general public an opportunity to hear experts discuss topics of relevance to ocean and environmental literacy.  It is expected that these meetings will be held at a variety of locations throughout the region, and may coincide with established events to take advantage of a existing base of attendance.  

The pace of dissemination is expected to coincide with the development of the various aspects of this proposal.  In the beginning, information will be disseminated to the primary participants.  Thereafter, more public announcements will be employed, for example, as weather stations are completed and field trips promoted.  As greater results are achieved that affect a larger audience, it is foreseeable that a mailing list of up to ten thousand recipients is feasible.  Finally, announcements of milestone achievements will be included in county wide mailings that reach several thousand homes, annually.

Furthermore, it is expected that formal papers and conference presentations will be submitted annually for inclusion in the appropriate educators, coastal managers, and ocean environment conference, as decided upon with input from our NOAA partners.

(viii) Project Evaluation

As part of their normal reporting function, museums and school districts track their ongoing efforts to provide quality educational services and field trips.  An analysis of this data will be performed as a starting point to show the current extent of ocean literacy efforts.  On an annual basis, this reporting mechanism will details the numbers of students and visitors directly receiving the benefits of this proposal.

It is expected that a mailing list of interested parties who have been selected to receive (and choose to continue to receive), as well as those who sign up for a subscription will grow and be will form a further analysis of constituency.  As cooperative organizations sign on to produce or share materials with NCCELS, this measure will also provide insight into the range of cooperation in the community.

NCCELS is also open to serving as the delivery mechanism for NOAA surveys and promotional materials regarding ocean environmental literacy. 

Finally, test scores of students who participate in the NCCELS project will be anonymously examined and aggregated, and compared to student performance for those students who did not receive the materials.  While simplistic in nature, NCCELS is interested in expanding this concept at NOAA’s direction, or for providing a test bed for materials developed by others.

NEPA Statement:  Since the majority of this Nassau County Coastal Ecology Learning System is based upon building classroom curriculum, and realigning existing field trips to environmental and ocean literacy standards, Nassau County foresees no environmental impact to emanate from these activities.  Any construction of weather stations and environmental monitoring systems will adhere strictly to federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations, and any necessary permits or approvals will be obtained.  Advance notice of sites selected and full construction details will be provided to NOAA for review and approval.  Nassau County will cooperate and communicate with NOAA regarding all aspects of this proposal and ensure compliance with NEPA.

(e) References

1. U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.  “An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century: Final Report.”  Washington, DC, p.131, 2004.

2.  Lieberman, G.A., and L.L. Hoody. Closing the Achievement Gap: Using the Environment as an Integrated Context for Learning. Poway, CA: Science Wizards, 1998.

3. College of Exploration, http://www.coexploration.org, 2005

4. National Geographic Ed Net, http://www.ngsednet.org/communities/, 2006

5. The Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence, http://www.cosee.net, 2006

6. NMEA in New York City: A City of Islands, http://www.nysmea.org/con06/, 2006

7. The Long Island Sound Study, http://www.longislandsoundstudy.net, 2006

8. The South Shore Estuary Reserve, http://www.estuary.cog.ny.us/background-pages/about-the-reserve.htm, 2006

9. NOAA, An Education Plan For NOAA, p.2, 2004

10. NOAA, An Education Plan For NOAA, p.3, 2004

11. NOAA, An Education Plan For NOAA, p.2, 2004

12. “Ocean Literacy: The Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts of Ocean Sciences”, College of Exploration, http://www.coexploration.org/oceanliteracy, 2005

13. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, “Ocean Circulation Conveyor Belt Helps Balance Climate”, http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a010000/a010031/index.html, 2004

14. NOAA, Gulf Stream Imagery, http://marine.rutgers.edu/mrs/

sat_data/?product=sst_comp&region=gulfstream&nothumbs=0, 20006

15. NOAA, “nowCOAST: GIS Mapping Portal to Real-Time Environmental Observations and NOAA Forecasts”, http://nowcoast.noaa.gov/, 2006.

16. Gretchen Cook-Anderson, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, “Scientists Get a Real "Rise" Out of Breakthroughs in How We Understand Changes in Sea Level”, http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/sealevel_feature.html, 2005.

17. Ray, Richard, “TOPEX/Poseidon Flat Earth Tide Height Model”, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a001300/a001332/, 2000.

18. Shepard, J. Marshall (NASA/GSFC) and  Jeff Halverson (JCET UMBC), “Sea Surface Temperature from June 1, 2005 to September 18, 2005”, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003200/a003257/index.html, 2005.

19. Shirah, Greg, “El Niño and La Niña”, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a002600/a002646/index.html, 1998.

19a. NOAA/PMEL/TAO,  “El Niño Theme Page: distributed information on El Niño”, http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/tao/elnino/nino-home.html, 2006

20. Twardy, Susan, “Carbon Cycle”, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a010000/a010007/index.html, 2000.

21. NOAA, “Undersea Technologies Help Noaa Get To The Bottom Of Things” http://www.magazine.noaa.gov/stories/mag187.htm, January 26, 2006.

22.  NOAA CSC, “Benthic Habitats of the New York/New Jersey Harbor”, 2001.

23.  NOAA, “NURP Multimedia Gallery” http://data.nurp.noaa.gov/mmedia/NURP_mmsearch.asp, 2006

24.  NOAA, NURP, “The Long-Term Ecosystem Observatory – A Key Piece of an Integrated Observing Network Puzzle:”, http://www.nurp.noaa.gov/Spotlight/Observatory.htm#, 2006.

25. NOAA, Economic Statistics for NOAA”, May 2005 – Fourth Edition.

26.  NOAA, “Learning Ocean Science through Ocean Exploration: A Curriculum for Grades 6-12”, 2003.

27. NOAA, “Hurricanes”,http://www.oar.noaa.gov/k12/html/hurricanes2.html, 2004.

28.  Lautenbacher, VADM Conrad C., Jr, “Science Serving Society: U.S. IEOS and GEOSS”, P. 5, November 21, 2005.

29. The National Council for Geographic Education, “The Eighteen National Geography Standards”, http://www.ncge.org/publications/tutorial/standards/, 1994.

30. Interagency Working Group on Earth Observations and the NSTC Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, “Strategic Plan For The U.S. Integrated Earth Observation System”, 2005.

31.  U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.  “An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century: Final Report.”  Washington, DC, p.31, 2004.

32.  NOAA, “Understanding Global Ecosystems to Support Informed Decision-Making: A Twenty Year Research Vision”, p. 3, 2005.

33.  New York State Department of Education, “New York State Learning Standards” http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/ciai/pub.html, 2004.