Using ocean observing system data to promote ocean science literacy in the southeast U.S.
Hurricanes and extra-tropical cyclones impact the southeastern United States with damaging winds and flooding. The general public interest in these systems creates opportunities to introduce marine and atmospheric science topics in the classroom, to address public safety issues, and to promote comprehension through analyses of environmental data. However, the resources presently available for classroom teachers that would allow easy application of real-time data in the classroom are limited. This paper discusses the development of classroom-friendly web interfaces, activities, and lesson plans for classroom use of ocean observing data (real-time and archived) that are being pursued through collaboration between two SE units of the NSF-sponsored Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE) and the Southeast Atlantic Coastal Ocean Observing System (SEACOOS). Examples of how ocean literacy for students can be enhanced by incorporating data from SEACOOS and other data providers in the classroom will be presented. SEACOOS is an academically based, regional coastal ocean observing network, supported through the Office of Naval Research, linking a number of ocean observing programs in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The system provides accessible, regionally aggregated near real–time data. The SEACOOS website includes an interactive display that allows users to layer near real-time information on a GIS map. Data can also be obtained directly in several output formats. In combination with archived data for past storm events (case studies), the interactive web tool can be used to foster ocean science literacy and a desire to learn more about marine and atmospheric science. Hurricanes and extra-tropical cyclones provide an excellent opportunity to apply ocean observation data in the classroom. Nearly every variable measured at ocean observation stations is affected by the passage of these systems, leading to a range of possible applications for data collected during the storm events (e.g., classroom activities, games, and projects). Furthermore, monitoring and analysis of ocean/atmosphere interactions using near real-time and case study data creates cross-over educational possibilities, including linking marine and atmospheric topics to geography, literature, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. This presentation discusses several efforts stemming from collaboration between COSEE SE, COSEE Florida, and SEACOOS partners at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, the University of South Florida, and the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service. The collaboration combines expertise in the creation of grade- and standards-appropriate marine educational products with input from researchers involved in establishing a real-time coastal ocean observing network. These efforts include interactive web and classroom activities using SEACOOS data. The expected products, targeting K-12 classrooms, include several resources for educators that will foster understanding of ocean-atmosphere interactions.