Seventh International Conference on School and Popular Meteorological and Oceanographic Education


International Partnerships with NOAA's Adopt a Drifter Program

Diane M. Stanitski, Shippensburg Univ., Shippensburg, PA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Climate Observation (OCO) launched the Adopt a Drifter Program (ADP) in December 2004 to provide an educational opportunity for K-12 teachers and university professors to infuse ocean observing system data into their curriculum. Although not mandatory, teachers can participate in the ADP while serving as a NOAA Teacher at Sea ( The ADP promotes a partnership between a school from the United States and a school abroad where students from both schools mutually adopt a drifting buoy to be deployed from a ship at sea. A NOAA sticker, signed by students from each school, is adhered to the drifter before deployment and teachers and their students access sea surface temperature and/or sea surface pressure data from the drifter online as it moves across the ocean. The Adopt a Drifter Program's tracking page can be found at Participating teachers develop lesson plans to encourage their students to plot the coordinates of the drifter on a tracking chart as it moves freely across the ocean and to make connections between the data accessed on line and other maps showing ocean currents and winds.

Drifter data are used to track major ocean currents and eddies globally, ground truth data from satellites, build models of climate and weather patterns, and predict the movement of pollutants if dumped or accidentally spilled into the sea. Therefore, it is valuable for teachers to inform students about how drifter data are measured, how often data are downloaded, and the types of data that are available to access. Teachers participating in the ADP and TAS program will better be able to describe these and other observing system projects after participating in drifter deployments. All participating teachers provide lesson plans related to their classroom projects using drifting buoy data. The Adopt a Drifter Program is open to all schools in the United States and abroad. For information about how to participate, contact

Session 9, International education programs and collaborations.
Thursday, 6 July 2006, 10:30 AM-1:45 PM, Centre Greene Building 1, Auditorium

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