Students, educators, and citizens around the Great Lakes region will soon have unprecedented learning opportunities to explore Great Lakes science and the connection to the world’s oceans, following approval of a $2.5 million regional Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence. Great Lakes scientists will also have opportunities to meet their education and public audiences in new collaborative ways.
The National Science Foundation and NOAA-National Sea Grant announced funding support this week for COSEE Great Lakes, the tenth center in a nationwide network. Funds will be provided to seven regional Sea Grant programs to support a suite of educational opportunities united under the COSEE framework.
"Public understanding of Great Lakes and ocean sciences is essential to ensure the long term protection and health of these invaluable natural resources," said principal investigator Don Scavia, director of the Michigan Sea Grant Program. "COSEE Great Lakes will serve as an excellent framework to link science and education for citizens of all ages."
COSEE Great Lakes is a collaborative effort of the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and includes programs in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois-Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Activities planned include lake exploration workshops, tools and educational materials using the Great Lakes Observing System, Great Lakes curriculum enhancement and integration with ocean topics, and interactive learning events linking researchers with educators, students, and the public.
A primary objective is to improve communication between researchers and 4-10th grade teachers and students and enhance teacher capabilities for delivering Great Lakes and ocean science education. Over the five-year program, more than 2,000 teachers and 350 researchers throughout the region are expected to take part in COSEE Great Lakes activities and educate new audiences.
"We’re looking forward to engaging educators, students and the public in ways that promote a deeper understanding of our freshwater seas and their influence on our quality of life and our national prosperity," said co-investigator Rosanne Fortner.
Dr. Rosanne Fortner, Education Coordinator for Ohio Sea Grant and Professor Emeritus of The Ohio State University, will be the regional Director of COSEE Great Lakes. In addition to overall program coordination, she will co-teach Lake Erie and Ohio workshops and seminars, and work with development of curricula for teaching. A major Lake Erie effort for summer 2006 will be a week-long workshop for teachers aboard the R/V Lake Guardian, June 18-24.
"One goal for this regional program is to bring teachers into the research labs to discuss education with researchers. And at the same time, this will give researchers the opportunity to interact with teachers and student groups," said Fortner.
The program will not be limited to only teachers and researchers. "COSEE Great Lakes will also bring Great Lakes and ocean science to the public – through the Internet and informal settings, including seminar series for the general public and activities at museums and aquaria," stated Fortner.
In the coming months, Sea Grant educators will be collaborating with more than 25 partners to coordinate COSEE activities and connect with Great Lakes citizens. Ohio’s collaborators include The Ohio State University’s School of Environment and Natural Resources, Stone Laboratory, Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland Municipal School District, and the NSF Biocomplexity Project.
The Great Lakes Sea Grant Network is part of NOAA-National Sea Grant, a network of 30 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources.