Project Ocean STEWARD 2000
Online Workshop for K-12 teachers Oct 9 - Nov 3, 2000

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Sustainable Seas Logo

National Marine Sanctuaries Logo

USC Sea Grant Logo


College of Exploration Logo


Project Ocean STEWARD 2000 (Students and Teachers Empowered With Access to Real Data)


Earth Systems Science is an essential part of K-12 formal education, yet, the National Science Education Standards contain almost no materials on the oceans. Universities rarely provide teacher training in marine science education. Pre-service teaching and teacher credential programs seldom provide any special instruction in oceanography. No major publishers of public school textbooks publish books on oceanography, marine science or marine biology for K-12 formal education.

The National Geographic Society's Sustainable Seas Expeditions (SSE), NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program, NASA, USC Sea Grant and The College of Exploration (TCOE) are producing an on-line interactive teacher workshop for K-12 teachers on the use of NASAearth system data, NOAA oceanographic data, results of the SSE missions and use of the web as the basis for lesson plans and classroom activities on the oceans. Scientific experts will give presentations and will be available online to answer questions and engage in dialogue with the educators. In addition, participants will develop curriculum materials on ocean sciences, which will be archived for use by teachers everywhere.

TCOE will host the workshop on their webconference center, as part of their virtual campus ( proven computer conferencing systems TCOE will provide conference registration, organization, and facilitation services.  Teachers with have a graduate credit option from UC Fullerton for completion of the workshop.

USC Sea Grant will provide assistance in the development of lesson plans for the workshop. Teachers also will be introduced to in-class lesson activities that will enhance the online experience.  USC Sea Grant staff also will help to facilitate the workshop in both technical and creative capacities to insure that discussion and the learning experience during the workshop remains dynamic. At the completion of the workshop, Sea Grant will assist in the identification, collation and synthesis of the highlights of the workshop toward the production of an archived product for distribution to a larger audience.

This virtual teacher workshop will be offered asynchronously from October 9 to November 3 2000 to allow participants to take part at their convenience during the workshop period. A Web browser will be the only required technology. The workshop will be set up in a virtual conference setting that will be password protected and accessible to all registrants so that the online environment will be a private learning and interactive dialog space.

As part of their participation in the on-line teacher workshop, teachers achieve two benefits: developing strategies for teaching ocean science in the classroom and acquiring valuable Internet navigation, research, interactive learning and presentation skills. Teachers will have the opportunity to earn credit for their participation through their development of lessons that utilize online data and/or promote student field research. They also will be strongly encouraged to develop presentations for national, state and local teacher conferences.

Project Ocean STEWARD 2000 will provide a critical portal through which NASA and NOAA ocean-related data and information become valuable classroom tools. Use of the Internet provides an accessible and inexpensive mechanism through which teachers from minority, traditionally underrepresented or disadvantaged communities can participate in this innovative virtual workshop.

Project Description

In April 1998, the National Geographic Society (NGS) launched the Sustainable Seas Expeditions (SSE). One of SSE's primary goals was "to mount an intensive public education campaign, using the drama of path-breaking exploration and the compelling visual evidence of high-quality photographs and videotapes to arouse, astonish, and engage regional and national interest in the marine sanctuaries." To achieve this goal, the Society has worked closely with NOAA and NASA to develop education programs based on the results of the Expedition missions and also to address the national need for increased marine education for the general public and K-12 students. Part of this effort has been to host two teacher workshops and eight student ocean summits. These workshops have been very successful and have demonstrated the need to increase the reach of our effort to a much larger audience.

Participating teachers have recognized that SSE field projects provide an unparalleled opportunity to inspire students and to bring real-time science and exploration into the classroom. SSE has produced and will continue to produce stunning imagery and important data about the marine environment that forms the basis for a new era of learning about the oceans and the systems that sustain all life on earth. It also provides an opportunity to ground truth remotely sensed data and allows comparison of different technologies for collecting data in the classroom. Project Ocean STEWARD 2000 will combine the drama of these field projects with existing NASA and NOAA data sets in order to introduce the protocols for data collection and the scientific data to teachers and students across the nation.

Project Ocean STEWARD 2000 will use the science and geography standards as the basis for development of its classroom lesson plans and student activities. The workshop's overall theme is marine conservation and how the ocean in particular can integrate these standards in an exciting and unique way. Dr. Sylvia Earle, Explorer-in-Residence for the National Geographic Society and SSE Project Director, will reinforce this marine conservation message through an introductory keynote that includes time for teachers to ask questions. After this introduction, the workshop will build on Dr. Earle's presentation through the following four themes:

1. Physical Oceanography and Remote Sensing

2. Biology, Ecology and Habitat Characterization

3. Geographic Information Systems- a tool for marine resource managers

4. Guided Discovery of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary as an example of the needs and complexities of a marine protected area

  1. Physical Oceanography and Remote Sensing

Using data from NASA's SeaWiFS program, the workshop will introduce NASA's ocean observing satellite missions. This segment of the workshop will explore the use of remotely sensed data to observe ocean color as it represents phytoplankton content of the global ocean. The relevance of ocean color data to our ability to observe changes in ocean health will be discussed. Teachers also will be given examples of online SeaWiFS data and instruction on how to interpret and use the data to teach ocean science.

Dr. Gene Feldman and the SeaWiFS team at Goddard Space Flight Center will lead a discussion on how marine systems are remotely sensed from space and will provide professional direction and expert feedback.

Examples of the online background information and data that will be used in his presentation are:

  • Ocean Color From Space n_color_from_space.html

  • SeaWiFS Project Flipbook

  • SeaWiFS Interactive Region Selection

  • Remotely Sensed Ocean Color from the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
  • Global Change Data Center

  1. Biology, Ecology and Habitat Characterization

This section will also explore how remotely sensed SeaWiFS data is a powerful complement to data collected underwater. NASA's CoralReef project will be highlighted as an example of how SSE data helps oceanographers around the globe understand marine environments that are explored primarily through remote sensing.

Dr. Steve Gittings, Science Coordinator for the National Marine Sanctuaries Program and one of the lead scientists in SSE, will present tools and techniques that demonstrate how scientists conduct research and monitoring studies in the marine environment. He will specifically focus on data collected by the DeepWorker Submersibles as part of the SSE project, but also will bring in examples of other underwater monitoring methods. He will present SSE data including habitat characterization and species abundance/diversity as the basis for lessons related to biology and ecology.

The following Web sites are examples of resources that will be used as part of this presentation

  • Sustainable Seas Expeditions

  • National Marine Sanctuary Program

  • Remote Sensing of Coral Reefs

  • Applications of NASA Technology for Biodiversity Conservation l

  1. Use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in ocean studies

GIS is a computer-based technology for viewing and manipulating any kind of data that can be referenced geographically. It gives researchers and resource managers the ability to quantify and visually display interrelationships among geographically-reference biological social, geochemical, physical, atmospheric and other variables. GIS can be used to greatly enhance science, geography and mathematics instruction for middle and high school students.

The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary has an extensive GIS database and is developing tools and instructional materials for teachers that will be presented in this part of the workshop.

  • Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Web Site

  • ESRI Web Site Teacher Resources

  • National Geographic Map Machine

  • SeaWiFS Validation / Calibration Image Gallery

  • Center for ImageProcessing in Education Instructional Materials

  1. Discovering the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary as a representative example of the needs and complexities of marine protected areas

Monterey Bay, the largest of NOAA's marine sanctuaries, hosts a rich array of habitats. Within its boundaries lie rugged rocky shores, lush kelp forests and one of the deepest underwater canyons on the west coast. Sanctuary habitats abound with life from tiny plankton to blue whales. With its great diversity of life, the sanctuary is a national focus for marine research and education programs.

Dr. Steve Webster, Monterey Bay Aquarium Senior Marine Biologist and Chair of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council will provide a guided virtual tour and interactive presentation about the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary that will include important species and habitats, human use and impacts, and resource protection strategies.

Key Web sites that will be used as resources for this presentation include the following:

  • Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

  • Virtual tidepool ml

  • Monterey Bay Aquarium

  • Virtual tour of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

The workshop will have the following components:

Key Note Presentation "Hall"

The workshop will feature the guest lecturers mentioned above as experts in marine science. These keynoters will present informative materials written in text and graphic formats (with audio and video clips where possible). The experts also will be available to respond to questions online and to generate conversation among the participants on their topic.

Break-Out Session Rooms

Facilitated break-out sessions for particular topics of interest and for different grade levels will offer opportunities for smaller groups to exchange views about specific interests related to marine sanctuaries. Educators and scientists from participating organizations also will lead discussions about their organization or particular focus.

Resource Center

Participants will be able to take advantage of a database of resources of organizations related to SSE, NASA and NOAA and links to articles and pertinent web sites. There will be a development area in the Resource Center where teachers can post and discuss lesson plans that they have developed based on data and information presented during the workshop.

Evaluation Center

An online evaluation process will be set up to obtain feedback about both workshop content and process.

Significance and Objectives

Our goal is to enhance K-12 science, math, geography and technology literacy by teaching through the exciting and inherently motivating medium of the oceans. Educators play a key role in training future generations of citizens about their ocean planet and its workings. What is needed for mainstream educators are educational materials that are easy to use, relevant to key subject areas, grounded in national standards, evaluated by respected experts, thoroughly tested in real classroom settings and distributed in attractive and easy to use formats.

An underlying objective of Project Ocean STEWARD 2000 is to educate teachers and students on ways to use the Internet as an integral part of the curriculum. Once teachers have participated in this project, they then can use the Internet to empower students to become true information age learners. By providing students exposure to different Internet tools and learning techniques, the project will be teaching skills that they will use as future scientists.

The importance of using the Internet as an integral part of learning has been recognized as part of the International Society for Technology in Education's (ISTE) (, National Educational Technology Standards (NETS.) NETS is a project sponsored by ISTE to promote the use of technology as an integral component of teaching and learning across the K-12 curriculum.

Project Ocean STEWARD 2000 will incorporate the important elements of these standards into this teacher workshop, including how to use online information resources efficiently to meet needs for collaboration, research, publications, communications, and productivity, and how to select and apply technology tools for research, information analysis, problem-solving, and decision-making in content learning.

Project Ocean STEWARD 2000 participants will use the Internet to collaborate with others as they study ocean science and data. By accessing the online materials and using the interactive events to discuss their findings and ideas, teachers develop important skills for technology use.

In summary, the objectives of our project are to:

  1. Translate SSE, NASA/NOAA data into forms usable for the K-12 education community, and encourage analysis and interpretation from an interdisciplinary perspective
  2. Encourage the application of mathematics, science, and technology in student learning using ocean systems as the subject matter
  3. Enhance teachers' capabilities to design lessons and experiences that use scientific inquiry to affect student learning and increase hands-on, interactive learning using the Internet and student-driven field investigations
  4. Strengthen the interface between educators and scientists and secure greater support by scientists for education efforts
  5. Contribute to K-12 mathematics, science, and technology education by promoting the involvement of various community sectors, especially underrepresented groups
  6. Develop a successful model for on-line teacher workshops using earth science data as content and sanctuaries as focused examples to create innovative learning opportunities