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Summer Science

Goal: To establish a new regional network of summer camp programs grounded in ocean science

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Overview: The project provided an ocean scientist- and educator-guided citizen science experience for teens across a wide geographical area, supported and trained informal science center staff to incorporate citizen science while using environmental literacy principles with teens, and offered opportunities for all participants – teens, educators, and scientists – to share findings with peers at annual regional forums. Components of the project included:

1 Establishing a community of practice.

The three-year initiative started in December 2009 with a planning workshop which focused on refining the parameters of the monitoring project, logistics, and protocol. All NEAq personnel (PI, Project Director, Instructors, and Scientists), leads at partnering science center camps, and a representative from COML participated.

2 Contributing to the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS).

Science Advisor Tom Trott (Suffolk University), a Census of Marine Life researcher, provides oversight to partner-scientists at each camp to ensure that COML’s NaGISA (near-shore biomonitoring) protocol is followed; data from at least one field day per year, per camp are provided to OBIS.

3 Increasing ocean literacy among campers ages 14 and up.

Robust training – pre-, in- and post-field monitoring – provides context for participating teens. External evaluation measures participants’ changes in awareness and understanding of ocean literacy principles, as well as their attitudes toward the scientific endeavor and their role in it.

4 Supporting peer-to-peer exchange of information.

Participants have opportunities to present their experiences to their peers at regional meetings (NEOSEC’s Ocean Literacy Summit, NMEA Chapter conferences, and regional ocean science meetings); camps also receive funding to bring participating teens to a Fall Teen Ocean Summit, designed in collaboration with the teens themselves, including an experience similar to a scientific poster session.

For more information: Billy Spitzer, New England Aquarium: bspitzer@neaq.org

We gratefully acknowledge the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Education for supporting this project, under Grant No. NA09SEC4690039