In fall 2005, a new initiative was added to the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Network. COSEE-Ocean Systems (OS) is a collaborative effort among the University of Maine (UMaine), University of New Hampshire, and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. Being thematic in nature, COSEE-OS has the flexibility to tackle topics that are important on the national scale, such as those highlighted in the recent "Ocean Literacy" campaign.
COSEE-OS has the long-term goal of helping COSEE reach rural and inland audiences. We are creating and evaluating a series of interconnected tools and techniques to broaden understanding of oceans in the context of the earth and solar systems. This includes: - Building and training scientist-educator teams who work together to distinguish meaningful "key messages" and the K-12 audiences who would benefit most from exposure to these concepts; - Translating the concepts into innovative products, workshops, and courses that showcase oceans in the Earth-Sun system; - Working with NASA multimedia experts, developing immersive web-based interfaces that will be utilized by and / or customized for other COSEEs; and - Training in-service and pre-service teachers in using ocean phenomena as a vehicle to teach physical concepts using hands-on activities and inquiry based learning.
Part of the COSEE-OS strategy is engaging teams with an educational tool called "concept mapping." Dr. Joseph Novak developed concept mapping in the 1960s as a technique for representing knowledge in graphical formats. Used as a group activity this allows COSEE-OS to gather vital information from scientists to construct multimedia products. Another benefit of this activity is helping scientists and educators test the utility of concept mapping for their instructional purposes.
To complement the development of concept maps and associated multimedia, a UMaine COSEE-OS pilot workshop was held in July 2006. The workshop targeted middle- and high-school teachers and focused physical concepts that are already an integral part of the pre-college physics, chemistry, physical science, or earth sciences curricula, emphasizing their links to ocean science (e.g., density, pressure, waves). Special efforts were made to developing readily reproducible "hands on" activities and inquiry based learning. Evaluations conducted before, during, and after the workshop reveal that regardless of experience (i.e., "veteran" vs. "new" teacher), location (i.e., coastal vs. inland), or grade level, ocean science is viewed as an attractive medium through which other standards-required topics can be taught. Based on "lessons learned" from the summer workshop, a UMaine semester course is under development for pre-service educators and Marine Sciences majors who may consider entering the field of education.deCharon, A., L. Karp-Boss, E. Boss, S. Graham, A. Manahan, and H. Weller, 2006. Investigating the Ocean-Climate System, Concept by Concept. 2006 Fall Ocean Sciences Meeting.