She and the Sea: and Ocean Literacy?Coastal School for Girls?


The ocean is the defining feature of our planet. Ocean Literacy means understanding the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean. There are 7 principles of Ocean Literacy — ideas scientists and educators agree everyone should understand about the ocean.

First let’s talk about the ocean.

The ocean is the defining feature of our planet. Ocean Literacy means understanding the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean. There are 7 principles of Ocean Literacy — ideas scientists and educators agree everyone should understand about the ocean.

Here is a set of ideas about ocean literacy

  1. Ocean life ranges in size from the smallest virus to the largest animal that has lived on Earth, the blue whale.
  2. Most life in the ocean exists as microbes. Microbes are the most important primary producers in the ocean. Not only are they the most abundant life form in the ocean, they have extremely fast growth rates and life cycles.
  3. Some major groups are found exclusively in the ocean. The diversity of major groups of organisms is much greater in the ocean than on land.
  4. Ocean biology provides many unique examples of life cycles, adaptations and important relationships among organisms (such as symbiosis, predator-prey dynamics and energy transfer) that do not occur on land.
  5. The ocean is three-dimensional, offering vast living space and diverse habitats from the surface through the water column to the seafloor. Most of the living space on Earth is in the ocean.
  6. Ocean habitats are defined by environmental factors. Due to interactions of abiotic factors such as salinity, temperature, oxygen, pH, light, nutrients, pressure, substrate and circulation, ocean life is not evenly distributed temporally or spatially, i.e., it is “patchy”. Some regions of the ocean support more diverse and abundant life than anywhere on Earth, while much of the ocean is considered a desert.
  7. There are deep ocean ecosystems that are independent of energy from sunlight and photosynthetic organisms. Hydrothermal vents, submarine hot springs, and methane cold seeps rely only on chemical energy and chemosynthetic organisms to support life.
  8. Tides, waves and predation cause vertical zonation patterns along the shore, influencing the distribution and diversity of organisms.
  9. Estuaries provide important and productive nursery areas for many marine and aquatic species.

In my life I have met Dr . Valerie Chase , Dr. Valerie Chase is an educator with MAMEA. Her work is based out of the National Aquarium in Baltimore. You can take a virtual tour here.

Sylvia Earle and other women who  go down to the sea inspire us. They have been sharing their work with students nationally. Here is a look at Sylvia Earle at work.

There are other photos of Sylvia Earl  at work here.

What makes women study the sea? Art, music, poetry, and sea and she stories,and maybe the coastal school for girls. Their mission is to provides high school sophomores with an opportunity to excel in science and technology in a community defined by academic, experiential and inspirational learning. CSG students engage in scientific inquiry, leadership development, critical thinking and stewardship while developing their educational and career aspirations. CSG strives to create a diverse ethnic, geographical and socioeconomic community for students and staff who celebrate success. What a wonderful opportunity for girls.

But did you know about it? Do you know about Citizen Science? If we involve girls in experiences they will relate and know if they are interested in any of the subjects that are a part of ociean study.

What is an oceanographer? If girls do not have exposure to ocean science they will not choose it as a career track.

An oceanographer can be a biologist, chemist, physicist, geologist, engineer, mathematician, computer scientist, meteorologist, or you! As a relatively new frontier, oceanography is a wonderfully challenging and exciting field of study providing many career opportunities. It’s an important field of study because oceans encompass 70% of the earth’s surface, and they also have an important role in understanding global weather patterns.

Chemical, geological, and physical oceanographers investigate the physical aspects of the ocean, such as salinity, currents, and the ocean floor. Biological oceanographers study marine plants and animals and their processes within the context of their ocean environments. Ocean engineers provide the technology and instrumentation that allows oceanographers to explore questions and solve problems in a variety of ways.

Where can girls learn about oceanography? Ocean Literacy? How can they learn about possible STEM careers?

Student Fellowships

Through the generosity of individual donors and foundations committed to global sustainability and learning, Earthwatch is able to provide sophomores and juniors with fellowship opportunities.

Earthwatch student fellows get to join one of Earthwatch’s expeditions around the world to work with top scientists and other students in the field, fully funded by various funders. On an expedition, students learn how to do field research and help find answers to the most challenging environmental issues of our time — all while making a difference for endangered animals and their habitats. Students use some of the latest technology (like GPS and radio-transmitters for tracking animals), learn about cutting edge research areas (like climate change), and work in places most people never get to see (like an Icelandic glacier or a Costa Rican volcano).

Students don’t need to have done anything like this before, and don’t need to have taken any particular science classes to go. All they need is curiosity, an ability to work hard as part of a team, a thirst for adventure, and a desire to make a difference.

Aquarium Outreach
 Some children have access to after school programs from aquariums.  Some children get to go to Summer camps. But at the high school level, what is there?There is Earthwatch. There is the Sant Hall of Science. Find your Blue in the Sant Hall of Science.

Coastal Studies for Girls is the country’s only residential science and leadership semester school for 10th grade girls. CSG is dedicated to girls who have a love for learning and discovery, an adventurous spirit, and a desire to challenge themselves

Coastal Studies for Girls is the country’s first residential science and leadership semester school for 10th grade girls.  We are the only single-gender residential semester school and the only semester school that focuses on science and leadership.  That intersection of science and leadership opportunities for girls is particularly valuable to our students and to society.  The mission of Coastal Studies for Girls (CSG) is to inspire, train, and empower girls to be scientists, environmental stewards, and leaders.

WCSH video

CSG girls featured in Portland, Maine television program

Why science and leadership?
Building on research in girls’ development, gender issues education, and best practices in pedagogy, CSG has been carefully designed to promote girls’ aspirations in the sciences and leadership.  On a societal level, we aim to help close the gender gap in science and to feed the “pipeline” that leads to qualified scientists in the workforce.  On an individual level, we aim to raise career aspirations for girls to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields and make it more likely that young women can achieve economic self-sufficiency in the future.  Yet regardless of career choices, the confidence and the ability to transfer their learnings in leadership is what makes the science powerful – or possible. There is also a strong emphasis on how girls view themselves, how they interact with others, and how they care for and steward the world. It is the intersection of all of these things that creates the magic here.

Why only girls?

Research has demonstrated the effects of societal beliefs and the learning environment on girls’ achievements and their interest in science and math and CSG provides an option that reverses negative trends.  Girls need supportive, stimulating programs and women role models that foster inspiration, self-confidence, concrete skills, as well as a strong understanding of science and the range of careers that involve science.  Our campus on a 626 acre salt water farm is a safe and supportive  place to explore the complexities of teenage life and to grow intellectually, to find their voices, and develop self-confidence.

What is the program?
The primary CSG program is either a fall or spring semester, (16 weeks) translating into 448+ academic hours of study and residential time.  The curriculum centers on three strands:  (1) science—classes on coastal marine ecology with significant field work and a major independent research project] (2) leadership—adventure-based, experiential learning opportunities to promote personal growth and engage students in physical activity; and (3) core academics—history, English, math, and languages.  During a typical week, a girl may have core classes in the mornings, and focused science and leadership classes in the afternoons.    On Fridays and weekends, students have academic field trips or enjoy the outdoors through kayaking, camping, snow shoeing, rock climbing, and other activities that teach leadership skills.  Students are exposed to a multitude of women scientists and leaders through our visiting guest and  lecture series.

Why sophomore year?
This is a pivotal time as girls are mature enough for a residential program, yet we hope to influence them early enough in their high school experience to impact decisions they make in their junior year about college and study options.  They return back to their home communities with enhanced leadership skills to make positive contributions.

Who attends?
CSG students attend the 16 week term during either the fall or spring of their 10th grade year.   Our first three terms have drawn students from 14 states, from rural Maine islands to the urban centers of New York City, Boston and Los Angeles, from the mountains of Vermont and North Carolina, to the heartland of Minnesota and the southern region of Tennessee. Whether they come from public, independent and home schooled environments, they are united in their love of learning and desire for challenge. We strive for a community that is ethnically, geographically, and socio-economically diverse; our first three terms represent have represented over 30% students of color.   Over 90% of our applicants have requested financial assistance and we have supported a significant number of applicants.

From the River to the Sea- and Ocean Literacy


The Chesapeake Bay

cbToday, the Chesapeake yields more fish and shellfish than any other estuary in the country, close to 45,000 tons annually.  But due to increasing acidity in some parts of the bay, the shells of young oysters are growing as thick as in the past, making them easy prey for crabs.

According to a study conducted at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science  , acidity is increasing in some parts of the Chesapeake Bay faster than it is occurring in the open ocean.  The study should be of interest to citizen scientists.

When I was a small child, long ago, the sea was where the beach was. I had no conceptual framework of the idea of the ocean.

The science that I was taught was not the kind of science I learned about in deep kinds of learning. I went to a Catholic school and we did not have much science. I was an adult before I understood much about the Chesapeake Bay. Because of fear, and segregation we rarely visited any but the “Black” beaches.  They were not the best. So when I was a new teacher and learned a lot about water, and specifically the Chesapeake Bay; I was fascinated to learn the history of the Chesapeake Bay. The book by Michener helped to frame my ideas of the region.

My family has native American roots, so we were interested in the history of the people native to the region.


Back in the day, Blacks and Native Americans lived in Freetowns. ( where they were allowed to live.) That history and that of the people who helped slaves and Native Americans was interesting as well.

The storyline, like much of Michener’s work, depicts a number of characters over a long time period. Each chapter begins with a voyage which provides the foundation for the chapter plot. It starts in 1583 with American Indian tribes warring, moves through English settlers throughout the 17th century, slavery and tobacco growing, pirate attacks, the American Revolution and the Civil WarEmancipation and attempted assimilation, to the final major event being the Watergate scandal. The last voyage, a funeral, is in 1978.

First I studied at the National Aquarium in Baltimore with Dr. Valerie Chase, as we created the “Living in Water” curriculum.

IntroductionProcess-Orientated Science in the ClassroomThe Hands-on Approach: What Research SaysScience process skills used in theis curriculumTeaching hands-on science

I had a lot to learn. Before working with Dr. Chase, my science learning about the Bay was reading science. What a wonderful experience I had learning ecosystems, and adaptations and all about The first several days were headache days, because I had never heard of most of what she was talking about and I had a lot of vocabulary, ideas, and information to review.

This is their mission.
Through transforming experiences, the National Aquarium Institute inspires people to enjoy, respect, and protect the aquatic world.

But hard science became fun science. I loved the work at the Aquarium and we were in the field, and behind the scenes at the Aquarium. I treasured the learning experience and became a better teacher.

Here is the home page of the Aquarium ,

You can take a virtual tour here

This is important because there is a cost associated with the visit and there were parents who did not want to pay it. So the kids and I applied for grants that would make this tour a part of our learning.

Ever hear of Anoxia Mae?You do know what Anoxia is , don’t you?

Here is a history tour of Solomon’s Island

This is a tour of Wye Mills

This is an awesome place on the Rhode River.

The Learning Lab at SERC.

SERC Canoe Trip

Never mind that my principal was not into hands on science. I did it. It was wonderful. Parents loved the idea that we were being active scientists.

But now there are even better ways to study the Bay.

This from the National Geographic


Sea Rise and the Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay FieldScope Project is a “citizen science” initiative in which students investigate water quality issues on local and regional scales and collaborate with students across the Bay to analyze data and take action. Chesapeake Bay FieldScope is a project of National Geographic’s Education Programs in collaboration with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office.

For more on the Chesapeake Bay FieldScope project, visit the National Geographic site here.

Chesapeake Bay FieldScope consists of four project-based learning modules that leverage the FieldScope tool:

  • Connecting to the Watershed with Maps
  • Field Investigation & Data Collection
  • Data Sharing and Analysis
  • Taking Action

I was one in a workshop at the University of Illinois when this project was shared as well as ESRI information.

I believe in STEAM, but it is a part of the way in which I teach.  I think Eat a Crab Lab is both science , and a culinary tour.

I know the songs of the Chesapeake Bay and we as teachers read the saga of the bay by Skipjacks and in children’s literature.

I went to the National Geographic for a Summer Workshop. I was lucky enough to be one of two people selected to participate  from the state of Virginia.

I had so much to learn. People talk about STEAM. Well I suppose if you have never been taught well, you have to insert the arts into your work.

I was taught to include a cross section of subjects into my work and we actually wrote lesson plans and tested them in front of an audience of our geographic peers. Years later I am still trying to repay that wonderful summer by teaching as best as I can and sharing the knowledge. I learned the history of, saw a wonderful film produced by the National Geographic and we actually traveled to several places on the Chesapeake Bay. With the National Geographic you take a look at many ways of thinking about a subject.

Maybe the reason most people have to think of STEAM is because they are not rooted in geography. A geo-literate population can make far-reaching decisions about their health, their environment, and their community.

Geography is the study of natural and human constructed phenomena from a spatial perspective. Geography has two main sub disciplines:

  • Human geography includes such subjects as demography, human settlements, transportation, recreation and tourism, resources, religion, social traditions, human migration, agriculture, urban systems, and economic activities
  • Physical geography  is concerned with the study of the Earth’s atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere from theoretical and applied viewpoints.

Sometimes the disciplines of human and physical geography combine knowledge to create a more holistic synthesis.

Dr. Danny Edelson shared his ideas in this essay.

By Daniel C. Edelson, PhD

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Whether they realize it or not, every member of our modern society makes far-reaching decisions every day. A far-reaching decision is one that has impacts far beyond the time and place where the decision is being made. For example, when commuters choose between driving or taking public transportation, when corporate boards consider whether they should shift manufacturing from one country to another, and when troops in the field translate orders into actions, they are all making far-reaching decisions.

While the impacts of any particular far-reaching decision may be small, the cumulative impact of the decisions made by millions of people is enormous. The National Geographic Society is working to prepare our young people for the far-reaching decisions they will face throughout their lives. To be prepared for these decisions, they must be able to recognize the far-reaching implications of the decisions they make, and they must be able to take those impacts into account when making decisions. This requires that they have three forms of understanding:

  • How our world works. Modern science characterizes our world as a set of interconnected physical, biological, and social systems. These systems create, move, and transform resources. For example, in ecosystems, nutrients are created, transformed, and transported through food chains. Similarly, in economic systems, people transform natural resources into objects with economic value, which can be transported, used, traded, and sold. Every human decision is affected by these systems and has effects on them.
  • How our world is connected. Today more than ever, every place in our world is connected to every other place. To understand the far-reaching implications of decisions, one must understand how human and natural systems connect places to each other. For example, in the 1980s, scientists discovered that the prevailing winds that speed flights from Chicago to Boston were also carrying power plant emissions from the Midwest that were causing acid rain in New England.
  • How to make well-reasoned decisions. Good decision-making involves systematic analysis of outcomes based on priorities. For example, in deciding where to build a road, a planner will establish priorities for cost, capacity, and impact on communities and the natural environment. He will then predict the outcomes of different options based on those criteria, and will weigh the tradeoffs between these options based on values associated with the different criteria.


We call the combination of skills and understanding necessary to make far-reaching decisions geo-literacy. The three components of geo-literacy are understanding human and natural systems, geographic reasoning, and systematic decision-making.

  • Understanding human and natural systems: A geo-literate individual is able to reason about the creation, movement, and transformation of materials in human and natural systems.
  • Geographic reasoning: A geo-literate individual is able to reason about the characteristics of a location and its connections to other locations.
  • Systematic decision-making: A geo-literate individual is able to articulate decision-making criteria, project outcomes of alternatives, and evaluate those outcomes in terms of the established criteria.

To be geo-literate is to be able to combine these three abilities to make decisions in real-world contexts. Systems understanding and geographic reasoning enable a geo-literate individual to analyze the options in a decision. Systematic decision-making enables a geo-literate individual to weigh those options carefully.

But back to the Chesapeake Bay

Estuary? Do you know what it is? Most don’t. I read an essay about a


Estuaries are bodies of water formed where freshwater from rivers or streams connect with salt ocean water. The mixed water is called brackish, and the salinity may fluctuate dramatically for example depending on freshwater input from rains and waves and tides influences from the ocean. Estuary areas include river mouths, bays, lagoons and salt marshes Source

Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, boundary map. (Source:NOAA)

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and is roughly divided between the states of Maryland and Virginia. In the Maryland portion there are some 6,945 miles of shoreline, encompassing a wide variety of habitats fromsalt marshes to riverine systems to tidal, freshwater marshes.

The multi-component Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Maryland reflects this diversity of habitatgeographypopulation and culture. Each component is unique, but the goals of research, monitoring, education and stewardship remain consistent throughout. Components (sites) are located at Otter Point Creek in Harford County, Jug Bay in Anne Arundel and Prince Georges Counties and Monie Bay in Somerset County.

A component is a part of the whole. In the Maryland Reserve there are three “components” which are listed above. Each component represents a different habitat found within the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay.

The Maryland Reserve is one of 27 within the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS), forming a partnership between coastal states and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to protect valuable estuarine habitats.

A cooperative management approach is used involving the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which promotes long-term research, education and stewardship.

Here is an exciting project for teachers to use.

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and is home to unique biodiversity. The Bay plays an important role in local commerce, history, and is a critical environmental resource.

The Chesapeake Bay Water Quality Project is a project-based, citizen science educational initiative that engages students in 21st century investigations of watershed health using real-time geospatial technology. The project provides students with a dynamic experience that combines classroom learning with outdoor field experiences and technology-supported inquiry. Students useFieldscope, a web-based interactive mapping tool, to share and analyze data they collect on the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Through this project, students will gain a better understanding of water quality issues and the interconnectedness between humans and their environment. Students are encouraged to embark upon their own projects to put their learning into action through watershed clean-up activities, participation in Bay restoration projects, and the like..

How we know that online technology works is that I can offer this to you and Google Maps, and ESRI resources to share observing the ocean.
Hopefully this will lead to Ocean Literacy.

The ocean is the defining feature of our planet. Ocean Literacy means understanding the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean. There are 7 principles of Ocean Literacy — ideas scientists and educators agree everyone should understand about the ocean. Join the Network to build a more ocean literate society!

Explore the Site


Rivers to the Sea.. How do you know about Oceans ??NOAA has resources for you!!

In thinking about digital equity, we try to understand what resources are available for teachers, students and community that are the very best.

. The Department. of Commerce has outreach programs and games, and recently there is a report that has invaluable information for use in the classroom. In times of economic difficulty the Digital Equity SIG, and those of us working in Supercomputing , Broadening Engagement would like to share resources to bring education into the future. THe power of us, is that we can transform education by using new practices.
There are embedded links for those who can access them. What we love to do is to show you supercomputing that you probably don’t know you use. 

How do your Students See the Sea and learn Ocean Literacy?

Thinking About Oceanography, NOAA, Updates on Marine Life

I hope for your help to explore and protect the wild ocean in ways that will restore the health and, in so doing, secure hope for humankind. Health to the ocean means health for us. Sylvia Earle

Place Learning , Museums and Aquariums, Other resources

The Smithsonian has a wonderful exhibit in the Sant Hall using wonderful computational resources. Here are my Iphone photos of transformational ways of teaching and learning from that site.

The Dept of Commerce Science on Sphere is so compelling that students often sit through the demonstrations and seem to be mesmerized. Adults too find the use of digital media an easy way to learn complex information. Thanks to computational science we can teach in new ways. Teaching earth science and geography is enhanced by digital media.

The power of us is to use transformational resources and ideas that change the way in which we teach and learn. The education director of the Dept of Commerce talked about the fact that we often teach with textbooks with ten year old information when people working in Outreach may be serving students with ten days old research. Breaking the silos with the use of project based work, or partnership learning is powerful .



NOAA is one of many agencies, institutions, and organizations working to improve the nation’s science literacy and technical workforce. To understand its role in education it is critical to understand the major players in the system and the role of the federal government in the education system. This section outlines the roles of various entities in the K-12, higher, and informal education systems.
K-12 Education

The responsibility for public education is not specified in the U.S. Constitution; hence, individual states have the right and responsibility for K-12 public education. Schools, school administrators, and teachers are held accountable within their state system. Federal agencies and nonprofit and private-sector organizations can offer advice, materials, training, funding, and other support.


The national need to educate the public about the ocean, coastal resources, atmosphere, and climate and to support workforce development in related fields is well established. 

The source of the last two paragraphs and the whole report is here. You can download or purchase the report here.

John W. Farrington and Michael A. Feder,
Editors; Committee for the Review of the NOAA Education Program; National Research Council
Authoring Organizations

There is a national need to educate the public about the ocean, coastal resources, atmosphere and climate. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the agency responsible for understanding and predicting changes in the Earth’s environment and conserving

You may not think of the powerful resources that help us to visualize and image the collected knowledge that we have. Supercomputing , and computational resources enrich our learning resources.

Tranforming Education
All rivers, even the most dazzling, those that catch the sun in their course, all rivers go down to the ocean and drown. And life awaits man as the sea awaits the river.
Simone Schwarz-Bart

There was a recent Census of Marine Life
( Data Mining )
Earlier this month, a consortium of the worlds leading marine scientists released the first ever, Census of Marine Life.  This Census is the result of a decade long effort to assess the diversity, distribution, and abundance of marine life.

The Census efforts lead to the discovery of more than 6,000 new species, yet scientists estimate that we still are only scratching the surface. The current catalog of ocean species contains nearly 250,00 species but the estimate, derived through extrapolations, is that the oceans likely contain more than a million.
The Census is an unprecedented snapshot in time that will not only benefit scientists but will serve to educate the masses and help raise awareness about the perils the oceans face today. There has been a census of Marine Life There is a treasure trove of resources at the previous URL.
There is an abundance of projects available for teacher and student use in both of the resources.

NOAA resources shared.

Education Program