Project: Communicating Ocean Sciences to Informal Audiences (COSIA)

Authors: Mark St. John, Michelle Phillips, Anita Smith, Pam Castori

Type: Report

Publication: March 2009

Communicating Ocean Sciences to Informal Audiences (COSIA) – Interim Evaluation Report (pdf, 23 pages)


Communicating Ocean Sciences to Informal Audiences (COSIA) is a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project consisting of seven long-term three-way partnerships between the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) and an informal science education institution (ISEI) partnered with an institution of higher education (IHE). Together, educators from the ISEI (often aquaria) and the IHE prepare and implement a course designed and adapted by the Lawrence Hall of Science. This course introduces college students (usually science majors) to inquiry-based pedagogy and learning theory. Together with the ISEI educators, the college students then design and implement activities to teach ocean science concepts to visitors on the ISEI “floor”. The long-view goal of the COSIA project is to develop ocean science literacy at all levels and to encourage broad public understanding of science and environmental stewardship.

The COSIA project fits well with the longitudinal commitments of the LHS to ocean science literacy, in terms of curriculum development and professional development. For decades, LHS has offered MARE (Marine Activities, Resources, and Education), a whole-school interdisciplinary ocean science immersion program that provides professional development for teachers, curricular materials, and resources for families. For nearly five years, LHS has also been a keystone of the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence––California (COSEE CA), one of twelve existing COSEE centers funded by the NSF Geoscience Directorate, Division of Ocean Sciences.

This report is designed primarily to speak to the funder of this project, the ISE division of NSF; however, we hope that it will also provide helpful information for the designers of other similar initiatives, distilling more general lessons learned about the design and implementation of COSIA, as well as its potential future as a network. After summarizing our evaluation activities to date, this document presents our current findings of COSIA using research and theory as a way to further explain the salient defining features and to convey what the project has accomplished. Following our findings, we present Inverness Research’s perspective on COSIA as an investment and a network of partnerships. The report concludes by stating that the COSIA project is generating knowledge and resources that are useful for understanding and supporting strong partnerships in this field. We believe that there is a strong future potential for sharing knowledge across this network and for growing the network.

Intended Audience

Science Center Exhibit Designers, Museum Educators, Science Educators, Professional Development Providers, Teachers, and general public.


Any and all errors are claimed by the authors of this document, Inverness Research, Inc.

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