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Our latest quarterly newsletter highlights Annual Fund and is full of exciting updates

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Saturday, December 20, 2014

December 2014 newsletterOur holiday newsletter is out! It provides a reminder from our president about how you can support our Annual Fund during this season of giving and highlights how we're celebrating H2O Holidays!

It also provides updates on our next annual conference, NMEA 2015 in Newport, what's happening with our journal, Current, and lots of in-depth conference and summit recaps from NMEA members!

Didn't see it in your inbox? No worries, you can access it here, and update your contact email or sign-up for future mailings here >

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Guest Blog by Anne Stewart: EMSEA 2014

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Saturday, December 20, 2014

EMSEA14 logoThe 2014 European Marine Science Education Association (EMSEA) conference was held at Gothenburg University, a center of marine science, in the medieval heart of the old city of Gothenburg, Sweden. The city boasts Sweden’s biggest science center as well as a wonderful aquarium and maritime museum. Lobster season was open as the conference began and so were the hearts and minds of attendees from around the world, ready to be inspired about ocean literacy and best practices in marine science education.

This blog is just a sketch of the conference, it only includes a few of the presentations and the view is my own. I also tweeted at the conference from my account and you can find everyone’s tweets by looking at #emsea14 on Twitter.

Gaelle Le Bouler opened the conference, addressing the audience from the perspective of the European Commission, where she is the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation. Gaelle put the importance of the conference into the context of current affairs in the European Union (EU) and emphasized the high-level, political will to advance ocean literacy in Europe. She spoke about the Galway Statement signed by EU, Canada and US and explained the structure and progress of working research groups. She shared her surprise with us at receiving thirteen proposals from consortiums responding to the EU Horizon 2020 called “BG-13-Ocean Literacy”.

Lisa Emelia SvenssonLisa Emelia Svensson, was the keynote speaker and as Sweden’s Ambassador for Oceans, Seas and Fresh Water, provides advice and expert guidance to the Swedish Minister for the Environment on the action needed to move forward on Sweden’s international ocean and water agenda. She is part of the Foreign Service and spoke knowledgeably about ocean issues, the different sectors, sustainability, politics and ocean literacy. She inspired all of us to view potential challenges as opportunities, by thinking outside of the box for a blue economy that is integrated with the green.

Svensson reminded us that new approaches, such as ecosystem-based management, must be explained to people with language that they understand. Sweden has committed to an ecosystem approach by 2018 and people need to understand the benefits. Ocean governance is also a challenge as there are 576 bilateral and multilateral frameworks.

She also spoke about a broad range of topics from maritime spatial planning, to maritime transportation, to innovations for a healthy planet, new consumerism and social media, and emphasized the importance of cross-sector work within government. She reminded us that ocean literacy is also needed within the government and she reported that on a global level, there are a lot of events and activities that can raise awareness about the ocean.

Svensson brought the audience back to self and the importance of individuals at the end of her talk, reminding us that ideas and leadership come from individual people. She suggested facilitating dialogue between scientists and policy makers, by starting at a local level and then scaling up. It was a treat to experience Svensson’s presentation. In my view, the creation of ambassadorships for oceans and water in more countries would help further global ocean literacy faster than any action.

The first session presenter was Joachim Dengg from GEOMAR in Germany. There are about 500 scientists at GEOMAR working on topics such as ocean circulation and climate dynamics, marine bio-geology, deep sea, natural hazards, resources from the sea and plate tectonics. He questioned whether school outreach in marine research was a welcome addition or an extra effort and concluded that scientists needed to be able to choose. He demonstrated the positive difference to the efficacy of outreach efforts that a judicious coordinator could make and how he plays this role himself. 

John Parr (MBA) takes over from Geraldine FauvilleSam Dupont presented on a case study of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) Facebook page and ocean literacy. The question was: can Facebook be used to increase scientific literacy? Geraldine Fauville, the PI, was at MBARI for ten weeks and had access to their amazing stories and materials. She was looking at how to optimize the posting strategy to engage users and was evaluating this using quantitative and qualitative techniques.

Their findings indicated that strategy doesn’t seem to change number of fans. The numbers reached were very variable, none to 50 per day, whether there was a post or not. She found that there are more hits if there are photos and videos and their conclusions were: use visuals, post as often as possible and when does not matter. The authors felt that there was a lot of investment of time and energy for a potentially limited rewards since it was a little like “singing to the choir”. However, a tweet from Jim Wharton of the Seattle Aquarium was a good reminder that “singing to the choir” is not in vain as it supports them in communicating to their networks which adds to the ripple effect that can ultimately have the most impact.

Next we jumped to Malta where Alan Deidun is setting up an ocean literacy hub. The International Ocean Institute (IOI) was started in 1972, has special consultative status at the United Nations and although centred in Malta, is now also found in 25 countries around the world. The Malta center is working toward ocean literacy and advocacy, training and education, and research and collaboration.

Spot the JellyfishDeidun talked about several IOI citizen science projects such as Spot the Jellyfish, which involves a range of participants, from school children to mobile phone users at sea, who photograph jellies and send them in along with location data. The program has produced posters, waterproof jelly guides, GIS jelly apps for iPhone and Android, and postcards. IOI has also produced three popular under-water documentaries on Marine Protected Areas as well as YouTube videos.

IOI is interested in taking this maritime hub further and is seeking partners on possible projects. They will be hosting the PERSEUS conference in November 2015. A question about divers had Alain pointing out that Malta has about 100,000 SCUBA divers visit annually so the potential for citizen science is great and already happening with invasive species.

The flash (one minute) poster presentations were a really great way for everyone to hear from all of the poster presenters and helped inform later discussions at the posters. Portuguese high school students and their teacher presented my favourite EMSEA poster. It outlined their original research on beach micro-plastics from clothing and gave us all a reason for ocean optimism. The integrity, passion and excitement of youth, certainly gives me hope for the future. Portuguese students with their teacher

Annie Russell and Susan Gebbels spoke about two of the different types of programs to create young coastal guardians at the Dove Marine Laboratory, at Newcastle University, and in local communities. The first uses a pedagogy that is student-led and includes topics such as marine ecology, maritime heritage, shipping and renewable energy. The questions that the students ask leads where the session will go, and yes, that is a scary idea for many educators. The learning then follows a truly inquiry-based approach, which is both interactive and provides access to things (objects, tools, artifacts) that promote learning not available to the students everyday. Educators have to be incredibly flexible, and aware that the children may learn things other than pre-set goals. 

The second type of program Russell and Gebbels spoke about was a five day program culminating in a multi-school event that raised awareness about ocean litter through art, including music, poetry and posters. On the final day all five schools got together on Oceans Day for a marine mammal talk, sand sculpting, and a poster competition. Students also created a huge collage, made a giant plastiki boat, sang sea shanties, wrote a messages in a bottle with what they learned, and made a pledge of what they would do to help.

Russell and Gebbels reported that the student buy-in is instant: they get to be creative, they gain confidence, and the legacy is that they become the teacher. Children and teachers were absolutely ‘hooked’ and all the resources are free online. Their advice for the audience was: make it relevant, achievable, and fun. 

One of my favourite sessions was a hands-on lab led by Mirjam Glessemer, who took her learners on adventures in oceanography and teaching right in the classroom. Her methodologies advance learning speed and depth through enquiry, peer-to peer learning, building on prior knowledge and understanding prior misconceptions. This was a busy, noisy, engaged workshop where everyone was talking, reasoning, and manipulating water, salt, and ice.

Nia Haf JonesNia Haf Jones presented on the Nautilus Exploration Program, which uses tele-presence technology to inspire the next generation in real-time. Nia is a very passionate Science Communication Fellow with the Ocean Exploration Trust, when not working with north Wales Conservation Fund. The Science Communication Fellows are trained at NOAA’s Inner Space Station at the University of Rhode Island, the site of next year’s NMEA conference. They also go to sea aboard the Nautilus for three week expedition and engage learners in events over the year. During the lunch break we had a brief tele-presence connection with the Nautilus crew as they did a deep dive in the Caribbean - an unplanned but awesome addition to the program.

Portugal stands out as a maritime nation that takes ocean literacy really seriously - they have designed a map for youth to help change their view of their country and extend their perspective out to sea. The beautiful new map places the outer limit of the continental shelf and Portugal on the right side, with the map centered on the sea. It was validated pedagogically and maps went to all the schools. Politicians, including the President, and the media got involved and there was lots of coverage by the press.

The educational team created teacher’s resources for geology, economy, ecology, pulled together lists of hands-on and minds-on activities, and the mapping team made maps of living and non-living resources, which all help in learning through discussion and debate. Workshops and teacher training was carried out to satisfy teacher’s needs for information, resources and access to the teams. Further links were made between the policy makers and educators/schools. I really like the way Portugal tackles Ocean Literacy and identifies itself as a maritime nation. Check out the map online even if you don’t speak Portuguese - it is pretty inspirational!

The last session I am going to cover is that of Luc Zwartjes, an amazing Belgian geography teacher who led a great open source GIS workshop that demonstrated how creating and manipulating maps can increase ocean literacy. In brief, he had a group of GIS neophytes making and saving ocean maps of wind-farms and shipping routes in no time at all. We can all be thankful that Luc also trains teachers amongst his many other contributions and accomplishments.

Finally, I have to add just one more tantalizing link: Discovery of Sound in the Sea. This is thanks to Gail Scowcroft’s thought-provoking presentation on ‘The science of underwater sound: merging research, education, and policy.” 

I'd like to send a big shout-out to the organizers of this conference including the EMSEA team, the University of Gothenburg and their friends at the Maritime Museum & Aquarium, Universeum, Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Science at Kristineberg and the upper secondary sailing school, Öckerö Gymnasieskola. I thank the organizers for allowing me to do a five-minute, dance-along presentation on ‘Canadian progress in Ocean Literacy with the Voices of Youth’ in the closing ceremonies. I am personally grateful to NMEA for a scholarship that helped me to attend. I hope that my tweeting and blogging goes a little ways towards showing my deep gratitude for that assistance to participate in the great conference that was EMSEA14. Also, thanks to Peter Tuddenham for his photos that I've included in this post.

If you want more information, check out the EMSEA conference website >

- Anne Stewart,  marine environmental educator and communicator
Read more from Anne on her personal blog, A Stewart in Bamfield

Tags:  conference  EMSEA 

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Celebrate #H2OHolidays with us!

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Friday, December 19, 2014

H2O Holidays - Christmas Tree WormWe're having some fun with festive marine and aquatic critters this holiday season! Follow along on social media with the hashtag #H2OHolidays and check us out on Pinterest - we're collecting them all on this board > 

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We want you to come present at NMEA 2015!

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Friday, December 12, 2014

NMEA 2015 logo2/2 UPDATE: The deadline has been extended and submissions will be accepted through Friday, Feb. 6! 

Our 2015 Conference’s Call for Presenters is now open! Please consider presenting a session at this year’s conference, held in scenic and historic downtown Newport, Rhode Island.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Ocean State, Ocean Planet: Exploring Our World of Water.” The conference brings together formal and informal educators, scientists, students and government and industry members to share ideas on the world of water.

This year there are five conference tracks: in the classroom, out of the classroom, next generation science standards (NGSS), today’s scientific research, and partnerships with industry and government.

We look forward to seeing you in Newport!

Visit the submission page here > 

Session submissions will be accepted through January 30. For questions, please e-mail Andrea Gingras, Programs Committee Co-Chair.

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Guest Blog by Sarah Richards: NYSMEA focuses on "Coastal Treasures & Troubles" for 2014 annual conference

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Wednesday, December 10, 2014

New York State Marine Educators Association (NYSMEA) hosted its 36th annual conference in Brooklyn on October 25, 2014, with Rachel Carson High School for Coastal Studies and the New York Aquarium hosting the festivities. This year's theme was “Coastal Treasures & Troubles: Restoring, Managing, and Monitoring Our Resources," and over 106 people attended, including 23 students.

We were pleased to have two keynote speakers join us. Dr. Stephen Pekar, geologist and climate scientist at Queens College, spoke on "Looking back to our future: How studying past climate changes can show us the future of NYC’s coastal areas" in the morning, and Kate Orff, founder and director of the Urban Landscape Lab at Columbia University, presented on "Living Breakwaters" in the evening.Sean Russell, director of the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, leading a workshop

There were a variety of workshops that participants could choose from. One workshop was led by four students from the New York Harbor School, who talked about The Billion Oyster Project and the school's aquaculture program. We were also delighted to have Sean Russell, director of the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, lead a special workshop for all the students (and interested adults), during which he gave an introduction to the Summit and showed students ways to become active environmental stewards.NYSMEA 2014 Conference

Other highlights included:

  • Silent, live, and 50/50 auctions, which helped raise money for NYSMEA's treasury, and its scholarship program, in particular.
  • An awards ceremony, which honored a number of New Yorkers who have made significant contributions to the field of marine education.
  • A choice of four afternoon field trips.
  • A tour of "Glover's Reef" at the NY Aquarium led by Bob Cummings, followed by a buffet dinner, the live auction, and the evening speaker.

NYSMEA 2014 Conference 

Also, we would really like to send thanks to the Hudson River Foundation for contributing $500 to the conference, which allowed us to charge students just a nominal registration fee to attend. As a result, we had 23 students participate, from 13 different high schools and colleges!

- Sarah Richards, NMEA secretary, NYSMEA conference coordinator, and associate chair and teacher in the Science Department of Saint Ann's School in Brooklyn, NY

Tags:  NYSMEA 

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NMEA Member Highlight: Christopher Petrone

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chris Petrone on the R/V SharpChristopher Petrone is on the NMEA Board of Directors and is the marine education specialist for the Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service at the University of Delaware.

We asked him four key questions about his experience with NMEA:

1. Why did you join NMEA?

I originally joined when I registered for my first conference, 2006 in New York! I had been working for Virginia Sea Grant and the Bridge website for about a year at the time. Both Sea Grant and the Bridge are fixtures at NMEA conferences, so I was encouraged by my team to attend and present. It was one of my very first conference presentations!

2. How has NMEA helped you achieve your professional goals?

Over the past nine years, NMEA has helped me build an invaluable network of colleagues from across the globe. I am constantly pulling activities, resources, and contacts from my “toolkit,” which I have compiled through attendance at NMEA conferences, the Scuttlebutt email list, and direct contact with my NMEA compadres.

3. What are you most proud of NMEA for accomplishing/influencing?

By far, the creation of the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles, as well as NMEA’s work on the Next Generation Science Standards.

The Ocean Literacy principles have been a guiding force in my and fellow marine educators’ work. The principles have given us a common message and common voice which we use in each of our diverse education niches. Regarding NGSS, from initial review and comments, all the way through the current adoption and implementation phase, NMEA has been at the table, and will continue to play a major role in advancing science education in general, not just marine and freshwater science.

4. If you had to describe NMEA in three words, what would they be?

Network, collaboration, family.

Check out some of his recent work with these video recaps from Delaware Sea Grant: 

Catching the Wind: Petrone recently hosted a wind education program for 125 first graders from a local elementary school. Students rotated through four content stations, which included hands-on, interactive activities about wind and the university's turbine. The program was meant to supplement a first grade science unit titled "Catching the Wind."


2014 Chesapeake Bay Bowl: Petone served as coordinator of the Chesapeake Bay Bowl, which was held at the University of Delaware earlier this year.

Interested in becoming a member as well? Learn more about joining NMEA here >

Tags:  member highlight 

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Guest Blog by Carole McCauley: 5th Biennial Ocean Literacy Summit held in Woods Hole

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Sunday, November 23, 2014

Where better to celebrate our connection to the marine environment than the historical epicenter of American marine research: Woods Hole, Mass.? The New England Ocean Science Education Collaborative (NEOSEC) held its 5th biennial Ocean Literacy Summit from November 6-7, and was hosted by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute with support from the Marine Biological Laboratory.

The Summit opened on November 6 with an opening reception, exhibits, and presentation by the Synergy Research group, which pairs artists and scientists to render works of art that communicate complex research. Additionally, the COSEE Graduate Students for Ocean Education (GrOE) hosted a Science Café and poster session in conjunction with the other evening activities. A number of field trips in and around Woods Hole were offered before and after the event, as well as during an extended networking lunch break.

On November 7, the 220 attendees enjoyed an inspiring keynote speech by Smithsonian “Oceans” author, Deborah Cramer, as well as introductory remarks by WHOI’s Senior Scientist, Scott Doney.  Concurrent sessions involved joint presentations by a number of high-caliber scientists and educators on topics related to the Summit’s theme, “Ocean Literacy Principle #6: Humans and the Oceans are Inextricably Connected.”  Some of these pairs had worked together, and some had not; this novel format was extremely well-received, and hopefully encouraged some new collaborations. The Summit wrapped up with a panel discussion about our collective responsibility to sustain and protect our oceans that was moderated by public radio’s Ari Daniel Shapiro (himself a WHOI Ph.D.).

The 2014 Ocean Literacy Summit was made possible by a number of generous sponsors, chief among which is the Northeast Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS), whose outreach work closely aligns with NEOSEC’s mission to “leverage and strengthen the region’s extraordinary ocean science and educational assets to advance the understanding of the vital connections between people and the ocean.”

The event would not have been possible without the unflagging effort of a number of individuals who dedicated many, many hours of their time and energy.  NEOSEC supports 55+ member institutions from around New England whose impact stems from collective work, learning, and dissemination of resources and shared experiences in marine education.

- Carole McCauley, Board Member, Massachusetts Marine Educators (2011 to present)
Outreach Program Coordinator, Northeastern University Marine Science Center
Past-Chair, NEOSEC (2014-15)

Tags:  conference  Ocean Literacy 

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Youth Ocean Conservation Summit draws over 200 participants to Florida

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Thursday, November 20, 2014
Updated: Thursday, November 20, 2014

Over 200 youth participants, from 10 states, attended the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Fla., on November 8. The summit, which is in its fourth year, is organized by the Stow It-Don't Throw It Project, headed by Sean Russell (pictured below at the Summit with participants), who is the project director, as well as a very active NMEA member. 

2014 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit

The event is designed to empower youth participants with the knowledge, skills, and resources to successfully launch ocean conservation projects in their local communities. The day was kicked off by an inspiring keynote from Steve Culbertson, President and CEO of Youth Service America, with the powerful message that “the ocean needs young people now.”

The summit continued with outstanding presentations by past Youth Ocean Conservation Summit participants who shared their work over the past year on ocean conservation initiatives in their local communities.2014 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit

Student attendees then had the chance to work on action plans for their own ocean conservation projects with the help of expert mentors from across the country, and take part in a session focused on careers in ocean conservation. Participants also had the chance to attend workshop focused on topics such as fundraising, social media marketing, using art as advocacy, working with government officials, filmmaking, and grant writing.

2014 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit

The Summit ended with an inspiring “call to action” message from long time event supporter, singer/songwriter Jack Johnson!

Immediately following the Summit, the third annual Community Ocean Conservation Film Festival provided an additional avenue to raise awareness about ocean conservation issues, and the work of young people in the field of ocean conservation, to a greater community audience. This year’s event featured screenings of the winning films from the 2014 Community Ocean Conservation Film Festival, the short film Cabo Pulmo, and the featured presentation – Mission Blue, the powerful story of Dr. Sylvia Earle and her mission to save the ocean.

The 2014 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit weekend wrapped up with an exploration of Sarasota Bay featuring hands on seining, marine life observation, and kayaking experiences on Sunday morning. A wonderful way to end a successful and inspiring weekend!

2014 Youth Ocean Conservation Summit

Tags:  youth 

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Guest Blog by Kate Leavitt: "Green Crabs Wreak Havoc" focus of GOMMEA annual meeting

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em!"

This was the mantra in practice at last week's Gulf of Maine Marine Education Association's annual meeting, titled "Green Crabs Wreak Havoc," as members and guests wove their way through interactive displays and sampled homemade and commercially-prepared versions of the European green crab.

Invasive Green Crabs

The event featured a keynote by Dr. Brian Beal, Professor of Marine Ecology, University of Maine at Machias, and brought together 91 attendees including students, community members, chapter members, and other stakeholders to discuss the ecological and commercial impacts of the European green crab on the local soft-shell clam population.

2014 GOMMEA annual meeting

Outgoing President, Carol Steingart, was the visionary for this event. Her interest in the spread of these invasives convinced the Board of the need to bring together local scientists, educators and community members to share stories, dispel myths, spark discussions, and learn from our local experts. As a result, rich discussions around biology, ecology, commerce, and cultural history ensued. To learn more about Carol's adventures in crab cuisine, check out the additional local coverage from the Portland Press Herald here >

- Kate Leavitt, GOMMEA president

Tags:  GOMMEA 

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Current: The Journal of Marine Education

Posted By Lisa D. Tossey, Thursday, November 6, 2014

Current Journal Our peer-reviewed journal has appeared in a variety of formats since its beginning in 1976 and is now moving into the digital realm! Current: The Journal of Marine Education is a benefit of your membership and features lively, in-depth articles and activities relating to all aspects of the world of water.

Learn more about Current on its new landing page and get details on how you can submit a piece for publication on our Guide for Contributors. And stay tuned for the next issue of Current - it's in production now, and should be out to members by the close of the year!  

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