Use ocean discoveries to heighten
public awareness of the full range of ocean issues and inspire
the next generation of ocean scientists and explorers.
People are drawn to the oceans
by their beauty, power, and infinite possibilities. Their inspirational
power is demonstrated in centuries of literature, art, and music.
Yet relatively few people understand the complex relationship
between the oceans and the Earth's atmosphere, or grasp the magnitude
of human impacts on fragile marine resources.
A recent survey found that
many Americans have misleading ideas about the ocean and coastal
environment. For example, only one in six knows that the leading
source of petroleum pollution in rivers, lakes, and bays is car
oil washed off streets into local waterways; most people think
the leading sources are oil rigs, tankers, and refineries. Similarly,
the majority of adults recently surveyed are unaware that the
leading cause of entanglement of marine wildlife is abandoned
fishing lines and nets. And four out of five Americans do not
identify pollution running off the land as a problem for the
oceans, although it is the leading source of marine pollution.
of human activity near the coasts presents complex issues about
marine and coastal ecosystems and societal choices. Comprehensive
ocean awareness is critical to effective citizen participation
in decision-making processes. Citizens have increasing needs
for informal education and lifetime learning, as well as basic
scientific literacy, to be capable of making sound choices. Children
in particular need to be engaged in ocean and coastal marine
science. Young students have been motivated by hands-on experiences,
such as the National Ocean Sciences Bowl® , aquarium programs,
GLOBE, Sea Partners, and Sea Camp. The ocean science community
has the opportunity to make the oceans a major context in which
to study the interactions of science, technology, and society.
- Although the government and
private institutions support ocean science education and outreach
programs, these efforts are rarely driven by a specific plan
to assess and improve the quality of ocean science education
for students, teachers, and the general public.
- Current ocean and coastal
educational materials are not as effective or useful to educators
as they could be because they are often not closely related to
mandatory curricula and are highly variable in quality.
- Teacher education is critical,
yet opportunities for it are limited.
- Federal agencies often have
very specific educational responsibilities, such as boater education,
safe handling of seafood, conservation, and pollution prevention.
Many of these can benefit from and contribute to basic ocean
educational materials and programs.
- Establish a nationally coordinated
effort to improve and promote ocean science education.
- Make ocean science education
materials widely available to educators and the general public.
- Develop partnerships and networks
with education groups, such as the National Marine Educators
Association, the National Science Teachers Association, and the
American Zoo and Aquaria Association, to facilitate interaction
between the ocean community and educators.
- Develop model programs, such
as the Model Congress program, that bring students together to
debate and create solutions to current ocean science and policy
- Expand efforts to create discovery-driven,
interactive Web sites for all federal ocean programs to engage
children and adults in a lifetime of ocean discovery.
- Expand partnerships between
the federal government and private entities, such as the National
Geographic Society, to leverage resources and increase ocean
and coastal educational opportunities for the public.
For more information
As part of the U.S. Coast Guard
Sea Partners Campaign, active duty, reserve, and auxiliary Coast
Guard members have helped over 2,000,000 people understand the
effects of oil, hazardous chemicals, waste, debris, and what
specific actions they can take to protect the marine environment.