NOAA 2004-043
Contact: Ben Sherman

NOAA News Releases 2004
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A new online educational product, titled “Discovery Kits” is now available at the NOAA Web site. The kits were developed by the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Ocean Service (NOS). The kit explains geodesy—the science that measures and monitors the size and shape of the Earth and identifies points on its surface.

Geodesy also forms the basis for worldwide Global Positioning Systems (GPS). The “Discovery Kits,” are available online:

They explain the science behind NOAA’s activities and make complex subjects more accessible to a nonscientific audience. Several other kits are in development, covering topics such as estuarine ecology, non-point source pollution and marine archeology.

“The ‘Discovery Kits’ are geared toward high school students and educators,” said Bruce Moravchik, NOS education specialist. “We hope the kits will help teachers bring NOAA science to the classroom and spark student interest in our oceans and marine environments.”

The two previous “Discovery Kits” cover the topics of corals and tides and water levels. All are written in a “student–friendly style,” according to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), which undertook a formal review of the kits. In its review, NSTA also called the kits “excellent models that are well designed, easy to navigate, and have beautiful photographs and diagrams, which complement the content.”

"The ‘Discovery Kits’ are one of many tools NOAA is developing to improve the understanding of the changing Earth and it processes. It also presents a cross-cutting priority for NOAA to enhanced public environmental literacy which will improve the public's understanding and appreciation of NOAA's missions," notes retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

The Geodesy “Discovery Kit” includes three components that educators and students will find useful:

A 10-chapter tutorial explaining geodesy, including the history of the science, the figure of the Earth, the National Spatial Reference System, and GPS. The multimedia tutorial includes many illustrations and interactive, animated graphics that help explain this complex subject.

A Roadmap to Resources which includes a set of annotated Web site references directing educators and students to specific geodetic data offered by NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey (NGS) and other NOAA Web sites.

Lesson plans correlated with National Science Education Standards and targeted to educators at the high school level. Each lesson plan combines tutorial content with data offerings listed in the Roadmap to Resources.

NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey and its predecessor agencies have been mapping the U.S. shorelines, determining land boundaries, and improving transportation and navigation safety for nearly 200 years. NGS traces its roots to the “Survey of the Coast,” the nation's first civilian scientific agency, established by President Thomas Jefferson in 1807.

The National Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

On the Web:


NOAA National Ocean Service:

National Geodetic Survey:

National Ocean Service Education Discovery Kits:

Geodesy Tutorial: