NOAA 2005-038
Contact: Glenda Powell
NOAA News Releases 2005
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A new online educational product, the fourth in a series of “Discovery Kits” developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Ocean Service, is now available on the Web for students and teachers. This latest kit explains the science of estuaries - bodies of water and their surrounding coastal habitats typically found where rivers meet the sea. Estuaries are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world, harboring unique and vital plant and animal communities. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The new Estuaries Discovery Kit joins three other discovery kits—on corals; tides and water levels; and geodesy - the science of measuring and monitoring the size and shape of the Earth and the location of points on its surface.

“These educational kits explain the science behind NOAA’s activities that factor into protecting our nation’s coastal and ocean resources and keeping our commerce and transportation safe and efficient,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The kits make science accessible, understandable and fun.”

All are written in a “student-friendly style,” according to the National Science Teachers Association, 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.”

Several more kits are in development, including one on non-point source pollution, and one on marine archeology. “We hope the kits will spark student interest in our oceans and marine environments,” said Bruce Moravchik, NOS education specialist and manager of the Discovery Kits.

The Discovery Kits are part of the NOS Education Discovery Center. The center also includes “Discovery Stories,” which are comprehensive case studies, and the “Discovery Classroom,” a library of lesson plans. The Discovery Center is available at

Like all the Discovery Kits, the Estuaries Kit includes three components:

  • A 12-chapter tutorial explaining the science of estuaries, including its geological characteristics, adaptive behaviors and habitats. It also explains how estuaries are important economically and environmentally, and how they are being affected by human and natural disturbances. The multimedia tutorial includes many photos, illustrations and interactive, animated graphics that will help students visualize estuarine ecosystems. It is also fully referenced.
  • A Roadmap to Resources—a set of annotated Web site references that direct educators and students to specific data and information offered by NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserves System and other NOAA and non-NOAA resources.
  • Lesson plans that are 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.

NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserves System manages a network of protected estuaries established for long-term research, education and stewardship. NERRS is a partnership between NOAA and coastal states to protect more than 1 million acres of estuarine land and water. Each protected estuary provides essential habitat for wildlife; offers educational opportunities for students, teachers and the public; and serves as living laboratories for scientists.

The NOAA 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’s National Ocean Service:

National Ocean Service Education Discovery Center:

Estuaries Discovery Kit:

National Estuarine Research Reserves System: