By Claire Fackler

August 2019

Summer vacation is nearly over and the first day of school is just around the corner. If you have an interest in bringing ocean science, conservation, and stewardship into your classroom, we have tips and resources for you.

students looking at tide pools
The LiMPETS network provides authentic, hands-on coastal monitoring experiences that empower teachers, students, and the community to conduct real science and serve as ocean stewards. Photo: Jessie Altstatt/NOAA

Microplastics or rocky intertidal monitoring? You pick

The Marine Debris Monitoring Toolkit for Educators is designed to assist teachers in educating their students about marine debris and involving them in marine debris research and outreach. Using the toolkit, students conduct marine debris surveys and can enter their data into a national database, analyze monitoring results, and become involved in marine debris stewardship within their communities. You picked rocky intertidal monitoring? Then join the LiMPETS network, which is a youth-based citizen science program that monitors the coastal ecosystems of California and helps youth develop a scientific understanding of the ocean.

Virtual professional development

The National Marine Sanctuaries Webinar Series provides educators with educational and scientific expertise, resources, and training to support ocean and climate literacy in the classroom. Don’t see an upcoming topic that piques your interest? Then check out the archives to explore a wide variety of ocean science, resource protection, and conservation webinars we have hosted in the recent past. Many archives also include a list of related educational resources, like this one about soundscape monitoring.

On-the-water professional development

Teachers can enrich their classroom curricula with a depth of understanding made possible by living and working side-by-side, day and night, with those who contribute to the world's body of scientific knowledge. Learn more about the NOAA Teacher at Sea program.

two people on the fantail of a research vessel
Teachers participate in NOAA’s Adopt-a-Drifter program on board the NOAA Research Vessel Shearwater. Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA

Bring NOAA data into your classroom

The NOAA Ocean Data Education (NODE) project has developed curriculum for grades 5-8. This curriculum is designed to help teachers and students use real scientific data from NOAA to explore dynamic Earth processes and understand the impact of environmental events on a regional or global scale. You can also dive deep into other NOAA data resources for educators here.

Excite your students with marine technology

Support science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through hands-on workshops where teachers and students build their own remotely operated vehicle (ROV) from PVC pipe and other materials while learning about ROV technology and its applications. Email our team to find out more about ROV programs in Thunder Bay, Gray’s Reef, Monitor, and American Samoa national marine sanctuaries.

Explore Sanctuaries Live

Your classroom can explore national marine sanctuaries live with real-time video and communication feeds from underwater and through live ship-to-shore interactions. Learn more about how NOAA has partnered with Ocean Exploration Trust, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration to bring the mysteries of the deep to teachers and students in real-time. Contact our education team if you would like to participate in a live ship-to-shore interaction this fall.

poster showing many sharks
Sharks of NOAA’s Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary poster. Image: NOAA

Posters and imagery for your classroom and students

Interested in exciting your students about marine life? Consider asking for one of these FREE hot-off-the-press shark posters from Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (see above). Or unleash your students in our Flickr account to download high resolution, public domain photos for reports and science fair projects. Need more general ocean and atmosphere photos? Check out the NOAA Photo Library.

Deep-sea coral communities

Deep-sea coral communities, like the ones found in the national marine sanctuaries of the West Coast, are home to many diverse species. This curriculum takes students into the deep-sea to identify the soft corals, hard corals, invertebrates, and fish found in these communities and to investigate the unique biology of deep-sea corals. Learn the threats these animals face and what we can do to help protect them.

Shipwrecks and maritime heritage

Maybe coral reef ecosystems and ocean data aren’t your thing? Would shipwrecks and maritime heritage captivate you? Monitor National Marine Sanctuary offers a variety of free activities, lesson plans, and guides for educators, including social studies activities, as well as science, technology, engineering, art, and math.

Current issues: Ocean acidification

Dungeness crab is a valuable species throughout the national marine sanctuaries of the West Coast from Washington state to California. This communication toolkit is designed for educators and communicators to use to teach others about the impact of ocean acidification on Dungeness crab. The toolkit includes: fact sheet; infographic; PowerPoint slideshow with script; reference list; resource list; public domain video B-roll; and public domain images. You can also download a plethora of ocean acidification activities, lessons, videos, and more here.

Funding for meaningful watershed education experiences

Have a great idea to engage your students in meaningful watershed education experiences, but don’t have the resources? NOAA Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) is an environmental education grant program that promotes these outdoor, hands-on experiences in the K-12 environment. B-WET currently serves seven areas of the country: California, Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, Hawai‘i, New England, and the Pacific Northwest. Maybe you have an idea that requires less money and commitment, but will still promote school- or community-based conservation and stewardship? Start planning for your Ocean Guardian School project for up to $4,000 for the 2020-2021 school year. Note that Ocean Guardian School grants are only open to specific states and counties.

NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries aims to provide teachers with resources and training to support ocean and climate literacy in America's classrooms. You will find additional curriculum, lesson plans, and activities that will excite your students about science and technology in our For Teachers section.

Claire Fackler is the national education liaison and national volunteer coordinator for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.