Ocean Explorers: GIS, IPA, and Ocean Sciences for IT Literacy and Skills
With primary project activities completed in August, 2006, Ocean Explorers was a three-year project funded by the Information Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and implemented by the Center for Image Processing in Education (CIPE). The project employed GIS, digital image analysis, and ocean science as ways of incorporating information technology (IT) into science and mathematics education in California. Ocean Explorers was created as an outgrowth of the Mapping an Ocean Sanctuary project funded by the Geoscience Education program at the NSF. For Mapping an Ocean Sanctuary, CIPE collaborated with the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS) to produce a set of six lessons designed to help teachers explore ocean ecology and ocean resources management issues with GIS. The set was published as a 128-page book and CD-ROM in 2003. Ocean Explorers gave support to a select group of educators over an extended period of time. It formed teams of teachers that served as local user groups for the exploration of GIS as an educational technology. Teachers participating in the project received mentoring, software, equipment, funding, and training on how to design inquiry-based activities that support achievement of state and national science, technology, mathematics, and reading standards. Ocean Explorers recruited twenty teams of three to five teachers from middle and high schools in California, thus creating for each participant a local cadre of peers implementing the new technology. Schools participating in the project included large, inner-city high schools such as Roosevelt High School and Woodrow Wilson High School in east Los Angeles; a charter high school in Venice, California; suburban middle schools and high schools; private middle schools; and three alternative schools. Each team committed to participation for the entire duration of the three-year project. Likewise, the project committed to support and mentor each team for three years.