Engaging with local students is a key component of Okeanos Explorer missions. In this photo, Expedition Coordinator Kasey Cantwell teaches a group of students from American Samoa about the bridge of the ship during a tour.

The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (OER) is constantly reaching out in new ways to stakeholders to improve the literacy of learners of all ages with respect to ocean issues.

We strive to engage educators and students in learning more about ocean exploration and how they can use science, modern technology, and engineering practices associated with exploring the ocean in their classrooms. This requires high-quality, effective collaborations between ocean explorers and America's teachers to provide a variety of learning and teaching tools focused on the science of ocean exploration and discovery.


Education Materials

OER has developed a range of standards-based education materials to bring entire classrooms "on board" for deep-ocean exploration and discovery. Using new technological "eyes" to see, sense, measure, image, and describe the little-known ocean world, scientists and educators are bringing the excitement of late-breaking ocean discoveries into classrooms through lesson plans and curricula, Expedition Education Modules, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection, and more.


NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Education Forum

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer offers unparalleled opportunities to the scientific and education communities for reaching out in new ways to improve ocean literacy in all ages and for enhancing awareness of Ocean Literacy Principle #7 ("The ocean is little explored").

As a first step to capitalizing on these opportunities and in celebration of the 2008 ship commissioning, a two-day Okeanos Explorer Education Forum was held at the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory Western Regional Center Campus in Seattle, Washington, with the goal of developing the building blocks for a five-year education program. For more information, download the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer Education Forum Report (pdf, 808 kb).


NOAA Education Initiatives

OER serves to enhance education internally within NOAA through serving on the NOAA Education Council, working closely with the NOAA Office of Education and other NOAA Line Offices. Agency-wide collaborations are also developed to leverage funding and efforts to enhance ocean science literacy both within and outside of the agency.


Alliance Partnerships

OER has developed Alliance Partnerships with aquariums and science centers to offer ocean science and exploration professional development opportunities to educators nationwide. These day-long professional development offerings help build regional cadres of ocean exploration teacher leaders. Online professional development has also been offered in partnership with the College of Exploration.



In addition to the Education Alliance Partners, we have formed national partnerships with the Smithsonian Institution's Smithsonian Sant Ocean Hall National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Ocean Science Education Initiative, the Marine Technology Society , and Mystic Aquarium/South Carolina Aquarium/University of Rhode Island, among others.

In addition, OER staff serve on the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) Board of Directors, NMEA Editorial Committee, the NMEA Publications Committee, NSF Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence National Council , and various other committees and working groups at the national level.



We are committed to continued assessment of education program effectiveness and direction and to staying the course on future directions of NOAA and efforts in ocean science literacy at the national level. As such, our offerings are formatively and summatively evaluated.

In fall of 2003, OER began conducting Professional Development Institutes (PDIs) as part of our objective to increase ocean literacy across a range of audiences. The PDIs were conducted with a network of partnering institutions or Alliances Partners. Surveys containing quantitative and qualitative affective and demographic items were administered before and after to participants in the Learning Ocean Science through Ocean Exploration PDIs. This evaluation report (pdf, 425 kb) provides an analysis of the surveys for 2003 - 2007 and synthesis of the results.

NOAA's Designing Education Projects Professional Development Trainings are conducted for NOAA employees and partners through an online course and in-person workshop format. As part of the trainings, a variety NOAA programs were selected as examples for the training participants to follow. These examples were described in the form of a case study (pdf, 249 KB). OER's education program was chosen by NOAA as a case study to showcase how a NOAA program can align with the Targeting Outcomes of Programs (TOP) Model adopted by NOAA's Education Council. This case study highlights OER's education program's Professional Development Opportunities' goals and objectives and how the TOP Model (a Logic Model) (pdf, 40 KB), Evaluation Plan (pdf, 140 KB), and performance measures fit together and program outcomes are assessed using specific items targeting the program objectives.