Past Workshops

The NOAA Environmental Science Training Center has held a number of workshops designed to bring the latest science to educators. Here's brief look back at some of these workshops; additional information is available at the link for each workshop series.

You can access the archived workshop materials here.

Environmental Literacy and the Next Generation Science Standards - Delaware Edition

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Delaware Nature Society, the Delaware Department of Education, and educators from throughout the region in Wilmington, Delaware, gathered for a day-long workshop on February 10, 2017, focusing on Next-Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and how they connect with environmental literacy programming. Attendees dug into the NGSS and three-dimensional learning, experienced NGSS lessons and field-based components of Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs), and had the opportunity to hear from state and local representatives about how nonformal environmental education staff can support formal education with NGSS-aligned programming. They also explored the Framework and NGSS through in-person hands-on sessions and self-paced online learning. During the workshop, participants were guided through a series of activities, discussions, and presentations designed to provide a robust perspective of the Framework and NGSS’s three dimensions: disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts. Participants experienced how the three-dimensional approach helps make environmental education programming relevant to the formal education community and provides a means to support greater environmental literacy.

NOAA Science: From the Surface of the Sun to the Depths of the Ocean 

This ESTC workshop included two sessions, one on February 16, and one on March 3, 2017. Earth systems are constantly interacting, changing, shaping the world, and influencing the Chesapeake Bay and the plants, animals and people that call the Bay home. Earth system science studied by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) extends from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor. This science is used by resource managers, decision makers, and educators as they strive to support a society that has access to and uses science to make the best social, economic, and environmental decisions. Join NOAA Earth system scientists and fellow educators for the this workshop series. Participants will explore some of NOAA’s Earth system science, the phenomena NOAA scientists are working to better understand, and ways in which this global science supports understanding of phenomena in the Chesapeake region. In Session 1, participants participated in interactive Earth system science presentations using NOAA’s Science on a Sphere to learn about global phenomena and explore how the physical characteristics of the world’s oceans influence the ocean’s and Chesapeake’s living resources, learned about freely available web-based resources educators can use to explore Earth system science, and discussed how place-based environmental education programming supports student’s understanding of Earth systems and phenomena. In Session 2, they learned from NOAA scientists about how NOAA studies the Chesapeake's changing water levels, the changes in Earth's systems that have led to this, and the effects these changes have currently and may have in the future, looked at what "Blue Carbon" is (carbon stored in oceans and estuaries) and the role it plays in moderating Earth's carbon cycle; and hosted a "Maker Fair" that included exploring and creating models, games, and monitoring tools that can be used to support students' understanding of Earth systems science. The overall goals of the workshop were to develop an understanding of the nature, depth, and breadth of NOAA science in educators; provide participants access to and knowledge of tools for exploring NOAA science, data, and education resources and models of how these can be used with program participants; provide participants access to and knowledge of high-quality existing education resources that will illustrate the integration of topics discussed during the workshop and highlight support of three-dimensional science education; cultivate the integration of NOAA science within hands-on/field-based activities in the Chesapeake region; and provide the opportunity for educators and scientists to interact.

Environmental Literacy and the Next Generation Science Standards

The Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next-Generation Science Standards (NGSS) support an approach to science education that integrates conceptual shifts in teaching that reflect the interconnectedness of science practice and experiences in the real world, not merely the memorization of facts. Environmental education providers in the region provide incredibly rich programming and context for key aspects of this science and interdisciplinary learning. As states in the region adopt the NGSS, or modify existing science programming to be more in line with the Framework, environmental education providers will have the opportunity to work with schools, and support the development of programming that directly connects to environmental literacy efforts. What does a science classroom implementing look like? What does a meaningful watershed education experience (MWEE) program supportive of NGSS look like? What really are the three dimensions of science learning, and how do they build on one another throughout the student’s K-12 experience? These are all questions educators will need to be thinking about as schools transition to the over the next couple of years. The Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) and the NOAA Environmental Science Training Center (ESTC) partnered to offer the Environmental Literacy and the Next-Generation Science Standards workshop series to explore these, and other questions, and dig deeply into the Framework and through in-person hands-on sessions and self-paced online learning. The workshop series brought together educators and experts from throughout the region to explore how nonformal environmental education staff can support formal education with NGSS-related field activities.

Restoration Science in the Chesapeake Bay

Restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its 64,000-square-mile watershed is an enormous undertaking. Four centuries of population growth, land use changes, and the harvesting of Bay species have taken their toll on the Bay ecosystem, resulting in polluted waterways and dwindling natural resources. Today, after more than two decades of Bay and watershed restoration efforts, there has been a decrease in the amount of pollution coming to the Bay from the major tributaries. Although that's good news, a clean Bay is the ultimate restoration measure, and there is still quite a way to go. Some signs are positive, but other key indicators are lagging. Overall, the Bay remains degraded. However, people are working harder than ever to bring the estuary back to health through restoration efforts. During this workshop series, participants explored the science that underlies some of the major restoration strategies being implemented in the Chesapeake region and consider how some of this science could be applied to education-scale restoration efforts being supported by the environmental education community in the region. The workshop focused on species/ecosystem restoration using an oyster restoration project as a case study for understanding the evolution of species/ecosystem restoration science. The group also looked at wetland restoration efforts to illustrate the process of habitat restoration at places like Poplar Island and in the Port of Baltimore. Attendees learned how a habitat must be studied before it can be restored. What are the steps to research, protect, and restore key habitats? Status and trends of important marine and esturaine habitats, including oysters, submerged aquatic grasses, wetlands, and the water column, as well as the affects of sea level rise on these habitats were discussed. They also shifted further inland, with scientists who discussed their watershed, forest, riverine, and upland habitat and restoration research efforts.

Chesapeake Exploration

The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office's Chesapeake Exploration 2.0 (CBEx) is a set of online activities that will provide teachers and students with unprecedented access to lessons designed around real-time data from the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The NOAA Environmental Science Training Center hosted a workshop for educators that provided participants with hands-on training in the use and application of Chesapeake Exploration and a thorough exploration of the content in "CBEx." Participants collaboratively developed ideas for new CBEx activities and begin aligning the current activities with Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania education standards.

Accessing and Using NOAA Data in the Classroom

NOAA has collected and made available vast amounts of environmental data. Participants in this workshop learned how to access this data, use innovative online tools, and integrate this data into educational programming.

Teachers on the Estuary—Data Edition

This five-day program was designed to provide middle and high school teachers with the resources, knowledge, and experience necessary to facilitate the integration of estuaries and their related issues into the classroom. The program accomplished this through hands-on, field-based investigations carried out in the diverse environments of the Delmarva Peninsula and the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Teachers gathered authentic data on land use, water quality, biotic communities, and other parameters; analyzed that data; and ultimately used this information to develop action projects that will have a positive effect on the natural systems of the Chesapeake Bay.

Keystone Species—Virginia

The Chesapeake Bay is known for the abundance of fish and shellfish that have made the Bay their home throughout history. Today, environmental and other pressures on Bay species and the health of those populations may be changing the complex trophic interactions within the Bay system. These pressures are coming from not only harvest, but changes in land use, expanding human populations, invasive species, disease, and more. The scientific community is constantly trying to better understand these important species and the way they interact with each other and the broader environment. This workshop series, conducted in partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, brought together scientists and educators to learn about and discuss the history, current understanding, and future outlook for important (keystone) plants and animals in the Chesapeake Bay. 

Keystone Species—Maryland

The Chesapeake Bay is known for the abundance of fish and shellfish that have made the Bay their home throughout history. Today, environmental and other pressures on Bay species, their populations and the health of those populations may be changing the complex trophic interactions within the Bay system. These pressures are coming from not only harvest, but changes in land use, expanding human populations, invasive species, disease and more. The scientific community is constantly trying to better understand these important species and the way they interact with each other and the broader environment. This workshop series brought together scientists and educators to learn about and discuss the history, current understanding, and future outlook for important (keystone) plants and animals in the Chesapeake Bay.

Weather-Ready Chesapeake

Weather affects our daily lives in so many ways. Sometimes the weather makes a day at the beach, on the water, at the park, or in the yard an absolute joy, and sometimes we are glued to the television, computer, or phone watching a storm come our way and preparing for what it may bring. The Weather Ready Chesapeake Workshop Series brought together weather science professionals and educators to support a deeper understanding of weather in the region and the many ways it influences our personal and professional lives. During this workshop series, participants explored weather in the Chesapeake region, considered the scientific underpinning our knowledge of weather, and discussed emerging science exploring how weather affects living resources throughout the watershed. A central theme of this workshop series was to demonstrate ways in which weather topics can be applied to education programming in the region. The group focused on the basics of weather and related systems, the connections between weather and climate, and what it takes to be weather ready in the Chesapeake region. 

Virginia Weather and Climate

Both climate and weather affect our daily lives in so many ways. Sometimes the weather makes a day at the beach, on the water, at the park, or in the yard an absolute joy, and sometimes we are glued to the television, computer, or phone watching a storm come our way and preparing for what it may bring. The Virginia Weather and Climate Workshop Series brought together weather and climate science professionals as well as educators to support a deeper understanding of weather and climate in the region and the many ways it influences our personal and professional lives. During this workshop series, participants explored weather in the Chesapeake region, consider the scientific underpinnings of our knowledge of weather and climate, and discuss emerging science exploring how weather and climate affect living resources throughout the watershed. A central theme of this workshop series was to demonstrate ways in which weather and climate topics can be applied to education programming in the region.

Climate Change and the Chesapeake Bay

Climate change is the most important environmental issue of our time, with overwhelming trends illustrating this change and wide-ranging effects on society and the environment—including the melting of ice sheets, sea level rise, ecosystem changes, alterations in ocean chemistry, and global water supplies. The United States is already facing the effects of climate change, and the Chesapeake Bay region is particularly vulnerable to many of these impacts. This four-part workshop series provided participants in-depth knowledge of key aspects of climate science, access to resources for teaching about climate change, experience with hands-on activities for exploring issues related to a changing climate, and opportunities for stewardship actions that can address the causes and the consequences of a changing climate.

Citizen Science

In Japan, diarists have recorded the dates of cherry blossom festivals for more than 1,000 years. Henry David Thoreau observed and recorded the dates of the seasonal changes in plants (e.g., flowering, leaf out, etc.) and the arrival of migratory birds in the woods around Walden Pond. Volunteers from across the nation have recorded weather observations since 1890 as a part of the National Weather Service's Cooperative Observers Program. Farmers, birders, naturalists, and many other citizen scientists have collected data, asked questions about the world around them, and made invaluable contributions to the understanding of natural systems and how those systems have changed through time. With the support of technological innovations and the need to answer urgent questions about our changing climate, biodiversity, and life in the Anthropocene, opportunities to engage in citizen science are expanding, and education programs can—and are—taking advantage of this. Participants learned about citizen science and explore ideas for incorporating citizen science into environmental education programming in the region. This two-part workshop will bring experts in the field of citizen science together with educators from the Chesapeake Bay region to explore both the history and future of citizen science, showcase and provide training in existing citizen science programs, and discuss the merits of, and approaches to, applying citizen science in an education context. Participants considered the evolution of citizen science and learn about its application both today and in the future. We focused on how citizen science programs can be used with students to meet educational goals by combining field activities, STEM applications, and participation in real-world science projects. Session 2 focused on the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program, which is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education program.

The Chesapeake Bay in the Anthropocene Epoch

From the wildest reaches of the watershed to the deepest parts of the Chesapeake, it is not difficult to find evidence of human influence on the environment. A growing body of evidence and analyses suggests that since the industrial revolution (and maybe even before) people have extended their influence over the land, water, plants and animals at a level that rivals the forces of nature that shaped the Earth over millions of years. Because of this, a growing number of scientists think we have entered a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene, the “recent age of man." The Chesapeake Bay in the Anthropocene Epoch 2014 winter workshop series explored how humans affect the Chesapeake; the notion that people have the ability to shape the environment at local and global scales; and how changes in climate, land use, human populations, and more will have profound effects on our approach to restoring, conserving, managing and teaching about the Chesapeake Bay and the watershed that feeds it.

For more information on any of these workshop series, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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