Earlier this month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that $8 million worth of new grant money has been awarded to educational and non-profit institutions across the United States to support programs that connect the public to science appreciation and interactivity.

The NOAA's Environmental Literacy Grant program focuses to enhance informal educational opportunities at museums and through family and teen programs, as well as expand citizen science networks. The funded projects will work to increase the understanding and appreciation of environmental issues of the oceans, coastlines, Great Lakes, and the climate around the globe.

Thirteen projects across the United States were selected to be funded from a national competition. The largest funding amount--$1.25 million--was given to Colorado State University's "CoCoRaHS" project (or, the Capitalizing on Technological Advancements to Expand Environmental Literacy through a successful Citizen Science Network; Read More). This program brings together volunteers to take direct measurements of precipitation quantity, intensity, duration and patterns, all from their own backyards. To take part in the project, visit the program online to learn more (visit CoCoRaHS).

This year's funding round from the NOAA is so significant because it continues to legitimize the efforts of citizen science and the critical influence of informal education in our culture. Much can be learned in the classroom, but so much more can be experienced with science education and appreciation at home, with friends and family, and with national and international connections and networks of other active amateur scientists.

The NOAA, a federal agency, is providing real money to support these programs as its administration understands the importance of fostering increased scientific awareness across our cultures. Through this funding, NOAA also appreciates that not only can these sorts of citizen science programs heighten a broader population's appreciation of our world, but their collective scientific efforts from the masses can provide critical research data that will help professional scientists better understand the universe--from our backyard all the way out into the cosmos--in ways that the professionals cannot manage on their own.

A complete list of awards has been included below, courtesy of the NOAA press release. Take a close look at all of the exciting programs, and explore which opportunity you might be able to take part. If you have had any experiences with any of these programs, or are planning on taking part in any way, please report and share with us here on Science 2.0.

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"NOAA Announces Environmental Literacy Grants for Science Education" :: NOAA's Office of Education Press Release :: November 2, 2010 :: [ READ ]

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