Last updated: 21 August 2014

August 6-7, 2009
Mobile, AL

The meeting report is available as a PDF.

The fourth annual meeting of the Education and Outreach Council (EOC) of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Regional Association (GCOOS-RA) was held at the Battle House Renaissance Hotel in Mobile, AL August 6-7, 2009. The date and venue were selected to coincide with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance All Hands Meeting. This document constitutes the report of the EOC.

Special thanks to the GCOOS Education and Outreach Council for their continued commitment to build ocean literacy programs in the Gulf of Mexico region, and to the GCOOS-wide support the EOC receives. Ann Jochens, GCOOS Regional Coordinator, Matt Howard, GCOOS DMAC Coordinator and Lei Hu, GCOOS DMAC liaison to the EOC, were valuable participants at our council meeting.

1.0 Opening of Meeting

1.1 Welcome, Introductions

The meeting began with a welcome by Lee Yokel, Coordinator of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Environmental Education Network (GOMA EEN), and Chris Simoniello, the GCOOS Education and Outreach (E/O) Coordinator. Simoniello provided an overview of the agenda, and asked that each participant give a brief introduction to the group. The list of attendees with affiliations is provided in Appendix A. Note that for the morning session on August 6, 2009, there were also people from the GOMA All Hands Meeting in attendance. These approximately 20 people are not included in the list of attendees. The meeting agenda is provided in Appendix B.

1.2 Purpose of the Meeting

The purpose of the EOC meeting was to accomplish the following five objectives:

  1. Work with the GOMA EEN to identify joint pilot projects that support the five GCOOS/EPA Coastal America Learning Center kiosks.
  2. Extend the EOCs ability to acquire and understand data accessed via the GCOOS data portal to include the ability to generate web-based lessons for a broad range of E/O audiences. *
  3. Review the GCOOS EOC Action Plan and update for 2009-2010.
  4. Modify the EOC bylaws to reflect the two-year term for the Chair.
  5. Identify EOC liaisons to other GCOOS councils and committees.

*Note: Objective two required pre-workshop homework.

2.0 GCOOS/EPA Coastal America Learning Center Kiosks

2.1 Introduction

Sharon Walker, GCOOS EOC and BOD member, provided an overview of the joint GCOOS/EPA Coastal America project to develop kiosks at five Coastal America (formerly Ecosystem) Learning Centers (CALC) in the Gulf of Mexico region. The overarching goal is to enhance the awareness and understanding of the relevance of the Gulf of Mexico to the everyday lives of the citizenry within the five U.S. states and one of the six Mexican states, Veracruz, bordering this region. To achieve this goal, funds to developfive, similar environmental, touch screen kiosks focusing on the GOMA Priority Issues of water quality, coastal community resilience, nutrient reduction, ecosystem integration and assessment, and habitat conservation and restoration have been made available by the GCOOS RA (~$16K per exhibit) and pending final approval, EPA Coastal America. The education leads, priority issues they have been tasked with developing, and expected time of completion can be found in Appendix C. Note that the Veracruz exhibit did not receive GCOOS funds.

Following Walker’s introduction, participants divided into three groups to identify potential joint GCOOS EOC/GOMA EEN pilot projects to support kiosk development. Dianne Lindstedt, LSU, facilitated the group that focused on water quality and nutrients. John O’Connell, Texas Sea Grant, facilitated the group that addressed habitat conservation and ecosystem integration & assessment, and Angela Sallis, NCDDC, facilitated the session on resilience. After 50 minutes of small-group discussions, participants rejoined for a report out session.

2.2 Report Out Session

Each of three groups was tasked with determining how the GCOOS EOC and GOMA EEN can collaborate to support the CALC kiosk project and to identify ways the exhibits can be leveraged to support Gulf-wide education programs. A list of four questions and a report out template was provided to each group.

2.2.1 Water Quality and Nutrient & Nutrient Impacts

(Group Members: Dianne Lindstedt (facilitator), Ann Jochens, Charlene Mauro, Margaret Sedlecky, Debbi Stone, Joe Swaykos, Pamela Terasaki, and Lee Yokel. Several non-GCOOS EOC people also participated. Their names were not provided.)

1) How can the GCOOS EOC and the GOMA EEN collaborate to support the Coastal America Learning Center exhibits?

A list of ideas for web-based lessons and activities was generated and examples of successful programs described. All agreed that the GCOOS EOC should generate web pages titled Strange Days on Planet Earth. Here, examples of anomalous oceanographic and meteorological events could be described using a ‘solve the mystery’ approach and the data portal would be used in a ‘discovery capacity’ to unravel the science behind the mysteries. Parameters identified as teachable and relevant to the average citizen include dissolved oxygen, temperature and salinity. It was also suggested that GCOOS provide a resource for those interested in establishing or getting involved with water quality monitoring programs. For example, a map on the website with a search feature for training and volunteer opportunities, with mouse over information on the parameters collected at a given location.

Several programs were identified as having excellent resources for the kiosk development teams to review and also as good vehicles to communicate and extend the CALC kiosk content. These include the Wyland Exhibit videos, Oyster and Fish Friends activities, the Tampa Bay Campaign-Pick Up Pet Waste, Up the Mississippi Watershed, the Mississippi River Museum Consortium-Iowa, and the Science and Spanish Club Network. Regarding ‘what not to do’, it was emphasized that basic information is best communicated via success stories-not using the SWAMP format which participants said is beyond the average lay person.

2) How can we leverage the exhibits to support our education programs?

Group members felt that exhibits could best be leveraged to support Gulf-wide ocean education programs by using the strong personal connections among our education councils, committees and networks. Front-end exhibit design should include a mechanism to develop content-related software that can be shared with formal and informal STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) educators. Sea Grant, GOMA EEN and GCOOS E/O were identified as three key programs that should develop resources that link to the kiosk content.

3) Identify potential joint GCOOS/GOMA pilot projects that support the kiosks.

Suggestions ranged from generating videos to creating interactive education games. All agreed that the introductory audio/visual segment of each kiosk should establish a connection to animals and/or people to establish the ‘why should I care’ aspect. The GCOSS EOC and /or GOMA EEN should look for historical information to set the stage-providing examples of how technology has changed the way we view the world we live in-particularly in and around the Gulf of Mexico and its watershed. A video focusing on the jubilee phenomenon was proposed as a means to communicate the impact of hypoxia and dead zones. Historical photos and oral histories provided by senior citizens are available at Grande Isle, LA.

Other video suggestions included a focus on storm water runoff, with a companion hands-on activity that uses an ‘enviroscape’ of the Mississippi River watershed to demonstrate that what happens upstream impacts downstream water quality. This would be an education model, with ’cause and effect’ lessons developed around it, and teacher training workshops to support its use. There could also be a virtual component–an interactive water quality game where people use an electronic ‘enviroscape’ model and determine if their upstream actions have positive or negative impacts on downstream communities.

Another suggested pilot project was a "Cycles Theme" to educate people to make connections between physical and biological stressors and negative impacts to wildlife. For example, linking the deaths of whooping cranes in Texas to increased salinity; and coastal erosion related to loss of sea grass habitat by grazing olive snails. The approach would be to solve the "mysterious" deaths/habitat losses by making life cycle connections. Science Digest was identified as an appropriate level of communication for such an activity. The Jason Project digital lab was suggested as a resource. A food web could be created and physical and chemical parameters (e.g., temperature, pH, salinity) altered to see what happens to the animals in the system.

Likewise, the interaction could be focused on determining if it is safe to eat seafood or swim in a particular area. People would learn that season and weather strongly influence bacterial loads.

4) Are there funding opportunities we can pursue to develop any of the suggested pilot projects?

Several funding sources and strategies were identified to develop the kiosks and supporting content. All felt that the private sector, particularly the oil and gas industry, utility companies and water districts, have not been sufficiently tapped for educational resources. An example of successful funding in this arena is the $50,000 Dewey Project in Texas funded by Conoco-Phillips. Suggestions to support kiosk development include offering companies the option of having placards saying "Donated by" for electronic component donations (e.g. Panasonic, Dell, Microsoft) or "Sponsored by" for corporate donations (e.g. TV stations, production companies).

2.2.2 Habitat Conservation & Restoration and Ecosystem Integration & Assessment

(Group Members: John O’Connell (facilitator), Amy Gohres, Lei Hu, Courtney Schaneville, Randy Shaneyfelt, Tara Shultz, Chris Simoniello, Angela Underwood, Chris Verlinde, and Gabrielle Bodin)

1) How can the GCOOS EOC and the GOMA EEN collaborate to support the Coastal America Learning Center exhibits?

There are several existing projects that lend themselves well to the Texas State Aquarium’s Ecosystem Integration and Assessment charge. Among those specified were the USCG and NOAA’s Gulf-specific Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI; a GIS product), the AL/MS Sea Grant Habitat Restoration website, Alabama’s Water Watch-Water to the Sea program, Louisiana’s Coastal Restoration Center, Tampa’s Water Atlas, and NOAA’s Seagrass Tool Kit.

Unlike the other priority issues, the challenge to the EIA team is that the audience has primarily been researchers and academics. The focus for a kiosk might thus have more impact if the exhibit focused on examples of habitat conservation and restoration related to the data, rather than the mapping tools alone. For example, bathymetric maps, showing interesting features in the Gulf (e.g., Flower Garden Banks, Middle Grounds) that influence ecosystems would be shown and their significance explained. The concept of Marine Protected Areas could be linked by showing that where we fish for and harvest species is not the only area that requires protection. Nursery habitats, migration routes, and spawning grounds all must be understood to create sustainable management plans. An exhibit activity could be tracking a species from ‘birth/hatching’ to death-identifying all the different habitats along the way. A related activity is for kiosk visitors to create their own virtual habitat and monitor what happens to the marine community as bottom habitat changes (e.g., karst, sand, sea grass, ooze, reef).

The GCOOS EOC should consider creating a Gulf-wide data base where people can learn about restoration projects in their communities and how they can get involved. This would be of particular value to educators in formal and informal arenas. It could be used as a resource for students to gain required community service credits and foster environmental stewardship. The group encouraged GCOOS and GOMA to pursue funds (perhaps a B-WET grant) to create a general presentation on restoration, including why it is needed, and resources to get involved. ‘Resources’ identified included both awareness of programs engaged in restoration efforts and creating train-the-trainer programs (including basic sampling instruments) for educators who want to develop their own programs.

2) How can we leverage the exhibits to support our education programs?

All agreed that there should be Gulf-wide teacher workshops launched in conjunction with the kiosks. Initially, each would focus on the priority issue related to the host state’s kiosk. Like the kiosks, the workshops would have a phased implementation plan. Participants would receive a tool kit with activities and lessons corresponding to the priority issue, and all would be educated about and given a tour of their state’s CALC and kiosk. Discussion also touched on creating products (e.g., children’s books like Louie the Buoy, games (e.g., solving environmental mysteries; build a sensor), and brain teasers (e.g., fact cards, puzzles) that could be sold in the centers’ gift shops. The author of Louie the Buoy, Allain Andry, and the illustrator Tazewell Morton, would be good people to contact for ideas.

3) Identify potential joint GCOOS/GOMA pilot projects that support the kiosks.

As mentioned above, there was widespread agreement that GCOOS and GOMA should create teacher tool boxes full of lesson plans and classroom and field equipment. There was discussion on how a virtual "Enviroscape" could engage participants by having them design a virtual watershed and creating a restoration program based on a specified environmental issue (e.g. nutrification, hypoxia, erosion).

There was agreement that it would be exciting if the aquarium exhibit contained information showing the transformation of raw/remotely sensed data to a finished product depicting a real ecosystem. This would incorporate the scientist manipulating the raw data stream, ultimately piecing together the big picture-from the satellites to the bottom of the ocean. Ideally, a joint GCOOS/GOMA project would develop a traveling display that could reach inland audiences and be used in conjunction with the tool kits developed for each priority issue.

4) Are there funding opportunities we can pursue to develop any of the suggested pilot projects?

Like the water quality team, the group felt that the private sector could be better utilized. Oil companies in particular were mentioned, especially because there is a precedence established by the Shell Corporation in its partnership with the U.S. IOOS program. Similarly, power companies, water, river and levy authorities, and water management districts should be engaged. Florida receives strong support from its power and water companies. These have dedicated education and outreach departments and offer a variety of mini grants to educators and community environmental groups. The GCOOS E/O coordinator is going to divide the task of investigating funding opportunities within each states water and utility companies among the EOC members.

Other suggestions included seeking ‘in-kind’ support in the form of equipment donations. For example, local technology-oriented businesses can sponsor the purchase of an ‘enviro model’ for a local school. The schools would become the first ‘train-the-trainer’ program in their communities. Build out through the Mississippi water shed could start with these initial investments. The group also discussed seeking equipment support and offering recognition to donors in the form of "Donated by" or "Sponsored by" in the exhibit signage. The former would be for developing education programs around the kiosks. The latter would be to leverage support for the CALC exhibits.

2.2.3 Coastal Community Resilience

(Group members: Angela Sallis (facilitator), Jen Buchanan, Mendel Graeber, Jessie Kastler, Karla Klay, Jean May Brett, Dinah Maygarden, Lloyd Scott, Kim Smith, Sharon Walker, Bridget Washburn, and Ann Wilson)

The Coastal Community Resilience group was tasked with the same four questions as the previous two groups. However, due to productive discussion among participants, only question one was addressed. The stimulating dialogue resulted in identifying three specific areas where the GCOOS EOC and GOMA EEN can collaborate to support the CALC exhibit on Coastal Community Resilience. The three areas of collaboration and examples of how they can be developed are as follows:

  1. Storm Tracking
    • When there is a tropical storm or hurricane, the kiosk should have links to real-time data related to the storm.
    • Because the information from the NOAA National Hurricane Center is not always easy to understand, it would be good to have a blog to make the information more understandable. The group suggested something similar to what Jeff Masters does on Weather Underground. Simoniello suggests we link to former Florida COOS Executive Director Jyotika Virmani’s blog (see It is educational, informative, humorous, and chock full of real-time data.
    • Archived data available via the GCOOS portal should be used to illustrate extreme events. Hurricanes Ike, Gustav, Katrina and Rita are just a few of the many possibilities.
    • Examples of how forecast ability has evolved should be provided-e.g., from storms a decade or more ago to recent storms. This would be an effective way to teach about numerical models and the need for in situ measurements that drive their accuracy.
    • The National Hurricane Center is changing the Saffir Simpson Scale and introducing a surge scale. The kiosk would be a good opportunity to educate and familiarize the public with the new system.
    • The information developed should be exportable to other places with hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons.
  2. Community Resiliency
    • There should be resiliency case studies from each state (e.g., Katrina (MS), Rita (LA), Ike (TX), Charlie (FL)) to generate local interest. The lessons learned would be the unifying theme because different communities have learned different lessons while solving similar problems.
    • Good stories about community recovery are needed. Sources of information include FEMA, Sea Grant’s civil defense compilation, and the National Hurricane Center.
    • There is a need to link resiliency to long term ecosystem and human health. The message needs to be communicated without an alarmist approach to sea level rise.
  3. Preparedness
    • The kiosk should have storm surge visualizations like the product developed by the USM Center of Higher Learning.
    • For kids, there should be an animation showing water moving on and then offshore to help explain the data.
    • To make the kiosk interactive, there can be a quiz on "How Prepared is Your Family".
    • Humor helps reinforce messages. The Times-Picayune published lists of what people wished they had taken when they evacuated. Written lists or videos could combine humor with life-saving information to entertain while educating.
    • Emphasize “Run from water, shelter from wind” to help people make better decisions about evacuating.
    • A video, perhaps a collage of different storms or a fictional composite, can be created to show the effects of storms on Gulf Coast communities.

3.0 Program Updates

3.1 GCOOS Education and Outreach

Joe Swaykos, EOC Chair, provided an update on GCOOS Education and Outreach activities. The group has been busy, hosting two GPS-focused workshops for educators, supporting the two GCOOS Recreational Boating, Fishing and Diving workshops, presenting at national and international meetings, creating curriculum for the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Summer On-line Institute, and providing leadership on the National Federation of Regional Associations (NFRA) EOC, the GOMA EEN, and IOOS DMAC. A paper has also been accepted for the upcoming MTS Oceans meeting to be held October 26-29, 2009, in Biloxi, MS. In conjunction with this, several EOC members will be offering a pre-conference professional development workshop for educators. The near-term goal of the EOC is to package existing presentations, posters and curriculum, and to develop Gulf-specific G6-12 lessons that use information from the GCOOS data portal, and make them available on the website.

3.2 GCOOS EOC Member Program Updates

Chris Verlinde, Dinah Maygarden, Charlene Mauro – GCOOS GPS Workshop

Three GCOOS EOC members attended the GCOOS Global Positioning System (GPS) workshop held April 30-May 1, 2009 at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. Overall, they agreed the workshop was an excellent resource for educators and that the GCOOS RA should seek funds to provide additional training opportunities. The need for train-the-trainer programs was emphasized. They would have liked more time exploring data and felt that the GPS overview was too technical for most participants. However, the hands-on mapping activity (see workshop report) was a great resource and clarified how trilateration is used to calculate a position on Earth from satellite positions. They recommended providing participants with resources such as GPS units rather than stipends in the future.

Charlene Mauro – Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary

Charlene Mauro gave an overview of the developing Navarre Beach Marine Science Station. She has been writing grants and soliciting donations to equip the facility, formerly a park ranger house on the Gulf of Mexico in Santa Rosa, FL, for summer camp and G6-12 education programs. With help from volunteers, she has created classroom space and is building a touch tank. Gratitude was expressed to the GCOOS EOC for the support and expertise colleagues have provided throughout the development process.

Rusty Low – ESSEA Online Course

R. Low talked about the Earth System Science Education Alliance (ESSEA). ESSEA is a portal used to teach a graduate level course in Earth systems science to educators (see Currently, 40 universities teach the course to pre-service and in-service teachers. It is a "grab and go" course that has been vetted through the NASA process. There is also a process for participants to work in a collaborative environment to create resources and materials for use by informal science educators. It is in this latter capacity that the GCOOS EOC will commence participation (September 8, 2009), working with a curriculum module on hypoxia and dead zones created by Low and Simoniello. At the end of the six week project, the GCOOS EOC will have developed web-ready content for the E/O portion of the GCOOS website.

3.3 GCOOS Program Updates

Ann Jochens provided an overview of the GCOOS organizational structure (Figure 1) and updates on the activities of each group. The DMAC and EOC have been very active, engaging members and identifying action items (see DMAC report for DMAC action items). The primary near term action for the EOC is populating the website with content appropriate to our E/O audiences.

The Products and Services Committee (PSC) meeting was held the same day as the EOC meeting. Unfortunately, our venues did not overlap. Angela Sallis represented the EOC at the PSC meeting on Friday, August 7, 2009. Due to the IOOS-wide lack of funds for sampling equipment, the Observing Systems Committee did not meet this year, nor did the Stakeholder Council. Jochens set the stage for EOC members to volunteer as liaisons to other committees and councils. The value of liaisons to improving GCOOS-wide communication was widely appreciated and all recognized the value of having the DMAC liaison to the EOC, Lei Hu, engaged in our activities. The EOC liaisons to other councils and committees can be found in Appendix D.

Figure 1. GCOOS organizational structure.

4.0 Pre-workshop Assignment Review and Afternoon Breakout Session

The purpose of the pre-workshop assignment (see Appendix E) was to extend the EOC’s ability to acquire and understand data accessed via the GCOOS data portal. In addition to professional development, the objective was to develop our collective ability to generate web-based lessons for a broad range of E/O audiences. Following lunch, team leaders of each of the pre-workshop groups, water quality, coastal community resilience, and recreational boating, fishing and diving, provided a summary of how they approached the assignment. Team members and leaders can be found in Appendix F.

Valuable information was gleaned from the exercise. In addition to becoming more familiar with the GCOOS data portal, the exercise served as an evaluation tool to assess the ease with which information could be obtained. For example, in the search for turbidity data, Swaykos identified the following: 1) the technical descriptions were not intuitive for the general (education or public) user; 2) there is a need for a searchable database-it is very time consuming to search station by station; and 3) some data providers (e.g., USM) have ‘zipped files’ that require purchasing special software to view. These issues were echoed by the other team leaders and participants in their respective focus areas. All agreed that there is a need for an E/O-specific vocabulary page to support use of the website.

Following the homework review, each group of seven to eight participants met for the remainder of the day to discuss their topic and strategize on data product development. As with the 2008 meeting, this "in-reach" was necessary to capitalize on EOC expertise at the meeting. Although participants were prepared with the slides they created for the pre-workshop exercise, not having internet access in the meeting room was a detriment to progress for some.

5.0 Day 1 Action Items Summarized

  • C. Simoniello will explore ideas for a GCOOS E/O mascot. We should brand all our E/O products to promote program recognition.
  • C. Simoniello will contact Louie the Buoy author Allain Andry to see if there is interest in developing other stories related to science that supports the CALC kiosks.
  • C. Simoniello will poll the EOC for a start date for the ESSEA course.
  • C. Simoniello will e-mail the 21st learning Century document from Jean May Brett to the EOC.

Friday, August 7, 2009

6.0 Day Two Report Out Session

Following breakfast, Simoniello reviewed the goals for the day before team leaders reported out from the previous day’s breakout session. While each group had five minutes to report on their activities and 15 minutes for discussion, the presentation format promoted discussion of ideas as they arose rather than waiting for a dedicated time. A summary of each report is provided here. Appendix G provides the format given to the leaders for their reports.

6.1 Water Quality

The team investigated several parameters related to water quality: dissolved oxygen, water temperature, salinity, turbidity, chlorophyll, and ocean circulation. The main issue the team addressed was data availability. During the homework exercise, several roadblocks became evident. These include the following:

  • The GCOOS data portal links to proprietary data sets
  • Time units were often confusing (e.g. Julian dates, military time)
  • The path to retrieving archived data is unclear
  • Often, there is limited access to archived data (e.g. five day max)
  • A search feature is needed to identify data providers of specific parameters

A lesson built around a jubilee event was thought to be a good way to educate stakeholders about water quality issues. There was discussion about how best to depict the event. Relevant data sets were identified, target audiences discussed, and ideas for the website proposed. From the GCOOS data portal, the providers of relevant data sets identified were LUMCON, TAMU, COMPS (C-10 buoy), and two NERRS sites, Middle Bay and Weeks Bay. Non-GCOOS portal sources included the Rutgers COOL Room, USGS, and Data in the Classroom, a resource supported by the NOAA Ocean Data Education (NODE) project. Simoniello suggested the NODE site be viewed for an example of a website search feature designed for educators.

The target audiences discussed were formal K-12 students and educators, educators and learners at informal science centers and aquariums, the general public, recreational water users, and coastal resource managers and planners. For education audiences especially, the website will have to have nice pictures and be colorful. Initial development should target the 6th grade level because this is the generally accepted level to write to for public audiences.

Some features the website will need are: 1) the ability to convert data tables to pictures (software fix); 2) targeted data sets that provide relevant information for teachers and the general public; 3) a user friendly search engine (more intuitive than what currently exists); and 4) pop up definitions when a parameter is tagged. For the purpose of demonstrating relevant data sets, historical ‘canned’ data may suffice. It would free classroom educators from limited internet access, outdated software issues, and slow downloads, while still promoting the use of ocean science data in the classroom.

The group also identified the need for more GCOOS-funded teacher workshops. These should focus on guiding participants through lessons using real-time or ‘canned’ data sets, copying and pasting graphs and data tables into Excel-like spreadsheets, and learning how to use Google Earth/Google Ocean maps (a ‘Google Earth for Dummies’ approach). As GCOOS Education and Outreach content is developed, the water quality team suggests having a direct URL link to the E/O home page.

6.2 Coastal Community Resilience

The team clarified that coastal resiliency does not just pertain to storms. Dead zones, Harmful Algal Blooms, and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons are just a few of the many topics that can fall under this category. However, for this session, the team focused on storms, investigating wave height, surface currents and meteorological information (e.g., wind speed and direction, barometric pressure). More specifically, the group discussed how resilience needs to be worked into lesson plans, focusing on 21st century skills (i.e. critical thinking and problem-solving skills) targeting 4th, 8th, and 12th-grade levels. Sea level rise, with emphasis on comparing inland and Gulf communities, was the most commonly suggested topic for lesson development.

The relevant data providers identified were LUMCON, DISL, Galveston Pier, and CO-OPS at Grand Isle. A flag was raised when trying to locate archived (prior to 2009) water level data from the DISL website. In frustration, the searcher abandoned water level and switched to locating wind speed data. The DISL data manager was informed of the problem and it is under investigation. These types of discoveries are a valuable component of the EOC data mining exercises.

Time series and other data products identified by the group included NOS Water level data, DISL wind speed data (winds in excess of 25 kn over the past six months), and hypoxia data sets (see In addition to the education audiences mentioned above, the group determined that outreach should also target graduate students, real estate agents, and community planners. There was agreement that if archived data from before and after multiple hurricanes and winter storms could be compiled, several interesting lessons could be generated. The E/O coordinator agreed to compile the information and develop the first lesson for G6-8 audiences.

Existing resources to investigate include:

The time consuming nature of the EOC pre-workshop exercise emphasized that if the GCOOS RA expects educators to use the data portal, the E/O team, primarily the coordinator, will have to develop relevant data sets and activities. ‘Data discovery’ is not likely to proceed without significant guidance.

6.3 Recreational Boating, Fishing and Diving

The audience for this team was clearly articulated in the charge to the group. The assignment was framed in terms of how the website should be developed for the Gulf recreational community. A four button option page of ‘who are you’ was suggested:

Boater (possibly with the designation of smaller than (X) ft; larger than (X) ft)

Once selected, an interactive map page will open. Users will have to select a region where they plan to conduct their activity. Several selection options should be provided: by polygon on the map; by beach, marina or launch site name, or by coordinates (lat/long). See the southeast marine data portal for an example of how this has been done (

After the location is selected, a page will open with the most relevant information. For example, the ‘boater’ page will open to a dial and gauge display format of maximum wave height (not significant wave height), surface currents, wind, and weather data (e.g., like the 24 h forecast exhibited by weather stations with high and low temperatures, rain forecast, and storm warnings broken down into morning, afternoon and night). All ‘button’ options would open with weather and tide information and each parameter will link to a ‘learn more’ option that explains the data in more detail. For divers, the opening page would include water temperature and current profiles, turbidity/visibility estimates, and wave height. Additionally, there would be links to the locations of natural and artificial reefs and rigs.

The fishermen page would include a chlorophyll map, SST and temperature profiles, and bathymetry maps. Explanations about frontal systems, wrack lines, reefs and rigs might also be provided. For beach-goers, wave height, rip current warnings, the UV index, and water temperature would be the primary data provided. HAB and other water quality information (including hazardous marine life warnings) and high wind alerts would be provided. There was discussion of flagging systems used by some Gulf Coast counties. However, it is unclear what the different colors indicate and if it is a universal system. If adopted, outreach will have to include educating citizens about the flagging system.

A possible BWET project to link turbidity data from nephelometers with visibility measurements from Secchi disks was discussed. It would be useful to have localized algorithms for relating turbidity measurements to visibility for divers.. With BWET-funded nephelometers, the Scubanauts might be interested in working with the GCOOS EOC to develop a diver visibility scale.

7.0 Products and Content Currently Available to post to the GCOOS Website

With the GCOOS data portal serving information from several regional nodes, the E/O portion of the website is ready for content development. Several products are available for public consumption and others are in various stages of development. The goal of this session was to identify those items that are ready to be served, including links to existing lesson plans and programs of interest to GCOOS E/O stakeholders. In addition to posters, PowerPoint presentations and a Hurricane Katrina water level visualization movie, the following links were suggested as a ‘starting point’ to engage E/O audiences:

8.0 GCOOS EOC Chain of Command

The two-year term for the EOC chair was unanimously accepted. Joe Swaykos will continue as chair until the 2010 EOC meeting, at which time Chair-elect John O’Connell will assume the position.

9.0 Workshop Evaluation

All agreed that the workshop was a good use of their time and felt that they contributed to how ocean observation products and services can be delivered to GCOOS E/O stakeholders. There were mixed feelings regarding meeting jointly with the GOMA EEN. The consensus was that it is beneficial to network and share ideas. However, it was too distracting in conjunction with the GOMA All Hands meeting. If we meet jointly next year, an EOC/EEN-only venue in early spring was suggested.

Suggestions for future EOC meeting topics included refining the homework assignment and targeting a particular audience (e.g. recreational boaters) so we can be more focused during the meeting, organizing an EOC field trip to learn about the data collection process, and helping the BOD clarify messaging about the GCOOS mission by developing a branding strategy to improve website usefulness. Networking opportunities, experience using the data portal, the opportunity to discuss E/O web page development, and providing feedback to the GCOOS DMAC coordinator were reported to be the most valuable components of the meeting. Future meetings should include internet access and post-meeting action items for EOC members.

Based on survey results, the EOC will strive to hold quarterly teleconferences. See Appendix H for the complete workshop evaluation.


Appendix A: Attendees of the GCOOS EOC Council Meeting, August 7-8, 2009, Mobile, AL

Name Affiliation State
Matt Howard TAMU TX
Ann Jochens TAMU TX
Jessica Kastler USM MS
Dianne Lindstedt LSU LA
Rusty Low At large CO
Charlene Mauro FL Education FL
Jean May Brett LA Education LA
Dinah Maygarden U of New Orleans LA
John O’Connell TX Sea Grant TX
Angela Sallis NCDDC MS
Lloyd Scott Mobile Bay School District AL
Margaret Sedlecky Weeks Bay NERR AL
Chris Simoniello GCOOS E/O FL
Mike Spranger FL Sea Grant, GCOOS FL
Debbi Stone FL Aquarium FL
Joe Swaykos USM, EOC Chair MS
Pamela Terasaki TX Education TX
Chris Verlinde FL Sea Grant FL
Sharon Walker USM, GCOOS MS
Ann Weaver NOAA CSC GoM MS


Appendix B: AGENDA for the GCOOS EOC meeting, August 6-7, 2009, Mobile, AL

GCOOS Education and Outreach Council Meeting
Battle House Renaissance Hotel, Mobile, AL
August 6-7, 2009


  1. Work with the GOMA EEN to identify joint pilot projects that support the six GCOOS/EPA Coastal America (formerly Ecosystem) Learning Center kiosks.
  2. Extend the EOCs ability to acquire and understand data accessed via the GCOOS data portal to include the ability to generate web-based lessons for a broad range of E/O audiences.*
  3. Review the GCOOS EOC Action Plan and update for 2009-2010.
  4. Modify the EOC bylaws to reflect the two-year term for the Chair.
  5. Identify EOC liaisons to other GCOOS councils and committees.

*Note: Objective two will require pre-workshop homework


Thursday, August 6, 2009

8:00 – 8:30 Check-in and breakfast
8:30 – 8:55 Welcome, meeting objectives, and introductions (Lee Yokel & Chris Simoniello)
8:55 – 9:20 GCOOS/EPA Coastal America kiosk project (Sharon Walker)
9:20 – 10:10 GCOOS EOC and GOMA EEN collaborations to support the kiosk project. Divide into three groups to ID potential pilot projects (facilitator).
Water Quality and Nutrient & Nutrient Impacts (Dianne Lindstedt)
Habitat Conservation & Restoration and Ecosystem Integration & Assessment
(John O’Connell)

Coastal Community Resilience (Angela Sallis)
10:10 – 10:30 Groups report out (5 min. each; Joe Swaykos lead)
Water Quality and Nutrient & Nutrient Impacts
Habitat Conservation & Restoration and Ecosystem Integration & Assessment
Coastal Community Resilience
10:30 – 10:45 Morning Break
10:45 – 11:15 Update on GCOOS EOC activities/Board of Directors meeting and Southeast U.S. Canadian Province 2nd Annual Conference (Swaykos)
11:15 – 11:30 GCOOS GPS workshop summary (Dinah Maygarden, Charlene Mauro, and Chris Verlinde)
11:30 – 11:50 Opportunity for participants to share program updates (e.g., NSTA, NMEA, GOMA EEN, NFRA EOC)
11:50 – 12:00 Update on other GCOOS committees and councils (Ann Jochens)
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch (provided by GCOOS)
1:00 – 1:45 Review the pre-workshop homework. Team leaders will provide a 5-minute summary of the task, followed by a 10-minute group discussion (Simoniello)
Water Quality (Joe Swaykos)
Coastal Community Resilience (Angela Sallis)
Recreational Boating, Fishing, and Diving (John O’Connell)
1:45 – 3:30 Work in groups to compile and refine pre-workshop assignments. What needs to be done to make the interpretive information, lessons and/or activities web-ready for the GCOOS site? Provide examples for each state.
3:30 – 3:50 Afternoon break
3:50 – 4:50 Resume group activities
4:50 – 5:00 Regroup and close for the day. Opportunity to address challenges and provide suggestions for day two of the meeting.
  Dinner on own.

Friday, August 7, 2009

8:00 – 8:30 Breakfast
8:30 – 8:40 Reconvene, review goals for the day (Simoniello)
9:40 – 9:40 Report out – 5 minute summary; 15 minute discussion per team (O’Connell lead)
Water Quality
Coastal Community Resilience
Recreational Boating, Fishing, and Diving
9:40 – 10:10 Generate a list of products/content currently available to post to the GCOOS web site — what can we use now? Discuss how the EO portion of the web site should be organized. (Swaykos)
10:10 – 10:45 Review and revise GCOOS EOC Action Items (Swaykos)
10:45 – 11:00 Break
11:00 – 11:25 Modify the EOC bylaws to reflect a term change for the Chair.
Identify EOC liaisons to other GCOOS committees and councils (Swaykos – Board of Directors; Simoniello – DMAC; Stakeholder Council, Observing Systems Committee, Products & Services Committee) (Spranger)
11:25 – 11:30 Closing Remarks (Walker)
11:30 Meeting Adjourned


Appendix C: GCOOS/EPA Coastal America Learning Center Kiosk Project

Coastal America Learning Center Education Representative(s) Priority Issue Launch Year
Audubon Institute-Aquarium of the Americas Tricia LeBlanc Habitat Conservation & Restoration 2010 or 2011
Dauphin Island Sea Lab-Estuarium Tina Miller-Way and Robert Dixon Nutrients & Nutrient Impacts 2010 or 2011
Florida Aquarium Debbi Stone Water Quality 2010
Texas State Aquarium Tara Schultz Ecosystem Integration & Assessment 2010
J.L. Scott marine Education Center Sharon Walker and Sheila Brown Coastal Community Resilience 2011
Acuario de Veracruz Ricardo Aguilar-Duran and Paty Estrada Water Quality/HABs 2009


Appendix D: EOC Liaisons to other GCOOS Councils and Committees

Board of Directors: Joe Swaykos, EOC Chair
DMACC: Chris Simoniello, E/O Coordinator
Observing Systems Committee: Chris Verlinde, Florida Sea Grant
Products & Services Committee: Angela Sallis, NCDDC, and Mike Spranger, Florida Sea Grant
Stakeholder Council: Mike Spranger, Florida Sea Grant


Appendix E: Pre-workshop Assignment


Extend the EOC’s ability to acquire and understand data accessed via the GCOOS data portal to include the ability to generate web-based lessons for a broad range of E/O audiences.

The goal of this exercise is to continue building our understanding of the information available via the GCOOS data portal. Activities will facilitate the EOCs ability to build tools and develop information products that support GCOOS education and outreach.

Members have been assigned to one of three teams (Water Quality, Coastal Community Resilience, or Recreational Boating, Fishing and Diving). Each EOC member will complete a set of tasks designed to allow them to become the builders and interpreters of information for GCOOS education and outreach audiences.

Last year, we reviewed the GCOOS website and identified the strengths and weaknesses of data sets related to ocean temperature, water level, ocean circulation and chlorophyll. This year, we will build on the exercise by developing tools to support use of the information by GCOOS E/O stakeholders in three specific application areas: Water Quality, Coastal Community Resilience, and Recreational Boating, Fishing and Diving.

Team assignments are as follows: (note: bold indicates team leaders; italicized indicates unconfirmed participation in the EOC meeting; underline indicates cannot attend the EOC meeting)

Water Quality: Joe, Debbi, Lee, Pamela, John D, Charlene, Margaret, Ann J, Barb

Coastal Community Resilience: Angela, Sharon, Jean, Lloyd, Dinah, Jessica, Rob, Ali, Mike, Gwen

Recreational Boating, Fishing and Diving: John O, Chris V, Ann W, Diane, Carol, Chris S, Lei, Rusty, Gary


  1. Think about the category you have been assigned in terms of how information from the GCOOS data portal is/can be used in real-life applications.
  2. Identify and list the relevant data sets you find. Please use the GCOOS portal as your starting point. Indicate if/when you use other data sets.
  3. Save at least one example of a time series data set (or other data product) that you generate. A hard copy or electronic version is fine. The information will be shared with team members during the EOC meeting. Be sure to include:
    1. The data provider/url
    2. Parameter(s) investigated
    3. Time interval you selected (if it is a time series)
  4. How can we package the information?
  5. What supporting information do we need to provide to make it useful to our education and outreach end-users?

Water Quality: what data sets can be used to evaluate conditions before, during and after a ‘Dead Zone’ event? Consider real-time data as well as archived information to look at trends. Identify time series data for parameters like dissolved oxygen, water temperature, rainfall, PAR (photosynthetically active radiation), wind speed and direction, ocean circulation (onshore/offshore patterns), pH, chlorophyll, etc. What patterns can be identified? What story can be told? How can it be packaged in a meaningful way? Another area that lends itself well to a ‘compare and contrast’ approach is freshwater vs marine HABs. What sort of data can be used to tell this story?

Coastal Community Resilience: Can you identify anomalous weather/oceanographic events that can be compared and contrasted to ‘normal’ conditions? An example used at the GCOOS GPS workshops was comparing barometric pressure from the Galveston area over the course of several weeks when Hurricanes Gustav and Ike made landfall. Likewise, water level, storm surge, wave height, wind speed and direction, etc. could be used to look at how the conditions changed before, during and after the events. It would be ideal for examples in this category to link to Global Climate Change issues-things like fisheries, ecosystems and habitat use, or other issues of priority to your constituents. What about unnamed storms or anomalous weather events? Are you aware of any that can be used as examples?

Recreational Boating, Fishing and Diving: Based on information gleaned from the two GCOOS GPS workshops held for this community, we have a list of desired products (I will send the results to this team). Identify possible display formats for ‘one-stop’ information access-do you have a favorite site that displays the information in an easy-to-understand way? What interpretive information do we need to provide? How should we organize the information on the E/O portion of the website?

During the EOC meeting, we will dedicate about five hours to building content for the EO portion of the GCOOS web site. The information generated prior to the workshop will be critical to achieving this goal.

In addition to the assignment above, all EOC members are being asked to generate a list of products/content currently available to post to the GCOOS E/O portion of the web site. What can we use NOW? What Gulf of Mexico-wide products exist that communicate the value and use of data from coastal ocean observing systems? These can be posters, lesson plans, classroom or field activities, or links to appropriate sites.

CHRIS EXAMPLE using Dissolved Oxygen Data
Think about the category you have been assigned in terms of how information from the GCOOS portal is/can be used in real-life applications.
I’m thinking in terms of Dead Zones

Parameter investigated
Dissolved Oxygen; units mg/l

Identify and list the relevant data sets you find. Please use the GCOOS portal as your starting point. Indicate if/when you use other data sets.

From the GCOOS Data Portal, I scrolled over the New Orleans area and selected Tambour Bay. Under the ‘observations’ list, I selected Dissolved Oxygen.
This took me to the url below.

Once at the LUMCON site, I navigated my options for the time interval (e.g. 5, 10, 30 days, a year); I selected the option for an entire year-first for 2009 and again for the previous year. Note: Pay attention to SCALE: DO, mg/l is up to 16 in 2009 and 12 in 2008. More importantly, what is going on between Aug. to Dec. 2009? How do the numbers for June-July 2009 compare to those in 2008? (see below)

Save at least one example of a time series data set that you generate. A hard copy or electronic version is fine. The information will be shared with team members during the EOC meeting.



The data provider/url: LUMCON

Time interval you selected for the series.
I selected annual: 2008 and 2009 because I wanted to see if there were annual or inter-annual cycles; and I want to apply the information in a ‘prediction lesson’-what do the levels look like seasonally? What might a student expect for the remainder of 2009 based on what we see in 2008? What other parameters might influence our prediction (e.g. rainfall, chlorophyll)

How can we package the information?
I envision a lesson plan that incorporates retrieving time series data and making predictions about future conditions.

What supporting information do we need to provide to make it useful to our education and outreach end-users?
We need to provide interpretive information about oxygen-sources and sinks in the ocean-from physical mixing to the role of biology; known and speculated causes of hypoxia/anoxia; historical perspective; current science challenges to studying the issue; short term and long term consequences; identify actions/behaviors that we can influence to mitigate; compare with permanent, low oxygen environments like Oxygen Minimum Zones-compare and contrast from the perspective that species have a long time to adapt vs. seasonal fluctuations. Identify how local communities are impacted.


Appendix F: GCOOS EOC 2009 Meeting Pre-Workshop Teams

Water Quality Coastal Community Resilience Recreational Boating, Fishing, and Diving
Joe Swaykos Angela Sallis John O’Connell
Ann Jochens Jessica Kastler Lei Hu
Charlene Mauro Jean May Brett Dianne Lindstedt
Margaret Sedlecky Dinah Maygarden Rusty Low
Debbi Stone Lloyd Scott Chris Simoniello
Pamela Terasaki Mike Spranger Chris Verlinde
Lee Yokel Sharon Walker Ann Weaver
John Dindo Gwen Emick Carol Lutken
Barb Kirkpatrick Ali Hudon Gary Lytton
  Rob Smith  

Bold = team leader
Italics = unable to attend the meeting


Appendix G: Day Two Report-out Template

  • Please indicate your team’s focus: Water Quality, Coastal Community Resilience, or Recreational Boating, Fishing, and Diving.
  • Please list the group members:
  • Parameters Investigated: (e.g., dissolved oxygen, turbidity, surface currents, wave height)
  • What science issue(s) or stakeholder requests did your group address wih the data from Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (e.g., HABs, hypoxia, water level, data display for boaters)?
  • What were the relevant data sets identified (type of data and provider-e.g., satellite SST from the GCOOS portal-provided by LSU)?
  • Please provide an example of at least one time series data set, data display, or other data product that your group generated. Be sure to include the data provider/url and time interval (if a time series).
  • Did your group determine a target audience for the information?
  • Is the information ready to be posted to the GCOOS website? If not, what is needed?
  • Did your team generate any supporting information (e.g., explanations of what the data show, local examples that provide relevance, background information)? If not, what supporting information is needed to make it useful to our E/O end-users?


Appendix H: Results of the EOC 2009 Workshop Evaluation

EOC Meeting Evaluation
August 6-7, 2009

Name (optional) ____________________________________       Date _______________________________________________

Thank you for participating in the GCOOS EOC Meeting. Your feedback is appreciated.


Pre-workshop assignment Very Valuable Valuable Average Value Limited Value Very Little Value
Time spent searching for data on the GCOOS Portal and World Wide Web 8 5 1+ 1*    
Identifying ways the information can be delivered to GCOOS stakeholders 7 7   1*  
Meeting Activities Very Valuable Valuable Average Value Limited Value Very Little Value
Overview of the Coastal America Learning Center kiosks 8 6   1  
Breakout session held jointly with GOMA 7 4 2 1  
Opportunity for EOC members to provide updates 8 5 1    
Breakout session to build on homework assignments 10 4 1    
Other Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree No Opinion
The pre-workshop homework was clearly articulated. 6 7 1    
Sufficient time was given to complete the homework. 9 6      
It is necessary for the EOC to evaluate the GCOOS data portal (e.g. ease of accessing data; ability to understand). 11 4      
The meeting content was appropriate. 10 3 1   1
I contributed to how ocean observation products and services can be delivered to GCOOS E/O stakeholders. 9 6      
The GCOOS data portal was easier to use this year. 4 7 1+ 1*   1
The GCOOS EOC achieved its goal of identifying products/tools that are available now for the data portal. 6 8 1*   1*
The GCOOS EOC meeting was a good use of my time. 13 2      

* Indicates voted, but did not participate in this activity.

Should the GCOOS EOC strive to meet jointly with the GOMA EEN next year? Please support your answer with the pros/cons of doing so.

One replied no because the meeting was too distracting with conflicting schedules. The majority of those who replied ‘yes’ said it was contingent on a meeting exclusively with the GOMA EEN–not during the All Hands Meeting. Benefits of meeting jointly included time and money saved, overlap of content and goals, cross-pollinating ideas, and networking opportunities. The cons were that for those engaged in GOMA and GCOOS, the week-long meeting was too long; there was inadequate time for GCOOS-only issues; and team members were pulled away for non-GCOOS activities. Several people requested the GCOOS EOC meeting take place in late winter or early spring. If the GCOOS EOC and GOMA EEN meet jointly again, there is a request for more GOMA EEN background information.

Do you have topics you would like to see become the focus of future EOC meetings? If so, please specify.

  • How can we make ocean sciences part of the testing subjects?
  • Refine the homework assignment so we can be more focused during the EOC meeting. For example, assign each person one parameter for one region and have them identify data trends over specific time intervals. Identify cause and effects to be better able to develop products during the meeting.
  • What constitutes good outdoor experiential learning for students with GCOOS data?
  • How can we interact with other regions?
  • Identify a clear role for the EOC during the year-we want marching orders!
  • We need an EOC field trip to learn the nuts and bolts of the data collection process (from buoys) and examples of how the data are being used by researchers and non-researchers.
  • Focused product development for informal/public audiences like recreational boaters.
  • The EOC needs to help the BOD clarify messaging about the GCOOS mission and develop a branding strategy to improve website usefulness.

Was there adequate time for the EOC meeting?     14 Yes      2 No

If you were of the opinion there was inadequate time, please explain.

  • The meeting was too rushed because GOMA folks were in and out of the room
  • A few more hours were needed for closure and direction after the meeting.
  • Too much conflict with the NOAA stakeholders and GOMA All Hands meetings.

In your opinion what was the most valuable component of the EOC meeting?

  • Opportunity to discuss E/O web page development with EOC members
  • Hearing the EOCs view of the data portal
  • Energy of the participants
  • Experience using the data portal/Homework
  • Work groups/breakout sessions
  • Networking
  • All valuable
  • Curriculum planning and content development/generating website resources
  • Guiding questions for small group work
  • Opportunity to provide direct feedback to Matt Howard (DMAC Coordinator).

What single suggestion would you make to improve future EOC meetings?

  • Internet access
  • Have a meeting theme (e.g. K-12, recreational boaters) and a single-parameter homework assignment to narrow down the task.
  • Showcase a good project for educators who want to use COOS data
  • More guidance on how to stay on track during the breakout group
  • Open the meeting with information that will focus efforts on products desired by the EOC
  • More time to share/discuss the pre-workshop homework
  • Less on kiosks, more on how to make data available to our stakeholders
  • Reel in discussion dominators/time limits on discussions tangent to focus
  • ID specific areas for collaboration with the EEN
  • Great job
  • Action items for EOC members following the meeting

How often should the EOC hold teleconferences during the year?

Answers (most to least number of votes)

  • Quarterly (8 votes)
  • 2x/year
  • 1-2x/year
  • As needed

Do you want to participate in the online Earth System Science Education Alliance (ESSEA) course to develop GCOOS products related to Water Quality? (This is the course module developed by Rusty and Chris focusing on Dead Zones). We discussed a commitment of three or four weeks, where participants log on at their convenience. If yes, please indicate the most convenient start date:

4 Last week of August 4 First week of September 3 Second week of September 4 Other

(If other, please indicate an alternate week) Four voted for different start dates in October.

Because the votes were nearly tied for the proposed start dates, the instructors decided to split the difference and the course will begin September 1, 2009.

Additional comments:

Great venue/food/very thoughtful
Need outlets for laptops
Need internet access
Very productive-learned a great deal
Great job; great meeting. Enjoyed
Thanks for the opportunity to work with such a talented group
Well organized meeting
Homework a pain, but made the meeting very fruitful
Suggest you ask for homework in advance and have it compiled
It is better to distribute the evaluation at the meeting
Feel like we pushed forward in identifying tools and products for the portal
Paperless is a good idea, but didn’t work well without everyone having laptops