The third 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 Hampton Inn in Pensacola, FL, June 5-6, 2008. This document constitutes the report of the EOC. Special thanks to Ali Hudon for providing meeting notes without which his report could not have been written.

1.0   Opening of the Meeting

1.1   Welcome, Introductions

The meeting began with a welcome by Sharon Walker, Past GCOOS EOC Chair and GCOOS Board Member. She 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. The meeting agenda is provided in Appendix B. Based on group consensus, the agenda was modified as follows. On Thursday, June 5, 2008, after the break, members were invited to contribute to the Share-a-thon that was originally scheduled for 8 p.m. The change was made to accommodate participants not residing at the hotel overnight.

Ann Jochens, GCOOS Regional Coordinator, was unable to attend due to a meeting scheduling conflict with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance. However, she was involved with pre-workshop planning and activities.

1.2   Purpose of the Meeting

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

  1. Review and obtain feedback on the GCOOS EOC Strategic Plan;
  2. Build EOC ability to acquire and understand data accessed via the GCOOS data portal;
  3. Create a minimum of four prototype education products that can be posted to the E/O section of the GCOOS web site (at least one graph/maap including interpretation for each of the four parameters investigated prior to the workshop: sea surface temperature, surface currents, water level, and ocean color*);
  4. Have EOC members complete an evalucation of the GCOOS data portal and provide suggestions for improvement based on their pre-meeting experiences; and
  5. Vote in a Chair Elect for the GCOOS EOC.

* Note parameters were selected so that content can also be used to support kiosk development. Specifically, focus areas of the prototype will be on 1) Forecasting and predicting natural hazards (hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, erosion); 2) Climate Change; and 3) Oceans and human health (HABs).

2.0   GCOOS EOC Strategic Plan Review

2.1   Introduction

Mike Spranger, Past Chair of the EOC and GCOOS BOD member, provided historical background on the GCOOS EOC Strategic Plan (Appendix C). Currently all funds come from NOAA. Future plans include looking toward alternate funding sources such as public private partnerships and the Pew Foundation. EOC activities will be dynamic and responsive to change, linking to resources, priorities, and opportunities. The GCOOS Mission defines who the audiences for data products and services will be. The Strategic plan is designed with five goals, each with two to five objectives. The action items listed are essentially an implementation plan, though not formally termed that in the document. The GCOOS EOC Strategic Plan should be viewed as a roadmap for advancing GCOOS E/O efforts. Sharon Walker emphasized that the charge of the EOC at this meeting was specifically to address Goals #2 and #3 of the plan.

When asked if primary target audiences were to be defined, Chris Simoniello, GCOOS E/O Coordinator and meeting co-facilitator with Jessie Kastler, said that this would not be discussed up front. Rather, leaving it open would allow work groups to develop products with more freedom during the breakout sessions.

2.2   Overview of the GCOOS EOC Strategic Plan

Jessica Kastler, EOC Chair, reviewed details of the Strategic Plan. She provided expectations of the EOC to volunteer time, expertise, and guidance. EOC members need to make decisions about GCOOS products and services. Chris Simoniello’s job will focus on how to make these things happen. She encouraged members to share their ideas about how the GCOOS EOC should work, and to talk to Chris Simoniello or anyone in the EOC Chair leadership chain. Suggestions about how to fund these ideas were also welcomed.

Mike Spranger reminded participants that GCOOS has hosted workshops targeting oil & gas and HAB communities to identify what their product and services needs are. The EOC can help put some of these ideas into practice. If we develop useful products on the web, it can accommodate various end user groups. Chris Simoniello mentioned that she is currently reviewing reports from previous workshops and highlighting the needs that were expressed. Worth Nowlin and Ann Jochens agree that follow-up is necessary. We need to identify overlapping information requests and start from there.

Sharon Walker suggested we review actions for goals #2 and #3 of the Strategic Plan. Jessica Kastler said that there wasn’t time to review Goal #2 at this meeting but that Chris Simoniello would be working on it. Chris Simoniello explained she would be taking results from this EOC meeting to the other groups within GCOOS and the GCOOS Board who were waiting for results, especially the Products and Services Committee. Mike Spranger reminded the group that Goal #2 (Communication within GCOOS) was integrated into the Strategic Plan based on experiences with SEACOOS. We need to get other people in GCOOS aware of E&O, understand why it’s important, what’s going on, etc. Chris Simoniello stated the interactions may be product-dependent. Additional working groups may need to be formed on an ad hoc, as needed, basis.

2.3   Discussion of specific action items

Goal 3, Action 1: Conduct a market analysis and needs assessment for specific audiences within the Gulf of Mexico region
To emphasize the number of surveys that have been conducted, Chris Simoniello reminded the group that Judy Gray (NOAA AOML) mentioned they are conducting "an assessment of assessments." GCOOS workshops have already surveyed users and identified product needs. We should build from here. Lee Yokel updated participants on the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Environmental Awareness Campaign. The research plan is designed to ID target audiences via focus groups and direct interviews. Results will be based on feedback from approximately 750 people around the Gulf and include interviews of elected/appointed municipal officials, media professionals, beach lovers, members of the Hispanic community and coastal residents within 1-2 miles of beach. It was suggested that the GCOOS EOC rewrite an action item for #1 to include this study. However, S. Walker cautioned that the Strategic Plan has already been vetted with the Board and although action items were not included, it is probably best to leave as is. We can leave the action items "as is" and provide a status remark next to each action.

Goal 3, Action 2: Inventory existing information and educational resources
Margaret Sedlecky said she can think of 2-3 resources that other people may not know about and asked if there is a list we can circulate among the group. Lee Yokel said the USGS clearinghouse is an excellent repository for resources. An action item for Chris Simoniello is to periodically (2-3x/year) request lists from EOC members and make the information available to USGS as well as GCOOS. This will be accomplished via distributing e-mail reminders to EOC members for GCOOS activities and information/educational resources.

Goal 3, Action 3: Develop an annotated catalog of both current and future products based on the analysis and interpretation of needs assessment surveys
No comments were made.

Goal 3, Action 4: Guide the development of GCOOS exhibits, brochures, and materials for use at conferences and meetings
Margaret Sedlecky asked if there is anything that can be brought to NMEA in July, e.g., an IOOS or GCOOS exhibit booth. Chris Simoniello expressed concern about sending people to the GCOOS portal too early, before the data are readily accessible. Table covers and banners with the GCOOS logo are being printed and GCOOS awareness information (poster and brochures) are being created. The concern is sending people to the site before there is interpretive information to show them how the site/data can be relevant. Joe Swaykos, the Chair of the EOC as of June 6, 2008, said that it is appropriate to appoint a subcommittee to work with Chris Simoniello to help her achieve these actions. Chris Simoniello provided an example of what might be useful – a "How to" for teachers. Pick 1-2 sites and develop an education guide/map that teachers can take back to their classrooms and implement. Mike Spranger said that GCOOS did have 4-5 committees previously, but with no money. This may be revisited now that funding exists.

Goal 3, Action 5: Develop partnerships between public/private/academic agents to ensure a coherent suite of education and outreach products for specific audiences
Joe Swaykos asked if anyone other than NOAA was funding proposals. Bryon Griffith has publicly committed to giving EPA monies ($50k) to CELCs in each of the five Gulf Coast states-Texas State Aquarium, J. L. Scott Marine Education Center, Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the Florida Aquarium. The Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans is the fifth recipient, pending CELC certification. Kiosks will have different themes (e.g., HABS) and will rotate among states (whether the entire display or the software packages and on what timescale have yet to be determined). Year One of kiosk development will also benefit from an additional $22.3K from a grant to GCOOS. Kiosks should fulfill at least one of the 5 GOMA priority areas. Chris Simoniello said a workgroup will be developed to address these issues in the near future. Margaret Sedlecky said that Weeks Bay NERR received funds and would like to develop a product. She hopes that within GCOOS we can find partner agencies. The result would be a model that can be used and implemented in other states/areas. Margaret Sedlecky was encouraged to discuss this further during the "Share a Thon" scheduled later in the program.

Goal 3, Action 6: Review materials to assess usefulness, effectiveness, and accuracy regularly
Mike Spranger said there was a committee to address this last year. Dianne Lindstedt asked if this included an evaluation of the usefulness of the data available online. The data have to be in a form that’s not frustrating for users. There will be more on this topic later in the meeting.

Goal 3, Action 7: Maintain an engaging and accurate E/O presence on the GCOOS website
Lee Yokel updated the group on GOMA EEN’s storyboarding the GOMA website; GCOOS will have a presence there; Matt Howard will be able to make sure our efforts are complementary. The site will include a link to the USGS clearinghouse. Chris Simoniello and Matt Howard are both representatives on the GOMA group developing this.

Goal 3, Action 8: Provide inventory of existing materials and GCOOS E/O on website
How does this relate to Action #2? E/O will include pdfs of brochures, etc., for people to use in a variety of programs, i.e., for teachers. We need to think about how the website will be partitioned if we want to start housing and providing content, e.g., partition by audience (extension vs. formal education sections), by product type (surface currents, water level), or by some other criteria. Matt Howard and Ann Jochens are relying on input from the EOC to develop the E/O portion of the developing portal.

3.0   The GCOOS Forum

In the interest of time, the only mention of the GCOOS Forum was to make EOC members aware that it is a tool that we can expect to use for internal communication. It is password protected and will provide us a method of communication via the GCOOS website. Similar to other content management systems, we can set up workgroups, share documents and improve internal communications.

4.0   Gulf of Mexico Overview slide presentation

Jessica Kastler provided an overview of the physical, chemical, geological and biological oceanography of the Gulf. The ample text provided allows teachers to present the information to their students. The presentation will be available on the COSEE website and eventually, the GCOOS website.

5.0   “Share-A-Thon” presentations

5.1   Margaret Sedlecky

Margaret Sedlecky wants to incorporate the most up-to-date data on impervious surface areas and precipitation to develop an inundation model. The audience she envisions is local coastal resource managers who can use the information in their decision-making processes within the Weeks Bay watershed. The model also has uses for formal/informal education as a teaching/training tool. She discovered the visualization tool at a previous GCOOS teacher workshop. The problem she identified is obtaining accurate, recent data layers.

5.2   Rusty Low

Rusty Low talked about ESSEA-the Earth System Science Education Alliance. The question is, how do you develop social networks; how do you get people together, on the same page, talking about the same questions? ESSEA is a portal used to teach a graduate level course in Earth systems science to educators. 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. The incentive is that upon completion of a module, informal educators receive an honorarium to put the materials and resources into practice (i.e., exhibits, posters, etc.). Funds are available for people to collaborate around specific thematic units and create resources tailored to specific audiences and stakeholders. GCOOS E/O should explore creating a module about the Gulf of Mexico using some of the resources from the meeting today. The module can be utilized and repurposed by other educational institutions to reach UUPs. They can also be used by teachers for undergrad/graduate students, with teachers as facilitators. See for more information.

5.3   Sharon Walker

Sharon Walker provided an overview of The Ocean Hall and the Ocean Today Kiosk (OTK) that will open September 27, 2008, at the Smithsonian. There will be concurrent openings at five of the 21 Coastal and Ecological Learning Centers (CELCs) around the nation. Sharon has several slides available for those who would like to view the exhibit design. It is anticipated, over time, all 21 CELCs will have OTKs.

5.4   Lee Yokel

Lee Yokel said a workshop was held in MS to show people how to put together videos to be submitted for OTK. These 60-sec to 3-minute video samples could be made for GCOOS–highlighting the information that can be found online or how data are acquired in the field and applied in society. A module like this could also be added as a resource on the GCOOS website or uploaded to YouTube. Images could be clipped from online sites and data sources, or video could be taken in the field showing how data are collected.

6.0   Day 1 Action Items Summarized

  • Chris Simoniello will create a spreadsheet to track the types of GCOOS information being used by EOC members and where/when they include it (Mike Spranger might have a template for this). Requests for information from EOC members will be made 2-3x/year via e-mail.
  • Chris Simoniello will contact Judy Gray to determine a timeline for the assessment of assessments and report back to the EOC.
  • Chris Simoniello will periodically (2-3x/year) request lists of E/O resources from EOC members and create a master GCOOS list that will be added to the USGS database.
  • Chris Simoniello will e-mail the 3 pdfs from Margaret Sedlecky to the EOC.

Friday, June 6, 2008

7.0   Instructions to participants for Tuesday morning activities: product development

7.1   Update on GOMA Priority Issue Teams (PITs)

Lee Yokel provided an update on GOMA PITS for the purpose of ensuring GCOOS E/O activities align with GOMA where appropriate (see The priority issue categories are: water quality for healthy beaches and shellfish beds, reducing nutrient inputs to coastal ecosystems, wetland and coastal conservation and restoration, identification and characterization of Gulf habitats, coastal community resilience and environmental education.

7.2   Expectations for work groups: water temperature, water level, currents and ocean color

In response to the question what are "data products," Chris Simoniello answered anything that can be used to teach about COOS and/or the importance of COOS. Visualization tools, graphs with interpretive information, posters and support material for informal/formal educators are all acceptable. J. Kastler said we can look to SECOORA for examples of products that can be included—and for ways of viewing the data in different forms for different audiences (see

Each group of 3-6 participants met to discuss their topic and strategize on data product development.

Work groups met the entire morning to review slides that participants created for the pre-workshop exercise designed to familiarize EOC members with the GCOOS data portal. This "in-reach" was necessary to capitalize on EOC expertise at the meeting; it was an ambitious agenda to design useful E/O products in the limited time frame of the meeting.

8.0   GCOOS EOC Chain of Command

8.1   Vote for the GCOOS EOC Chair-Elect

Following lunch, ballots were distributed and a new Chair-Elect, John O’Connell from Texas Sea Grant was nominated. New to the EOC, he has already been a valuable member of the team.

8.2   Introduction of the new GCOOS EOC Chair

Jessica Kastler commented on Joe Swaykos’ contributions to the EOC before passing the torch to him and becoming Past Chair. While Joe Swaykos was not the official Chair-Elect, Margaret Sedlecky, recognizing she could not dedicate sufficient time and resources to the position, graciously removed herself (while still maintaining participation on the EOC). The GCOOS EOC leadership expressed gratitude for Joe’s willingness to "step-up" and assume this new role.

9.0   Evaluation of the GCOOS Data Portal

Meeting participants (and EOC members who completed the pre-workshop exercise but were unable to attend the meeting) completed an evaluation of the GCOOS Data Portal. Results were provided to Matt Howard and Ann Jochens to aid data portal development efforts. See Appendix D for survey results.

10.0   Work group reports and discussions

Each work group was given five minutes to report on their activities and 15 minutes for discussion.

10.1   Temperature

Report: Temperature

  • It is important to have concise descriptions of each parameter for general users-for example, what is Sea surface temperature (SST) and why is it important? GCOOS should use language that already exists (e.g., look at; GoMOOS, and COOL Classroom by Rutgers).
  • SST is measured via satellite, in situ by NOAA, USGS, academia. To what depth are satellite measurements for SST accurate, e.g., what constitutes the ‘surface’?
  • Potential audiences for SST products include academia, coastal managers and decision makers, general public (fishers/boaters, divers), media, K-12 students and teachers, and industry (oil & gas exploration, service vessels).
  • Reporting intervals for web-based SST data were six, 15, and 60 minutes.
  • Products: media sound bytes, curriculum that is downloadable, print-ready educational brochures, posters. Model education products after SEACOOS, GoMOOS, and COOLClassroom.
  • Recommendations: Place E/O products on E/O link on the GCOOS website. Open all external links via a new window. Model educational products after SEACOOS, GoMOOS, COOLClassroom. User friendly data. Use the "tier approach" to target stakeholder needs: concise statements, provide basic descriptions, provide links for more detail.

Discussion: Temperature

Chris Simoniello asked if based on the images seen, would any work for the GCOOS site or would they need to be reconfigured. Sharon Walker said CenGOOS has some satellite images. So do the USGS through MSDNR, Texas NERRs, and the Texas Land Grant Office. Chris Simoniello emphasized the need to capture examples of the sites that people feel are done well. The EOC also needs to consider providing feedback to data providers, letting them know what we need in terms of units on figures, axes labeled on graphs, etc. If we are to use stand-alone figures, we need this information on the graphs, not buried in text on separate web pages. This could be a project for GCOOS inreach. There might be other opportunities to have data providers work with us to make information more accessible to E/O audiences. M. Sedlecky suggested we consider Eyes on the Bay as a program that does E/O well (see

10.2   Currents

Report Currents

  • CenGOOS is not linked to the GCOOS website
  • COMPS site maps particle trajectories – neat resource we should utilize
  • WAVCIS tutorial, PORTS lesson plans, COMPS Making Waves Education Page – are all good education links and resources
  • Applications of information: nutrients and HABs, sediment/coastal resiliency, oil spill mitigation
  • Audiences best served by data: Boaters and fishermen, maritime transportation, resource managers and decision-makers.
  • We need to provide information on forcing factors for currents – from global to local levels (e.g., differential heating, topography, etc.), how they are measured, the history of measurements (for education, sea beans, messages in bottles), how new methods allow more accurate information over broad expanses of the ocean.
  • A priority is to show people what data are available and to annotate the information so it can be easily understood. It is not always clear what areas are covered by a given data set.
  • For E/O it is important to open provider sites while keeping audiences on the GCOOS portal. A tiered approach would be useful to provide access to information, explanation of parameters, links to detailed information and specific examples.
  • Streamline links.
  • Organize around traditional disciplines by the parameters we’ve been considering. How are currents a part of geological, biological, chemical and physical oceanography?
  • Provide information for unusual real-life applications – economics, business, math, culture.
  • Work with the private sector to develop examples and lessons based on real-life applications.
  • Consider sub-surface currents in the future.

Discussion: Currents

Rusty Low suggested we can combine the four disciplines and start talking about Earth as a system. Margaret Sedlecky stated that it is still a reality in the classroom that H.S. students don’t study Earth systems – they take biology, physics, chemistry, etc. Each has to be addressed in terms of different standards. John O’Connell stated that we need to move toward a systems approach if we want students to be able to make connections. Lee Yokel stressed the importance of the GCOOS website as an opportunity to make practical connections to show environmental impacts, system concepts – a systems approach. Chris Simoniello mentioned a pilot in which she was involved as a GK-12 Fellow working with the Science Coordinator of the Marine Science Magnet program at Madeira Beach Middle School to create a series of activities that linked history, math, science and English. Teachers were excited to link different topics under a single (ocean) theme.

10.3   Water Level

Report: Water Level

  • Data need to be in a visual format. The Alabama DNR tide chart calendar is great!
  • GCOOS should explore use of computerized widgets to display water-level information.
  • We need a history page with archived information that can be accessed/downloaded.
  • Work with local media outlets to get ocean obs data into broadcasts, on news websites.
  • Make data available via the internet, cell phones, newspapers, local media outlets and weather channels.
  • We want to incorporate Google Maps.
  • Provide visualizations that are easy for the general public to understand.
  • Partner with oil & gas industry to publish data in newspapers and create visualizations.
  • Widget application can be used for a variety of audiences and can be used for other forms of data too (SST, currents, other near-real time data).

Discussion: Water Level

Angela Sallis, NCDDC, said C-SIDE is already doing this. All the data have to be published on a website *somewhere* in order for it to be "grabbed" by a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) program. Basically, this would be a value-added exercise–turning existing data into products that people need and can understand. Dianne Lindstedt and Charlene Mauro said that we still need to have something "hard" for people/schools that don’t have internet and/or computer access on a regular basis.

10.4   Ocean Color

Report: Ocean Color

  • A primer for ocean color (and all parameters) is needed. Parameters should be described in one succinct manner. Who needs the data and why?
  • The GCOOS portal needs a search engine.
  • GOMA focus areas that relate to ocean color include water quality and nutrients.
  • Ocean color includes measurements of chlorophyll a, turbidity, bacteria.
  • We need a clear explanation on the homepage about GCOOS site and the ocean color portion.
  • Extract ocean color data and, where appropriate, re-tailor for different audiences.
  • Present ocean color: how is it measured (in situ & satellite), why it is important, provide direct link to ocean color data, how to use ocean color data, simple presentations (curricula to teachers, use for public officials/decision makers, reflecting economic applicability to funding agencies).
  • How to present it? Presentation examples include: low on text, simple explanations, thumbnail visuals, products (HABs, chlorophyll concentrations, microbial source tracking, red/yellow/green beach closures).
  • Make curriculum specific to the Gulf Coast, relevant to local coastal areas.
  • Example website intro: obs systems do for oceans what meteorology does for weather. Give examples of why ocean color is important: ocean color & red tide, ocean color & dead zones, ocean color & how clear the water is.
  • The option exists to go straight to more technical information/data.
  • The site needs a disclaimer if using and/or modifying data products.
  • Each product should have the same or modified image for ocean color.
  • Each intro needs a primer.
  • Introduction explains what you are looking "at" and how it relates to the topic.
  • Images would either be timed snapshots or a short time series (historical thumbnails connecting chlorophyll a to red tide; Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed showing changes in chlorophyll a over time; chlorophyll a predictions).
  • Presenting ocean color: simplify to color range, use pictures only, high = red and low = purple. Interpret color: what does this mean to the average user? Fishing indicator? Dead zone indicator? Red tide indicator?

Discussion: Ocean Color

John O’Connell asked if Sargassum can be tracked via chlorophyll a? It is important along the Texas coast, especially from the perspective of the tourism industry. It was suggested that GCOOS might be able to provide a place where data can be input by students, teachers or volunteers. Mote Marine Lab has an example of this for HAB reporting where life guards use a PDA to provide daily beach reports that get disseminated via a real-time site hosted by MML.

11.0   Closing Remarks

There was consensus for the idea of packaging the products developed during this meeting into a "special COOS edition" for the NMEA education journal Currents. Joe Swaykos and Chris Simoniello were planning follow-up activities to compile the information, explore ways it could be packaged and disseminated, and forward ideas to the GCOOS Board for evaluation. Utilizing the UCAR ESSEA program as a vehicle to collaborate on products (both regionally in GCOOS and inter-regionally with SECOORA, CaRA, and other regional associations), Chris Simoniello suggested products related to water quality might be a good starting point since these would "piggy-back" efforts on a larger GOMA effort to increase environmental awareness in the Gulf.


Appendix A: Attendees of the GCOOS EOC Meeting, June 5-6, 2008
Pensacola, FL


Name Affiliation State
Ali Hudon USF OMPL and ACT O&E FL
Jessica Kastler USM, EOC Chair MS
Dianne Lindstedt LSU LA
Rusty Low UCAR/at large member UCAR
Charlene Mauro FL Education FL
Dinah Maygarden U of New Orleans LA
John O’Connell TX Sea Grant TX
Angela Sallis * NCDDC MS
Margaret Sedlacky Weeks Bay NERR AL
Chris Simoniello GCOOS E/O Coordinator GoM
Mike Spranger FL Sea Grant FL
Debbi Stone FL Aquarium FL
Joe Swaykos USM MS
Chris Verlinde FL Sea Grant FL
Sharon Walker USM, GCOOS E/O PI MS

* Not an EOC member at the time of the meeting.


Appendix B: Agenda for the GCOOS EOC Meeting, June 5-6, 2008
Pensacola, FL

Thursday, June 5, 2008

12:30 – 12:45 pm Welcome/Introductions (Dr. Sharon Walker)
12:45 – 3:00 pm Review GCOOS EOC Strategic Plan
Introduction (Dr. Mike Spranger)
Overview (Dr. Jessica Kastler)
Group discussion (Jessica, Sharon, Mike, Margaret Sedlecky)
Identify action items (Jessica)
3:00 – 3:20 pm BREAK
3:20 – 3:40 pm Provide instructions for the remainder of the afternoon (Dr. Chris Simoniello)
3:40 – 4:50 pm Work in groups (4-5 people per group (Facilitator name)
Temperature (Sharon Walker)
Currents (Jessica Kastler)
Water Level (Mike Spranger)
Ocean Color – Chlorophyll (Joe Swaykos/Margaret Sedlecky)

4:50 – 5:00 pm Regroup and close for the day. Opportunity to address concerns, problems, or provide suggestions (Jessica and Chris)
5:00 pm Dinner (on own)
8:00 pm Optional Share-a-Thon—Rusty Low (update on the Earth system professional development course); all are encouraged to share information about their programs.

Friday, June 6, 2008

8:00 – 8:15 am Review assignment instructions (Chris)
8:15 – 10:30 am Resume group activites–focusing on development of a product for the E/O portion of the GCOOS website
10:30 – 10:50 am BREAK
10:50 – 12:00 pm Work on interpretive information to support product developed; provide one example of an application for each state (TX, LA, MS, AL, FL). Emphasis should be on applications relevant to people’s lives.
12:00 – 12:45 pm Lunch (provided by GCOOS)
12:45 – 1:00 pm Becoming Past-Chair, Jessica will turn over the Chair of the EOC to Joe Swaykos
1:00 – 2:30 pm Presentations by each work group (Margaret Sedlecky)
1:00 – 1:20 pm 5 minute presentation; 15 minute group discussion – Temperature
1:20 – 1:40 pm 5 minute presentation; 15 minute group discussion – Currents
1:40 – 2:00 pm 5 minute presentation; 15 minute group discussion – Water level
2:00 – 2:20 pm 5 minute presentation; 15 minute group discussion – Ocean color
2:20 – 2:45 pm Written evaluation of the GCOOS Data Portal (Chris)
2:45 – 3:00 pm BREAK
3:00 – 3:50 pm Summarize Action Items; Vote for a new Chair Elect (Jessica)
3:50 – 4:00 pm Closing remarks (Joe)
4:00 pm Meeting Adjourned


Appendix C: The GCOOS EOC Strategic Plan

Preamble: This plan is designed for the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) Education and Outreach Council (EOC). Specific goals, objectives, and actions are identified in the plan. Not all goals, objectives, and actions will be implemented each year. Specific activities will be linked to available resources, priorities, and opportunities. In addition, this plan is a living document that will be reviewed and updated annually within the regular planning process.

GCOOS Mission: We seek to establish a sustained observing system for the Gulf of Mexico to provide observations and products needed by users in this region for the purposes of

  • Detecting and predicting climate variability and consequences,
  • Preserving and restoring healthy marine ecosystems,
  • Ensuring human health,
  • Managing resources,
  • Facilitating safe and efficient marine transportation,
  • Enhancing national security, and
  • Predicting and mitigating against coastal hazards.

We envision sharing of data, models, and products via the internet for the common benefit of all participants, including industry, NGOs, academia, and federal, state, regional, and local government agencies. It is understood that this Gulf of Mexico observing system will be integrated with other regional coastal ocean observing systems, in particular to create an integrated and sustained U.S. component of the ocean observing system.

We recognize that the system will require sustained financial support from a combination of government, private, and non-governmental organizations. That will be possible only if the system is built and remains responsive to the needs of these organizations and to the public. Thus, the system will be subject to continuing oversight by representatives of such organizations and of the public.

Collaborations with other nations bordering the Gulf of Mexico is to be actively sought in the design and implementation of this regional observing system.

EOC Vision: Regional user communities and residents empowered to be knowledgeable of and effectively utilize GCOOS and IOOS products and services when making decisions concerning their work and life in ocean and coastal waters, estuaries and watersheds.

Previously: All
residents within the Gulf of Mexico region will be aware of and effectively use GCOOS products and services when making decisions concerning their work and life in ocean and coastal waters, estuaries, and their watersheds.

EOC Mission: Provide guidance and leadership essential for the development of programs designed to address regional needs for education, outreach, public awareness and the understanding of programs and materials applicable to our user communities and especially the residents of the Gulf of Mexico region.

Previously: Provide guidance and assistance to GCOOS in the development of education, outreach, public awareness, and understanding of programs and materials that are applicable to residents of the Gulf of Mexico region.

Goal 1 – GCOOS Education and Outreach Network
Establish a GCOOS education and outreach network within the Gulf of Mexico region.

  Obj. 1 – Office and Staff
Establish a sustained central E/O Office.
    Action: Hire a full-time education and outreach coordinator
Action: Seek extramural funding and support for EOC activities.
Action: Develop a one-page summary of GCOOS EOC to use in recruiting members.
  Obj. 2 – Membership
Ensure diversity and inclusiveness in EOC membership.
    Action: Review membership on an annual basis.
Action: Actively seek and recruit members, including those from underrepresented and underserved populations.
  Obj. 3 – External Communication and Collaboration
Increase collaborations, coordination, and communication efforts within the broader Gulf of Mexico E/O communities by increasing and maintaining effective partnerships that reach diverse audiences.
    Action: Identify liaison contacts with potential partners.
Action: Establish a list of E/O organizations that may utilize GCOOS materials.
Action: Coordinate joint meetings with other E/O associations and entities (i.e. GOMA EEN, Sea Grant, NERRS).
Action: Establish collaborative efforts with state and federal agencies, colleges and universities, private sector and non-profit entities and the variety of educational organizations in the Gulf of Mexico Region.
  Obj. 4 – Educator Development
Enhance the GCOOS E/O community by supporting and developing professional development programs and practices of formal and informal educators.
    Action: Raise awareness of GCOOS products and services by augmenting the awareness and understanding of EOC members.
Action: Hold an annual meeting of EOC to review the strategic plan, consider resource availability, and set priorities for work to be completed by the next meeting.
Action: Create a listserv of 1) EOC members and 2) use the GOMAEEN listserv to communicate to regional educators.
  Obj. 5 – Internal EOC Marketing
Develop and reinforce key messages in the daily work of GCOOS EOC members.
    Action: Create rewards and incentives for all who engage in GCOOS education, outreach, and communication activities.
Action: Conduct professional development programs at meetings attended by the EOC.

Goal 2 – GCOOS Coordination
Communicate within GCOOS to ensure all committees’ efforts guide education and outreach efforts, and that all GCOOS partners deliver a consistent message.

  Obj. 1 – Communication within GCOOS
Facilitate two-way communication between data providers and users to maximize relevancy and usefulness of products.
    Action: EOC members will be assigned to each GCOOS committee to maximize in-network communication and the development of appropriate education and outreach products.
  Obj. 2 – Internal GCOOS Marketing
Collaborate with appropriate committees to create relevant products and materials.

Goal 3 – GCOOS Use
Work toward the use and application of GCOOS observations, products, and services throughout the region.

  Obj. 1 – User Needs
Develop GCOOS EOC relevant programs and materials for diverse stakeholder audiences (such as the general public, formal and informal educators, coastal decision makers and resource managers).
    Action: Conduct a market analysis and needs assessment for specific audiences within the Gulf of Mexico region.
Action: Inventory existing information and educational resources.
Action: Develop an annotated catalog of both current and future products based on the analysis and interpretation of needs assessment surveys.
Action: Guide the development of GCOOS exhibits, brochures, and materials for use at conferences and meetings (these materials should have specific audiences in mind).
Action: Develop partnerships between private/public/academic agents to ensure a coherent suite of education and outreach products for specific audiences.
Action: Review materials to assess usefulness, effectiveness, and accuracy regularly.
Action: Maintain an engaging and accurate E/O presence on the GCOOS website.
Action: Provide inventory of existing materials and GCOOS E/O on website.
  Obj. 2 – User Education
Increase the awareness and understanding of GCOOS products and services by various audiences.
    Action: Design key and consistent messages and themes for GCOOS that are consistent with IOOS messages.
Action: Develop materials with clear and consistent messages.
Action: Disseminate messages and themes through traditional (TV, radio, print) and non-traditional (web, podcasts, blogs) mass media.
  Obj. 3 – User Outreach
Target E/O effort at diverse stakeholder groups.
    Action: Establish comprehensive list of stakeholder organizations and associations that utilize or could utilize GCOOS products and services.
Action: Develop the most effective tools to reach target audiences.
Action: Leverage current technology to reach diverse communities.
Action: Provide and staff display booths at major stakeholder conventions/festivals.
Action: Inform public audiences through free-choice educational opportunities.

Goal 4 – Workforce Development
Encourage and enhance workforce development into the ocean observing system.

  Obj. 1 – Outreach to Educators
Ensure K-16 teachers are aware of GCOOS as a platform for teaching and learning science, math and technology as well as an opportunity for a professional or vocational career.
    Action: Create post-secondary curricula that addresses identified workforce needs.
Action: Develop vocational/technical training and retraining programs.
Action: Develop and implement programs to attract, nurture, develop and retain underrepresented groups.
Action: Engage professional societies to develop professional certifications.
Action: Expand awareness and understanding of careers aligned with OOS.
Action: Increase the number of local education leader experts who use OOS information to highlight related careers.
  Obj. 2 – Outreach to Students
Increase knowledge and skills of students in the K-16 community who will improve ocean, coastal, and science literacy through their use of GCOOS products, services, projects, and activities.

Goal 5 – Evaluation
Evaluate effectiveness and accountability of outreach and education activities

  Obj. 1 – Establish Baseline
Establish a baseline to gauge future success.
  Obj. 2 – Assess Effectiveness
Identify and implement mechanisms that can be used to measure effects of specific education and outreach activities (e.g., pre/post tests, website hits, feedback form/email, questionnaires, needs assessment instruments, Likert-scale evaluations, and other related evaluation tools).


Appendix D: Results of the EOC Evaluation of the GCOOS Data Portal
June 11, 2008

Following are results of an evaluation of the GCOOS Data Portal given to GCOOS EOC members. Answers are based on their experience completing the GCOOS EOC pre-workshop exercise (see below) in preparation for the June 2008 Council meeting in Pensacola, Florida. Participants were informed that the information they provided would be used to develop the new GCOOS data portal, primarily to construct the education and outreach section(s) of the web site.

Fifteen EOC members and one non-EOC member representing NCDDC attended the Pensacola meeting. Two additional council members participated in the pre-workshop exercise. The majority of members focused their efforts in one of four areas (Water temperature, Surface currents, Water level or Ocean color). Three completed the survey having researched more than one topic. The four parameters selected are priorities under the U.S. IOOS.

Pre-workshop Exercise
One month prior to the GCOOS EOC meeting, council members were assigned to one of four work groups. Each member was asked to become familiar with the GCOOS data portal by answering questions related to the parameter they investigated. Following their investigations, each member was asked to prepare no more than two PowerPoint slides addressing the following:

Parameter measured Who measures it (group or agency)
Indented audience Instrumentation used
Resolution of measurements Units of measurements
Range of frequency acquired Range of frequency communicated
Method of communication Are data accessible via cell phone
Clarity of information Time scale of graphical representations
Limitations of data Period of record
Identify useful information not presently linked via the GCOOS Data Portal

Results of a survey issued following the pre-workshop exercise are reported here.

1. Four work groups were created prior to the GCOOS EOC June 2008 workshop. Please indicate the category where your efforts were focused:
  Water temperature (6)
Water level (5)
Surface currents (3)
Ocean color (cholorophyll) (7)
2. Were you able to attend the June 2008 GCOOS EOC meetting?
  Yes (16) No (2)  
3. Approximately how many web links did you search directly from the GCOOS data portal while completing the pre-workshop exercise?
  Number of sites
Number of people
4. Of the web links you tried directly from the GCOOS data portal, approximately how many resulted in successful acquisition of the parameter of interest without having to link elsewhere (e.g. the information you wanted was immediately available)? # successful / total number searched:
  Water Temperature Currents Water Level Ocean Color
5. Of the web links you tried directly from the GCOOS data portal, approximately how many ended unsuccessfully (e.g., no information of interest was acquired)? # unsuccessful / total number searched:
  Water Temperature Currents Water Level Ocean Color
6. Approximately how many of the web links you tried directly from the GCOOS data portal results in acquiring data from a common source (e.g., you searched and www.yyy and they linked to a common data provider)? # with a common source / total number searched:
  Water Temperature Currents Water Level Ocean Color
7. For the web links that provided useful information, what features should be highlighted on GCOOS E/O web pages to provide interpretive information to our E/O stakeholders (e.g. graphics, explanations, visualization tools, conversion tools for measurements, dial/gauge data displays, etc)?
  Water Temperature
 All of the above plus a search engine, basic definitions, explanations, glossary, pop up text box when cursor over; analog presentation of data-e.g. dials, use of familiar icons, clear data displays, gauge data displays
All of the above plus education materials like COMPS and WAVCIS graphics
  Water Level
All of the above plus brief statements about information available at various links without having to leave the GCOOS site (e.g., what you can expect to find at a particular link), Search engine, graphics, and explanations, dial & gauge data displays, conversion tools (e.g., for UTC), graphics with maps, provide a sense of what ‘normal’ or average data measurements are (e.g., average water temperature for a given season as a frame of reference).
  Ocean Color
NOAA/SeaWiFs-type graphics, search engine, definitions of units of measure (e.g., ocean color in terms of % FS … needs explanation), short descriptions of relevance to target audiences, scientific visualizations as first order product for public, highly targeted "widgets" for fishermen, others
8. What are the top three regional issues for the Gulf Coast States that can benefit from COOS information and that are relevant to the lives of the broad E/O community? (e.g., fisheries management, beach monitoring updates, improving inundation models and hazard warnings)
  Ranked in order based on the number of times listed:
1. Water level/inundation models (including storm, sea level rise, subsidence): 9
2. Beach health (HABs, pathogens, shellfish monitoring): 8
3. Fisheries and ecosystem management: 8
4. Environmental literacy & conservation: 8
5. Hazard forecasts/predictions including rip currents: 4
6. Water quality/nutrients/anoxia & dead zones: 4
7. Habitat use/coastal restoration & resiliency: 4
8. Improved marine forecasts/transportation safety & efficiency: 3
9. What state do you represent on the GCOOS EOC?
  TX (1)
LA (3)
MS (4)
FL (5)
Regional/national (3)
10. What do you think are the top three local (state) issues that can benefit from COOS information and that are of interest to YOUR E/O constituents?
  Ranked in order based on the number of times listed:

  1. Water quality/HABs/bacteria 13
  2. Inundation models/hazards/storm forecasts/emergency management 12
  3. Ocean & coastal literacy and conservation 5
  4. Marine forecasts/beach safety including rip currents 4
  5. Coastal resiliency/erosion, development, legislation 4
  6. Commercial and recreational fisheries management 4
  7. Marine Commerce
  8. Climate change
  9. Dead zones
  10. Sedimentation in the Gulf (from MS)
  11. Salt dome development and utilization
  12. Land loss in LA
11. Do you think the E/O portion of the GCOOS data portal could better server formal/free choice education and public audiences if it was partitioned into two sections?
  Yes (10)
No (1)
Five reported it depends on how the site is restructured and who the target audiences are. It might be better to organize by product type rather than audience.
12. During the pre-workshop exercise, did you find useful information from data providers in the GCOOS footprint, but not linked via the GCOOS data portal? If so, please list as many as you recall.
  CenGOOS (three people reported this is valuable, but not linked via the portal)
Navy Commander Meteorology & Oceanography (
Surface currents on the RSMAS (CIMAS) site with Arthur M
13. During the pre-workshop exercise, did you find useful information from data providers outside the GCOOS footprint? If so, please list as many as you recall.
  FAQ components of NOAA very helpful
NASA sites
NOAA CoastWatch
Cool Room/ Cool Classroom (Rutgers)
Gallaudet education site
14. Do you have a favorite website(s) where you think E/O is done exceptionally well? If so, please share the name and/or url of the site.
  Rutgers Cool Room, SEACOOS, COMPS and GoMOOS were reported several times
Windows to the Universe
LSU Earth Science Lab
WNH Coastal Observing
Maryland Eyes on the Bay
NASA sites
15. Which of the following describes your experience using the GCOOS data portal? (check all that apply and/or insert your own comment)
  Ranked in order of the number of replies:

  1. Productive with much effort (9)
  2. Frustrating (9)
  3. Productive with some effort (5)
  4. Unproductive (2)

Comments listed in the “other” option box include:

  1. Requires much patience
  2. There is much data from state/federal sources but none with direct application
  3. Not easily navigable
  4. Not visually appealing
  5. Ended up using Google because there was no search engine on GCOOS
  6. Too much redundancy-website needs to be ‘overhauled’ and cleaned up
  7. The website is fine for accessing GCOOS documents-accessing data requires time and patience
  8. Potentially very informative if restructured and information delivery improved
16. Do you currently use the GCOOS data portal to access information either for yourself or for your audiences? _________ If so, approximately how often do you acquire data?
  No (9)
Comments with "No" include:

  1. Neither use nor promote because the site is not ready for public consumption
  2. Two reported they go directly to the data providers
  3. Four who reported no indicated they will in the future now that they are familiar with the portal
  4. One said it is a useful resource as is for researchers and university students

Yes (7)
In response to “How often”:

  1. Two reported they use the portal 1-2x/month for education purposes
  2. One reported they access the portal 2-3x/month
  3. One reported use of 2-3x/year- when teaching physical oceanography unit
  4. One uses the site several times/week
17. What changes to the existing GCOOS data portal would make it more useful to you (either for personal use or for the audiences you engage)?

Ranked in order of the number of times reported:

  1. Search Engine (11)
  2. Simplified home page/user interface 7
  3. More information without having to leave the GCOOS website (6)
    • Glossary/definitions
    • Explanations of units
    • Primers on topics
    • Examples of data are used
  4. Education link from main page
  5. More engaging data visualizations
  6. Easier to navigate
    • Less text
    • Less technical
    • More pictuures
    • More interactive
    • Easy for average teacher to use
    • Streamline/remove redundancies
    • Better organized–clarify what is available at each link and for what regions
  7. Incorporate with Google Earth
  8. Provide examples for formal education using canned data sets from GoM

Questions or comments? Please contact the GCOOS Education and Outreach Coordinator, Chris Simoniello at Your input is valuable!