Center For Ocean Sciences Education Excellence COSEE California
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Communicating Ocean Sciences

Communicating Ocean Sciences (COS) has been a major initiative of COSEE California since 2002. It
is a set of two innovative college courses developed by COSEE California at the Lawrence Hall of Science (the Hall): COS to K-12 Audiences (COS-K12) and COS to Informal Audiences (COSIA).

These courses address five critical needs:

  1. improve the ability of science faculty to communicate science concepts and research;
  2. provide science faculty and students experience using instructional materials that exemplify best practices in science teaching and learning theory;
  3. introduce future scientists (undergraduate and graduate students) to the importance of education, outreach and the “broader impact” of ocean sciences research;
  4. promote mutually beneficial collaborations between scientists and educators co-teaching the course; and
  5. provide K-12 students from underrepresented populations and visitors to science centers with ocean sciences learning opportunities and role models.

Developing the Courses
The Communicating Ocean Sciences courses were developed by a team of scientists and educators with expertise in teaching science in formal and informal environments, curriculum development, ocean sciences, educational research, and professional development.

  • COS K-12 was first developed with funding from the National Science Foundation Geosciences Directorate, Division of Ocean Sciences (Grants OCE-0215500 & OCE-0731182) for COSEE California at the Lawrence Hall of Science/University of California, Berkeley.
    • The course was successfully taught, documented, field-tested, evaluated, and shared through the National COSEE Network and beyond.
  • The Hall leveraged its work on the COS K-12 course to obtain funding in 2006 from NSF’s Informal Science Education (ISE) division to create and field-test COSIA (Grant ESI-0540417). The COS K-12 course materials and practicum were revised for COSIA to reflect the affordances and constraints for learning science in informal environments.
  • Both courses are currently taught in over 25 universities nationwide, including most COSEE Centers. Both courses can be used to fulfill requirements in both undergraduate science majors and requirements for graduate science students to complete a course in teaching methods.
    • Spring 2004: COS-K12 was first taught at UC Berkeley
    • 2004-2005: University of Oregon, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Oxnard Community College begin to offer COS-K12
    • 2005-2006: Stanford University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Rutgers University, and Sonoma State University begin to offer COS-K12
    • 2006-2007: UC Berkeley, University of Southern California, Oregon State University, Hampton University, Rutgers University, and Scripps Oceanographic Institution begin to offer COSIA
    • 2008-2009: University of Hawaii and University of California, Santa Cruz begin to offer COS-K12
    • 2009-2010: University of Mississippi, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, San Francisco State University, and University of Michigan begin to offer COS-K12
  • These courses were based on the highly successful Communicating Chemistry/Physics/Astronomy series co-developed and co-taught by the Lawrence Hall of Science and the UC Berkeley College of Chemistry.

Design of the Courses
The Communicating Ocean Sciences courses

  • create and develop partnerships between ocean and climate scientists in institutions of higher education (e.g., university and community college) and educators in formal and informal learning environments (e.g., school and science museum) to team-teach the courses;
  • introduce science students to inquiry-based science pedagogy that is grounded in current research and theory on learning and teaching;
  • build on students' interest in and knowledge of ocean sciences;
  • engage students in experiences to apply their understanding of the ideas from the courses and practice communicating their science knowledge in local K-12 classrooms (for COS-K12) or informal science education institutions (for COSIA).

The course has won awards for its innovative design and has been recognized widely as a model for promoting ocean science literacy.

Catherine Halversen teaching COS

Impact of the Courses across the National COSEE Network

For more information

  • Visit to learn more about this growing community and download course materials
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  • call us: (510) 642-5008