Outreach activities focus on providing public access to weather and ocean observations from K-tower and using these observations to engage students and the public in science, technology, and mathematical topics relevant to the Florida Big Bend. The meteorological and oceanographic observations are archived and quality controlled using techniques that have developed through the SAMOS (Shipboard Automatic Meteorological and Oceanographic System; funded by NOAA COD) program and applied to research vessel observations. The data are freely available to any group interested in the coastal weather and ocean conditions in the northern Gulf of Mexico. In addition, we are proposing workshops to be conducted at the FSU Coastal & Marine Laboratory for teachers that allow for a focus on weather, climate, oceanography, and marine biology, resonating with researcher interests in NGI and teacher interests in developing more solid preparation in earth/space science. Prof. Rusher, an NGI co-I who is in contact with Dr. Hodge, outreach coordinator for the NGI at Mississippi State University (MSU), has been involved with the Florida Department of Education's rewrite of the K-12 Science Standards in Fall 2007. When these new science standards debut in Spring 2008, there will be a much more heavy emphasis on deep inquiry into marine science issues, which will provide a springboard for Florida teachers to take advantage of an evolving outreach program. Alabama has recently intensified its efforts in this area, as well, through adoption of GLOBE and other advanced inquiry approaches to the teaching of science, and we feel that our approach will be attractive to teachers in all the states served by the NGI.
We have participated in forums on climate change for the Florida Municipal Electric Power Association and the Florida Electric Cooperative Association, as well as at Rickards High School in Tallahassee, a minority based institution. We have also participated in forums on sea level rise with the National Coastal Ocean Program in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico and on watershed issues relating to the Apalachicola-Flint-Chattahoochee, particularly with Senator Bill Nelson (D, FL) and Congressman Allan Boyd (D, FL). We gave a presentation on the northeastern Gulf to the American Association of University Women in Detroit, Michigan, for 600 mostly minority high school students. We made presentations to the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Research Institute on grouper ecology.
In the summer of 2009, we provided three high school students the opportunity to explore the K-tower observations as part of the FSU Young Scholars Program.