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Families by the Seaside

Image Credit: Jumpstart Youth Connection, Amesbury, MA. USA

The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) worked with New England Ocean Science Education Collaborative (NEOSEC) member organizations on the “Families By the Seaside: Building Community-Based Outdoor Ocean Science Learning Experiences” (FBS) project, an effort to increase ocean literacy learning experiences for families along the New England coastline.

The goal of the program was to create meaningful outdoor and web-based learning experiences for underserved / underrepresented (UU) families at informal science education centers in the New England region of the U.S. The EOL Learning + Education group was the lead member of the FBS Science and Technology Group, which evaluated existing Web 2.0 tools, including those available through the Encyclopedia of Life, and trained project staff through workshops and webinars.

The field based programs launched in June 2011 with several events celebrating World Ocean Day (June 8, 2011).  Web-based science and technology tools and resources were integrated into the field based programs to extend and leverage the learning that can happen around a one-day event. The full suite of activities were field tested in family programs organized around International Coastal Cleanup Day in September 2011.  The programs were improved upon based on participant feedback and tested again in June and September 2012.

This project intended to improve ocean literacy among a broad public audience. Outcomes included:

Enriching the content of existing coastal education programs using ocean literacy principles
Extending audience engagement using new technology

  • Building capacity of informal educators through professional development

  • Expanding partnerships with community based organizations

  • Strengthening collaboration among informal science education institutions in the region.

The “Families By the Seaside: Building Community-Based Outdoor Ocean Science Learning Experiences” project is funded by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grant. This was a three year project to work with informal science education centers and Community Based Organizations (CBO) in five coastal communities from Portsmouth, NH to Mystic, CT, USA.


  1. Seacoast Science Center, Rye, NH and Portsmouth Housing Authority, Portsmouth, NH
  2. BOAT CAMP, Newburyport, MA and Jumpstart Youth Connection, Amesbury, MA

  3. Northeastern University Marine Science Center, Nahant, MA and Girls Inc., Lynn, MA

  4. New England Aquarium, Boston, MA and Chelsea Intergenerational Learning Center, Chelsea, MA
  5. Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, CT and Sub base New London Navy Child and Youth Programs, Groton, CT


  1. Encyclopedia of Life
  2. National Weather Service Forecast Office

  3. New Hampshire Sea Grant

  4. Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems