Is it Possible to be Science Literate Without Being Ocean Literate?

The Ocean Literacy Campaign is changing the way educators and the public think about ocean sciences education: teaching ocean sciences is not just enrichment, but is essential to science literacy. Read about how the Ocean Literacy Campaign is bringing about a paradigm shift in the way educators and the public think about Ocean Sciences Education.

While marine educators have always known that many important science concepts can be taught through ocean examples, and that the ocean provides an engaging context for teaching general science, a more compelling credo now guides that work: “Teach for Ocean Literacy.” Many ocean sciences concepts are more than engaging examples of general science; they have intrinsic, essential importance. Therefore, one cannot be considered “science literate” without being “ocean literate.” Two of the earliest and most infl uential documents in the science reform movement, Science for All Americans and Benchmarks for Science Literacy [2,3], state "the science-literate person is familiar with the natural world and recognizes both its diversity and unity." Research consistently affi rms the ocean's vital role in maintaining the unity of our world. Without its vast ocean, Earth could be inhospitably cold like Mars or a stifl ing greenhouse like Venus. On the other hand, the interconnectedness of the ocean and the atmosphere has had negative impacts. Ocean waters absorb airborne industrial chemicals which are carried thousands of miles from their source to the Arctic region. These pollutants are found in the bodies of top predators such as polar bears, which absorb the chemicals through their diet of fi sh and seals. Whether we live on the coast or inland, eat seafood or not, humans are inextricably tied to the ocean. Thus the scientifi cally literate citizens we grow in our schools must become familiar with ocean issues that may or may not be happening "in their own backyards."

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