In our efforts to protect ocean health, we think it’s important to involve as many people as possible. Part of our strategy is to learn how to translate scientific information to more clearly explain causes, consequences, and appropriate responses to issues such as climate change. We try to facilitate thinking about how all of us are involved in larger systems and how each of us can help to shape those systems to support a healthier planet. We’ve been involved in this work for the past ten years to help aquariums, zoos, and other types of museums to bring information to the public in a way that is understandable and engaging. 

Now, the free Visualizing Change toolkit is now available to help educators explain and facilitate conversations about how the ocean relates to our lives!

visitors learn about climate change with educators at the magic globe
An interpreter at New England Aquarium shares one of our visual narratives with a visitor.

The Visualizing Change project is one of the efforts we’ve been leading, together with colleagues from several partner organizations (Aquarium of the Pacific, Buttonwood Park Zoo, Exploratorium, National Aquarium and Seattle Aquarium; and also FrameWorks Institute and New Knowledge Organization) The team developed a new set of tools for educators (also available to the general public). The tools include presentation scripts and image files as well as background information about the theory we used to develop them and relevant ocean and climate science.

educators learn about visualizing change program
Members of the Visualizing Change Project team meeting at the Aquarium of the Pacific in 2015 to work on developing and evaluating scripts to test.

Covering the ocean-climate connection, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and extreme weather, the toolkits offer images and scripts to guide for semi-scripted dialog with museum visitors or school students. Each one is developed to lead toward positive, solutions-oriented conversation. Interactions are supported by engaging visuals that can be displayed on anything from a six-foot-wide Science on a Sphere® to a handheld tablet computer. Our experience tells us that visitors find these conversations interesting, hopeful, and informative – and they are glad to see that we are talking about this important challenge to our ocean.

We’ve made the toolkits freely available at www.vischange.org. We hope that interested educators – from aquariums, museums, and zoos to classroom teachers and other institutions – will explore and make use of the toolkit.

satellite map of world with transportation lines highlighted
In this map, blue lines are shipping lanes, red lines are airline routes, yellow lines are roads, and bright spots are cities. This is the built human environment. Image Credit: Dan Pisut, NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory
We appreciate support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for this work. NOAA does not necessarily endorse our findings or recommendations.
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