The New England Aquarium, collaborating with other aquariums across the country, is leading a national effort to enable aquariums to effectively communicate the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on marine animals, habitats and ecosystems. Our goal is to build on visitors’ emotional connection with ocean animals, connect to their deeply held values, help them understand causes and effects of climate change and motivate them to embrace effective solutions.
- Build a national coalition of aquariums and related informal education institutions collaborating on climate change education
- Develop an interpretive framework for climate change and the ocean that is scientifically sound, research-based, field tested and evaluated
- Build capacity of aquariums to interpret climate change via training for interpreters, interactive exhibits and activities and communities of practice for ongoing support
Collaborative Training for Aquarium Interpreters
We are working collaboratively with other aquariums across the country—including Monterey Bay Aquarium, National Aquarium in Baltimore, Vancouver Aquarium, Birch Aquarium at Scripps, and Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach—to develop training techniques and a toolkit that staff and volunteer interpreters can use to relate climate change to the live animals in their collections. With funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, more than 1,000 interpreters have been trained in climate change science, communication strategies and interpretive techniques.
Building a National Coalition of Aquariums
Thanks to funding from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), we are partnering with Monterey Bay Aquarium and National Aquarium in Baltimore to:
- Create a national network for training, resource sharing and support, including an interactive website, online seminars and an empowerment evaluation that tracks the progress of each of more than 40 participating institutions
- Develop and disseminate portable, replicable, cart-based educational activities on climate change and the oceans in order to complement and assist interpretation of aquarium live animal exhibits
- Provide training and gallery activities for teen interpreters, using interactive exhibits such as the Magic Planet® digital video globe to create stations where they can engage visitors in conversations about climate change and ocean health
- Host regional and national summits to strengthen collaboration and showcase and disseminate model programs
Interpreting Climate Impacts on Coastal Zones and Marine Life
We are collaborating with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, FrameWorks Institute, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Institute for Learning Innovation on a National Science Foundation-funded climate change education partnership. This initiative will develop a multi-tiered communication strategy and network to enable interpretive professionals at aquariums, coastal national parks, marine sanctuaries and other education centers to interpret climate change impacts on coastal zones and marine life.
- Synthesizing research from the fields of climate and ocean sciences as well as social and cognitive sciences
- Helping interpreters learn more by engaging with researchers who study the impacts of climate change on fisheries, coastal ecosystems, coral reefs and ice-dependent animals
- Building a base of research about effective interpretive practices and documenting the impact on visitor learning
- Facilitating communities of interpretive staff and ocean scientists by creating a sustainable, social context for ongoing learning