Development of the Framework

Scientists and educators in the Ocean Literacy Network developed two consensus documents, Ocean Literacy: The Essential Principles of Ocean Sciences K-12 and the Ocean Literacy Scope and Sequence for Grades K–12. Together these documents form the Ocean Literacy Framework, which is intended to provide educators with a “roadmap” to help build coherent and conceptually sound learning experiences for students from Kindergarten to 12th grade. The making of the Framework, from initial ideas to development and review by hundreds of scientists and educators, spanned from 2002 to 2010. Here we highlight critical aspects of the development process.

A more detailed version of this historical overview can be found in the NMEA Special Report #3 on the Ocean Literacy Campaign: Schoedinger, S., Tran, L. U., & Whitley, L. (2010). From the Principles to the Scope and Sequence: A brief history of the Ocean Literacy Campaign. Current: Journal of Marine Education, Special Report #3 (The Ocean Literacy Campaign), 3-7.

You may download the full text of the article or view the current web version of the article.

The Need: Omission of ocean sciences from National Science Education Standards.

When the National Science Education Standards was published in 1996, members of the ocean sciences and ocean education communities were dismayed to find that there was little mention of ocean topics in the content standards. Additionally, most state standards did not include much about the ocean, coasts, or watersheds. Consequently, the teaching of ocean sciences was largely ignored in most K-12 classrooms. There were exceptions of course; pockets of excellence, where passionate educators and innovative programs managed to bring marine science content and experiences to some students. Without a coherent framework of concepts and messages, however, ocean educators and scientists began to realize that these topics would remain on the margins of teaching and learning about science.

The Ocean Literacy Principles: 2002-2004

Efforts to develop a consensus position on ocean sciences education began in 2002, and involved committed efforts from key individuals and organizations:

  • Bob Chen, University of Massachusetts-Boston, COSEE New England
  • Elizabeth Day-Miller
  • Sarah Schoedinger, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Bob Stewart, Texas A&M University
  • Craig Strang, Lawrence Hall of Science, COSEE California
  • Sharon Walker, University of Southern Mississippi, COSEE Central Gulf of Mexico
  • Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)
  • College of Exploration (COE)
  • Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS)
  • National Marine Educators Association (NMEA)
  • National Geographic Society (NGS)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • National Sea Grant College Program
  • The Ocean Project

In October 2004, development of the document that came to be known as the Ocean Literacy: The Essential Principles of Ocean Sciences K-12 formally began with a two-week online process involving over 100 people from the ocean sciences education community. By the end of the two weeks, the community had identified the seven essential principles and 44 fundamental concepts. Small teams of scientists and educators took this draft and fleshed out the ideas through an iterative process of writing and sending out their revisions for review by members of the community. Individuals from the community with a diverse range of perspectives and expertise contributed to developing and reviewing the Ocean Literacy Principles; look to the Honor Roll for names of individuals:

  • formal educators from K–12 schools, colleges, and universities;
  • researchers from multiple sub-disciples in the ocean sciences;
  • education policymakers;
  • science coordinators from state and local departments of education;
  • informal educators;
  • and federal agency representatives involved in education and outreach.

The Ocean Literacy Scope & Sequence: 2006-2010

Development of the Ocean Literacy Scope and Sequence for Grades K-12 involved a more extensive iterative process. First drafts of the conceptual flow diagrams for the Scope and Sequence were created between 2006-2008 at working meetings around the country, including at the:

  • Lawrence Hall of Science–April 2006 hosted by COSEE California and NOAA Office of Education;
  • NSTA Annual Meetings; and
  • NMEA Annual Meetings.

These meetings were led by members of the community: Rita Bell, Tina Bishop, Francesca Cava, Beth Jewell, Judy Lemus, Sarah Schoedinger, Craig Strang, Peter Tuddenham, and Lynn Whitley.

In 2008, LHS/COSEE California led small group working meetings to develop the Scope and Sequence from these first drafts through an intensive process of writing, reviewing, and revising the content, language, organization, and presentation of each conceptual flow diagram. Coordinated by Lynn Tran, the LHS team included Noelle Apostol, Emily Griffen, Catherine Halversen, Sarah Pedemonte, Craig Strang, Emily Weiss, and Maia Wilcox, with additional assistance from ocean scientists and educators from the community: Frannie Coopersmith, John Farrington, Myrna Jacobson, David Mountain, Adina Paytan, Gil Rosenthal, Bob Stewart, and Tammie Visintainer. These individuals represented a diverse range of educational and scientific expertise:

  • physical, biological, & geochemical oceanographers
  • marine educators
  • curriculum development specialists
  • educational researchers

The second of the Scope and Sequence was scrutinized by the community in an online public review in November 2008, and the third draft was reviewed by experts in science and education between April – June 2009. The final version of the Scope and Sequence was published in the March 2010 issue of Current: Journal for Marine Education as the featured component of the NMEA Special Report #3 on the Ocean Literacy Campaign. Look to the Ocean Literacy Framework Honor Roll for names of individuals who contributed to the development and review processes.