The Gulf Research Program (GRP) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently announced awards for nine new grant projects totaling $3.2 million. Among those awarded was ASMS Biology Instructor Alison Rellinger, who is tasked with developing a curriculum on sea level rise.
All nine projects awarded involve efforts aimed at advancing the scientific and environmental literacy of children and youth living in coastal regions.
“I’m excited to try a bunch of new ideas in the classroom,” Rellinger says. “I know our students are well poised to give feedback on the material that will help us develop fun and engaging ideas that teachers around Alabama and Mississippi will be able to use!”
The project is titled “Building Sea-Level Rise and Flood Resilience Capacity in the Northern Gulf Through Students and Teachers” and will develop and refine an engaging, hands-on curriculum for 9-12th grade students pertaining to flooding and sea-level rise resilience.
“For my part in this grant, I will be helping write curriculum and we will also pilot it here at ASMS before we role it out to other schools,” Rellinger says. “I’m very excited about this grant. We will likely begin piloting ideas in my classroom in late winter to early spring. The ideas I have, fit perfectly into the AP Environmental Science curriculum. We have collaborators at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, so we will definitely work on ideas for field trips on the island.”
This project aims to help create an informed and prepared coastal citizenry possessing the understanding and skills necessary to reduce coastal vulnerability to flooding and sea-level rise.
Renee Collini, Project Coordinator for The Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative (NGOM SSC), will be spearheading this project as the Project Director.
“We are very excited to expand our portfolio to include high-school education, the Cooperative has not done this before” Project Director Renee Collini says. “However, by expanding our partnership and bringing together existing partners I think it will benefit all of us. I think the Cooperative will benefit in the short-term by really expanding our tool box to better communicate to new perspectives in new ways. In the long-term I think the Cooperative and the Gulf will benefit by stimulating the next generation of community members. That generation has so much creativity and optimism, I cannot wait to see what they come up with to tackle sea-level rise and climate change. Thinking that in some way this project will contribute to that is pretty amazing.”
The GRP explains how communities in U.S. coastal regions face a variety of unique social and environmental challenges likely to be exacerbated in the future by climate change and sea-level rise, increased storm intensities, and transitioning economies, among other factors. To have the capacity to address these challenges effectively, it will be important for the next generation of citizens, scientists, engineers, and decision-makers in these regions to understand the challenges and opportunities for addressing them in the context of their local communities.
“For the first time, the Gulf Research Program is excited to be awarding grants focused on building the scientific capacity of the next generation,” says Karena Ruggiero, program officer for the GRP’s capacity building initiative. “This suite of projects is going to provide a variety of innovative learning opportunities for children and youth in coastal states including Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, and Texas on a broad range of topics pertaining to community resilience and environmental health.”