John Christy
Professor and Director
Don Behringer
Faculty member, Fisheries/Aquatic Science
Brian McCann
Associate Research Professor
Clayton Dilks
Sharon Walker
Director of Education and Outreach
Central Gulf of Mexico Programs
Gulf of Mexico
COSEE-Central Gulf of Mexico (COSEE-CGOM) is a unique collaborative hosted by the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) and its J.L. Scott Marine Education Center. Other partners include the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and its Estuarium, the University of Florida (UFL) and its Natural Museum of History and Florida Sea Grant College Program, and Mississippi State University and its Computer Technology Center. Other collaborators include the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA), the Marine Technology Society (MTS), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the respective State Science Teachers Associations within the Gulf of Mexico, and the State Departments of Education and Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS).


  • “Bridges the gap” between ocean and coastal sciences research and the relevance of those data to a broad range of audiences via informal centers (museums, aquariums, and science centers)
  • Engages scientists in professional development programs through two-day workshops to three-week “face to face” and virtual institutes
  • Develops inquiry-based ocean sciences lesson plans for middle school teachers
  • Provides opportunities at sea for formal and informal educators aboard U.S. Navy oceanographic survey ships to work “side by side” with civilian surveyors
  • Enhances workforce diversity through programmatic recruitment efforts

Projects and Programs

Louisiana and Alabama will each be hosting the annual Summer Institute in 2009. In-service and pre-service teachers of grades 4-12 will join research scientists from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas for this course, which includes five days in residence for field activities in either Alabama or Louisiana, and 10 days of distance-learning during July. The content focus is coastal processes, habitats and organisms, and marine technology.

Mississippi festival touch tank
These Summer Institutes are intense, placed-based, and field-oriented; they include the development of five to seven professional development activities, which the teachers share with their peers upon returning to their respective schools in the fall. The Institute's focus each summer is based on enhanced oceanography and coastal processes content, strengthening instructional skills, and developing lesson plans/activities that are aligned with the National Science Education Standards (NSES) and the Ocean Literacy Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts.

Following the six-day Face-to-Face Institutes, the teachers are then engaged over a three-week timeframe, spending two weeks (July 6-24, 2009) involved in the Online Institute component. This component encompasses presentations, reading assignments, videos made by six additional research scientists, social scientists, and/or educators. (See statistics and reviews from the 2008 online component.)This summer, the online component will feature the following: an Introduction to the Gulf of Mexico, Aquaculture, Coastal Resiliency, Global Information System Technology, Marine Debris, and Environmental Stewardship. Teacher-participants also develop an activity on each of these topics. We are very pleased that this year our NSF Program Managers will be attending the COSEE-CGOM Institutes for a site visit!

In Fall 2008, at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama and at the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, COSEE-CGOM co-PIs hosted a two-day workshop for informal and formal educators, media professionals, and scientists. Over 40 participants were engaged in these workshops.

Sea Scholars deploying instrumentation on deck
In the spring of 2009, the COSEE-CGOM 12-member Management Team will be involved in the Communicating Ocean Sciences to Informal Audiences (COSIA) Professional Development Workshop, implemented by COSEE-California through a NOAA Environmental Literacy grant, and held at the Marine Education Center in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The Management Team hopes to implement COSIA in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana for the fall semester 2009.

The Sea Scholars program will be implemented aboard one of the U.S. Navy's 329-foot oceanographic survey ships in 2009. This effort will be a component of the JASON Project. The COSEE-CGOM award, funded by NSF, has leveraged funding by NOAA and the U.S. Navy into a model collaboration since its inception in 2003.


The COSEE-CGOM quarterly electronic newsletter began in March 2008 and is released every 3 to 4 months.


The COSEE-CGOM Internal and External Evaluators have been administering, analyzing, and interpreting pre- and post-tests and Likert-scale evaluations, as well as conducting interviews and implementing post-Institute evaluations with three teachers in each state and select scientists, since 2006. These evaluators, in collaboration with the COSEE-CGOM Management Team and through input from the COSEE-CGOM Advisory Board, have developed and implemented several electronic evaluations, administered to all 2003-2007 participants, thereby strengthening overall evaluation efforts. These data have been or are being analyzed and interpreted.

K-12 Coastal Ecology Camp

The COSEE-CGOM Management Team has also been involved in working with two Master's degree students and one Doctoral student. The Master's degree students have been involved in the evaluation process, and the Doctoral student is involved in updating the COSEE-CGOM data base and surveying teachers concerning the use of lesson plans and interactions with our scientists.

The Informal Centers, through which the Co-PIs are affiliated, have been a "win-win" partnership for a wide range of audiences, i.e., classroom teachers, their students, the general public, scientists, media professionals, and informal educators, as well as the COSEE-CGOM Management Team and Advisory Board. All participants are involved in enhanced content knowledge. The teachers have increased their pedagogical skills and the participating scientists better understand teachers' professional needs, state and national standards, and the manner in which children learn.

Visit COSEE-Central Gulf of Mexico!

Contributed by Sharon Walker
Photographs courtesy of COSEE-CGOM