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NASA and Partners Release Education Resource Database
Screenshot of the TrACE website

The searchable, online TrACE catalog currently contains over 200 educational resources. Search results can be filtered by product type, audience or even region. Image Credit: NASA
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Individuals and groups interested in science education now have a new resource at their fingertips -- a database full of lesson plans, tools and products about a complex yet much-discussed subject -- climate change.

The database is called the Tri-Agency Climate Education Catalog, or TrACE. It is the result of collaboration between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Science Foundation. Together, the three agencies have funded a number of projects that are aimed at increasing climate literacy and preparing the future workforce for jobs in climate-related areas.

"The collaboration is really focused on learning how to effectively teach climate change, which is not just complex but also multidisciplinary. It deals with Earth science, economics, government, math, agriculture and so many other subject areas," said Lin Chambers, the project scientist for NASA Innovations in Climate Education, or NICE, at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

The results of these projects are now arranged online for the public to view and access. The concept of the catalog started as a way for principal investigators on each of these climate literacy projects to see what others were creating. Although the primary goal of the catalog was for internal use, Chambers and the other creators of TrACE decided it couldn't hurt to make it available to other educators too.

The tools and resources are perfect for science educators looking to jazz up their lesson plans or for museums looking to add an exhibit on the effects of climate change. Climate educators working on similar efforts or in similar regions will also be able to locate, learn from and collaborate with each other through TrACE.

"This is one stop shopping for finding out what opportunities, such as professional development or curriculum units, exist in your area or online," said Ann Martin, a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow at NASA Langley and the project evaluator for NICE.

The searchable, online TrACE catalog currently contains over 200 educational resources, representing more than 80 tri-agency funded projects. The results of a search can be filtered by the type of product you might need, the audience you are targeting or even the region in which you live.

"The regional search is important because a lot of what people are doing in climate education is place-based," Martin added. "The local impacts of climate are different from Nevada to New York."

A graph of Earth's surface with colors indicating predicted surface temperature changes by 2100

Climate science resources like this graph predicting surface temperature changes are available on the TrACE website. Image Credit: NASA
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Each agency has brought different projects and focus areas to the catalog, according to Martin. The federally funded climate literacy projects completed over the last few years have ranged from market research to incorporating real satellite data into classroom lessons. For example, a NASA climate model, known as EdGCM (Education Global Climate Modeling), was reworked with a student-friendly interface for classes to explore the possibilities of climate change just like scientists do.

"By working together, we are stronger because we make it clear to the entire community what is out there, what has already been done and where the gaps are. We all bring something different to the table to make sure there are no duplicated efforts," said Martin.

Now that the infrastructure for an index of climate resources is available, the TrACE team plans to add more projects from more agencies.

"Right now this is a tri-agency catalog, but we are looking to expand by adding projects from 10 other agencies under the umbrella of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, such as the Departments of Agriculture or Energy, or the Forest or Park Service," said Chambers. "We are working on making the connections so that this will grow and become even more useful."

To visit TrACE and browse the climate education resources, visit http://nice.larc.nasa.gov/trace/trace_catalog.php.

Jennifer LaPan / NASA Langley Research Center