Linda Duguay, director of the USC Sea Grant program, has been selected to participate in a National Science Foundation workshop in China to discuss a foundation-supported ocean science education project and its possible application to outreach efforts by Chinese scientists and educators.
Duguay and other colleagues on the China trip will discuss the foundation’s nationwide network of Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence, which are known by the acronym COSEE.
The National Science Foundation currently funds 11 of these centers. The one based in Los Angeles is known as COSEE-West.
Duguay, a research associate professor in the biological sciences department at USC College and director of research for the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, is the principal investigator for COSEE-West.
The center is overseen by faculty and staff at USC, UCLA and the College of Exploration. Its partners in Southern California include the Los Angeles Unified School District and regional aquariums and science centers.
“The COSEE program engages scientists with formal and informal educators, and it does that with cutting-edge research as it is being conducted, not years later after it is published,” Duguay said. “The model is a catalyst that brings science into the classroom along with the excitement of ongoing research.”
The upcoming workshop in China was developed by two scientists from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Professor Robert Chen, who was involved with COSEE-New England, and research scientist Xuchen Wang traveled together to China in 2006 and began to develop the proposal for a COSEE-China planning workshop.
“Members of the scientific community in China feel like the public is not getting enough information about the oceans and the importance of the marine environment,” Chen said. “They want to do more to ‘get the word out.’ We’ll present some of our ideas about science and outreach, and we’ll show our Chinese colleagues how these centers work in the United States.”
Chen and Wang will escort 13 people — Duguay from USC and scientists, educators and graduate students from other U.S. institutions — to Beijing on March 6. They will have meetings in Beijing and at universities in the port cities Xiamen and Qingdao. The group will return to the United States on March 13.
Duguay said the workshop in China is a natural fit between USC and academic institutions across the Pacific Ocean.
“USC is a leader in terms of bringing international students to study in the United States,” she said. “As a Pacific Rim university, we naturally look toward our colleagues at institutions in Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan and other Asian countries.”
Duguay said one COSEE-West accomplishment that might work in China involves online workshops.
The COSEE-West project registers teachers for a three-week period and presents a different lecture each week by a participating researcher that the teachers can view live or, later, as an online video.
For the duration of the workshop, teachers can post questions that the participating scientists will answer online. The teachers then develop lesson plans based on the workshop for their own classes and post them on the COSEE Web site to share with the rest of the participants.
“We have held a lot of online workshops,” Duguay said. “The USC Sea Grant program started them more than 10 years ago, and we have continued to improve on that model through COSEE-West.”