OACIS places University of Washington (UW) graduate student fellows from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in Seattle and San Juan public high school science classrooms. OACIS fellows collaborate with science teachers to build marine science into the curriculum. OACIS promotes awareness of the oceans and addresses our relationship to them while teaching students basic science and mathematics through the lens of the seas.
Marine science is often a small part of the K-12 curriculum, yet the study of ocean environments is highly interdisciplinary. Brought into the classroom, marine science offers educators an opportunity to teach students science and math with a unique perspective that connects their education to their local environment. OACIS works to engage students holistically in basic science. We use the ocean to illustrate concepts in biology, chemistry, geology, physics, and mathematics. We also take advantage the natural laboratories of Puget Sound and the San Juan Archipelago to bring hands-on lessons and field trips to our classes. Through these marine learning projects, OACIS sparks student interest in ocean and coastal health. This spark is crucial for the future of our planet in light of our current environmental challenges.
To foster ocean literacy among youth, UW’s OACIS has received five years of funding to host a satellite of the National Science Foundation (NSF) GK-12 program.
OACIS fellow and teacher teams are the backbone of our program. They develop and improve upon curriculum and make marine science come alive in the classroom.
OACIS recruits graduate student fellows from a wide range of UW programs, including Oceanography, Biology, Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, and Friday Harbor Laboratories, among others. All fellows are involved in cutting-edge research at UW. They help communicate to high school students what science is about, how it is done, and how discoveries are made. They bring new research findings directly to the schools. They also act as role models for college and careers in the sciences.
Along with enriching classroom experiences for youth, OACIS fellows are mentored by high school teachers. Teachers have the opportunity to use UW and OACIS fellows as creative resources to improve their curriculum. Our teachers often love integrating our program into their classes and continue working with us after their first year. Both teachers and fellows receive a stipend for their work.