Science Center Community of Practice

Working together to build science literacy

GMRI and its science center partners are developing ways to engage science center visitors in data-rich investigations of changing ecosystems using locally relevant examples. This work is centered around a community of practice, where science centers throughout the Northeast can work in collaboration to achieve a shared commitment to building climate and data literacy in their communities.

Project Goals:

  • Explore the extensibility of our approach combining global NASA data sets with local impact data.
  • Model how educational materials developed in one place can be applied anywhere.
  • Bolster the connections between science centers across the Northeast.

Through Real World, Real Science, GMRI and its partners at the Montshire Museum of Science (Norwich, VT) and the Maine Discovery Musem (Bangor, ME) have developed workshops and an exhibit of locally relevant content that can be scaled across a network of science centers in New England and upstate New York. Led by the Montshire Museum, the group has developed, tested, and disseminated a suite of student and family workshops and an exhibit prototype that engages visitors with data related to weather and climate.


  • By the Numbers provides students with multiple opportunities to visualize temperature, weather, and climate data. Complexity builds throughout the workshop to help guide students through the perception, interpretation, and comprehension stages that emerge when working with big datasets.
  • Ticks Up Close allows participants will use microscopes to examine local tick species, learn how the most common tick species on the East Coast spread Lyme disease, and discuss the many ecosystem and climate factors that control tick populations.

Exhibit Prototype

  • Weather Climate & You gives students the opportunity to refine their data literacy skills and introduces weather and climate issues using real temperature data. Temperature data from the days students were born make the exercise personally relevant for each student. This leads to more engaged explorations of graphing and student-led discussions of averages and variations, and also spurs debate and understanding about the differences between weather and climate. “Weather, Climate & You” was also built out as an exhibit prototype, supported by a GMRI-developed web app to provide the temperature data. Over the course of Real World, Real Science is a response to the emergent need to forge a Community of Practice (CoP) dedicated to implementing data-rich, informal learning environment climate experiences. This is particularly relevant with a regional group with similarities in geography, climate, and ecology.

Science Center Community

This map displays geographic locations of science centers in our science center community.

Project Sponsor

NASA logo

This material is based upon work supported by NASA under grant number NNX16AB94A. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

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