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Two great truths about the ocean emerged from the 20th century. First, the ocean came into focus as the cornerstone of Earth's life support system, vital for the survival and well being of humankind and all other living things. The second great truth was more shocking, and came about as a consequence of unprecedented exploitation. That is, the sea is not infinitely resilient.

It is vital that human society become knowledgeable about the importance of the sea, about why we should care and about what actions we can take that will enable us to secure a healthy ocean and a healthy future for ourselves. Ocean literacy is the key...

Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence

The National Geographic Society is using its multimedia reach to improve worldwide conservation through its education and exploration projects. A major focus of this conservation initiative has been to partner with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and others to promote the importance of the ocean and its role as our "life support system."

Using Geography for Life as a model, the Geographic and NOAA have launched an effort to identify ocean concepts that should be used in the scope and sequence for geography standards. The goal of this effort has been to infuse the national geography standards scope and sequence matrix with ocean content to illustrate how information on the ocean can be included in the classroom. The standards organize what needs to be taught and threads these topics throughout the entire school experience. This allows students to build their knowledge about the ocean over the entire K-12 curriculum.

Teachers are the change agent for our society and can ultimately bring about the next generation of ocean literacy. The National Geographic Society and NOAA are partnering to achieve some first steps to improve ocean literacy in our country.

Lesson plans were developed by National Geographic's Sustainable Seas Expeditions and NOAA's Ocean Exploration Program. Also included are lesson plans from a variety of other institutions and educational programs including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Pacific Whale Foundation, the National Atmospheric and Space Administration (NASA), the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, the Public Broadcasting System, and the Consortium for Oceanographic Activities for Students and Teachers. We gratefully acknowledge the dedicated educational efforts of these organizations.


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