Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE)

Program Announcement



LETTER OF INTENT DUE DATE(S) (optional): November 30, 2001




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Program Title: Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE)

Synopsis of Program: The Division of Ocean Sciences seeks to establish a network of coordinated centers that will facilitate collaborations and communications between ocean science researchers and educators. These Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE) will foster the integration of ocean research into high quality educational materials, allow ocean researchers to gain a better understanding of educational organizations and pedagogy, provide educators with an enhanced capacity to understand and deliver high-quality educational programs in the ocean sciences, and provide material to the public that will promote a deeper understanding of the ocean and its influence on each person's quality of life and our national prosperity.

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s):




A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

B. Budgetary Information

C. Deadline/Target Dates

D. FastLane Requirements





    1. Proposal Preparation Instructions
    2. Budgetary Information
    3. Deadline/Target Dates
    4. FastLane Requirements
    1. NSF Proposal Review Process
    2. Review Protocol and Associated Customer Service Standard
    1. Notification of the Award
    2. Award Conditions
    3. Reporting Requirements


For many years, the need for scientists to work with educators to enhance the general public's understanding of science has been recognized as an important priority in reports such as Science for All Americans (AAAS, 1990) and NSF in a Changing World (NSF, 1995). The 1999 report from the Cabinet to the President of the United States, Turning to the Sea: America's Ocean Future (NOAA, 1999), stresses the need for ocean scientists and educators to improve the general public's understanding of the ocean and its role in their lives. The integration of education and research is also recommended in Shaping the Future: New Expectations for Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology (NSF, 1996) and in the report of the Geoscience Education Working Group entitled, "Geoscience Education: A Recommended Strategy" (NSF, 1997).

In order to explore the possible benefits of a nationally coordinated effort in ocean science education, NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) and the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) co-sponsored a workshop in May 2000. The report of this workshop is available on the web at Workshop participants identified a wealth of opportunities for national coordination of ocean science education efforts and numerous strategies by which these opportunities could be realized. The workshop consensus was that NSF should establish Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE) as a nationally coordinated program for ocean sciences education in both formal and informal educational sectors.

Subsequently, a panel of ocean research and ocean education experts met to advise OCE on priorities for the implementation of COSEE. A report from that meeting also is available at Priorities listed in the Implementation Report were used to develop this program announcement. Proposers are strongly urged to review these reports to develop a better understanding of the background concepts for COSEE.


The National Science Foundation will fund the development of centers where the proposed work requires a high degree of organization and networking. A center provides a rich environment in which collaborations and partnerships flourish, particularly those that include people and organizations with disparate goals.

It is envisioned that COSEE will be comprised of a network of collaborating Centers plus a Central Coordinating Office. Each Center in the network may have a regional or thematic focus. A regional Center would encompass a majority of the COSEE goals as listed under "Potential Activities for a Center ", but would focus on a particular region. A thematic Center would focus its efforts on a particular area of expertise, but would apply its efforts on a national scale. The Central Coordinating Office will organize national oversight of the COSEE effort, enhance collaboration among the Centers, and document COSEE activities and outcomes. 

Each Center must represent one or more ocean science research institutions, an informal education organization, and at least one affiliate organization that corresponds to a "sector" of the formal education community (see COSEE Workshop Report page 14). Ocean science research institutions are defined as institutions with a primary mission of promoting basic oceanographic research and/or graduate education in biological, physical, chemical and geological oceanography. Eligible research institutions must not focus exclusively on fisheries or aquarium/exhibit-related science. Informal science education institutions are defined as museums, aquaria, or science centers with a primary mission of public outreach and education. Formal education organizations must be accredited.

To illustrate the structure and scope envisioned, a Center might consist of a collaborative effort among an oceanographic research institution, an aquarium, and a K-12 school district. Regionally, research scientists could advise education specialists on oceanographic issues. Education specialists would then assist the school district and the state's Department of Education to integrate current ocean science material into the curriculum. Nationally, a collaborative effort might focus on identifying gaps in K-12 ocean science educational material, encouraging development of programs at the aquarium partner to promote public knowledge of current oceanographic research efforts, and/or sponsoring workshops to introduce both scientists and educators to innovative pedagogical methods, new uses of instructional technology, or communication strategies for the public or media. 

The COSEE network will be initiated by the establishment of two or three Centers and one Central Coordinating Office with awards for up to five years of funding, dependent upon a review after three years. Additional sites may be established in the future as additional sources of funding are identified. An integrated master proposal, or a set of collaborative proposals, are sought from collaborating organizations wishing to establish and maintain a Center or a Central Coordinating Office (see Grant Proposal Guide). 

Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence

Each Center should be a multi-faceted collaborative activity with the primary goal of improving the integration of ocean education, outreach, and research. Each Center should strive to implement several of the activities listed below - preferably a majority of them, but not necessarily all of them. Proposals should identify either a regional or thematic set of activities and address how they will be undertaken. 

Although a Center may work to foster demonstration programs consistent with its goals, its primary role should be catalytic, not programmatic. For example, funds might be used to organize workshops that provide opportunities for an exchange of ideas and expertise between scientists and educators, but would not be used to support research programs, for construction of museum displays, or for participant costs in ongoing educational programs. 

Each Center must designate a director who has the capacity and vision to develop and lead the team. It is envisioned that each Center will support personnel having expertise to engage the oceanographic research community and the formal and informal educational communities to advance the availability and quality of information on the oceans. The office(s) for each Center may be located at any of the Center's affiliates. Affiliates of a Center need not be in close proximity to each other, but all personnel associated with a Center must work together as a team.

Potential Activities for a Center

· Establish and/or expand linkages between people and organizations conducting ocean science research and those providing educational leadership or those providing outreach among diverse communities;

· Facilitate the integration of research into high-quality educational materials and establish linkages that will foster the development and dissemination of these materials. For example, a Center could work with scientists and educators to establish broad goals and guidelines for educational material that should be made available both regionally and nationally;

· Provide pedagogical expertise and guidance for research scientists involved in education; for example, conduct workshops at major scientific conferences to encourage faculty to develop collaborative proposals with educators or to experiment with different pedagogical strategies.

· Create new professional development opportunities for a variety of COSEE users. For example, a Center could promote the design of teacher preparation programs that integrate ocean research efforts; establish collaborative programs with ocean research institutions, science education faculty, and administrators of schools or colleges of education; or promote the development of ocean science courses at minority serving institutions and community colleges. Centers are expected to support the ongoing costs of programs with outside funding.

· Provide incentives and assistance for school districts and teachers to integrate ocean sciences into their curricula. For example, Center personnel could help school districts identify ocean-related curricula that would be appropriate for them and help align the curricula to state or national standards as necessary.

· Provide expertise and design evaluation instruments that can be used to assess and strengthen new or ongoing efforts. Because oceanographers are largely unfamiliar with the specialized techniques used to evaluate educational effectiveness, the COSEE community must provide knowledgeable personnel who are fully aware of both evaluation fundamentals and the specific challenges of ocean education. For example, COSEE staff could design evaluation plans for ongoing or new ocean education programs or run workshops on evaluation for those wishing to improve their efforts. As nationally recognized experts in evaluation, COSEE staff could also serve as consultants on future proposals, strengthening both the proposals and future programs if funded.

· Ensure that underrepresented groups in the ocean sciences have improved access to ocean science education and research results. Historically, the field of oceanography has not attracted a diverse set of students, and only limited progress has been made in the past decade. Individual Centers should make a concerted effort to include underrepresented groups in educational activities, both formal and informal, involving the oceans.

· Foster the effective use of information technology. Information technology is a rapidly advancing field that will play an increasingly important role in lifelong educational activities. It will be important for COSEE to provide a foundation for an open discussion of how technology can enhance curriculum reform, professional development, assessment and minority involvement in ocean science education.

· Provide career information. For example, undergraduates and undergraduate faculty should have access to a synthesis of career information, including links to job options. This information should highlight non-academic career paths, including marine technology, industry, non-college teaching, advocacy, and policy-related jobs.

· Build, coordinate and maintain an appropriate regional or programmatic website that will be linked to the national network.

Proposers are urged to consider affiliation with other NSF-funded systemic science education reform efforts, including programs funded via the Urban Systemic Program (USP), the Rural Systemic Initiative (RSI) and the Statewide Systemic Initiative (SSI). Information on these programs may be found via the NSF website at Funding for specific programs should not be requested via a COSEE proposal. For undergraduate course development, teacher preparation and two-year technical programs, please refer to NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) website ( For K-12 materials development and teacher preparation program support, please refer to NSF's Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESIE) website (

COSEE Central Coordinating Office

The COSEE Central Coordinating Office will act as a central hub for information used by all the Centers and will encourage development of additional Centers in the network as appropriate. 

Functions of the Central Coordinating Office are as follows:

· Coordinate, facilitate, and enhance collaboration among the Centers and with NSF and other organizations.

 · Organize an independent national oversight committee that will help shape the COSEE system. This committee will advise on the future directions of the COSEE system as a whole and will help ensure appropriate connections to all user communities.

· Document COSEE activities and outcomes. The Central Coordinating Office will be responsible for issuing reports on progress of the COSEE network and working with agencies to ensure that universities, school districts, informal education institutions, Federal agencies, and Congress are all aware of ongoing efforts.

· Build, coordinate and maintain the main COSEE website with access to an inventory of exemplary resources, links to each Center, and a connection to the Digital Library for Earth Science Education (DLESE).

· Coordinate services to the broader COSEE community. National efforts must be made to reach organizations and people who may not be connected with a regional or programmatic Center. COSEE must develop the broadest possible user community in order to ensure success.

· Evaluate the effectiveness of COSEE activities and develop evaluation paradigms and instruments.

· Encourage and promote diversity in all COSEE activities.

· Act as an advocate for Ocean Science education, including coordinating national communications, public relations, and promotion of all ocean-related educational efforts.

The Central Coordinating Office can be located outside of the Washington, DC metropolitan area, but proposals should indicate how a national vision and nationwide participation will be achieved. 

Required Information

All proposals must include the following information:

· Significant collaborations between research, formal educational, and informal educational organizations dedicated to the promotion of ocean science education, and clearly defined roles for all collaborators and partners;

· Involvement of personnel who are committed to educational reform, responsive to community needs and capable of leading both the oceanographic research community and the science education community;

· A coherent and well organized management plan and timeline;

· Plans for an external advisory committee with representatives of the formal educational community, researchers and informal educators;

· Plans for proactive outreach to segments of the population that have historically been underrepresented as learners, teachers, and researchers in ocean sciences;

· Evidenced capacity to function as a facilitator or catalyst of change;

· Evidenced capacity to understand and bridge research, media and education cultures; 

· Demonstration of the resources and expertise to use evaluation paradigms to promote COSEE goals. 

· A budget that reflects an appropriate balance between resources and responsibility for all collaborators.

Proposals should include salaries (up to 12 months per year) and related costs for staff. Typical staff positions may include: PI, research specialist, education specialist, and public affairs/media specialist. Participant support costs (travel; workshop per diem) are also expected to be a significant portion of budget. Participant support funds provided for participant support may not be diverted by the grantee to other categories of expense without the prior written approval of the cognizant NSF Program Officer. Administration or clerical support for travel arrangements or workshop-related activities, if requested, must be justified as non-routine, and specifically identified with a project activity. No funds for capital equipment will be provided.

American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1990. Science for All Americans. Oxford University Press, New York.

NOAA, 1999. Turning to the Sea: America's Ocean Future. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington, D.C.

National Science Foundation, 1995. NSF In a Changing World: The National Science Foundation's Strategic Plan. National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA. 

National Science Foundation, 1997. Geoscience Education: A Recommended Strategy. National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA.

National Science Foundation, 1996. Shaping the Future: New Expectations for Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology. National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA.


The categories of proposers identified in the Grant Proposal Guide are eligible to submit proposals under this program announcement/solicitation.

Eligible institutions include academic institutions of higher learning that award degrees in geoscience or environmental science, oceanographic research institutions, professional societies, non-profit or not-for-profit consortia, informal science centers, museums, aquariums, and state and local education agencies. Collaborations among three or more of the institutions listed above is required. Partnerships with non-profit professional organizations are encouraged.


Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.
Number of Awards: Approximately 3 awards will be made in FY 2002.
Duration: Up to five years, subject to review after 3 years.
Amount: Up to $500,000 per year for Centers
Up to $400,000 per year for the Central Coordinating Office


A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

Letters of Intent: To aid in planning the review, potential PIs are asked to submit an optional letter of intent by November 30, 2001. Letters of intent should be emailed to, and should include information on the scope of the work, parties involved and an estimated budget.

Full Proposal:

Proposals submitted in response to this program announcement/solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the general guidelines contained in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF Web Site at: Paper copies of the GPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (301) 947-2722 or by e-mail from

Although the FastLane Project Description is limited to the standard 15 pages, detailed information on management plan, timeline and composition of external advisory committees may be included as additional material within the Supplementary Documents section of FastLane. Supplementary Documents are limited to 10 single-spaced pages in addition to letters of support. All budgets (including subcontracts) must be accompanied by a detailed written explanation within the FastLane budget justification form.

Proposers are reminded to identify the program solicitation number (NSF-01-173) in the program announcement/solicitation block on the proposal Cover Sheet (NSF Form 1207). Compliance with this requirement is critical to determining the relevant proposal processing guidelines. Failure to submit this information may delay processing.

B. Budgetary Information

Cost sharing is not required in proposals submitted under this Program Announcement.

C. Deadline/Target Dates

Proposals must be submitted by the following date(s):

Letters of Intent (optional): November 30, 2001
Full Proposals by 5:00 PM local time: January 18, 2002

D. FastLane Requirements

Proposers are required to prepare and submit all proposals for this Program Announcement through the FastLane system. Detailed instructions for proposal preparation and submission via FastLane are available at: For FastLane user support, call 1-800-673-6188 or e-mail

Submission of Signed Cover Sheets. The Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must electronically sign the proposal Cover Sheet to submit the required proposal certifications (see Chapter II, Section C of the Grant Proposal Guide for a listing of the certifications). The AOR must provide the required certifications within five working days following the electronic submission of the proposal. Further instructions regarding this process are available on the FastLane website at:


A. NSF Proposal Review Process

Reviews of proposals submitted to NSF are solicited from peers with expertise in the substantive area of the proposed research or education project. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with the oversight of the review process. NSF invites the proposer to suggest at the time of submission, the names of appropriate or inappropriate reviewers. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts with the proposer. Special efforts are made to recruit reviewers from non-academic institutions, minority-serving institutions, or adjacent disciplines to that principally addressed in the proposal.

Proposals will be reviewed against the following general review criteria established by the National Science Board. Following each criterion are potential considerations that the reviewer may employ in the evaluation. These are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. Each reviewer will be asked to address only those that are relevant to the proposal and for which he/she is qualified to make judgements.

Principal Investigators should address the following elements in their proposal to provide reviewers with the information necessary to respond fully to both of the above-described NSF merit review criteria. NSF staff will give these elements careful consideration in making funding decisions.

A summary rating and accompanying narrative will be completed and signed by each reviewer. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers, are sent to the Principal Investigator/Project Director by the Program Director. In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.

B. Review Protocol and Associated Customer Service Standard

All proposals are carefully reviewed by at least three other persons outside NSF who are experts in the particular field represented by the proposal. Proposals submitted in response to this announcement/solicitation will be reviewed by Mail and/or panel review.

Reviewers will be asked to formulate a recommendation to either support or decline each proposal. The Program Officer assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.

NSF is striving to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months for 70 percent of proposals. The time interval begins on the date of receipt. The interval ends when the Division Director accepts the Program Officer's recommendation.

In all cases, after programmatic approval has been obtained, the proposals recommended for funding will be forwarded to the Division of Grants and Agreements for review of business, financial, and policy implications and the processing and issuance of a grant or other agreement. Proposers are cautioned that only a Grants and Agreements Officer may make commitments, obligations or awards on behalf of NSF or authorize the expenditure of funds. No commitment on the part of NSF should be inferred from technical or budgetary discussions with a NSF Program Officer. A Principal Investigator or organization that makes financial or personnel commitments in the absence of a grant or cooperative agreement signed by the NSF Grants and Agreements Officer does so at its own risk.


A. Notification of the Award

Notification of the award is made to the submitting organization by a Grants Officer in the Division of Grants and Agreements. Organizations whose proposals are declined will be advised as promptly as possible by the cognizant NSF Program Division administering the program. Verbatim copies of reviews, not including the identity of the reviewer, will be provided automatically to the Principal Investigator. (See section VI.A. for additional information on the review process.)

B. Award Conditions

An NSF award consists of: (1) the award letter, which includes any special provisions applicable to the award and any numbered amendments thereto; (2) the budget, which indicates the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support (or otherwise communicates any specific approvals or disapprovals of proposed expenditures); (3) the proposal referenced in the award letter; (4) the applicable award conditions, such as Grant General Conditions (NSF-GC-1)* or Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) Terms and Conditions * and (5) any announcement or other NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award letter. Cooperative agreement awards also are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions (CA-1). Electronic mail notification is the preferred way to transmit NSF awards to organizations that have electronic mail capabilities and have requested such notification from the Division of Grants and Agreements.

*These documents may be accessed electronically on NSF's Web site at Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (301) 947-2722 or by e-mail from

More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions is contained in the NSF Grant Policy Manual (GPM) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Web site at The GPM is also for sale through the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office (GPO), Washington, DC 20402. The telephone number at GPO for subscription information is (202) 512-1800. The GPM may be ordered through the GPO Web site at

Special Award Conditions
Other conditions may apply as required (e.g., world-wide web requirements, participant support)

C. Reporting Requirements

For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the PI must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period.

Within 90 days after the expiration of an award, the PI also is required to submit a final project report. Approximately 30 days before expiration, NSF will send a notice to remind the PI of the requirement to file the final project report. Failure to provide final technical reports delays NSF review and processing of pending proposals for that PI. PIs should examine the formats of the required reports in advance to assure availability of required data.

NSF has implemented an electronic project reporting system, available through FastLane. This system permits electronic submission and updating of project reports, including information on project participants (individual and organizational), activities and findings, publications, and other specific products and contributions. PIs will not be required to re-enter information previously provided, either with a proposal or in earlier updates using the electronic system.


General inquiries regarding  Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence  should be made to:For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:


The NSF Guide to Programs is a compilation of funding for research and education in science, mathematics, and engineering. The NSF Guide to Programs is available electronically at General descriptions of NSF programs, research areas, and eligibility information for proposal submission are provided in each chapter.

Many NSF programs offer announcements or solicitations concerning specific proposal requirements. To obtain additional information about these requirements, contact the appropriate NSF program offices. Any changes in NSF's fiscal year programs occurring after press time for the Guide to Programs will be announced in the NSF E-Bulletin, which is updated daily on the NSF web site at, and in individual program announcements/solicitations. Subscribers can also sign up for NSF's Custom News Service ( to be notified of new funding opportunities that become available.

GEO Diversity Program and GEO Education Program   contact: Jewel Prendeville, Directorate for Geosciences, Staff Associate for Diversity and Education; 703-292-8521;

Research Experience for Undergraduates   (see current oceanographic REU sites at

CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development Program) see information at

Rural Systemic Initiative     contact: Lura Chase, Division of Educational System Reform, Program Director; 703-292-8682;

Urban Systemic Initiative     contact:  Kathleen Bergin, Division of Educational System Reform, Program Director; 703-292-8682;

Statewide Systemic Initiative     contact: Lura Chase, Division of Educational System Reform, Program Director; 703-292-8682;

Course Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement     contact: Susan Hixson, Division of Undergraduate Education, Lead Program Director; 703-292-4623;


The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. Awardees are wholly responsible for conducting their project activities and preparing the results for publication. Thus, the Foundation does not assume responsibility for such findings or their interpretation.

NSF welcomes proposals from all qualified scientists, engineers and educators. The Foundation strongly encourages women, minorities and persons with disabilities to compete fully in its programs. In accordance with Federal statutes, regulations and NSF policies, no person on grounds of race, color, age, sex, national origin or disability shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving financial assistance from NSF (unless otherwise specified in the eligibility requirements for a particular program).

Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED) provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities (investigators and other staff, including student research assistants) to work on NSF-supported projects. See the program announcement/solicitation for further information.

The National Science Foundation has Telephonic Device for the Deaf (TDD) and Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) capabilities that enable individuals with hearing impairments to communicate with the Foundation about NSF programs, employment or general information. TDD may be accessed at (703) 292-5090, FIRS at 1-800-877-8339.

The National Science Foundation is committed to making all of the information we publish easy to understand. If you have a suggestion about how to improve the clarity of this document or other NSF-published materials, please contact us at


The information requested on proposal forms and project reports is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. The information on proposal forms will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals; project reports submitted by awardees will be used for program evaluation and reporting within the Executive Branch and to Congress. The information requested may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the proposal review process; to applicant institutions/grantees to provide or obtain data regarding the proposal review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers and researchers and educators as necessary to complete assigned work; to other government agencies needing information as part of the review process or in order to coordinate programs; and to another Federal agency, court or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the government is a party. Information about Principal Investigators may be added to the Reviewer file and used to select potential candidates to serve as peer reviewers or advisory committee members. See Systems of Records, NSF-50, "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," 63 Federal Register 267 (January 5, 1998), and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records," 63 Federal Register 268 (January 5, 1998). Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of receiving an award.

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