2009 OOS Storytelling Workshop

Storytelling Workshop for Ocean Observatory Systems (OOS) Professionals

Presented by COSEE NOW and NSF

When: January 8-9, 2009
Where: Maryland Science Center, Baltimore, MD
What: Join us for a 1.5 day retreat experience designed to help explore, share, and learn how to connect with public audiences about the ocean and ocean observing systems (OOS). We will learn from experts about using storytelling as a powerful communication tool. This retreat will be an important professional development opportunity and chance to link with others in the OOS communication and education field. This workshop will be an opportunity to join the first professional online social network for the OOS community, sponsored by the Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence Networked Ocean World’s (COSEE NOW). Don’t miss it.

Homework #1 : Please come up with 2-3 short story ideas based on your work – events you have participated in, witnessed or simply heard about – and send them in before the workshop.

Homework #2 : Please review the list of Charrette Visualization Challenges and related science resources and data visualization examples and think about which topic/questions interest you most.


Registration is now closed. Please make sure you’re included on the map below.

Workshop Agenda [ PDF Agenda ]

Thursday, January 8, 2009

8:00 am Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30 am Welcome and Workshop Goals
Janice McDonnell (COSEE NOW) and Josie Quintrell (NFRA) will lay out the foundation for this workshop, including how it came to fruition and the desire to help IOOS and OOI educators and scientists to improve their outreach efforts through the use of written and visual storytelling techniques. Zdenka Willis (NOAA) and Elizabeth Rom (NSF) will provide brief perspectives as program mangers of the IOOS and OOI efforts.

9:00 am Storytelling as Best Practice
Andy Goodman, a nationally recognized expert in storytelling, will lead the group in a hands-on experience that will explore how we can improve our ability to effectively write stories about ocean observing systems science.

Through this process, participants will learn effective practices of storytelling and will work to improve their personal storytelling skills by drafting a short story based on their own OOS work. In two follow-up conference calls after the workshop, Andy will assist participants in revising their stories. The finished stories will be assembled into a web/print publication for all to use.

1:00 pm Lunch

1:45 pm Using Data to Tell Ocean Stories
Participants will learn effective practices of data visualization and engage in a hands-on experience that will explore how we might improve our OOS data displays and interpretations for public audiences.

Drawing The Big Picture – Panel members from government agencies and industry will share their experiences developing compelling visualizations for specific audiences. Each will reflect on the best practices they have adopted and describe the development and storytelling processes they use when creating new visual displays of information.

  • Laura Allen, American Museum of Natural History
  • Ned Gardiner, NOAA Climate Visualization Project
  • David Herring, NOAA Climate Program Office
  • Hannah Fairfield, New York Times
  • Dan Pisut, NOAA Environmental Visualization Program
  • Panel Moderator: Sage Lichtenwalner, Rutgers University

Information Visualization – The stories of science are told with data. But data displays are only engaging if they are accessible and intuitive for their intended audience. In this session, we will conduct the first step of a charrette on data visualization.

Visualization panel members will facilitate collaborative breakout groups in which participants will draft a solution to predetermined data design problems. Each group will focus on a thematic subject of interest to IOOS. Participants will identify an appropriate audience to focus their visualization towards, and will refine the story by reviewing and identifying appropriate datasets and other scientific information that should be included. After the goals of the visual narrative are identified, panel members will discuss how they turn a storyboard into visual sketches and ultimately a final product.

Proposed Visualization Challenges

  1. Global Change in Local Habitats – The effects of global climate change will have widespread implications on local habitats. For example, seagrass beds and marshlands serve as prime nurseries for numerous species but as sea level raises these habitats will be lost. (Hannah & David)
  2. Impacts of Coastal Storms – Storms and hurricanes can cause tremendous damage on land, but they also greatly affect ocean habitats. Sea level, coastal currents and satellite data can be sued to show the impacts these storms have on both human and marine environments. (Dan & Sage)
  3. Harmful Blooms and Beach Closures – Harmful algal blooms and poor water quality are responsible for increasing illnesses among coastal residents. Monitoring these conditions and helping people make choices to abate or avoid these hazardous situations is a pressing concern. (Laura)
  4. Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management – A tremendous effort is now underway to use OOS data to help understand, monitor and protect marine ecosystems. For example, fisheries researchers in Alaska and New York are using ocean currents (from radars and ADCPs) and vertical profiles of water column properties to better understand the transport and fate of fish larvae. This new information will help policy makers better manage fish stocks. (Ned)

The Visual Storytelling Process
Each group will present its work to the full group as material for future dialogue. This initial charrette will serve as a way of quickly generating possible design solutions while engaging the aptitudes and interests of a diverse group of people. The ultimate goal of this exercise is to familiarize participants with the design process demonstrated during this charrette and how participants can play a role in developing storyboards to tell visual stories. Other discussion areas include: How can participants take this process bck to their organization (RA, RCOOS, etc.)? What part can participants play in this process, and how can they take a leadership role in their design teams? How can resources be identified (i.e. data experts in federal agencies and other institutions charged with helping IOOS)?

5:30 pm First Day Reflection and Wrap Up

Friday, January 9, 2009

8:00 am Continental Breakfast

8:30 am Welcome Back and Round Table Discussion
Our second day will start off with reflections and questions on the previous day’s work (facilitated by Janice McDonnell and Josie Quintrell). Followed by an idea sharing session consisting of informal presentations (about 5 minutes, no power point slides) on education and outreach activities in the RAs and the NOAA IOOS Office. Discussion topics include: products you have developed, plans you have for the future, ideas or topics to discuss with other outreach coordinators, or ideas for collaboration.

10:00 Break

10:15 Discussion on Possible Collaborative Projects
This workshop is only the first step. Are there joint projects people are interested in pursuing (such as funding opportunities for the outcomes of this workshop, developing an ocean observing kiosk for the Smithsonian’s Ocean Hall, etc.)?

10:45 am Next Steps
This workshop is the starting point a new community of collaborators who can continue to work together to develop engaging stories and visualizations for OOS.

  • January strategic communication phone/web conferences (Janice McDonnell)
  • Building an online community of OOS scientists and educators (Sage Lichtenwalner)
  • OOS Science in the Media (Ari Shapiro, WHOI)
  • What can we do to keep our momentum going as a community of scientists and educators in OOS? (Chris Parsons)

12:00 pm Workshop Wrap Up

12:30 pm Informal Tours of “Science on a Sphere” and “Ocean Today Kiosk”

Who should attend?

Educators, media specialists, and/or scientists involved in the Integrated Ocean Observing Systems (IOOS) network or in the National Science Foundation funded OOI. We encourage teams of staff/scientists from each Regional Association, science group, etc. We welcome participation of the Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE) or other science/education groups working closely with OOS.

Application and Cost

The workshop is free and sponsored by COSEE NOW. It also will include breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks. In exchange for free tuition, COSEE NOW requires the following:

  • Join the membership of the COSEE NOW network by posting a professional profile of yourself
  • post your story on our website (www.coseenow.net)
  • participate in two online sessions (January 27 and 29, 2009, one hour each)
  • participation in a post workshop online forum on strategic communication for OOS

Your costs will be your travel, including airfare, hotel fees and dinner meals.
A block of hotel rooms has been reserved at the Brookshire Suites at a rate of $139/night. Please call 1-866-583-4162 to make your reservations. The group code is 471563. There are only 25 rooms on the block so call soon!

The Harbor Court Hotel is located across the street from the Science Center and has a parking garage convenient to the Science Center. The Sheraton is also conveniently located and is a second option for overnight accomodations.Space limited to 35 people first come first served. Please register today.

More about Storytelling as a Best Practice

Andy Goodman is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and consultant in the field of public interest communication. In this portion of the workshop we will explore:

  1. What are the four factors that make narrative the most powerful form of human communication?
  2. How do stories compare with data when it comes to convincing an audience?
  3. What are the key structural elements and qualities of a well-crafted story?
  4. How can you use stories to enhance your work on a day-to-day basis?
  5. How can you build a storytelling culture in your organization so that everyone will use this tool effectively?

At the end of this session, you will have a 750 word “story” to share about your OOS work. We will follow up with two online sessions January 27 and 29 (2:00 pm- 3 pm EST) on strategic communication. In this age of “Too much information” we will discuss how we can connect with our audiences and improve our ability to deliver our OOS educational messages. To learn more about this portion of the workshop, please review Storytelling as a Best Practice and check out the presentation on Andy’s methodology.

Comments are closed.

Skip to toolbar