Visualizing Change: A New (Free!) Multimedia Toolkit for Communicating Climate and Ocean Change

More than ever before, informal science learning institutions are finding ways to live to their conservation missions by helping the public understand the causes, consequences, and appropriate responses to climate change. Yet, the latest scientific data are often only available in dense or complex formats, which makes it difficult for interpreters to bring them into their conversations with visitors. What if science educators could treat data like an illustration in a great picture book—a visual that brings the story to life and even helps move it along?

The Visualizing Change project has done just that. A set of partners – including ocean scientists, informal science educators, data scientists, and social scientists – has developed “visual narratives” that are highly effective with visitors. To create these narratives, Visualizing Change selected four climate-related issues - the climate-ocean connection, extreme weather, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise -  and worked with data specialists at NOAA to find the right kind of data to help explain these issues. The resulting interpretive tools (including scripts, image sequences, and more) are designed to work with a variety of digital display technologies, such as Science on a Sphere®, other spherical displays, flat screens, or hand held tablets. And, because the narratives are also informed by rigorous research into how to explain these issues most effectively, they are also designed to work with your visitors.

A complete toolkit of these tested narratives is now available for informal science education institutions to access and use at no cost, thanks to a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This multimedia toolkit includes the scripts and images that make up the narratives, as well as background resources to help science educators use them with confidence.

If you are looking for reliable, effective, and innovative ways to translate climate science for the public, we hope these tools will be of use. We also hope you will help us bring them to the attention of others who could use them. To make it easy to spread the word, we’ve provided a blurb appropriate for your website, newsletter, or list-serv.

The stories we tell in our institutions matter. They can create a more informed public that knows what’s needed to safeguard and protect our environment. We hope you’ll join us in telling stories that help Americans visualize change.

Sincerely,

Visualizing Change Team

(Aquarium of the Pacific, Buttonwood Park Zoo, Exploratorium, National Aquarium, New England Aquarium, Seattle Aquarium, FrameWorks Institute and New Knowledge Organization)