A program of the Lawrence Hall of Science that seeks to increase ocean literacy through informal and formal education initiatives
Marine Activities, Resources & Education


Prepare future scientists to communicate their science knowledge more effectively at your college or university

COSIA (Communicating Ocean Sciences to Informal Audiences) is a university-level course for undergraduate and graduate students in science-related majors, and is currently taught at more than 25 colleges and universities around the United States, and are soon to be offered in Sweden and Australia. The course have undergone a rigorous design and development process, and is based on current research and theory on learning, teaching, and professional development.

The course is team-taught by a scientist and an informal educator, and students have the opportunity to communicate their scientific knowledge in informal science education (ISE) institutions. As they teach the course, scientists are challenged to reflect upon how they teach in other courses, and in most cases, they change their practices to incorporate ideas presented in the COSIA courses.

Goals of the Course

  1. Introduce undergraduate and graduate students—the future scientists—to the importance of education, outreach, and the broader impact of ocean sciences research.
  2. Improve the ability of the scientists teaching the COSIA  to communicate scientific concepts and research to their undergraduate students.
  3. Provide both graduate and undergraduate students and scientists with direct experience using exemplary, research-based instructional materials that model constructivist pedagogy—the idea that people learn by actively interacting with their social and physical environment.
  4. Promote thoughtful, mutually beneficial collaborations between scientists and educators as they co-teach the course.
  5. Provide visitors to ISE institutions with significant ocean sciences instruction and college and university role models.


In 2005, COS K-12 and Communicating Chemistry/Physics/Astronomy received the prestigious Educational Initiatives Award from the University of California, Berkeley, which is presented annually to a department or unit on the Berkeley campus in recognition of distinctive contributions to undergraduate education.

Community & Continued Learning

The Reflective Educators has evolved to offer course instructors a means to connect with one another across the country and share resources and experiences. Visit the Network website and join the community to learn more about the courses and download course syllabi, written curricula, and information about upcoming Instructors’ Workshops.

Development of COS K-12 was funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant OCE-0215500 and OCE-0731182.
Development of COSIA was funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant #ESI-0540417.
Development of the COS-RoP Network was funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant # NSF DRL-0917614.