NOAA’s specific role in education is influenced by multiple factors. As a federal agency, it is responsible for the conservation and management of coastal and marine resources to meet the nation’s economic, social, and environmental needs. It also promotes understanding and prediction of changes in the Earth’s environment. NOAA’s role in education is tightly connected to its mission, and some education programs are defined by various congressional mandates. NOAA must fulfill these responsibilities in the context of a national effort to improve learning and understanding of STEM implemented at state and local levels in both formal and informal settings for learning, and at the same time carry out effective environmental education.
Conclusion I.1: The America COMPETES Act assigns NOAA responsibility for advancing and coordinating mission-related STEM education and stewardship efforts and for participating in interagency education efforts (Chapter 1: Overview and Introduction).
NOAA’s role in education has been recognized for more than 30 years, as evidenced by the legislative mandates to engage in education activities given to its individual operating branches and programs. This role was underscored and strengthened by the America COMPETES Act, which gives the agency a broad mandate to engage in and coordinate education initiatives in oceanic, Great Lakes, climate, atmospheric, and environmental sciences, as well as other fields related to its mission. NOAA has long conducted many types of education efforts, including grant making, creating partnerships with minority-serving colleges and universities, local hands-on learning experiences, and developing national science literacy frameworks. While its overall mission statement does not include education, dedication to education is underscored by the agency’s vision to develop a society that is informed on issues related to its mission, and education objectives are implicit in each of the agency’s four broad goals.
Conclusion I.2: NOAA is unique among federal agencies in its focus on stewardship and on oceanic, coastal, Great Lakes, atmospheric, and climate sciences. However, its mission overlaps with and complements the missions of other federal agencies (Chapter 2: NOAA’s Role in the Education Landscape).
Several federal agencies share overlapping responsibilities for national programs in science, engineering, exploration, and stewardship related to oceans, the atmosphere, climate, and the environment. These agencies also develop and support programs in STEM education and environmental education that are similar to NOAA education programs. In addition, there is a significant infrastructure and human capacity outside the federal government for conducting scientific research, developing technology, and