Sampling the Sea logoSampling the Sea enables middle and high school students to monitor, analyze, and share information about the declining global fish population that, in its implications for humans and the ecosystem, dwarfs other food issues in our time. Sampling the Sea uses multi-disciplinary teams of students, scientists, and new media experts, partnering with Google Ocean, the GLOBE Program, and ePals, to engage the next generation of consumers in a global dialogue on the interrelationships among local human customs, regulatory laws, fishing practices, wildlife management, and the future of the sea.

The StS project team determined that other efforts to inform the public about sustainable fisheries were available online (for example, more than 120 Facebook groups on this topic in July of 2010), through informal education venues (Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, Marine Stewardship Council, Seafood Choices Alliance), and through a small number of restaurants aligned with the philosophy of the sustainable food movement, but few efforts were focused on the schools. And because the consumption of seafood is not limited to coastal communities, this topic would be useful to schools nationwide and internationally.

The MacArthur Foundation announced the DML award to Dr. Constance Penley for DigitalOcean: Sampling the Sea in March, 2009. The grant period began July 1, 2009 and concluded August 30, 2010. During the pilot, Sampling the Sea was successfully brought from the concept phase, through an initial testing phase in U.S. and international schools, and relaunch in 2011.

The project’s greatest success was developing an innovative online ocean science and social media curriculum about sustainable seafood for middle and high schools (, with integrated, theoretically-grounded evaluation metrics for measuring the program’s effectiveness. The project brought together a team of expert ocean science educators, who designed and developed a curriculum and student activities that met National Science Education Standards and Ocean Literacy Principles. Members of the team developed lesson plans and exercises using multiple forms of social media to enhance classroom learning.

Find out more about the results of the project in the full report.