The primary purpose of the O’Neill Sea Odyssey is to foster awareness of environmental stewardship and personal responsibility among program participants. This is done by delivering an interactive curriculum that emphasizes the connections between land and sea through a multidisciplinary approach including ecology, biology, and mathematics. Each year, OSO works to measure our programmatic impact by administering a student survey, teacher evaluation and regularly collecting anecdotal stories from participating students.
Annually, data collected is analyzed and presented by a 3rd party – Applied Survey Research (ASR). ASR prepares an annual report that highlights the impact of the OSO program upon student participants and an understanding of who has been able to access the program over the course of the year. Year over year we publish our reports to highlight how OSO provides a critical role within our community.
In 2013, longtime OSO instructor, Lauren Hanneman conducted a long term impact study entitled: The Effectiveness of Experiential Environmental Education in connecting youth to nature: A case study on the O’Neill Sea Odyssey program. The survey highlights 75% of students who participated in OSO, indicated a long-term retention of knowledge of material taught in the OSO Ecology curriculum, based on non-point source pollution. It is also demonstrated that students’ belief that ocean pollution is largely land-based, an indicator of changed attitude. The only socio-demographic variables that had an effect on students’ mental models were the community setting – distance from the ocean – and the number of other experiential environmental education field trips that the students attended. Income, gender, grade level, and language did not have a significant effect on students’ mental models. Read the full report to see first-hand the critical role that OSO plays in the development of scientific knowledge, a connection to local watersheds and the variables that impact students mental and emotional well-being.