What’s new with NOAA Planet Stewards?

It’s been a busy fall as a new group of 70 teachers from around the country were getting trained and are now implementing Planet Stewards in their classroom!  In June, I had the opportunity to co-present “Lessons Learned” with Julie Stratton, science teacher at Cape May County Technical High School.  It was exciting to see how an actual class implementation played out during our spring pilot.  Based on Julie’s feedback, along with survey and focus group response from our other pilot teachers, we were able to fine-tune the curriculum with support from our friends at NOAA, and instructional designer, Mark Suter.

The Planet Stewards curriculum, over 165 quests in five areas of the NOAA sciences, is available inside the 3D GameLab quest-based learning platform.  Free accounts open in January, so be sure to sign-up soon, if you don’t already have a teacher account.  We’ll be back in April 2014 with another Planet Stewards teacher camp, as well.  Stay tuned!


NOAA Planet Stewards – Coming July 2013


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We’re very proud to announce the upcoming public launch of Planet Stewards, NOAA’s career pathway badges for middle and high school students.  We will be opening a no-cost training for up to 500 middle and high school science teachers in July 2013.  The training will be conducted fully online over the first three weeks of July.  Work at your own time and pace, supplemented by optional live events.  Earn your NOAA Teacher Badge!

When you’re done, you can bring your students into the platform to earn over 15 NOAA Career Pathway badges, all aligned to NGSS standards.  Up to two professional development credits will be made available through Boise State University for an extra fee of $60 per credit.

If you’d like to be added to the list of participants, please sign up here.

To learn more about the power of quest-based learning, and get a sneak peek at Planet Stewards, check out our video!

Revealing Planet Stewards

As many of you know, I’ve been engaged on our Planet Stewards project in conjunction with NOAA as part of our DML/HASTAC award.  It’s been amazing to be involved in the evolution of Mozilla’s Open Badges initiative, work with the talented experts at NOAA, and gain a better understanding of the need for environmental education in today’s times of Hurricane Sandy and other environmental disasters!

What does it look like to work on Planet Stewards quests and earn Mozilla badges?  Here are early screenshots inside 3D GameLab.  As you see the first screenshot, we currently have 169 quests!  These can be expanded on by individual teachers who have the option to add additional quests to the curriculum.

Freshwater Quests inside 3D GameLab

Quest designer, Lucas Gillispie, focused on creating quests that engage the student as a real-life problem solver of freshwater ecology issues using real-time data.

Planet Stewards Badges: 5 “super-badges” in the NOAA content areas, 15 career-pathway badges, and one Conquerer badge for those rare individuals who master all 20!

Next month I travel to the Climate Literacy Summit, and hope to gain a better understanding of how we can expand this work to better protect our planet and the humans who’d like to enjoy it now and in the future.

Planet Stewards: Wouldn’t it be cool if..?

Planet Stewards imageChris Haskell and I like to joke that a lot of our ideas start out with a “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”  If we offer a gaming camp to teens, if we use quests as pedagogy, if we had a quest tracker tool to monitor progress on quests?  And thus the birth of 3D GameLab.

Then along comes the DML Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition.  Wouldn’t it be cool if NOAA would pair up with us to do quests in 3D GameLab?  If those quests led to the award of a badge?  If those badges represented NOAA career pathways (non-traditional) instead of content grouped around clusters (traditional)?  And if students could choose which badges to work on based on their own interest (personalized learning)?

All those “ifs” came true, and Planet Stewards is now in progress!  We feel so fortunate to be teamed up with the great folks at NOAA.

Project Objectives

  1. Introduce and motivate high school students to career pathways in the five NOAA science areas
  2. Design three career pathways in each of five NOAA science areas
  3. Integrate Mozilla OBI badging capability
  4. Offer OBI badges for both NOAA certified teachers (who train in this content), and NOAA certified specialists in each of the career pathways (students)
  5. Integrate new Science Framework standards and assessments (8 scientific and engineering practices)
  6. Design ID training, and train instructional designers to create master set of curriculum
  7. Design teacher training, and train teachers to create customized quest groups for their students
  8. Improve the learning analytics
  9. Improve the data visualization
  10. Implement with students and evaluate in real-time
  11. Work in partnership with school and organizational partners


  • Phase 1 (April-July 2012):  Planning & Design (instructional, graphic)
  • Phase 2 (July-Oct. 2012):  Teacher Training & Analytics Design, Mozilla coding (badge design)
  • Phase 3 (Oct-Dec 2012):  Teacher Training & Evaluation Planning, coding
  • Phase 4 (Jan-March 2013):  Student Piloting & Evaluation

Who’s Who

  • Peg Steffen, education coordinator NOAA National Ocean Service, and brainchild of the Planet Stewards curriculum
  • Lisa Dawley & Chris Haskell, co-inventors of 3D GameLab, and professors at Boise State University
  • Alark Joshi & Andy Hung, professors at Boise State helping us improve learning analytics and real-time data visualization

What’s Up?

Peg has pulled her working group together at NOAA, and we’ve had one large group meeting to begin looking at the “topic tree,” or exactly what content/standards NOAA recommends we cover in each career badge.  We had a great time thinking about careers, the types of learning activities students might engage in, and just how radical it is to learn content through real-world application that might lead to a new career in life.  Very inspiring stuff!

On the learning analytics side, we’ve set up our new analytic server, Andy & Chris are working on the KPIs to refine our data collection, and Alark shared some examples of data visualizations he’s exploring with the different data sets.  On the left are some examples of data visualization examples we discussed this week.

Next, we firm up our instructional designers on the project, and begin a one-week asynchronous training inside 3D GameLab.  Since we’ve previously focused on training teachers to design quests in the platform, this part is easy.  Later in June, we meet at NOAA to plan the overall scope our master set of curriculum, quest pathways and badges.

We’re currently hiring the graphic designer to pull together the badges.  This week on our call with Sunny Lee from Mozilla, she used the word “flair” to discuss the overall look of the badges–loved this!  And she also gave us Badges Resource Decision Map!  If you are new to badges and want to learn more, check it out, a very creative and useful tool.

So let’s all keep asking those “wouldn’t it be cool ifs,” know no boundaries, and continue to push it forward!   We’ll continue to post project updates here: http://hastac.org/competitions/winners/planet-stewards-personalized-learning-3d-gamelab