Adapted Curriculum Helps Students in NYC Explore Sea Level Rise Past and Future
Publications: Success Stories - Extension (2023)

Photo: Students participate in a sea level marking RiSC project learning activity along Coney Island Creek in Brooklyn in October 2022. Credit: Heather Sioux


Katie Graziano, NYSG Coastal Resilience Extension Specialist, E:, P: (718) 951-5415

NYSG provided scientific expertise to update and enhance a climate-focused curriculum to help NYC area students envision and plan for climate resilience

New York, NY, March 23, 2023 - Climate change — from extreme heat to sea level rise and storms — is impacting the lives of residents in New York City (NYC), with the local sea level expected to rise another 1.41 ft. to 3.25 ft by the year 2070 ( Young people in urban coastal communities will be especially affected by these changes and are confronted with the need to adapt to and solve climate-related challenges.

A “Resilient Schools Consortium” (RiSC) was launched in 2016 to empower students to understand and address climate impacts in their New York City neighborhoods. In support of the project, New York Sea Grant (NYSG) helped design and implement a locally-specific climate curriculum in collaboration with teachers and partner organizations. In 2022, NYSG applied its coastal resiliency expertise to help update the RiSC curriculum with the best available climate science, and designed and implemented hands-on, field-based opportunities for student learning in partnership with the Coney Island Beautification Project.

Eight NYC-area schools participated in the RiSC program in 2022, utilizing the updated curriculum and hands-on activities. Applying NYSG’s Sea Level Rise Activity Guide, NYSG led more than 100 students in measuring and placing “projected sea level in 2070” markers along the shoreline of Coney Island Creek, Brooklyn. Student teams used NYSG’s adapted interview guide to record five podcasts featuring local climate stories. Students openly shared their surprise at the future impacts of sea level rise. Participating teachers reported finding the curriculum and field trip experiences effective in promoting critical thinking about climate change and environmental justice and for improving students’ organizational and leadership skills.

The updated RiSC curriculum, enhanced with hands-on field trip opportunities and podcast development fosters localized environmental literacy and empowers students and teachers to be well-informed and active in building a more sustainable and resilient future for their communities.


• National Wildlife Federation, Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay 
• Coney Island Beautification Project 
• American Littoral Society 
• New York City Department of Education

Funding: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly.

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