Kids Teaching Flood Resilience is (KTFR) is a non-profit, community resilience building initiative directed by Dr. Merrie Koester of the University of SC Center for Science Education.   Our STORY positions youth as resources of knowledge and resilience about what to Notice, KNOW, and DO in the event of extreme weather.   All case studies foreground an awareness of the disproportionate impacts of climate change on low-income, historically marginalized communities.  We've built our capacity building  model in Title 1 schools serving families living in low income, flood prone neighborhoods.  We begin each new project by identifying pre-existing conditions of "Educational Vulnerability” – that is, the lack of awareness of or access to knowledge that can mitigate one’s risk of harm from a flood hazard.  We also develop, through field work,  an appreciation of the vital role of coastal saltmarsh ecosystems in mitigating climate change impacts.  We establish baseline knowledge and behaviors with a 10 question Flood Resilience Literacy Questionnaire. 


We then ask, "Are we HURRICANE SMART?" , TAKE A QUIZ, and collect more data about where knowledge capacity gaps exist.  We assess our capacity to swim and make commitments to learn how. If we fail to ignore evacuation orders, we acknowledge that we are risking our own lives and those of first responders, too!   



Are designed with input from phenomenal community mentors: City emergency management experts, cultural leaders, school officials, professional artists, volunteer STEM experts, and higher education researchers.


Produce  evidence-based, persuasive, and performative culturally responsive hazard mitigation programs/products whose goal is to mitigate harm from extreme weather before a disaster strikes.  

Center an analysis of the relationships between development practices, sea level rise, and flooding events, especially those occurring in low-income, under-resourced communities.  


Have included leaders from over 16 organizations, including National Weather Service meteorologists, the SC Sea Grant Consortium, the Charleston Resilience Network, and four different City government offices, have served as mentors and knowledge generators in the emerging project.  Both the College of Charleston and the Citadel have served as higher education partners in this collective impact effort to GET HURRICANE SMART!

Have earned us recognition from NOAA as a Weather Ready Nation Ambassador program of


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We ASK:  What opportunities for positioning youth as resources of STEM and preparedness knowledge can be developed in partnership with multiple stakeholders around a shared vision of mitigating place-based hazard risks due to extreme weather events - especially flood hazard risks?  


We IMPLEMENT:  A PLACE & PROBLEM-BASED (PBL) approach to create culturally responsive hazard risk messaging grounded in knowledge students acquire about what to NOTICE, KNOW, and DO in the event of an extreme weather event like a hurricane in their local community.

We ANALYZE:  How is this flooding (or potential hazard) affecting ME and my family?  We ask what our families may already know about this problem and what their existing plans to mitigate harm to us may be.  


We SEE that  we need STEM knowledge to truly understand what’s behind all this flooding (or other hazard) and and why it’s getting worse. 


We EXPECT that we’ll have to work hard. 







WE KNOW that our work matters!


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Please cite as Koester, M. (2022). Kids teaching flood resilience.  Research Design, Teaching Practices, and STEAM Innovations. https://www.kidsteachingfloodresilience.com/