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Kids Teaching Flood Resilience is (KTFR) is a community resilience building initiative founded and 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.  Since 2016, we've built our capacity building  model in mostly 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 coastal U.S. climate change impacts.  We establish baseline knowledge and behaviors with the official KTFR Flood Resilience Literacy Survey.


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. We talk about how and why so many people fail to ignore hurricane evacuation orders

because they think they are safer than they really are. We stage GAME ON / Situation HURRICANE events!     



Have been designed with input from phenomenal community Thought Leaders: City and county emergency management experts, civil engineers, environmental scientists, cultural leaders, school officials, professional artists, and higher education researchers.


Have been field tested with experience Teacher Leaders. Together, we have built a toolkit of creative, evidence-based, persuasive, and culturally responsive hazard mitigation programs/products. We aim to mitigate harm from extreme weather so that we can keep hazards like hurricanes from becoming DISASTERS.  IN DISASTERS, PEOPLE DIE! 

Center an analysis of flooding as a socioscientific situation, inside of which there can often exist 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 the National Weather Service , NOAA Office for Coastal Management, the SC Sea Grant Consortium, and City of Charleston Dept. of  Emergency Management 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

excellence. And now, the NOAA National Disaster Preparedness Program has stepped up with funding support to help our partnership scale and sustain the work! 

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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. Our students know the value of becoming

Place-Wise, Weather-Smart, Storm Surge Smart, Prep-Ready, and Water Safe! 

We ANALYZE:  How is this flooding (or potential hazard) affecting ME and my family?  In addition to Educational Vulnerability, how SITUATIONALLY  vulnerable are we?   


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 tap into our creativity to design hazard risk messaging that CONNECTS!


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.  

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