Students Educate Public About Climate Change
By Nancy Cicco
A university project has tapped the imagination of the state’s schoolchildren to educate the public about climate change.
Students from third grade through high school created artwork for the university’s Cool Science contest to educate the public about climate issues. The contest’s top six entries are displayed throughout the region on 9-foot-long placards on Lowell Regional Transit Authority (LRTA) buses, and inside buses and terminals. Second-place and honorable-mention entries are featured on the university’s Cool Science website.
At a recent recognition ceremony, Chancellor Marty Meehan congratulated the contest’s 24 winners, along with their parents and teachers.
“I am inspired by you, our younger generation, for how you are using visual arts to educate and inform the public about the need for action on climate change,” said Meehan at the event where the artwork was unveiled. “It is critical for the future of our planet, for all of us, to slow the effects of climate change. I applaud all of you here today – students, parents and teachers – for taking a stand and educating the leaders of tomorrow.”
An LRTA bus featuring Cool Science artwork by student Sam Mwea of Lowell provided a dramatic backdrop for the event. The placard features the headline – “We Can Change!” that sits next to a wind turbine flanked by electric cars plugged into electrical outlets of two homes.
The Cool Science project – led by Prof. David Lustick and Prof. Jill Hendrickson Lohmeier, both of the Graduate School of Education, and Prof. Robert Chen of UMass Boston – educates thousands of commuters about climate change in the neighborhoods where they live, work and shop. The project includes research to gauge what students throughout Massachusetts have learned about climate change and measures how the project’s mass-transit media affects the public’s understanding of the topic.
“Climate change is one of the greatest challenges to our generation,” Lustick said. “Cool Science aims to engage teachers, parents and students in learning about this issue. Considered one of the oldest forms of communication, media like placards and billboards have proven their effectiveness in marketing products and services. Using children’s artwork to communicate complex information is a powerful learning experience for both the artist and the audience.”
The contest received nearly 600 entries from more than 25 schools from across the state.
“We are excited to bring these students to campus to honor them for their work and creativity in crafting messages about climate change,” Lohmeier said. “The interest and artwork we received from the 600 students who entered the contest attest to the fact that climate change is an issue that both adults and kids can learn about and find ways to address.”
View the winning artwork.
Cool Science Winners
Winning entries were selected for their clarity of message, scientific accuracy, creativity and artistic appeal.
First-place winners included:
- Elijah Martinez a fourth-grader at the Golden Hill Elementary School in Haverhill
- Megan Dunne, a fifth-grader at the Raymond E. Shaw Elementary School in Millbury
- Lucas Koskinen, a sixth-grader at the Fowler School in Maynard
- Sam Mwea, a seventh-grader at the Dr. An Wang Middle School in Lowell
- Amina Ziad, a senior at Holbrook Junior-Senior High School
- Richard Kim, a sophomore at Belchertown High School
- Hunter Luby and Cara Prunier, fifth-graders at the Raymond E. Shaw Elementary School in Millbury
- Olivia McCourt, a sixth-grader at Pierce Middle School in Milton
- Reybekah Plaisir, an eighth-grader at Bartlett Community Partnership School in Lowell
- Tess Broll, a freshman at Triton Regional High School in Byfield
- Gianna Borowski, a fifth-grader at Raymond E. Shaw Elementary School in Millbury
- Amanda Kwong and Grace Stenson, sixth-graders at Pierce Middle School in Milton
- Kyle Barry, a sixth-grader at Austin Preparatory School in Reading
- Nicole Kudrikow, a freshman at Belchertown High School
- Leonardo Gonzalez, an eighth-grader at North Central Charter Essential School in Fitchburg
- Caitlin Riley, a freshman at Wilmington High School
- Kristen Miller-Nelson and Alice Langlois, sophomores at Belchertown High School
- Katie Jablonski, a sophomore at Greater Lowell Technical High School in Tyngsboro
The LRTA and Anastas Advertising Associates donated more than $13,000 in advertising space.
Cool Science is funded by a $32,000 grant from UMass President Robert Caret’s Creative Economy Initiatives Fund, which supports faculty projects in the arts, humanities and social sciences that benefit the state’s economy and improve quality of life.