Art contest lets kids teach adults about climate change – CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — A local contest lets children speak out about extreme weather and climate change. Between the colors and the paper on the table, each image submitted to Project Cool Science carries a message.

“Cool Science is about educating young adults about extreme weather and climate change by blending art and science,” said Dr. Robert Chen, co-principal investigator of Cool Science and the Interim Dean School for the Environment from UMass Boston.

Cool Science is an art contest for K-12 students about weather, energy, and climate change. It is a collaboration between UMass Boston, UMass Lowell, Mass Art, University of Kansas and Kansas City Art Institute.

“Climate change is a very complex issue, and you can’t really approach it from a single discipline like science, chemistry or economics. So we’re looking at using the art and the creativity and design aspect of that with the science and combining those in the minds of the kids and what they think about extreme weather, how it affects them,” said Chen said.

Hundreds of children have participated in the competition for almost 10 years, from drawings and paintings to graphic design. Art is judged on its message, its scientific precision, its creativity and, of course, its appearance.

“Winners blow up their giant posters on the side of a bus, and thousands and thousands of people on the street can see those buses go by with their art on them,” Chen explained.

That’s the beauty of this project, Cool Science uses art as a vehicle to communicate science to the public.

“We’ve found that when people use public transport, it’s a great way to get their attention,” said Dr. Jill Lohmeier, co-lead researcher for Cool Science and associate professor in the School of Education at ‘Umas Lowell. “What we started to find was that adults responded really well. Kids were learning science, but adults were also learning science.

The project received a grant from the National Science Foundation a few years ago. He was able to develop artistic and scientific educational programs, partner with volunteers and regional transportation authorities in Kanas, Missouri and Massachusetts, as they were able to expand geographically from the Merrimack Valley in Worcester to Topeka and Kansas City. The Cool Science team wanted to see if the artwork would be as effective in other parts of the country with different climate issues.

“We really learned the effectiveness of outdoor media for science education and for education in general, and how we can involve young people and adults for intergenerational learning – which I think is the one of the most exciting parts of this project,” Lohmeier said.

WBZ asked him what was surprising during this project.

“I’m surprised how much young people can learn on their own,” Lohmeier replied. “They spend a lot of time and effort learning and I think it’s so exciting. When we allow kids to have a choice, they can really get excited and go a lot further than you know they can. asking them to learn a specific thing. So I think, if they get the chance, they’ll dig deep.

A win-win in science education, regardless of age.

“We have a lot of second graders coming in and seeing they can really learn a lot and they can share that with the adults in their lives and the adults they don’t even know on the buses can watch it and learn. sophomore art,” Lohmeier said.

Each year, six contest winners have their art exhibited in a region. There are a total of 24 winners each year. Due to COVID there has been a temporary halt to the display of artwork, but this year the images are being displayed in places like the Merrimack Valley to communicate climate change and extreme weather to the community.

“What’s more fascinating than the drawings that schoolchildren have made? It resonates with our mission: climate change is an issue and one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to get on the bus,” said Noah Berger, administrator and CEO of the Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority.

On one of the buses is the beautiful artwork of Haley Jones of Winthrop. She was the 2019-2020 David Lustick winner when she was a sophomore. Each year, a work of art is named in memory of late Cool Science team colleague David. It is usually awarded to someone who embodies the youthful and optimistic spirit of the Cool Science program.

Haley told WBZ-TV she was excited beyond words.

“It’s inexplicable, I feel like my insides are boiling,” exclaims Haley.

His winning design is not only displayed inside and outside a few Merrimack Valley Transit Authority buses, but proudly on the wall of his game room. She showed WBZ her artwork called “Save the Earth” and explained that her photo depicts extreme weather conditions, the earth is getting warmer, and you can adjust the weather. Her works were inspired by her love of the outdoors and the nearby beach she calls home.

“There’s this rock, and it was a bit further out and it was the lowest tide. I remember before it was the high tide mark, the water was moving that much? And now it’s really deep to swim in. It’s crazy,” Haley said.

She agreed that she had seen the direct impacts of climate change in her own hometown. After learning and drawing about climate change, she shares some tips.

“It doesn’t take much to change it, you just start using those reusable water bottles, those reusable bags and you don’t use anything that’s bad for the environment. And if that’s not enough for you, you can make a poster, put it up in town. Even if it’s not on a bus, it still makes a difference,” Haley said with a smile.

You can find out more about Cool Science at and get instructions on how to enter the next competition starting later this spring.

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