In 2011, UMass Lowell hosted the Carbon Smarts Conference. The Carbon Smarts Conference brought together accomplished individuals from a wide array of disciplines to explore the use of Out of Home Media to foster informal science learning about climate change. Experts from Informal Science Education, Marketing & Communication, Climate Science, and Psychology shared research and experiences associated with the public communication of climate change science. Cool Science emerged from the inter-disciplinary discussions that the conference promoted.
Out of Home Media (OOHM) is any form of communication that an individual might experience while out of the home. In the Cool Science project, OOHM refers to the advertising spaces on the inside and outside of buses as well as posters at the main terminal. If these spaces are so effective at selling products and services to the riders and pedestrians, why not use the spaces to foster learning about science? There have been a few examples of science learning campaigns on mass transit, but the Cool Science project will be the first that utilizes student generated artwork as its focus.