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 (OOHM) 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.
Teaching Through OOHM
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.
Student Art Featured
Over the last 3 years, Cool Science has received more than 1,400 entries from K-12 students representing 35 districts in Massachusetts. Each year, six winning entries were put on public display throughout the Lowell Regional Transit Authority for several months. Riders could appreciate and learn from these student works of art which were found on the outside of buses, inside of buses, and at the Gallagher Terminal. Our research to date indicates that there was a very positive reaction to the artwork and a desire to see more. In addition to the six winners, six runner-ups and 12 honorable mentions are recognized at a ceremony on the UMass Lowell campus. Teachers and parents are recognized at this ceremony as well.