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Public-Transit Campaign Educates Riders About Climate Change

UMass Lowell Honors Massachusetts Students Who Created Project’s Art

UMass Lowell Image
For the second year, the Cool Science initiative honored students in third through 12th grade for creating outstanding artwork that conveyed climate-change concepts to riders on the Lowell Regional Transit Authority's mass-transit system.


Contacts for media:  Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or and Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 or

LOWELL, Mass. – Schoolchildren from across the state are educating thousands of public-transit riders about the environment through a community initiative headed by UMass Lowell. 

Students in third through 12th grade created artwork that conveys the effects of climate change for the university’s second annual Cool Science contest. The contest’s top six entries are displayed on and inside Lowell Regional Transit Authority buses and commuter terminals through June. In addition, second-place and honorable-mention entries are featured on UMass Lowell’s Cool Science website,

UMass Lowell honored the contest’s 25 winners, along with their parents and teachers, during an April 4 ceremony at the O’Leary Library Learning Commons on the university’s South Campus. An LRTA bus parked outside the library showcased the winning entries, including artwork on the outside of the bus created by John Keaney of Milton. Other top entries were displayed in an exhibit inside the library.

“UMass Lowell is proud to honor these young people, who are engaging the community and learning about science in the process. They are the next generation of environmental stewards and their success with the Cool Science initiative shows they are already leaders in that effort,” said Julie Chen, UMass Lowell’s vice provost for research, who spoke at the event.  

The Cool Science project includes research to gauge what students throughout Massachusetts have learned about climate change and measures how the initiative’s public-transit media affects riders’ understanding of the topic. Cool Science is headed by David Lustick of Nashua, N.H., and Jill Hendrickson Lohmeier of Westford, both professors in the UMass Lowell Graduate School of Education, along with Prof. Robert Chen of UMass Boston.     

“Last year, we saw significant improvement in bus riders’ awareness and interest in climate-change issues over the course of the project. It appears that the students’ artwork was incredibly effective at reaching them,” Lohmeier said. 

This year’s contest received more than 450 entries from 26 Massachusetts schools. 

“Our second year of Cool Science has reaffirmed the need to provide young people creative ways to express ideas about climate change,” Lustick said. “Promoting an understanding of the phenomenon through art is a welcome alternative for people who are better able to learn about science in non-traditional ways.” 

Winning entries were selected for their clarity of message, scientific accuracy, creativity and artistic appeal. First-place winners included: 
  • Sonia Marnoto, a fourth-grader at Annie L. Sargent School in North Andover;
  • Lauren Kirk, a fifth-grader at R.E. Shaw Elementary School in Millbury; 
  • Milan Smith, a seventh-grader at Pierce Middle School in Milton;
  • John Keaney, a seventh-grader at Pierce Middle School in Milton;
  • Adriana Czarniecki, a freshman at Belchertown High School in Belchertown; 
  • Melissa Peets, a junior at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School in Rochester.  
Runners-up included: 
  • Raghav Narula, a fifth-grader at Parker Middle School in Chelmsford; 
  • Nicole Robinson, a fourth-grader at Reingold Elementary in Fitchburg;
  • Erika Pen, a sixth-grader at Lowell Community Charter Public School;
  • Mayali Geyling, a sixth-grader at Pierce Middle School in Milton;
  • Harriet Small, a junior at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Cambridge; 
  • Jessica Kocur, a senior at Old Rochester Regional High School in Mattapoisett.   
Honorable mention recipients included: 
  • Jessiel Negron-Rios, a fifth-grader at Bartlett Community Partnership School in Lowell;
  • Zoe O’Neill-Garvey, a third-grader at Pepin School in Easthampton;
  • Liam Michalski, a seventh-grader at Pierce Middle School in Milton;
  • Emily Schewe, a seventh-grader at Pierce Middle School in Milton; 
  • William Heavey, a seventh-grader at Pierce Middle School in Milton;
  • Anna Crowley, a sixth-grader at Pierce Middle School in Milton;
  • Aimee Hill, a junior at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School in Rochester;
  • Kristen Goff, a sophomore at Belchertown High School in Belchertown;
  • Isley Gagnon, a sophomore at Lee Middle and High School in Lee;
  • Lisa Patnode, a senior at Holbrook Junior-Senior High School in Holbrook.
The LRTA and Anastas Advertising Associates donated $13,500 in advertising space toward the project. Cool Science is funded by UMass Lowell’s Graduate School of Education and a $32,000 grant from the UMass President’s Creative Economy Initiatives Fund, which supports faculty projects in the arts, humanities and social sciences that benefit the state’s economy and improve its quality of life.   

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its 17,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, engineering, education, fine arts, health, humanities, liberal arts, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.