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Schoolchildren Honored For Teaching Commuters About Science

Award-Winning Public-Transit Campaign Fueled by Mass. Students’ Artwork

UMass Lowell Image

04/13/2015


Contacts for media:  Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu or Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 or Christine_Gillette@uml.edu

LOWELL, Mass. – Schoolchildren from across Massachusetts have been honored by UMass Lowell for their contributions to a nationally recognized program that is educating thousands of Lowell public-transit passengers about the effects of climate change.

The third annual Cool Science contest asked elementary through high school students to create artwork that conveys concepts about climate science. The top six submissions are being featured on posters in and on Lowell Regional Transit Authority buses through June. 

“It’s been really great to see how we can use images to engage and inform the public on such a broad scale,” said Stephen Mishol, a UMass Lowell art professor who judged contest entries. “The work we’ve received has been incredibly diverse and at times, very accomplished, reflecting a serious engagement and interest in this important subject.”

Leading Cool Science are David Lustick of Nashua, N.H., and Jill Lohmeier of Westford, both associate professors in UMass Lowell’s Graduate School of Education, and Robert Chen of Milton, a professor of environmental, earth and ocean sciences at UMass Boston. In February, the White House honored Lustick as one of its “Champions of Change for Climate Education and Literacy” for his work on Cool Science and the ScienceToGo.org program, which engaged Boston commuters in science education through interactive public events and a campaign on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway trains.

“Cool Science provides an innovative opportunity to learn about climate change,” Lustick said. “The program’s free art competition gives teachers, parents and schoolchildren the chance to talk about science, sustainability and local mitigation strategies. The beautiful artwork that emerges from these discussions engages mass-transit passengers and raises awareness about environmental challenges.” 

This year’s 24 Cool Science contest winners were honored as their parents and teachers looked on during a ceremony on Friday, April 10 at O’Leary Library Learning Commons on UMass Lowell’s South Campus. An LRTA bus parked outside the library featured posters made from the contest’s top entries. Art on the side of the bus in an approximately 7-foot by 3-foot display was created by Mi Choi, a sophomore at Belchertown High School. A gallery of the winning submissions can be found on UMass Lowell’s Cool Science website, www.coolscience.net.

Through Cool Science, Lustick, Lohmeier and Chen are conducting research on how effective the contest is in teaching students about climate science and how the winning artwork is influencing commuters’ understanding of the issue. Four UMass Lowell students are assisting with that research this year: senior Julie O’Neil, a psychology major from Methuen; senior Megan Lulsdorf, a chemistry major from Wilmington; freshman Alanna Grondine, a civil engineering major; and Shanna Thompson, a doctoral candidate in leadership and schooling, both from Dracut.     

“The data we are collecting indicates that the student artwork has a positive impact on bus riders’ interest in learning more about climate change. The contest winners are acting as teachers for the public,” Lohmeier said.

This year, Cool Science received more than 500 submissions from students at 28 schools and community organizations across the state. Winning entries were selected for their clarity of message, scientific accuracy, creativity and artistic appeal.

Along with Choi, first-place winners include:

  • Jennifer Do-Dai and Luke Baltay, both sixth-graders at Pierce Middle School in Milton; 
  • Fenya Mantell, a fourth-grader at Benjamin G. Brown School in Somerville;  
  • Sonia Marnoto, a fifth-grader at Annie L. Sargent School in North Andover; 
  • Megan Smith, a sophomore at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School in Taunton. 

Runners-up include:

  • Hannah Borntrager, a sophomore at Belchertown High School in Belchertown;
  • Michael Correia, a sophomore at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School in Rochester;
  • Michelle Ly, a sixth-grader at McCarthy Middle School in Chelmsford;
  • Sadie Newburg, a first-grader at Malcolm Bell Elementary School in Marblehead;
  • Tyra Pak, a fifth-grader at Bartlett Community Partnership School in Lowell;
  • Justin Wilmot, a sixth-grader at Pierce Middle School in Milton. 

Honorable mention went to:

  • Melitza Alvarado, an eighth-grader at Dr. An Wang Middle School in Lowell; 
  • Paige Anstiss, a junior at Greater Lowell Technical High School in Tyngsborough; 
  • Valeri Azevedo, a sophomore at Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School in Taunton;
  • Eliza Callahan and Colin McMorrow, sixth-graders at Pierce Middle School in Milton; 
  • Chloe Christensen, a sophomore at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School in Rochester; 
  • Daniel English, a junior at Holbrook Junior Senior High School in Holbrook;
  • Dylan Glass, a first-grader, and Katelyn Cuzner and Cassidy Lubeck, both third-graders at Malcolm Bell Elementary School in Marblehead;
  • Meghan Jewell, a fifth-grader at Bartlett Community Partnership School in Lowell;
  • Pa Pi, a seventh-grader at Henry J. Robinson Middle School in Lowell.
Cool Science was recently commended by the Ad Club of Greater Boston’s Hatch Awards for outstanding achievement in creative branding and marketing. The program’s partners include UPS, which this year supported the placement of student artwork on LRTA buses. The LRTA and Anastas Advertising Associates Inc. have contributed to the program since 2012, with the LRTA donating advertising space and Anastas Advertising formatting the artwork that appears on the buses. Cool Science was launched in 2012 with $32,000 in seed money 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 the 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 more than 17,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, 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. www.uml.edu