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Climate Education Contest Honors K-12 Winners

A Massachusetts second-grader is this year’s top winner in UMass Lowell’s annual Cool Science contest, which teaches K-12 students in Massachusetts, Kansas and Missouri about how they can use art to teach the public about the climate.

LOWELL, Mass. – A Massachusetts second-grader is this year’s top winner in UMass Lowell’s annual Cool Science contest, which teaches K-12 students in Massachusetts, Kansas and Missouri about how they can use art to teach the public about the climate.

Expanding into the Midwest this year through a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Cool Science encourages youth to blend science and art by asking them to create displays that illustrate concepts such as heat transfer, energy and extreme weather. The best of these submissions will appear in and on transit-authority buses in Massachusetts, Kansas and Missouri, where they aim to educate tens of thousands of passengers and others each day. This year, more than 260 young people participated in the program. 

Haley Jones, a student at William P. Gorman Fort Banks Elementary School in Winthrop, is this year’s recipient of the UMass Lowell David Lustick Award, presented to the competition’s overall winner. She and the contest’s other top honorees from Massachusetts will have their artwork displayed in and on Merrimack Valley and Worcester regional transit authority buses in the spring. Top contest winners in the Midwest will see their submissions displayed in and on buses operated by the Kansas City Area and Topeka Metro transportation authorities. 

Cool Science winners and runners-up, their parents, teachers and the community mentors involved in the program, will be honored during online award celebrations that will feature the outstanding artwork created. The events will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 5 at 6:30 p.m., EDT (Merrimack Valley); Wednesday, Aug. 12 at 7:30 p.m., EDT (Kansas City and Topeka); and Wednesday, Aug. 19 at 6:30 p.m., EDT (Worcester). Members of the public may register to watch the celebrations by emailing [email protected].

“With Cool Science, we are interested in learning more about the impacts of informal science education on multi-generational audiences. Our research examines what our program mentors learn in our workshops and their work with youth, what these young artists learn through the process of creating their art and what the general public learns about extreme weather when they see this artwork. This year, the program gives us a chance to examine these questions in a variety of geographical areas that experience different kinds of extreme weather,” said UMass Lowell College of Education Associate Prof. Jill Lohmeier of Westford, who will present the Lustick Award to Haley. 

The honor is named in memory of David Lustick, a former Nashua, N.H., resident and UMass Lowell College of Education professor who was a nationally recognized champion of environmental education. Lustick and Lohmeier co-founded Cool Science in 2013 to study the effectiveness of using public artwork to stimulate interest in learning more about scientific concepts. 

Lohmeier continues this work with UMass Lowell Associate Prof. Stephen Mishol, chairman of the Art and Design Department, and Prof. Bob Chen, interim dean of UMass Boston’s School for the Environment, along with researchers from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, the University of Kansas and Kansas City Art Institute. 

“Cool Science is a cool way for kids to educate the adults in their communities about some complex concepts in earth science and the science behind extreme weather. I was really excited this year by what I learned from the students through the art they submitted and their artist statements. The virtual events are celebrations of student engagement and learning of science, the blending of art and science and of the next generation,” Chen said.

Each year, participants produce artwork that impresses contest judges, who include Mishol. 

“The works in the celebrations are wonderful examples of how dynamic and effective the blending of the arts, education and science can be,” he said. 

In addition to Haley, contest winners in Massachusetts include: 
•    Katherine Hamilton of Roslindale, a fifth-grader at the Curley School;
•    Bailey Roux of Townsend, a fifth-grader at St. Leo’s School;
•    Juliana Li of Newton, a sixth-grader at Belmont Day School;
•    Veer Bhatia and Rachael Laikangbam of Shrewsbury, seventh-graders at Oak Middle School;
•    Cameron Marnoto of North Andover, a seventh-grader at North Andover Middle School;
•    Nina Prodanas of Amherst, a freshman at Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School;
•    Juliet Scott of Holyoke, a sophomore at Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School; 
•    Anna Kippenberger of Mattapoisett, a sophomore at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School;
•    Abigail Bowman of Acushnet, a junior at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School.

Runners-up include:
•    Margaret Deglialberti of Boylston, a first-grader at Boylston Elementary School;
•    Giovanna Vittoria Bufaino Rocha and Chase Truant of Winthrop, second-graders at William P. Gorman Fort Banks Elementary School;
•    Giuliana Palumbo of Leominster, a third-grader at St. Leo’s School;
•    Lucas Leonard of Leominster, a fourth-grader at St. Leo’s School;
•    Emmett Vaughan of Woburn, a fifth-grader at White Elementary School;
•    Yuxuan Zhang of Cambridge, a sixth-grader at Belmont Day School;
•    Carly Heske and Anika Mamidala of Shrewsbury, seventh-graders at Oak Middle School;
•    Delaney Quinn and Heidy Rodriguez of Worcester, seventh-graders at Sullivan Middle School;
•    Chloe Jaklevic of Deerfield, a freshman at Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School; 
•    Nur Aksamija of Hadley, a sophomore at Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School;
•    Cassidy Brooks of Freetown, a sophomore at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School;
•    Lukas Nuesslein of Amherst, a sophomore at Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School;
•    William Tuttle of Holyoke, a sophomore at Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School;
•    Jordan Donahue of Carver, a junior at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School.

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 18,000 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 leaders in their communities and around the globe. www.uml.edu
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