Cool Science: Art as a Vehicle for Intergenerational Learning

Robert F Chen, University of Massachusetts Boston, School for the Environment, Boston, MA, United States, Jill Lohmeier, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Education, Lowell, MA, United States, Lois Hetland, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Art Education, Boston, MA, United States and Steven Schrock, University of Kansas, Civil, Environmental, & Architectural Engineering, Lawrence, United States
Cool Science integrates science and art to promote youth learning about the science of extreme weather, the products of which are then displayed on buses and in art exhibitions to promote adult learning. Cool Science's four interrelated strategies are: 1) To create and conduct workshops that support adult mentors in facilitating youth’s out-of-home learning of science through art, 2) To design and implement a youth art contest about extreme weather, 3) To display youth artwork in advertising spaces throughout participating Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) in the New England and the Midwest, and 4) To hold a series of art exhibitions where local artists, scientists, educators, and an all-aged public gather to celebrate the youth, their artwork, and their ideas about extreme weather.

Over the last six years, the Cool Science pilot program won awards and was honored by the White House as an exemplary project to improve climate literacy across a community. It has proven popular and effective among all target audiences. In the next phase of this program, we will intend to better understand science learning outcomes associated with the creation and public display of youth art. Cool Science is aimed at advancing the field of informal science learning by developing and testing a multi-disciplinary, multi-generational, and multi-regional program that focuses on youth learning about the science of extreme weather through the creation of art and adult learning through viewing the artwork on buses. Cool Science will answer the following research questions: 1) In what ways does blending art with science enhance youth learning about extreme weather phenomena? 2) To what extent does youth art support adults learning science? 3) How does regional context affect learning about extreme weather? This presentation will focus on the design, implementation, and impacts of art and science workshops on extreme weather phenomena for informal science educators.