Viewing Climate Change through a Creative Lens

Author: Anna Gurney

Keeping kids engaged. Educators and parents are often tasked with finding creative measures encourage students to be inspired. While climate change and art aren’t generally synonymous, a group of State educators and environmental professionals who formed the N.C. Climate Education Network (NCCEN) said – let’s give it a shot.

Climate change is a serious subject, with volumes of data and historical research. NCCEN decided to offer an art contest and invited K-12 students to use 30 years of data to express their visual interpretation of climate change.

“The contest offered a way to connect science with creativity. It makes climate information relatable and relevant, while also allowing students to think about climate through a creative lens,” says Lauren Daniel, NCCEN co-founder and the State’s Division of Water Resources Educational Program Coordinator.

And it worked! More than 60 students participated. An art piece was selected for one elementary, a middle school, and a high school student while all submissions were and remain available to view online. But it didn’t end there. While the contest portion ended, NCCEN continues to accept submissions and exhibit them on its website.

“It's more than an art contest, it's a ‘temperature check’ to learn about the priorities and interests from our K-12 students as they relate their thoughts about climate,” said Daniel.

The submissions reveal an authentic perspective. NCCEN hopes scientists use these art submissions to learn about student interests which can in turn support the creation of relatable climate science communication.

N.C. Climate Education Network is a multi-agency partnership with DEQ’s Divisions of Water Resources (Lauren Daniel) and Air Quality (Annie Lee) and NCSU’s State Climate Office (Rebecca Ward). NCCEN brings the latest climate issues and research to citizens through relevant online Open Houses throughout the year. No prior knowledge or experience is necessary to participate in this network.

Join NCCEN network by visiting NCCEN. For more information, please contact

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