The Art and Science of Climate Graphs in Seventh Grade

How can seventh graders tell a scientific graph's story through art? Combining the two seemingly disparate subjects may seem challenging at first glance, but this winter, BB&N Middle School students were more than up to the task.

Students in science class studied graphs that tracked changes to the environment caused by climate change, and then used these graphs to create art in order to illustrate and express their ideas about these changes. The compelling project was designed to teach students to understand graphs as a source of data, as well as to raise awareness of the changes climate change causes in the global environment. Topics students chose from included: Earth temperature, greenhouse gasses, wave height, glaciers, ocean health, coral reefs, deforestation, renewable energy sources, plastic in the ocean, and more.

The first step entailed picking a climate issue that resonated for the students personally. Then, using sources such as The New York Times, Climate.gov, NASA, and EPA, students found a graph that tracked the changes in the environment on their topic. They then followed clear steps in order to create their own original art:  

  1. Create three small sketches of their chosen graph.
  2. Talk through sketches with a peer and exchange ideas.
  3. Decide on one idea to sketch to scale and add depth.
  4. Look for images that will help them create their final products.
  5. Translate their ideas into their final media.
  6. Write their artist statements.

Science teacher Taylor Iberosi, who helped oversee the project, was thrilled with the process from start to finish. "It is valuable for students to connect science to issues that matter to them and to connect science to other subjects like art," Iberosi says.

The students, who understand that climate change is affecting their world, felt empowered to produce artwork that creates a powerful statement about the issue. "We wrote an artist statement so we had to research what the graphs really mean...so we learned more about how to interpret data," seventh grader Maggie says. Her classmate, Jaiden, adds a key insight: "This project is about how doing regular things affects our world every day. These are things we can change to make it better."

Click here for a look at all of the projects and for more information.