Climate Change Explorer


climate change explorer

To enable groups of young people to explore the science of climate change and their attitudes towards it.
To build a partnership between the artists, education partners and scientists.
To generate and exhibit creative works addressing climate change.

Image from the animated film "Polar Bear Extinctions"

Image from the animated film
“Polar Bear Extinctions”,
 created by the children

Arguments for inclusion

This project is very innovative helping young people understand scientific knowledge of crucial importance for their own future through visual arts and filmmaking.
This REC promotes a positive and active role for science in society by empowering young people to have a say in communicating their feelings and thinking about climate change to a wider audience.

This REC also excels in inclusive practice by working with young people often excluded from opportunities, for example those who have been excluded from school.

Relevant information in short

Main Research Partners

UK Environmental Change Network, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Educational partners

Dowdales School, Mortimer School (secondary schools, age 11-16)

Other partners

Arts: Cumbria Arts in Education, Helix Arts
Youth work: Drop Zone Café
Global citizenship:  Global Voice UK

Age classes


Thematic orientation

Multidisciplinary arts and science, climate change

Main Focus

Raining awareness on climate change through creative activities and giving children a voice on climate change.

Duration of activity

One off workshops, since 2004.


The project has recently received national government funding through DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). It also receives funding from Arts Council England. Early funding was provided by Creative Partnerships, Ernest Cook Trust and Tomorrow’s Climate- Today’s Challenge.


Contact person

Viv West (Cumbria Arts in Education), Adam Clarke (Artist in Residence)

Context and conditions

Climate Change Explorer was initiated by Helix Arts and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in 2004. The partnership is large and it is based on a formal agreement. Partners include schools, arts organisations, state research centres, youth groups and foundations. Management responsibility is shared through a steering board but the main research partner, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, leads. Climate Change Explorer employs a programme manager.

Activities and Contents

Artists and filmmakers work directly with children in workshops to explore the science of climate change and young peoples’ reactions to it. The workshops produce exhibits such as dance, graffiti, animations, new media art, interactive information walls and films as well as more traditional publications. These outputs are used to extend the reach of the message to other young people. The schools have the responsibility to shape the educational practice and the science partners provide the knowledge to be explored.

Climate Change Rap

Image from the music video ‘Climate Change Rap’


The Climate change Explorer workshops do not aim to deliver formal teaching but to facilitate creative exploration. The methodology is about young people finding a voice about the most important scientific questions of our time and feeling they can make a valuable contribution. The work is not only interdisciplinary across traditional science subjects but introduces a novel approach to understanding science through art and creativity. The Climate Change Explore is also strong on encouraging critical thinking and demonstrates commitment to social equity in actively seeking to bring their activities to young people who may be left out of innovative projects targeting students perceived by adults as more able, for whatever reason that might be.

Image from animated film The Bear Facts

Image from animated film The Bear Facts

Curriculum relevance

Climate change offers an opportunity to look at a wide varietyof science topics, particularly in biology and geography, but also in across other science and technology subjects. In the UK this is particularly topical now that in September 2008 the new secondary school curriculum introduces a much stronger attention to the global dimension in our lives.

Mutual benefits

The perceived benefits of this kind of work come from shared values: importance of the topic and young peoples’ need to be heard. All partners feel they gain from the partnership and have created so many creative outputs that the project has secured state funding to continue and extend their activities. The advice from the team is to “Start small but have big ambitions. Plan well. Be clear about objectives. Manage well. Communicate well. Funds are the key!”

Evaluation /feedbacks  

The Climate Change Explorer has appointed an independent evaluator.

Limits and possibilities

Image from animated film Future Cars

Image from animated film Future Cars

The main weakness is that scientists have little direct contact with young people: the artists run the workshops. The role of scientists may be enhanced in the future. The new funding opens many possibilities for more young people to benefit from this innovative science education work.

All images appeared originally on the website and represent artwork created by the children who have participated in the project. The videos were produced by the children together with Adam Clarke, the artist in residence.