Student Political Cartoons Use Creativity to Unpack the Issues

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An illustration of a hand drawing the White House

Talking about the news isn’t always easy. Classrooms across the country are using creativity and humor to start conversations and help students appreciate a variety of viewpoints through KQED’s Political Cartooning With Mark Fiore Youth Media Challenge. From COVID-19 to climate change, students use art and only a few words to communicate volumes about complex issues they care about. 

What would your students think of these youth-created political cartoons? Get inspired with these examples from KQED’s Youth Media Showcase and start thinking about what a political cartooning challenge would look like in your classroom. It’s not too late to submit for this year, and this challenge is coming back in the fall! 

The Covid War

Cartoon comparing Russia and the U.S. competing during the space race and developing the COVID-19 vaccine

Kasia K. from Jamesville DeWitt High School in Dewitt, New York, invokes the space race to comment about the worldwide effort to develop COVID-19 vaccines, narrowing her focus to Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and the vaccine developed, in part, by U.S. company Pfizer. 

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Anti-Vaxxers and a Patient Grim Reaper

Cartoon of a patient Grim Reaper waiting for anti-vaxxers

Another coronavirus-themed cartoon from Piper J. at Academy at Palumbo in Philadelphia, PA, is a timely commentary on the potential deadly consequences of not being vaccinated. 

Polarity 

 

Cartoon showing measuring scales imbalanced by the fighting between political parties

Moving from COVID-19 to political parties, Fernando R. from Evergreen Valley High School in San Jose, CA, calls out the partisan divide that often prevents anyone from governing justly. 

Turn Them Off!

Cartoon showing Biden turning off an oil pipe and a worker who has lost their job

This cartoon from Jacob F. from Pleasure Ridge Park High School in Louisville, KY, comments on the loss of jobs when the Biden administration canceled a key permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline project. 

Polar Bear Far From Home

Cartoon showing a polar bear getting sun burned on a shrinking block of ice while fossil fuels burn in the background

Michelle Z. from Alice Fong Yu (K-8) School in San Francisco, CA, draws attention to the dangers of climate change and political apathy to polar bears and other wildlife.

Michelle’s teacher, Lisa Ernst, said her students were engaged through the political cartoon project, which she recommends for any classroom interested in discussing important issues.

“For some students, their voice is through art, and what better way to [share their voice] than through a political cartoon?” Ernst said.

Help your students share their voice next school year with the Political Cartooning With Mark Fiore Youth Media Challenge. Find curriculum resources, including a great kickoff video by Pulitzer-Prize-winning Fiore himself, and more student examples on KQED’s Youth Media Showcase. All student submissions are published to the showcase, and some may be featured by Mark Fiore, KQED digital channels and in posts like this one!