2015 theme:
Our Oceans, Our Plastic


Winners announced mid-October •  2016 Contest Opens November

Middle and high school students from around the world are invited to compete in the 2015 Ocean Awareness Student Contest. The theme "Our Oceans, Our Plastic" allows you to explore and interpret the connections among the ocean, plastic pollution, society, and you.

This is an interdisciplinary contest that weaves together ocean awareness, creativity, and advocacy. Advocacy means taking a stand for something you believe in. It requires problem-solving skills, creativity, communication skills, assertiveness, and most of all, knowing when to call the world to action. 

While learning from science, history, and personal experience will inform your entry, there is no “right” way to do advocacy. Use your creativity to make a work of art, writing, or film that creates a new generation of ocean stewardship!

Contest entries are due by June 15, 2015,11:59pm EST.

Jump to:  Prizes  Resources  Background


Prizes will be awarded in each of the four categories at both middle school and high school levels:

Grades 9-12
Grades 6-8
First place
Second place
Third place
winner's school
10 Honorable
Mention Awards
3 Teacher
Recognition Awards

Additional Prizes Available in 2015

Over the course of the contest, other prizes may become available such as random drawings for scholarships, ability to display pieces in public spaces such as museums or aquariums.  Additional prizes will be listed here as they become available, but the winners of these prizes will be chosen and announced at the same time as the category prizes.

From the Bow Seat Advocacy Prize
Because the contest is meant to inspire the next generation of ocean advocates, we are offering one prize in each age division that demonstrates a powerful, moving, engaging, and original voice of ocean advocacy. The Middle School and High School winner will each receive a $250 cash prize, and an equal amount will be donated to an organization of their choice in their name.


We have lots of resources to help you get started, including, tips and inspiration for students, resources for teachers, and ideas for meeting education standards with the contest.

Get Inspired!  


The theme Our Oceans, Our Plastic continues our 3-year focus on plastic pollution. The 2015 prompt puts a new, more open-ended twist on last year’s contest, but retains a common core for many reasons. Most importantly, there is still enormous energy in the work of students, teachers, and organizations who were part of last year's contest, and many unexplored questions and connections.  We want to channel this energy into renewing and strengthening the work of teachers, students, and our partners.

Because we can build off the work of last year, keep an eye out for our exciting new resources! There will be lots of inspiration, lesson plans, galleries, and other online resources for you to learn about plastic pollution in the ocean. We will launch a visiting classroom series that teaches ocean advocacy through art.  Contact us to bring the contest into your classroom, and become a part of our growing partnerships with 5 Gyres, the Plastic Pollution Coalition, and our other partners who are inspiring ocean advocates around the world!

Selected Student Entries
from our 2014 Contest:
Julia Ebert
Tortuga Marinas
Sarah Bobbe
Michelle Huang
“I also hope to have an impact on others,
especially younger generations,
to learn about plastic pollution...”
— Samantha Witkowski 
Emma Spies
Gilberto Arrendono
Eliezer Garcia
Katharine Wu
Courtney Fucaloro
“One thing we can all do in order to 
assist in pollution cleanup is holding 
plastic producers accountable
for global issues concerning plastic debris.”
— Nicholas Manfred 
Alexandra Shaulis
Dafne Murillo
Hyun Sung
Lexi Peru
Juwan Mayes