Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Student Contest, 2017

Publish Date: Oct 26, 2016

Deadline: Jun 19, 2017

Ocean Pollution: Challenges & Solutions

We invite middle and high school students from around the world to participate in the 2017 Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Student Contest! This year’s theme is Ocean Pollution: Challenges & Solutions.

It’s easy to become discouraged when you think about the challenges facing our ocean ecosystems. Ocean pollution, in particular, is an ever-increasing global concern that threatens marine life, our environment, the economy, and human health.

Yet there have been many inspiring conservation stories and ocean “wins” in the last year: cities implementing plastic bag bans; governments establishing new Marine Protected Areas; and the rise of citizens and businesses embracing zero-waste mentalities. Optimism is contagious, and sharing messages of hope around the world has never been easier than in this digitally connected age. Let’s ride the wave of #OceanOptimism, and think creatively about how our ocean-loving community – from K to gray – can turn the tide of global ocean pollution.

At Bow Seat, we recognize the power of our young ocean caretakers, and our goal is to inspire them to lead the way to finding innovative solutions to ocean pollution. We want you to #BeTheChange. You may choose to focus your work on one type of pollution, or the impact of ocean pollution as a whole. Whichever way you choose, we want your submission – visual art, poetry, prose, or film – to make viewers reflect on the impact of ocean pollution, inspire them to consider possible solutions, and challenge them to take action.

We encourage you to connect your submission to your own life, your local community, or something else that inspires and motivates you. Some questions that you might consider as you work on your submission are:

  • Who is to “blame” for ocean pollution? What are the sources of ocean pollution?
  • Who – and what – is impacted by ocean pollution?
  • How does ocean pollution at one end of the world affect the other end?
  • What innovative solutions have been created or proposed to address different types of ocean pollution? What challenges do these innovations face to widespread implementation?
  • How should scientists, designers, and policy-makers work together to address ocean pollution issues? How do local communities take part? How do individuals play a role? What role do you play?
  • What is the first step to raising awareness about ocean pollution?
  • How does meaningful change happen?
  • What does the future ocean look like to you?

Getting started

1. Research.
Use our website to find resources and inspiration. Do research on the topic, ask tough and complex questions, and have conversations about ocean pollution with your peers and sponsor.

2. Create.
Create your own work of art, prose, poetry, or film that interprets the Contest theme and advocates for ocean conservation. Make sure you review and understand all of the requirements for your chosen Category.

3. Submit.
Make sure you’ve met all rules and requirements for submitting to the Contest. Use our online system to create an account and submit your work. There is no fee to enter the Contest.

It is important that you provide a valid email address so that we may contact you. If you provide a school email address as your primary contact information, please provide an additional, alternative email address as well.

Teachers & Sponsors: You may create a single account under your name and submit multiple entries on behalf of your class, but you must submit separate entries for each individual student, unless they are participating as a Group.


All visual interpretations of the theme are welcome in this category, including painting, drawing, prints, digital art, sculpture, photography, and much more.

All pieces of written and spoken poetry which interpret the prompt are acceptable in this category, whether just a single poem or a collection.

All forms of written interpretations of the theme (except poetry) are acceptable in this category. Feel free to write fiction, nonfiction, personal memoirs, analytical essays, nature writing, political advocacy, op-eds or news articles, or any other form of prose.

All types of cinematic interpretations of the theme are acceptable in this category, from PSAs to short films to educational videos and much more.

Sponsors and teachers

Each individual or group who submits to the Ocean Awareness Student Contest must have an adult sponsor. Sponsors are usually teachers, parents, or mentors. We ask each student to have a sponsor so that if we have trouble getting in touch with a student, we have a backup means of contact.

We think that one of the most important parts of ocean advocacy is building relationships and having conversations about ocean issues. Regardless of how closely sponsors do or do not work with students as they prepare their submissions, we encourage students and sponsors to use each other to practice talking about ocean pollution and how the creative arts can make a meaningful difference in our world.

Rules and eligibility

Competition Period

  • The 2017 Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Student Contest opens for submissions on Thursday, September 15, 2016. All submissions must be received by Monday, June 19, 2017 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time (ET) to be considered in the 2017 Contest. The online platform will close automatically at the Contest deadline. Please plan accordingly!

Who May Enter

  • This is an international Contest and is open to eligible students worldwide.
  • Any student in grades 6-8 (or the international or homeschool equivalent) is eligible for the Middle School division. Any student in grades 9-12 (or the international or homeschool equivalent) is eligible for the High School division. As long as you were a middle school or high school student for any amount of time during the Contest (September 2016 – June 2017), you are eligible to enter.
  • Participants under the age of 13 must have a parent or legal guardian complete a Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Parent/Guardian Consent Form and upload it as part of their submission.
  • Entries may be submitted by an individual or group of unlimited size. If you submit as a group, there must be one group leader who will serve as the contact person for the group. All of the names of the group members must be listed in the submission. Award money will be split among the group members.
  • Any student may submit (i.e., have their name included in) only one entry per category. Therefore, a student may have a maximum of four different submissions, one in each category.

How to Enter

  • There is no fee to enter the Contest.
  • Students must create an account and submit their work through our online system by the Contest deadline. Bow Seat cannot accept submissions via email or physical mail.
  • Students must have an adult sponsor – usually a teacher. Homeschooled students may put down their homeschool teacher’s name.
  • Entries submitted previously to the Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Student Contest will not be considered in the 2017 Contest.
  • All entries must be the students’ original work. While we recognize that existing sources will be used for inspiration and research, Bow Seat reserves the right to disqualify an entry if we suspect plagiarism.

For more official information click "Further official information" below.

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