Ocean Awareness Contest
For kids 11-18y.o.
Powered by Bow Seat
Participate for free

Contest Overview

The 11th annual Ocean Awareness Contest is a platform for young people to learn about environmental issues through art-making and creative communication, explore their relationship to a changing world, and become advocates for positive change. Students ages 11-18 from around the world are invited to participate.

The Contest deadline is June 13, 2022.


The 2022 Ocean Awareness Contest—THE FUNNY THING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE—challenges students to learn about climate change and its impact on the ocean, and to explore new ways to communicate the urgency of the climate crisis. We are looking for innovative pieces that challenge our expectations for what climate change messaging should look like. How can you talk about climate change in a fresh way? How can you capture attention without sacrificing your message?

Why Participate

  • Gain knowledge about climate change and its relationship to and impact on the ocean. Dive into Bow Seat’s Resource Studio to learn more about the issues; find artists and organizations taking action to protect our blue planet; and discover ways that you can get involved.

  • Grow your skills in communication, critical thinking, creativity, and environmental advocacy. Use your artwork to raise awareness for critical environmental issues.

  • Build your portfolio and make art in your preferred medium, or practice a new one! Add to your resume with a participation certificate.

  • Showcase your talents worldwide. Through art exhibitions, publications, social media campaigns, and scholarships, Bow Seat uplifts diverse youth voices to advance dialogue and participation in ocean conservation and advocacy.

  • Earn cash awards of up to $1,500!

How to Enter and Submit

Step 1: Review the Rules & Eligibility
This is an international contest open to middle and high school students ages 11-18. Make sure you read all of the Contest rules, submission requirements, and other details before you get started.

Step 2: Review & Research

The Ocean Awareness Contest theme changes every year. Be sure to review the description of the 2022 theme, THE FUNNY THING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE, before starting your piece. Humor is an effective way to turn heads and get people to engage with climate change messaging. This year, we are challenging you to use humor, or other attention-grabbing techniques, to advocate for our blue planet. Submissions are judged based on how well they address the annual theme. Your submission should respond to the prompt listed in Step 2 below.


We have many resources on our website to help you get started on your submission. Explore Bow Seat’s Resource Studio⁠—a unique, curated space that includes inspirational artwork, journalistic media, primary literature, interactive quizzes, videos, and more—to learn about climate change and its impact on the ocean, as well as how humor and other fresh approaches can be used as powerful science communications tools. There is also a new skills-based section with educational information and tips on art-making, filmmaking, spoken word, storytelling, and more.

Step 3: Create


Use humor, positivity, irony, or other unconventional approaches that are not typically used in environmental communication to address the climate crisis. Think outside the tackle-box, beyond clichés, to create something that makes the topic of climate change and our oceans more approachable and accessible.

This prompt is meant to inspire and guide you. Please feel free to expand on it—do not feel limited. Explore the Resource Studio for inspiration, and start creating!

Note: we know humor often breaks social norms and defies our expectations. We welcome you to push those boundaries, but please make sure that your piece is suitable for audiences of all ages. Racism, sexism, and homophobia will not be tolerated, and submissions that present any prejudices will be immediately disqualified from the Contest.


Please review all submission requirements carefully. Students may submit one entry per category, meaning that you may enter up to six pieces, one in each category. If you submit more than one entry in a category (for example, two poems), additional entries will not be counted or judged.

Creative Writing
Interactive & Multimedia
Performing Arts: Music & Dance
Poetry & Spoken Word

Step 4: Submit

There is no fee to enter the Contest.
Kiddy School students can submit the projects via this form.
Non-Kiddy School students must create an account and submit their work through our online system by the Contest deadline: June 13, 2022, at 11:59 PM Eastern Time (ET). Bow Seat cannot accept submissions via email or physical mail.

Submission Checklist:

  • Your contact information
  • Your submission (Visual Art, Creative Writing, Film, Interactive & Multimedia, Performing Arts: Music & Dance, Poetry & Spoken Word)
  • A title for your submission
  • Your written reflection
  • Works cited (if applicable): List of sources for any ideas, quotes, or facts used that are not your own
  • Contact information for an adult sponsor (required for all participants)
  • Parent/guardian consent (required if under 13 years old). Click here for more information about parent/guardian consent.
  • Once you make an account and start a submission, you will have the opportunity to save your work and continue at another time.

Contest Judging

The 2022 Ocean Awareness Contest results will be announced in November 2022. Winners and their sponsors will be notified via email before the results are publicly announced.

Bow Seat judges are artists, writers, teachers, scientists, and of course, ocean-lovers! Each year, we also invite a cohort of Bow Seat student alumni and emerging artists to participate in Contest judging. Meet the team >

Judges consider:

  • How well submissions address the annual theme of the Contest;
  • Demonstration of artistic voice, originality, and imagination;
  • Craftsmanship, including quality, technique, and skill in chosen medium; attention to detail; and accuracy in communicating issues; and
If a submission meets category requirements (such as length, file type, etc.).
Judging begins immediately after the Contest ends, and we take the time to fairly judge each and every entry to the Contest. We receive thousands of entries, and our team of judges puts in thousands of hours of cumulative work each year reviewing your submissions.

We know that you’re anxious to hear Contest results. We take an enormous amount of pride in the care we put into the Contest, and we appreciate your patience as we continue to do so!


Cash awards are presented to winners in all of the categories at both the Junior and Senior Division levels. There are no requirements for what you must do with your cash award; we hope that you will use it to further your passion for the environment and your creative talent.
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