The 10th 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.
Like our human bodies, 70% of Earth is water, and this water is continuously in motion: it rises from the ocean, creates clouds in the sky, and returns to land as rain or snow. This precipitation soaks into the ground; collects in freshwater streams and lakes; is taken up by trees and plants; and sustains every living being it encounters on its journey—bacteria, fish, insects, birds, mammals, and of course, humans. When you drink water, you are consuming water molecules that have been around the world, cycling through Earth’s ecosystems for billions of years. All life needs water, and where there is water, there is life.
The 2021 Ocean Awareness Contest theme WATER RISING challenges students to explore and understand their connection to water, and to creatively communicate the need to protect this vital resource and life-sustaining relationship. What are the stories we need to tell about water to sustain and conserve it for current and future generations of life on Earth?
WATER RISING Prompts
The 2021 Ocean Awareness Contest theme is WATER RISING. Your submission(s) should respond to one of the following prompts:
- PROMPT 1: Global warming affects the water cycle, fueling extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and droughts. Warming seas are also contributing to sea level rise around the world. Whether too much or too little, water is the primary way we will feel the effects of climate change. How do you feel the effects of climate change where you live? How will this change within your lifetime?
- PROMPT 2: We are all interconnected through water. What does it mean to be up- or downstream from one another? Where does your water come from, and what is the journey it takes to get to you?
- PROMPT 3: Though water is a basic human right, more than 1 billion people do not have access to clean and safe water worldwide. Access to clean water is increasingly threatened by pollution, privatization, and climate change, but these threats do not impact us all equally. Water contamination and environmental injustice overwhelmingly affect Indigenous communities, people of color, and the poor. How is water a lens through which we can understand and fight for justice? Consider water as a mirror of our society—it reflects back to us who we are. What do you see in the mirror?
- PROMPT 4: Clean water is not only necessary to sustain human communities, but all life on Earth. There are many movements rising up to protect water and all those who depend on it. Who has historically led these movements? Who (and what–for example, policies) are our water protectors?
- PROMPT 5: Think about the role that water plays in your life, and how that ripples out to connections in your community, society, and the world. What memories do you have of water? What is your water story?
Who May Enter
Students ages 11-18 from around the world are invited to participate in the Ocean Awareness Contest. Enter the division based on your age at the time of entry:
- Junior Division: Age 11-14
- Senior Division: Age 15-18
Students can participate as an individual or as a club, class, or group of any size.
All students must provide the contact information for an Adult Sponsor (teacher, parent, mentor, etc.).
- Gain knowledge about water’s importance to all life on Earth. Dive into Bow Seat’s Resource Studio to learn more about water and its connection to climate change, health, justice, and culture; find artists and organizations taking action to protect our blue planet; and discover ways that you can get involved in conserving our planet’s most vital resource.
- Grow your skills in communication, critical thinking, creativity, and environmental advocacy. Use your artwork to raise awareness for critical issues impacting our blue planet.
- 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 scholarship/">scholarships, Bow Seat uplifts diverse youth voices to advance dialogue and participation in ocean conservation and advocacy.
- Join Bow Seat’s global community of 18,000+ young people who care about the ocean, environmental justice, and climate action. Be inspired by the work of other young creators around the world.
- Be eligible for special opportunities, like the Future Blue Youth Council, a diverse group of young people working together to advance Bow Seat’s mission and to empower fellow peers to advocate for the environment.
- Earn cash awards of up to $1,500!
Animation by Ely German, Ocean Awareness Contest alumna & Visual Art Judge
The ocean makes life on Earth possible.
The ocean regulates global climate, produces more than half of the oxygen we breathe, and holds nearly 97% of Earth’s water. Global ocean systems largely influence life on land, even hundreds of miles from a coastline. Salt, fresh, warm, or cold, all water is connected through the water cycle.
Awards:- More than $5,000 will be awarded in 2021, in total. Gold, Silver and Bronze Award winners, as well as Honorable Mention winners will be announced in each contest division. Several other special awards will be announced as well.