HOW TO ENTER
- Review the annual Contest theme, submission category requirements, and rules.
- Create an online account to upload your work and supporting materials. A valid email address is required to participate in the Ocean Awareness Contest.
- Submit by the deadline: June 10, 2024, 11:59 Eastern Time (ET).
For full instructions, visit the How to Enter page.
The submission deadline is June 10, 2024, 11:59 Eastern Time (ET).
No. We only accept submissions using our online submission platform.
No! Entering the Ocean Awareness Contest is completely free of charge.
No. While many teachers assign the Ocean Awareness Contest as a school project, many participants also take part on their own with support from an adult sponsor.
In addition to your submission files and your reflection, we will ask you for some personal information—including your name, email, and school—and contact information for an adult sponsor. It is important that you provide a valid email address so that we may contact you with essential information about the Ocean Awareness Contest or your submission (including award notifications). If you provide a school email address as your primary contact information, please provide an additional, alternative email address as well.
If you are under the age of 13, your parent or legal guardian must review, sign, and upload or send a Parent/Guardian Consent Form as part of your submission.
WHO MAY ENTER
Any student age 11-18 who is/was enrolled in middle or high school (secondary school) while the Contest is open. For example, if you are in the 12th grade in September 2023 and graduate high school in May/June 2024, then you are eligible to participate in the 2024 Ocean Awareness Contest.
If you are a high school student dual-enrolled in college classes, then you are eligible to participate in the Contest.
Select the division based on your age at the time of entry. Students ages 11-14 are eligible for the Junior division; those ages 15-18 are eligible for the Senior division. If you are entering the Contest as a group of mixed-age students, we suggest you enter the division based on the age of the student who will be the primary contact.
If you are turning 11 during the 2023-2024 school year, you are eligible for the Contest.
Yes! Students can submit as individuals or with a group of friends, or as a class or club of any size.
Yes! This is an international Contest and open to teenagers ages 11-18 worldwide.
If you are between 13 and 18 years of age, be sure to obtain your parent’s or legal guardian’s permission before you send any information about yourself (such as your name, email address, etc.) to Bow Seat or anyone else over the Internet. If you are under the age of 13, your parent or legal guardian must review, sign, and send a Parent/Guardian Consent Form as part of your submission.
Yes! Please enter the division based on your age at the time of entry, and put “Homeschool” on the School Information page of the submission form.
Yes! As long as your time enrolled in high school and the current Contest overlap, then you are eligible to enter. Please choose the age division according to your age at the time of entry.
No. You must be enrolled in middle or high school in order to submit to the Contest. If you start college/university any time before the Contest closes on June 10, 2024, then you cannot submit to the 2024 Ocean Awareness Contest.
If you are a high school student dual-enrolled in college classes, then you are eligible to participate in the Contest.
We accept Visual Art: Handcrafted, Visual Art: Digital, Film, Interactive & Multimedia, Performing Arts (Music & Dance), Poetry & Spoken Word, and Creative Writing submissions. Each category is judged separately, and each category will have its own Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorable Mention winners.
The Interactive & Multimedia category invites submissions that integrate creative communication and interactive or participatory elements, or which combine three or more of the other submission categories. Submissions may include:
- Websites, apps, or other web-based media
- Social media campaigns
- Games (video games or board games)
- Multimedia (submissions that combine multiple categories or media forms)
Digital paintings, graphic design, and ceramics should be submitted in a Visual Art category. Animated films should be submitted in the Film category.
Students may submit one work per category; for example, you may submit one poem (Poetry & Spoken Word Category) and one song (Performing Arts Category), but not two poems. Review all category requirements before submitting.
In order to be considered by our judges, your submission, supporting materials (i.e., Music lyrics), and accompanying reflection must be in English.
You are welcome to submit a Film or Performing Arts submission in any language, but you must include English subtitles in the video. The rest of your application, including the reflection, must be in English.
No. We have a policy of making sure that entries are judged fairly across each category, and therefore we require that you fit your entry within the photo/page/length limits. Submissions are judged partly on how well they meet these submission requirements.
We appreciate the work that you are putting into your entry, but we want to challenge you to try to succinctly communicate your ideas within the given limits. Once you submit to our Contest, feel free to publish your work elsewhere at whatever length you wish!
No, you will not be required to ship us your original work. However, we recommend saving your original work until the winners of the Contest are announced, just in case there is an issue receiving the files you submitted using our online platform.
Every year, we select a new theme based on issues that are timely and relevant and for which we would like to raise public consciousness. Submissions are judged in large part on how well they address the annual theme of the Contest.
The written reflection helps your audience and the judges understand more about you, your work, and the issue you are addressing. It is like the introduction to a book or an artist’s statement in a museum.
The judges will not lower your score for a poorly written reflection, but writing a good reflection will certainly help the judges understand you and your work better, and you will likely do better in the Contest!
If you reference ideas, facts, quotes, or existing media in your entry or reflection that are not your own, we ask you to cite those sources (in any style) in the Works Cited section of the submission form. That means you must credit any facts or information that you did not discover, create, or come up with yourself.
A bibliography shows our judges that you did research on the topic, and your arguments are stronger if they are supported with verifiable and pertinent evidence. Creating a bibliography helps students build research, critical thinking, and analytical skills. Ultimately, we want to challenge all of our participants to refine their communication skills so that they can become more persuasive and powerful advocates for our blue planet.
Yes! We do not ask for exclusive rights to your work, but Bow Seat does reserve the right to use students’ submitted work for marketing, exhibiting, and promotional purposes in any and all media.
By submitting to the Ocean Awareness Contest, you agree that your submission is your own idea and creation, and you affirm that you have not plagiarized, copied, or referenced others’ work without proper citation, or used artificial intelligence software. If you use or reference ideas, facts, quotes, or existing media in your entry or reflection that are not your own, you must cite those sources in the Works Cited section of the submission form. If a submission is found to be copied or plagiarized, or created using artificial intelligence software, the submission will be disqualified from the Ocean Awareness Contest, and you will be ineligible to participate in future years.
Bow Seat is an organization that encourages students to dive into the creative process. We use art as a tool for research, discovery, and empowerment. Because of this, we want to ensure that we reward the students who embrace this process, learn from it, and channel their genuine commitment to protecting our blue planet. For this reason, AI-generated work is not permitted in the Ocean Awareness Contest.
SPONSORS & TEACHERS
Your sponsor can be any adult: your parent, legal guardian, teacher, coach, mentor, etc. You must provide the contact information of your adult sponsor on the submission form, and your sponsor will receive email notifications about your submission.
Whether you are a teacher who assigned this Contest as a class project, or a parent helping your child explore their creative potential, or an adult who simply was asked to be a sponsor for a student submitting on their own, your responsibilities are simple. All we need is to be able to contact you in case we have issues getting in touch with your student(s). When your student(s) submits their work, they will be asked to give your name and email address. You will receive a confirmation email once they submit so that you can have it on record as well.
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.
Parent/Guardian Consent Forms are required for any participating student under the age of 13. On the first page of the submission form, select “Yes” to the question “Are you under 13 years old?” and choose an option:
- Provide Consent Electronically. This option sends an electronic Consent Form to the parent or guardian specified for an e-signature.
- Upload Parent/Guardian Consent Form. This option allows you to upload a signed version of the PDF form. If you would like to upload multiple Consent Forms, combine all forms into one PDF or email the individual forms to us (see below).
- Email Parent/Guardian Consent Form. Choose this option if you would like to email us one or multiple signed Consent Forms, and we will add them to the student’s submission.
JUDGING & AWARDS
Bow Seat judges are artists, writers, educators, scientists, creators, activists, and of course, ocean-lovers! We also invite former Ocean Awareness Contest winners to participate as Alumni Judges. Meet the crew >
Each submission is anonymously evaluated by at least three judges over a series of three rounds. 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 of communicating issues; and
- If a submission meets category requirements (such as length, file type, etc.).
2023 Contest winners will be announced in November 2023. Winners and their sponsors will be notified via email before we announce results publicly.
Judging begins immediately after the Ocean Awareness Contest ends, and we take the time to fairly judge each and every entry. We receive thousands of submissions each year and our team of judges collectively puts in thousands of hours reviewing your work. We know you’re anxious to hear Contest results. We take an enormous amount of pride in the amount of care we put into the Ocean Awareness Contest, and we hope that you can be patient with us as we continue to do so!
If you are a winner, you will receive an email notification from us giving you specific instructions on how to claim your award. Winners may be required to verify their eligibility by completing an Affidavit of Eligibility/Liability Release, and, where lawful, a Publicity Release during the award claim process.
No. There are no stipulations on what you must do with your cash award, but we hope that you will use it to further your passion for the environment and your creative talent. Some students decide to “pay it forward” and donate their award back to Bow Seat’s scholarship fund for future students; others use their award to contribute to the activities of a school club or local nonprofit organization.
We believe that your work should be shared publicly and widely in order to amplify your voice on behalf of our blue planet. We will do our best over the course of the next year to celebrate you as winners via our social media channels, as well as by coordinating art exhibits, film showings, and guest publishing of poetry and writing in various outlets through our partners.