Do Something About Marine Debris

Marine debris is a problem caused by people, but it also has human solutions. Those solutions can start with you! Learn more about things you can do to keep our sea free of debris.

Ohio Marine Debris Art Challenge

NOAA Region: 
Short Title: 
Clean Future Challenge
Various marine debris items on a beach.
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Even during this challenging time when many are at home, our waste can still become marine debris. We want your help to raise awareness about the global problem of marine debris, especially in the Great Lakes. We’re looking for original and inspiring art from students in coastal Ohio to help encourage others to be part of the marine debris solution.

All students in grades 6-12 from the Lake Erie region of Ohio enrolled in recognized public, private, and home schools are eligible to participate. Schools, including home schools, must be in compliance with federal and state civil rights and nondiscrimination statutes. We also encourage organizations and clubs that are not affiliated with schools to participate (e.g., Scouts, 4-H). Students may work individually or in a group of no more than 4 students with an adult in a leadership role. Each individual or group of students may only submit one entry. There is no limitation on the number of entries a teacher/adult, classroom, school, or organization may submit.

For a complete list of contest rules, download the Contest Rules & Information document, located under the "Resources" box.

After learning about marine debris in the ocean and Great Lakes and how we all may be contributing with our trash, students will create marine debris artwork from repurposed trash, which will focus on Lake Erie wildlife! All entries must meet the requirements below:

  • There should be 1 to 4 students per entry; Groups should have no more than 4 students
  • Artwork must be made primarily of repurposed trash from the waste at home or school, such as clean plastic, metal, or paper. The exception to this rule would be the base the artwork stands on.
  • Art should focus on the theme of Lake Erie wildlife
  • Art must be less than 2ft x 2ft in size and able to stand on its own, if necessary
  • Be creative! Different types of artwork (e.g., sculpture, diorama, mural, likeness, mixed media) are all encouraged.
  • Any electrical elements should run off of battery and no hazardous materials should be used
  • Avoid any licensed characters, brand and product names, as well as licensed music in the artwork (i.e., hide product names on debris items)
  • Students and leaders need to submit:
    • One 750 word summary per group. The essay should focus on what they learned about marine debris, how they evaluated the waste they produced, and how they can personally make changes to the amount of waste they produce.
    • Entry Form
    • Picture(s) of the artwork
    • Student Releases for each student

Students are highly encouraged to check out the NOAA Marine Debris Program's website for information about marine debris, and teachers are encouraged to use the “Trash Tracker” curriculum as a resource (An Educator’s Guide to Marine Debris - pages 22-24). We’ve also provided a recorded presentation and alternative waste tracking worksheet for those that may be learning virtually.

Entries (entry form, essay, picture of artwork, and student releases) should be emailed to by 11:59pm April 15th, 2022.

If you have any questions, please contact either or

Donating & Sponsoring Organizations

  • NOAA Marine Debris Program
  • Ohio Sea Grant
  • The Ohio State University F.T. Stone Laboratory
  • Ohio Congressional District 9 (Rep. Marcy Kaptur)
  • Cedar Point Amusement Park 
  • Lake Erie Charter Boat Association
  • Miller Ferry Boat Line

This contest was created in 2016 in partnership with the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Ohio Sea Grant/OSU Stone Laboratory, and Ohio Congressional District 9 (Rep. Marcy Kaptur).

Active Project?: 
Special Event?: 
Education Portal Ranking: 
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Students from coastal Ohio are invited to participate in the annual marine debris challenge to bring awareness to the issue of marine debris in the Great Lakes.

Annual NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest and Calendar

Short Title: 
Art Contest
Artwork of a colorful mermaid and ocean life surrounded by grey debris.
On Our Radar Choice: 

The NOAA Marine Debris Art Contest is now closed! Check out the 2023 Marine Debris Calendar, now available for download!

Annual Marine Debris Program Art Contest Overview

The NOAA Marine Debris Program holds an annual art contest to reach K-8 students and help raise awareness about marine debris. Marine debris is a global issue and we believe that engaging our youth is an important part of addressing the problem. The resulting calendar, featuring the winning artwork, provides a daily reminder of how important it is for us to be responsible stewards of the ocean. Students are highly encouraged to check out resources on this website for information about marine debris.

Who is eligible to enter the contest?

All students in kindergarten through eighth grade from all U.S. states and territories in recognized public, private, and home schools are eligible to participate. Schools, including home schools, must be in compliance with federal and state civil rights and nondiscrimination statutes. Students may submit entries on their own or as part of a classroom, but must work individually.

Entry Requirements

Each entry must be composed of a piece of artwork and a description (on the entry form). All must meet the requirements below. A NOAA awards panel will collect all entries and select 13 winners to be featured in a marine debris calendar. Entries will be judged on the creativity, artistic presentation, and relevancy to the theme of:

  1. How marine debris impacts the ocean and the Great Lakes environment.
  2. What you are doing to help prevent marine debris.

Artwork & Description Requirements:

  1. One entry per student.
  2. The entries must be on a single sheet of 8.5” x 11” paper, landscape.
  3. Use white, non-glossy paper; do not laminate.
  4. Any art medium may be used (e.g., colored pencils, crayons, paint), computer graphics will not be accepted. Artwork must be hand-drawn by the student.
  5. Artwork must be flat (e.g., no glued pieces or glitter) and able to be scanned.
  6. Avoid labeling debris items with any brand names in the artwork.
  7. A description of no more than 75 words must accompany the artwork (space provided on the entry form).
  8. Label each mail entry on the back in pencil (marker bleeds through the artwork) with the student’s name, age, and grade, along with the teacher’s name, school name, address, and telephone number.
  9. If submitting your entry electronically, accepted file types are: JPEG, PNG, or TIFF. Make sure your files are high resolution (scanning is encouraged), not crooked, and easy to see and/or read.

Entry Submission (Contest is now closed)

This year we are accepting entries by mail and electronically. There should be one entry form filled out per student. Please ensure that the entry form is filled out completely and legibly. All entries (entry form + artwork) must be submitted by mail (postmarked) or electronically no later than December 16, 2022.

If you have any questions, please email

Submitting Entries By Mail
Mail your entry (entry form + artwork) to:

Marine Debris Art Contest
NOAA Marine Debris Program
1325 East-West Highway,
SSMC2, Room 3201
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Submitting Entries Electronically
Email your entry (entry form + artwork) to: 

    • Attach the entry form
    • Attach the artwork as a JPEG, PNG, or TIFF 
    • Make sure your artwork is high resolution (scanning is encouraged), not crooked, and are easy to see and/or read
    • Please note: Our email system will not accept emails with attachments larger than 18MB. If you are submitting multiple entries via email, please number them, send them in individual emails, or reach out to confirm we have received all of your entries.

    2022 Art Contest Winners

    Congratulations to our 2022 NOAA Marine Debris Program Art Contest winners! The Marine Debris Program selected 13 pieces of artwork, and they are featured in our 2023 Marine Debris Calendar! Thank you to all the students who participated in this year's contest! We plan to announce the winners of the contest in spring 2023.

    The 2023 Marine Debris Calendar is available for download. We are unable to offer hard copies of the calendar at this time.

    Active Project?: 
    Special Event?: 
    Education Portal Ranking: 
    Teaser Text: 
    The 2023 Marine Debris Calendar is now available for download! Learn more about the annual NOAA Marine Debris Art Contest.

    Collecting Marine Debris Data

    Marine debris is a familiar sight on shorelines around the world, and a reminder that there is still work to be done to tackle this global environmental problem. In order to learn more about the problem and understand the types and amount of marine debris in our environment, we need to collect data - and you can help!

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