The OCEANS 2023 Conference and Exposition Gulf Coast is challenging K-5, 6-8, 9-12, and community college students to develop a video highlighting the environmental impact of plastics in their community.

NOTICE: The deadline for entries has been extended to Sept 15

The Challenge targets students in the Gulf Coast region as defined by the geographic area of the Marine Technology Society Gulf Coast Section, which includes the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, as well as the panhandle of Florida. To be eligible for prize consideration, each team must provide a YouTube link to their video submission. Videos should be 5 minutes (+/- 1 minute) in length.

Cash prizes will be awarded. Winners will be announced at the OCEANS 2023 Gala on Wednesday, September 27, 2023. Need not be present to win.

Groups or individuals are asked to create a project that brings attention to the problem of plastics in our environment, with an emphasis on oceans and/or the coastal environment, carry out that project, and provide a video that outlines the project and results. The video will be judged by the OCEANS 2023 Outreach Committee Team. Examples of projects (by age/grade) include a video communicating how a team:

  • K-5: Collected, identified, sorted and counted plastic trash on school property.
  • 6-8: Collected trash over a period of time and graphed results, identifying percent of plastics.
  • 9-12: Identified a service project related to reducing plastic waste in the community that finds its way to water sources and communicated how to reduce plastic waste.
  • Community/Technical College: Developed a novel tool, incentive or method to reduce microplastics in water bodies such as a local river.


  • There are four categories of teams:
  • Grades K-5
  • Grades 6-8
  • Grades 9-12
  • Community/technical college (no age limit)
  • There is no minimum or maximum number of team members.
  • All team members entering the challenge must be either:
  • currently enrolled in a state-approved, U.S. public, private or home-based primary school, secondary school or community/technical college in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama or Florida panhandle, or
  • enrolled in said school/college in fall 2022, spring 2023 or summer 2023. (i.e., you may compete the summer following graduation/move/etc.).
  • The category in which a team competes is based on the grade level of the oldest team member.
  • Students may enter the challenge independent from a school and/or form a team with members from more than one school. Any prize will be awarded to the team.
  • Students must have a teacher or other professional sponsor (e.g., a community partner or a parent) over age 21.


Awards will be granted to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in each category (K-5, 6-8, 9-12, and community/technical college).

  • 1st place = $1,000
  • 2nd place = $500
  • 3rd place = $250

All Teams must provide a person or organization to which checks will be written, as well as a mailing address. All registered participants/teams receive a certificate. Awards are sponsored by the Center of Higher Learning. 

Judging Criteria

  1. Creativity.
  2. Orderly process (plan, execute and report).
  3. Understanding of the problem and the results.
  4. Community impact.
  5. Appropriate project for age group.

Application of Intent

Complete the Application of Intent to participate in the challenge and submit to Applications of intent MUST be received by Thursday, August 31, 2023.

The statement of intent process will collect contact information, competition categories as well as other information pertinent to judging. Stating intent does not obligate participation.

Application of Intent


Deadline Action
Aug. 31, 2023 Teams must submit a complete application of intent to participate to
Sept. 1, 2023 Teams (or their assigns, such as a teacher/school administrator) upload final video submission to YouTube and submit link to the judging committee.
Sept. 2, 2023 Judging commences.
Sept. 27, 2023 Winners announced at OCEANS Gala
Oct. 2023 Awards and certificates delivered