Make Waves with Project Blue Planet to Save the Oceans 2/21/2012

It's easy to feel small in the face of large environmental problems like oil spills or air and water pollution, but kids can make a big difference. How? By entering Project Blue Planet, a nationwide contest organized by the Smithsonian's National Zoo. In celebration of the Zoo's seal and sea lion exhibit set to open later this year, we challenge elementary, middle and high school students to form eco-teams or class projects that can educate their classmates and inspire them to take action. A healthy planet starts in your school and schoolyard.

Enter Project Blue Planet to earn your school a Seal of Approval. One lucky team from each age group will win a $1,500 cash prize to continue their green (and blue) efforts. Students can focus their projects on eliminating waste, reducing energy use, creating a healthier environment, or improving lifestyle choices. These categories are listed on the Zoo's website, along with advice about actions that students could use in their project from members of the Zoo's Green Team, which works to green the Zoo.

Last year's entries came from as far away as Hawaii. Four home-school students from Rhode Island known as The Plastic Bag Exterminators were the grand prize-winners. To help reduce the number of plastic bags found in the ocean, the team made reusable bags out of recycled t-shirts and passed them out at local farmers markets. The group also led multiple community clean-ups.

To be eligible, projects must be completed by June 1, 2012. Winners will be announced in July 2012. Judges will consist of representatives from the Zoo's Green Team, Whole Foods Market and the Officer Snook Water Pollution Program. Entries will be judged on their projects' environmental impact, educational content and creativity. Schools will not be judged on their previous green efforts, but on the changes and advancements implemented through Project Blue Planet. (This enables all schools to have an equal chance at the grand prize.)

Along with the project, students will need to submit the following:

  • A description of how the project educates others.
  • Documentation of up to 10 photos and/or a link to a video (five minutes maximum).
  • A group photo of the team.

To start a project today, visit the Zoo's site for more details, ideas and registration forms.

Project Blue Planet is sponsored by Whole Foods Market, Kiwi Magazine, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Officer Snook Water Pollution Program.