Student photo contest

NOAA’s “Picture Climate Change” Student Photo Contest

Announcing the winners of the 2021-2022 contest! 

We challenged students to help NOAA understand how climate change has impacted them, their family, their school, and their community. We wanted to hear their climate impact stories and see how their life has changed due to climate shifts.

The photos NOAA received tell tales of drought, flood, fire, pollution, extreme heat or cold, and smoke. NOAA selected 6 winners that resonated with our judges, both through the imagery and the students’ written descriptions. Please visit the StoryMap offsite link below to see the winning images, read the students’ descriptions, and hear responses from NOAA scientists and experts about what NOAA is doing to understand and address climate change.

Dried leaf
Claire, Grade 7
Mountain sunset over windmill
Dominic, Grade 10
Beach sunrise
Julia, Grade 12
Drought stricken land with houses
Sienna, Grade 5
Dried up stream
Sofia, Grade 10
Building construction next to fall color on trees
Yuye, Grade 12

Click here to view the StoryMap offsite link with the winning images and NOAA responses.


What is this photo contest about?

How has climate change impacted you? Your family? Your school? Your community? We want to hear your climate impact stories as illustrated by a photo. In what ways has your landscape, wildlife, or way of life changed due to climate shifts?

To enhance our understanding of the diverse ways climate change impacts people and places in the Western United States, NOAA West is asking students in grades 5 through 12 for photo submissions showcasing what climate change means to you.

Winning photos will be featured next Spring (2022) on the NOAA Western Region website in conjunction with responses developed by NOAA's climate experts.

Each entry must include a photograph showcasing an example of climate change or an impact of climate change in the western United States, as well as a 3-5 sentence description of the climate change or impact, from your perspective. Entries will be judged on the photo's impact, creativity and relevance to the theme, and the written description (grade appropriate).

Who is eligible to enter the contest?

All students in fifth (5th) through twelfth (12th) 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 are not required to live in a Western Region state to enter the contest, but all photographs must have been taken in a Western Region state, including Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.

What are the categories?

Photo contest categories include Nature, Water, Weather and Society.  Examples are provided to illustrate types of issues within a given category, but photo submissions need not be limited to these examples.  Students may submit up to 5 entries (total) in the categories below:

  • Nature: Changes related to organisms and environments 
    • Examples may include: wildfires, desertification, crops, gardens, animal habitats and behaviors
  • Water: Changes related to water
    • Examples may include: drought, sea level changes, lake or river water level changes, reservoirs, coastal changes, water quality, wetlands
  • Weather: Changes related to weather events and weather patterns
    • Examples may include: extreme heat or cold, rain, snow, thawing of glaciers, thawing of permafrost, flooding
  • Society: Changes related to people and society, live and recreate
    • Examples may include: air quality, urban design or architecture, transportation, walkability, energy, costs, lifestyle, parks, shade, health

What else do I need to know?

The competition runs through December 3, 2021

A NOAA judging panel will review all entries and select 6 winners (total) to be featured on the NOAA Western Region website.  Entries will be judged on the written understanding (grade appropriate) of climate change, creativity, and relevance to the theme.

Students may submit their images (10mb max) to us through this form.  All images MUST include the following information: photographer's name, short description of when and where the photo was taken, and a short description (3-4 sentences) of what climate change or climate impact is shown in the photo. 

A few basic rules:

  1. Photographers must be in fifth grade through twelfth grade as of the closing date of the contest (November 15, 2021).
  2. Photos must be of locations in the NOAA western geographic region. This includes photos taken in the following states: Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico.
  3. To be considered for judging, your photograph and completed entry form must be received by 11:59 pm Pacific Time, November 15, 2021. 
  4. Each student may enter up to five photographs that illustrate a personal account of how they have experienced or observed climate change.
  5. Winners will be notified in the winter of 2021/2022 and presented with a certificate.  Winning images and NOAA responses will be featured on the NOAA Western Region website in the Spring of 2022. 

Additional details and instructions can be found on the submission form. Please review the form carefully to ensure you submit all required information!

Are you an educator interested in climate curriculum?

Easily connect this contest to your curriculum using NOAA's standards-aligned lessons on climate change. If you are new to teaching climate change, The Essential Principles of Climate Literacy will help you effectively bring important climate change subjects into your classrooms. NOAA Education and Outreach Specialists around the country can connect you with guest speakers, field trips, and professional development related to climate change.



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