Project Polar Bear Contest

Project Polar Bear

Team up and compete in this contest to make a difference for polar bears and their habitat.

Register here

© Daniel J. Cox/

What Is the Contest?

Project Polar Bear is an international competition among student groups who are taking action to fight climate change. With the guidance of an advisor, groups compete by creating a plan for a project that will help reduce reliance on fossil fuels and engage their communities. This can be a plan for a new project, or a proposal to continue an existing project.

Students and advisors will track their progress throughout the competition through photos, research, and on social media. The culmination of the project is a formal proposal to the PBI judging team. The top three high-scoring teams will receive a grant of $1,000, $750, and $300 respectively to continue their projects.

The contest can:

  • Serve as a fun and impactful service learning project.
  • Instill a strong conservation ethic in our future leaders.
  • Help students build their resumes for college applications.

Who Can Compete

The contest is open to students 18 years of age or younger, working in small teams or large groups. Each team must have an adult advisor, typically associated with a school, home school, zoo, museum, aquarium, science center, green club, or other-liked minded organization.

When Is the Contest Held?

Registration for the current contest is October 1 – November 25, 2017. Teams will work on their projects through March 15, 2018. We'll announce the winners in mid-April 2018. Exact dates and details will be provided closer to that time.

Contest Categories

Each Project Polar Bear team will develop a climate action plan and implement a community project that reduces carbon emissions, based on one of the categories below.

We're especially interested in how creative and successful teams can be with engaging and sustaining community action.

Expand to Read More

Why do we focus on reducing carbon emissions? Because this heat--trapping gas is causing the planet to warm, melting the sea ice that polar bears rely on.

Choose one Conservation Action for your team's project from the following list:

Saving Energy and Transitioning to Renewables

If your local energy is based on fossil fuels, the following projects will help your community lower its greenhouse gas emissions by reducing their use:

  • Turn thermostats up/down
  • Power down (e.g., unplugging, power strips)
  • Transition to renewable energy (e.g., a creative idea to help your community gain access to affordable solar or wind power; check out your local options and get started!)
  • See the following toolkits for ideas related to saving energy:
    Thermostat Challenge and Power Down 

Food Systems and Eating Sustainably

  • Reduce food waste (evaluate what you buy vs. what you need; transition away from single-use, disposable products; minimize the use of packaged foods; recycle what you can't compost)
  • Compost
  • Buy local, or grow your own! Locally grown items reduce food shipping miles. Grow your own garden or support local farmers' markets or co-ops

By reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting, you can lower your carbon footprint.


  • Carpool
  • Don't idle
  • Use alternative transportation (biking, walking, public transportation)

The energy used in transportation accounts for 28% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. See our Pedal for Polar Bears Challenge Toolkit for ideas related to biking. Also see our No Idling Toolkit.

Community Engagement Through Arts and Advocacy

Create a community dialogue around climate action. Sometimes it can be difficult to communicate the urgency of climate change through science and media. Artists like Maya Lin “...explore the power of art to mobilize the public and the great potential for environmentally focused artwork to affect climate policy.”  (Frances Beinecke, NRDC 2013)

From murals, to songs, to public speaking, we can create a shift in climate awareness and participate in engaging our communities.

glaciers floating ont he ocean
© Daniel J. Cox/

Rules & FAQ

Download all the rules and FAQs



Download the Promotional Images



Register for Project Bear Contest


How does the contest fit into schools?

Project Polar Bear can be a classroom project that aligns with Next Generation Science Standards by "applying scientific standards of monitoring and minimizing human impact" (MS-ESS3-3).

Why is the contest important to polar-bear conservation?

Over the past six years, contestants have inspired long-term change in their communities through sustainable, ongoing projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

How can I help promote the contest?

Download our pre-made social media images and share them on your favorite platforms.


glaciers floating ont he ocean
© Daniel J. Cox/