National Geographic

Welcome to the National Geographic 2018-19 GeoChallenge: Tackling Plastic!

Thank you for your participation in the 2018-2019 GeoChallenge! Submission for this year’s challenge is now closed, and submitted projects are being appraised. Teams that qualify for the sixteen regional competitions will be notified in mid-February. We are excited to see your solutions!

Follow along with the fun at regionals and the national finals at #NatGeoChallenge!


Explorer Corner

Meet Kakani Katija

Meet Kakani Katija  

Through her work with the ocean, National Geographic Explorer Dr. Kakani Katija sees the effects of plastic pollution in our marine environment and its inhabitants. Kakani is a principal engineer and principal investigator and leads the Bioinspiration Lab at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). An active scientific diver, Kakani designs and deploys underwater tools like robotic vehicles and underwater imaging lasers to learn about ocean life. The technology and tools that Kakani develops expand the possibilities of scientific discovery in some of the most remote parts of the ocean. Learn more about Kakani’s life and work in her full bio.

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“The ever-increasing presence of plastics is one of the biggest challenges we face in our ocean. Addressing this issue requires creative solutions from everyone: not just scientists and engineers, but parents, teachers, and students. I look forward to seeing what students are able to achieve through this year’s GeoChallenge, and I hope that one day, together, we can prevent plastics from entering our ocean to ensure the health and well-being of all marine life.”

–Kakani Katija

Tackling Plastic! Resources

Here is a sampling of related National Geographic resources. The following images and articles can help jumpstart your students’ project work by providing a sense of urgency and inspiration for their brainstorming.

Please use caution when sharing resources so that you do not give your students a solution. As a GeoChallenge Coach, your job is to facilitate your students' research and work. Share resources sparingly and avoid proposing solutions or steering the inquiry in a specific direction. This is a student-centered project and not an extension of instruction taking place within the school day. At most, these web pages should be a starting point for brainstorming ideas that may lead to an innovative solution.

Reference and Collections

Kids vs. Plastic

Resources from National Geographic Kids, including a kid pledge to reduce plastics

Walking the Watershed

Featuring National Geographic Explorer Shannon Switzer

Ocean Plastic

A curated collection of National Geographic Education resources—a great starting point for your research

National Geographic Encyclopedia entry: Watershed

National Geographic Encyclopedia entry: Pollution

National Geographic Encyclopedia entry: Marine debris

Planet or Plastic?

Learn more about and join National Geographic’s multiyear effort to raise awareness about the global plastic trash crisis