Registration Deadline: April 9th 5:00pm

Submission Deadline: April 23rd 5:00pm

Earth’s water is always in movement, and the natural water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle, describes the continuous movement of water on, above, and below the surface of the Earth. Water is always changing states between liquid, vapor, and ice, with these processes happening in the blink of an eye and over millions of years.  Storm water runoff is water that originates during precipitation events and flows over the land. It can pick up sediment, pollutants, and debris as it moves. The water quality of rivers, streams, lakes and ponds are adversely impacted by contaminated storm water runoff.  Every time it rains, water runs off impermeable surfaces, such as roofs or driveways, collecting pollutants such as particles of dirt, fertilizer, chemicals, oil, garbage, and bacteria along the way. The pollutant-laden water enters storm drains untreated and flows directly to nearby streams and ponds. The US EPA estimates that pollutants carried by rainwater runoff account for 70% of all water pollution.  How can we help reduce the negative impact precipitation has on our lakes and streams when it mixes with pollution on the ground?

Our Water Cycle Art Contest invites students to create a piece of artwork that represents one or more aspects of the water cycle. This can be anything as creative as you can imagine. This could be as simple as a sketch or painting or as complex as a collage or sculpture.  The medium is completely up to you.  Please try to use limited or NO text in your artwork.  Any text that is included on the artwork itself must be related and enhance the message of the artwork.  In addition to your artwork, you will be asked to submit an essay separate from the artwork that explains how your artwork connects to the theme of the water cycle.

You can learn more about the water cycle by going to  Here you will find research related to the theme that can help inspire your artwork and essay.

The contest is free and open to students in Kindergarten through 8th grade. Students will be divided into one of three groups based on age: K-2nd grade, 3rd – 5th grade, and 6th – 8th grade.  Please read the rules and guidelines below to ensure your artwork qualifies. 

Ways to submit artwork: 

  • Submit photo or digital images via email attachment to Craig Adams at With a subject line: “Art & Essay Contest Submission” OR submit to our digital submission dropbox (located in the submission form).
  • Hand drawings may be mailed (or physically dropped off ) c/o Craig Adams 5640 Waterfront Dr. North, Columbia Mo. 65202 or (if within Columbia Public Schools) mailed directly to Dr. Heather McCullar at Benton Elementary.  Hand drawings that are emailed in, if chosen to be included will need to eventually be submitted physically.

Artwork submitted for the contest may be used for educational purposes and will become the property of the Office of Sustainability and Columbia STEM Alliance. 

To participate in our contest…

  • STEP 1 – Register for the Contest. Deadline for registration is March 26th 5:00pm!
  • STEP 2 – Obtain a copy of the rules of the contest.
  • STEP 3 – Download a copy of the rubric used for judging the contest.
  • STEP 4  CREATE your Masterpiece.
    • Please use limited or no text on your artwork!
    • If possible we would prefer that the artwork be position “Landscape” if possible. 
    • Artwork must be no larger than 8.5 inches x 11 inches (standard paper) 
    • Digital art or photo of artwork: high resolution 300 dpi or higher and submitted as .png or .jpg. Pixel size between 3300 x 2400 and 5100 x 3300 
    • Only original artwork will be accepted
  • STEP 6 – DESCRIBE you Masterpiece. This must be in the paragraph(s) form – a paragraph or two explaining how your chosen piece of artwork showcases our theme of “Water Quality”.
    • Paragraph (or paragraphs) explaining how the entry showcases our theme of the water cycle.  Kindergarten through 2nd grade students can hand write their essay and submit a picture of their writing or submit their writing digitally on our submission form.  3rd – 8th grade students will need to type their essay into the submission form. 
  • STEP 7 – ASSESS your results. Are you happy with your artwork and essay? Are there any changes you’d like to make? Now is the time.
  • STEP 8 – Your final step is to SUBMIT your finished work here! Deadline for submitting your work is April 23rd 5:00pm!

Prizes awarded for…

  • Grand Prize – BEST OVERALL DESIGN – (1 winner) $25 Gift Card
  • First Prize – Best use of recycled materials. (2 winners)
  • Second Prize – (3 winners) $15 Gift Card
  • Third Prize – – (3 winners) $10 Gift Card

Featured Supporters

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mmswmd-logo.pngThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ShowMe-Stormwater-Logo-Full-Color-1024x416.pngThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dnrcolorlogo-resize.pngThis image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is City-of-Columbia-Logo-2-1.png