#OceanDecade Challenge: cultivating diversity in science
ONC as a proud advocate for diversity in science, is expanding opportunities for women and girls in science with a new national project, the #OceanDecade Challenge.
February 10, 2022
Through games, hands-on activities and experiments, the #OceanDecade Challenge invites young Canadians to gain a new perspective on aquatic ecosystems from coast-to-coast and be part of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. Credit: Girl Guides of Canada

From the food we eat, to the air we breathe, to the weather we experience, the ocean affects our everyday lives and the health of planet Earth. Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), as a proud advocate for diversity in science, is expanding opportunities for women and girls in science with a new national project, the #OceanDecade Challenge.

This spring, ONC, an initiative of the University of Victoria (UVic), will launch the project in partnership with Girl Guides of Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

The Ocean Decade Challenge, which is planned for launch in March, is designed to encourage youth to celebrate and participate in the United Nations (UN) Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. It reflects ONC and UVic’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The challenge contains fun and engaging ocean science learning activities and is open to youth of any gender across the country to participate and receive a crest from ONC. This fun challenge has been designed to approach ocean and climate science with novel activities and youth perspectives, empowering all young Canadians, and especially girls, to be actively involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"The Ocean Decade Challenge encourages participants to discover how data, science and our choices contribute to the health of our ocean,” says Maia Hoeberechts, associate director of learning and community engagement at ONC. “We want our youth to have fun, learn about the ocean and feel empowered throughout the activity.”

“Supporting women and girls to be scientists, engineers and leaders brings balance. It also grows the vital pool of smart, strong and committed people dedicated to enhancing ocean intelligence,” she says.

Participants who complete the #OceanDecade Challenge will receive this crest from Ocean Networks Canada, which highlights the project partners and the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030. Credit: Ocean Networks Canada.

Ocean explorers and ocean advocates

The project includes games, hands-on activities and experiments using materials easily found in homes. The activities are designed for kids from seven to eight (called Ocean Explorers) and nine to 12 (Ocean Advocates) years of age.

The Ocean Decade Challenge is designed to raise awareness among all young Canadians, not just those in coastal communities, about the crucial role that Canada’s three oceans—the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic—play in their lives, contributing food, transportation, jobs, identity and culture. Participants are also invited to share their ideas for Canada’s participation in the UN Ocean Decade through a dedicated webpage.

“Providing diverse young people from coast to coast with learning opportunities in science, oceans and climate change opens their eyes to possibilities they might not otherwise consider. Our government is continuing our work to support girls’ pursuit of careers in STEM and help them reach their leadership potential in ocean science.” - The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

The UN’s seventh annual International Day for Women and Girls in Science is Feb. 11, 2022, and this year’s focus is on “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Water Unites Us." Water unites Canadian kids as Canada has the longest coastline in the world, with more than seven million people living in coastal communities.

Read federal Minister Joyce Murray’s statement on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Watch the ONC website ( or sign up to keep in touch and participate in the official launch of the Ocean Decade Challenge.

Read the University of Victoria story here.

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