The Challenge

Between December 2019 and February 2021, The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), presented the Little Inventors challenge, Mission: Protect our oceans.

The challenge was launched in partnership with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO), in collaboration with Let’s Talk Science, The Canadian Science Fair Journal, Digital Mi’kmaq, OCAD University, and the support of multiple makers, artisans and animators. Take a look at our Partners section to see a full list of collaborators.

The challenge encouraged Canadian youth to explore their own creativity and become the inventive thinkers of the future, giving them the freedom and inspiration to use their imaginations and their STEAM learnings to provide solutions to real-world problems.

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Mission: Protect our oceans asked children across Canada to become ocean inventors and submit an invention idea that could solve one of the many problems faced by our oceans or improve the oceans' health.

Despite the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, over 6,400 resources were downloaded from the challenge website by more than 115 schools, and close to 700 invention ideas were submitted by the superstar inventors of the future!

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From the hundreds of invention ideas submitted, 15 have been brought to life and are presented together here to celebrate this year’s launch of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

The 15 selected inventors showcased here have worked with a maker or artist to bring their invention idea to life.

Other ingenious little inventors had the wonderful opportunity of seeing their ideas published in the Canadian Science Fair Journal. We also chose one invention a month to receive a copy of the Little Inventors Handbook.

The challenge was supported with online tools, videos and resource packs for teachers, mini-challenges and drawing sheets for students to use at home and online talks by leading Canadian ocean experts. Take a look at Our Resources section.




The Challenge

Mission: Protect our oceans

The oceans cover more than 70% of our planet, and they are essential to all life on Earth and overpopulation and industrialization have taken their toll.

Starting now, we can start building a better future for our oceans, with science, invention and innovation at the heart of it all. The more we understand our oceans, the better we can learn to look after them and get them back to health.

We invite the ingenious children of Canada to think up and draw invention ideas that will help to improve ocean health, create better conditions for the sustainable development of the ocean, seas and coasts and protect the oceans.


Here are some of the invention ideas that didn’t appear in the exhibition but are too wonderful not to share!

Where did our inventions come from?