Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Dive Deeper at Home: Build a Sculpture

An Activity for Deep Sea Animal Adaptations Week

Archived Webinar

The video above teaches you how people are using art to raise awareness of trash in the ocean. Meet Marine Biologist Andrea Quattrini, Marine Debris Artist Bonnie Monteleone, and Ocean Educator Lara Noren, and learn how to build a sculpture of "throw-away" items that you can use to talk to others about the ocean. This Zoom webinar aired July 17, 2020, as part of the museum's Deep Sea Animal Adaptations week, a Natural History Summer Explorations program for students entering Grades 3-7.

You can watch the video and then do the challenge below, or go right to the challenge.

Deep Sea Exploration Challenge

All humans, no matter where they live, are connected to the ocean. As the ocean faces different challenges, humans are taking action to have a positive impact. Art can be one of those actions that helps others learn and think about their role in solutions. In this challenge, you will build a sculpture out of “throw-away” items that you can use to talk to others about the ocean.

What You Need

  • Plastic or other “throw-away” items. Look for the items that you can’t reuse or recycle and would need to go in the garbage. Check out this website for more information: Frequent Questions about Recycling (EPA)
  • Tape, glue, string, or other products to help stick your items together
  • Optional: other craft materials such as cardboard, pipe cleaners, yarn, or fabric and paper scraps


  1. Look around your home to find “throw-away” items you can use to build a sculpture.
  2. Figure out what you want your sculpture to look like. Think about your favorite deep sea animal or a design that helps you share the importance of protecting our ocean. Visit the Ocean Portal Deep Sea Page
  3. If you need inspiration, check out these Washed Ashore sculptures and Plastic Ocean Project sculptures.
  4. Make a sketch of your sculpture or jump in and start putting your sculpture together!
  5. Share your sculpture with others and let them know about the importance of protecting our ocean.

Take It a Step Further

  1. Learn more about marine debris. (Ocean Portal)
  2. Find out more about protecting the ocean. (Ocean Portal)
  3. Learn how humans are connected to the ocean. (Ocean Portal)
Resource Type
Hands-On Activities
Grade Level
3-5, 6-8
Life Science