GIS aids exploring complex situations and solving problems. Countless industry leaders, front-line analysts, behind-the-scenes developers, and in-the-trenches workers rely on it, for simple daily tasks on up to the biggest challenges. They seldom have step-by-step instruction, especially when venturing into new realms. They puzzle and explore, attempt and stumble, test alternatives, seek guidance from peers and public, encounter "Eureka moments," generate knowledge, and shed light. And students can do this, too!
For the 2017-18 school year, Esri challenges US high school (gr.9-12) and middle school (gr.4-8) students to explore something inside their state in a custom way, and present their results in an ArcGIS Online web app or story map. Teams of one or two students investigate their chosen topic and tell their story. The process can happen in or out of school (e.g. via clubs or even independently), but the channel for presentation is through school. In participating states, schools submit their top five entries to the state, and the top five HS projects and top five MS projects across the state each earn a $100 prize and national recognition, with 1-HS and 1-MS project from each state entered into a final national level competition.
Participation in a state requires application by and approval of a state leadership team. Information and guidelines are available online. Application deadline is Friday Sept 29, 2017. State teams can build out their "support crews" (publicity, judges, etc) down the road, but leaders need to move quickly so educators and students can know if they get to participate.
The 2017 results are visible online, and model well what students can do on their own. Creations by the HS and MS winners and runners-up, and all the other awardees in all the participating states, are viewable without login required. These students blazed the trail in Esri's first national student competition; returning students and educators alike are anxious to try again. This is what the millions of adult users of GIS do … explore, attempt, learn, repeat, and improve … building knowledge, making a difference, changing the world.