Students love projects. They dive into challenges of their own design, following their own route, building capacity, solving puzzles, constructing answers … learning to learn. That's the magic of the ArcGIS Competition for High School and Middle School Students. Students might be able to do some work on it in class, but most students work on it outside of class, according to their interest.
Needing to examine a topic inside their state's borders, most pick an issue they already know something about … a local industry, town feature, watershed, or problem from nuisance to nightmare. They investigate, gather data, and build a Story Map. The best from the school go to the state, and from there to the national level. The ultimate winners attend the Esri User Conference and Education GIS Summit in San Diego, CA.
In 2018, 11th grader Keeli Gustafson from Duluth MN saw a local problem born a century back, and traced its path to today, including the intersection of cultures. 8th grader Andrew Wilson from Lincoln NH, like a modern Sherlock Holmes, spent hours tracing a historic railroad and lumber company. Together, they presented their stories in the User Conference Map Gallery, to GIS users from across the planet. They followed up by regaling mentors anxious for inspiration and ideas to help educators and students in their own communities. (See the full results from 2018 and 2017, and states already in the hunt for 2019, by clicking below.)
Students will face daunting challenges tomorrow. Every opportunity they get to dive deep, study the interplay of forces, analyze the patterns and relationships, and present the story, builds hope that situations can be understood, and problems can be solved. Thousands of young scholars in every state would relish the chance to follow their own course. Help the students and teachers in your community dive in as part of the 2019 competition, underway now.