ArcGIS Online U.S. School Competition 2017

11-20-2016 10:39 AM
Esri Regular Contributor

Across the U.S., high school and middle school students are exploring their world and creating interesting map products with ArcGIS Online. Esri now challenges students to create and share maps about something in their home states, working to be among the best in the school, state, and nation. The ArcGIS Online US School Competition 2017 is open to high school (gr.9-12) and middle school (gr.4-8) students in the U.S who can analyze, interpret, and present data via an ArcGIS Online presentation, web app, or story map.

In 2016, Minnesota conducted a state-focused competition, and Arkansas followed suit. Now, Esri offers to all states the chance to participate, with grants to states supporting ten equal prizes of $100 for the five best high school and five best middle school projects in the state. Schools can submit up to five projects to the state, and participating states submit to Esri the ten awardees (5-HS and 5-MS), with one project each at high school and middle school tagged for a final level of competition. One high school project and one middle school project will earn a trip to the 2017 Esri Education Conference in San Diego, CA.

competition graphic

Esri seeks state teams to conduct each state's competition (limit of one team per state). Minnesota managed it with just a handful of educators (fans of GIS in education from school, college, and the state) to set up and operate it, and a handful of GIS professionals to do the judging. Team leaders can apply using this form ((with the competition now over, the form has been unlinked)). (Contact Charlie Fitzpatrick [below] if your state is making progress but needs more time. Collaboration, commitment, and proven experience working across the state is required.)

The US K12 GIS story map has key resources, including (in map#2) full 2017 results, visible also here. (Use navigation tools, and click on states and point features.)

Contest Details:

  1. Eligibility:
    1. Entrants must be pre-collegiate students registered in grades 4-12, from public schools or non-public schools including home schools, under age 19, who have not yet received a high school diploma or equivalent.
    2. Students can work singly or in teams of two, but can participate in only one entry. Teams with one student in middle school (gr.4-8) and one in high school (gr.9-12) must be considered as high school.
    3. Entries must come from a recognized school or home school, even if the entrants are working on the entry in an out-of-school club.
    4. Any school or home school program can submit to the state a maximum of five (5) entries total, counting the sum of middle school and high school entries.
  2. Entries:
    1. Entry forms (student/s to school, school to state, state to Esri) will be made available to state leads in January 2017
    2. Entries must be from an ArcGIS Online Organization account. Any US K12 school (including public, non-public, or home school) can request from an ArcGIS Online Organization account for instruction for free.
    3. Entries must be an ArcGIS Online "presentation" or "web app" or "story map".
    4. Entries must focus on content within the state borders. States may choose to further refine the focus, but the geographic scope of the project must be within the state. The project may reference data outside the state "for context," but may not extend the focus of the study beyond the state borders. For example, broader patterns of environmental characteristics or demographic movements may be referenced for context, but the focus must be on phenomena within the state.
    5. Schools must announce their own internal deadlines, in time to complete judging and provide information to the state by its deadline. States must announce their in-state deadlines, but can be no later than 5pm Pacific Time on Fri May 19, 2017. States must submit data to Esri no later than 5pm Pacific Time on Fri May 26, 2017.
  3. Awards
    1. Esri will announce its awards decision by 5pm Pacific Time on Mon June 5, 2017
    2. Esri will provide a travel grant to one high school team and one middle school team, each team consisting of the student(s) and at least one parent/guardian (could be teacher/rep). Awardee teams must agree to attend the Esri Education GIS Conference ("EdUC"), arriving by 10amPT Sat July 8, and staying through at least 4pmPT Tue July 11, 2017. Awardees will be responsible for handling any tax implications, be personally identified including name and photograph, and post a graphic in the Esri User Conference ("UC") Map Gallery on Mon. Awardees will be recognized at EdUC on Sat and UC Map Gallery on Mon, and likely have additional attention.
  4. Design/Judging Criteria
    1. Entries should be analytical in nature, map-centric rather than photo-centric.
    2. Entries must be visible without requiring a login. Entries engaging "premium data" (login required, such as Living Atlas) must set up the display to permit access without needing a login. See helpful note.
    3. Entries must be "original work by students," but may use data generated by outside persons or institutions, within guidelines of "fair use." (Students are encouraged to use appropriate professionally generated data, but the integration, treatment, and presentation must be original.)
    4. Entries must provide two links in "short URL" format (e.g., one linking to the item details page and one linking to the display page. (Users can create a short URL in "" format at Esri created a relationship with so that any URL string that has [anything][anything] will be turned into a short URL formatted as "[shortstuff]".)
    5. National scoring rubric. The state can vary this, and even create slightly different rubrics for HS and MS, but must apply the same rubric to all entries in a single grade band, and the rubric must be clarified for the schools at the start. The national competition will use this rubric (100 points):
      1. (5) topic is clearly identified, meets state's criteria, focuses on content within state borders
      2. (10) overall presentation within the "map product" is effective in informing about topic
      3. (20) cartography is effective, facilitating the viewer's grasp of individual elements of the topic and story
      4. (20) data used is appropriate -- engages an adequate volume and array of clearly significant elements, does not exclude clearly significant elements, does not include irrelevant elements; 5 of "total data points possible" are to be reserved for rewarding the creation, documentation, and inclusion of one's own data [0=none, 1=little/weak, 2=some/modest, 3=satisfactory, 4=much/good, 5=most/excellent]
      5. (20) geographic analysis is evident, appropriate, effective (classification, symbolization, filtering, geoanalysis); the "map product" is not "simply uniform dots/lines/areas on a map" nor "simply pictures"
        (25) documentation in the item details page is clear and complete; all non-original contents (including images) in the presentation/ web app/ story map are appropriately referenced and/or linked so their sources are clear, and original contents are described and/or linked; documentation identifies processes used to analyze the content, plus any persons who assisted in project (including specifying if no one did)
  5. Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
    1. Schools should consider issues around exposing PII. See for strategies for minimizing PII. Teachers should help students minimize exposure of their own PII and that of others, including in map, image, and text.
    2. States must help potential entrants understand the level of PII required. Entries submitted to Esri for the top national prize (i.e. 1-HS and 1-MS) must agree in advance to expose student names, school names, and school city/state (homeschool students would be identified to closest city/town name).
    3. Esri will not seek, collect, or accept student names for any entrants other than the national prize entrants (1-HS and 1-MS per state). These and only these will have names exposed by Esri.


Email Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri K12 Education Manager,

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