Contest Overview

Across the U.S., high school and middle school students are exploring their world and creating interesting map products with ArcGIS Onle. 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.

by Charlie Fitzpatrick (K-12 education manager at Esri)


  1. Entrants must be pre-collegiate students registered in grades 4-12, from public schools or nonpublic 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 homeschool, 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.

by Charlie Fitzpatrick (K-12 education manager at Esri)

Contest Entries

  1. Teachers should complete a registration form for their school.  The registration form can be found here.
  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. 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.

by Charlie Fitzpatrick (K-12 education manager at Esri)

Forms & Deadlines

***Please note, schools should set an internal deadline for student map projects. Teachers should follow the steps below to register their schools for the competition and submit student map projects by the deadline in May.


  • Teachers must complete a school registration form to enter the competition.  Please complete the form that is available here by Friday April 15th.
    • We ask that you complete the registration form by April 15th so we can determine how many judges will be needed. The judges will be teachers and GIS Professionals from across Connecticut


  • Teachers who complete the school registration form in Step 1 will receive a Map Project Submission form on Monday April 17th.  
    • The deadline to return the map submission form is no later than 5pm Eastern Time on Friday May 19, 2017.


Five HS and five MS “state awardees” will each receive a prize of $100.  From each division, Connecticut will select one “national finalist” for a final level of competition to be scored by Esri.

  • Esri will announce its awards decision by 5pm Pacific Time on Mon June 5, 2017
  • 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 10am PT Sat July 8, and staying through at least 4pm PT 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.

by Charlie Fitzpatrick (K-12 education manager at Esri)

Design/Judging Criteria

  • Entries should be analytical in nature, map-centric rather than photo-centric.
  • 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
  • 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.)
  • 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.

by Charlie Fitzpatrick (K-12 education manager at Esri)

Contest scoring rubric

  • Connecticut will use the scoring rubric and criteria set forth by Esri.  Each student map project will be scored using the following 100 point rubric.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”
  6. (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)

by Charlie Fitzpatrick (K-12 education manager at Esri)

Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.

by Charlie Fitzpatrick (K-12 education manager at Esri)

For more information regarding the national release of the competition by Esri, please click on the following link: