The Story Behind the Map: 2022 Virginia AGO Competition

How has Virginia changed across time and space?



First Place: Caroline Ding and Elizabeth Brubaker, Developmental Disparities in Virginia                   Albemarle High School (teacher: Chris Bunin)

Runner Up: Tyler Armstrong, How Virginian Racial Diversity Evolved in the Last Decade Fairfax High School (teacher: Jason Smolinski)

Runner Up: Liliana Silva, Manassas Battlefield and Bull Run Battles   Fairfax High School (teacher: Jason Smolinski)

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An overview of the competition and 2022 Full Results can be found at:



n collaboration with Esri (Environmental Systems Research Institute) Education, the Virginia Geographic Alliance is coordinating the 2022 Virginia Map competition based on the theme, “How has ?? in Virginia changed across time and space?”  Showcase the work of your students as they use the resources of an Esri Organizational Account to create a StoryMap to communicate their interpretation of the theme.

The theme for this year’s map competition is change. Document and analyze a topic of interest and trace changes over a time interval of your choice. What natural or human processes can account for the changes you observe and describe?


Pre-collegiate registered in grades 4 -12

  • Middle School (grades 4 -8)*
  • High School Grades (9 -12)

Students in public, non-public, and home schools within Virginia. Entries must come from a recognized school or homeschool even if the students work on the entries in an out-of-school club.

Each school can submit up to five (5) entries total.

Students can work as individuals or in teams of two.

*If a middle school student and a high school student collaborate on an entry, it will be classified as a high school submission.

Entries should go beyond the descriptive and analyze, interpret, and present data via an ArcGIS StoryMap in the “new” format Student-created StoryMaps must focus on content aligned with the theme and located within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Entries should be analytical in nature, map-centric rather than photo-centric or relying on too much text.

[For ideas and "how tos” visit Resources from ESRI at]

State Competition Theme: How has Virginia changed over time and space?

The theme for this year’s map competition is change. Document and analyze a topic of interest and trace changes over a time interval of your choice. What natural or human processes can account for the changes you observe and describe? In the realm of science, the effects of modification to the environment such as dams, roadways, pipelines, establishment of national and state parks, changes in the percent of impervious surfaces, deforestation and reforestation, changes in native plants and animals, spread of communicable diseases, and more.  In the realm of social studies, explore both positive and negative effects of human actions. For example, changing patterns in the distribution of people at a variety of scales from a local neighborhood to the county or state level, suburban sprawl, discovery and preservation of historic places, economic activities, land use, changes in employment and the types of jobs and more.

The geographic focus of the student-created products must be located within the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Entry Requirements

Competition registration. Registration for the competition provides the committee with a rough estimate of the number of entries that will need to be judged.

  • Entries must be from an ArcGIS Online Organizational account. (Any US K-12 school can request a free online organizational account from Esri request for free and ArcGIS School/Club Bundle.
  • Entries must be an ArcGIS Online StoryMap created in the “new” template.
  • Entries must be aligned with the competition theme of How has Virginia changed in time and space? focus on information within today’s borders of the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Completed entry form for each product must be submitted by midnight Friday, May 6, 2022. Entries received after the deadline will not be judged.



  1. Virginia will award identical $100 prizes to up to 5 HS projects and up to 5 MS projects. From their awardees, states may identify 1 HS and 1 MS “state winners”  (1HS+1MS) to be entered in a final level of competition, a national level to be judged by Esri.
  2. Optional video: Each state’s chosen 1HS+1MS state winners are also invited to create and submit a video of up to 3 minutes (max of 180 seconds) for Esri to post along with the StoryMap. The videos should be in .mp4 format and 1080×720 (or higher) resolution. The videos will not be part of the national judging process but will be a way for these 1HS+1MS state winners to share more of their story to interested audiences across the state/country/globe. The deadline for Esri to receive the videos is Thu May 26, 2022, 5pm Pacific Time.
  3. Esri will announce its national awards decision by 5pm Pacific Time on Tue May 31, 2022, and release results with links to all awardee creations, and special attention to the 1HS+1MS awardees, at both state and national levels.
  4. Esri will hold a webinar on Thu June 16, 2022, 5-6pm Pacific Time, celebrating the Competition. The webinar will be held live, and will be recorded. The “national winners” at HS and MS level will be invited to participate in the webinar to talk and present live their StoryMap.
  5. Because it is impossible to foresee all circumstances, awards are subject to postponement, change, or elimination at Esri’s discretion.
  6. This listing of awards should not be interpreted as constraining how individual teachers, schools, or states can celebrate their scholars who create entries. Indeed, there are so many positive benefits that can come from participation that we encourage such celebrations, especially for those who do not earn a state award.

 Winners of the Virginia Competition

  • An award of $100 to the top five middle school teams and the top five high school teams.
  • The winning teams will be notified by Monday, May 16, 2022.
  • Only one team from each division will be submitted to the national competition.

Design/Judging Criteria

Account: Entries must be from an ArcGIS Online Organization account.

Login: Entries must be visible without requiring a login. Entries using “premium data” (log-in required such as the Living Atlas) must set up the display to permit access without needing a log in.

Originality: Entries must be “original work by students,” but may use data generated by outside persons or institutions with guidelines of “fair use.” Students are encouraged to use appropriate professionally generated data, but the integration, treatment, and presentation must be original.

Visual Supports: Because this is meant to be a “map-centric” exploration, analysis, and presentation of a geographic phenomenon, “non-map visuals” (images and videos) are limited to:

  • No more than 60 seconds of video created by  the project author (animated images count as a video; time enabled map layers do not count as a video);
  • Total of 2 images not created by project author; and
  • Total of 5 images created by the project author. (Replication of project maps as smaller/thumbnail images and those items visible in pops within the interactive map do not count against these limits.)

URLs:  Entries must provide three pieces of  URL data: the URL for the Org hosting the entry, and two links in “short URL” format (e.g.,

  1. The Org URL prefix, set of characters between “https://” and “” For example,
  2. A short URL to the publicly accessible ArcGIS Story Map, i.e.,{32_character_code}:
  3. A short URL going to the Item Details “Overview” page for the publicly visiible story map.
    https;//{32_character_code}”, i.e., swapping “www” in place of “{OrgURLprefix}.maps” to ensure that the item details page is accessible publicly. And, of course, the 32-character codes must match. (For more info on the item details page, see also
Scoring Criteria The scoring rubric is available here as a pdf.


Project Tips

Visit the AGO School Competition page for Project Tips,

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.

For the state competition each school will submit the entry using only the first name and last initial of the students. Judges will see only the finished product without identifying student information. The information will be kept confidential by the state competition committee administrators.

The winners of the state competition will be notified and provide authorization to disclose the information as stated below.

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. State winners will need to submit a permission form to the Virginia competition committee.

State 1HS+1MS awardees are invited to share with Esri a video of up to 3 minutes length. This is entirely optional, and submissions will be visible to the public along with the awardees’ StoryMap. Parents should guide what PII (name, face, location, personal details) is shared by the student within the video. A video will not be accepted by Esri without the accompanying permission form available from the state.

Click here to register your school*


  • Registration* deadline: Friday February 25, 2022
  • Deadline to Submit Entries: Friday May 6, 2022
  • Winners notified by Monday May 16, 2022

*Registration does not obligate your school to participate in the contest but gives the planners an estimate of the number of possible entries. The absence of registration does not preclude the entry into the competition.

Questions about the competition? Need a refresher on your ArcGIS Online Organizational Account? Contact

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