• Students in public, non-public and home schools within Virginia


  • Pre-collegiate registered in grade 4-12
  • Entries must come from a recognized school or homeschool even if the students work on the entries in an out-of-school club
  • Students can work as individuals or in teams of two
  • Each school can submit up to five (5) entries total
  • In Virginia, there will be two levels of competition: Middle School (grades 4 -8) or High School Grades (9 -12).  If a middle school student and a high school student collaborate on an entry, it will be classified as a high school submission.

Entry Requirements

  1. Competition registration. See details in “Next Steps” below. Registration for the competition provides the committee with a rough estimate of the number of entries that will need to be judged.
  2. Entries must be from an ArcGIS Online Organizational account. (Any US K-12 school can request a free online organizational account from Esri at http://www.esri.com/connected#school.)
  3. Entries must be an ArcGIS Online “presentation” or web app or story map.
  4. Entries must be aligned with the competition theme.
  5. Completed entry form for each submission must be submitted by midnight Friday, May 5, 2017. Entries received after the deadline will not be judged.

Entry Form


  • Each school is permitted 5 entries.
  • Real names will only be needed if the student/s entries are the winners of the state competition.
  • If your student is the winner we will contact you for that information.
  • If you do choose to submit student names, include the signed permission form for each of the students.
  • If using generic names, use the following format: school name_entry number.

Virginia Competition Theme

The “What’s in my Watershed” theme is broad enough to encompass a variety of disciplines and multiple perspectives of the area encompassed by the anchoring geographic area of a primary or secondary watershed. Students could research and explore a variety of topics of the chosen region: geological characteristics, flora and fauna, environmental issues facing Virginia and the local community, historical events, famous personalities and leaders, demographic characteristics, economic activities, the cultural landscape and more. The area addressed by the student-created products must be located within the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Winners of the Virginia Competition

An award of $100 will be made to the top five middle school teams and the top five high school teams.  The winning teams will be notified by Friday, May 26, 2017.

Only one team from each division will be submitted to the national competition.

Winner of the National Competition

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 Monday. Awardees will be recognized at EdUC on Sat and UC Map Gallery on Monday, and likely have additional attention.

Design/Judging Criteria

  1. Entries should be analytic in nature and map-centric rather that photo-centric
  2. Entries must be visible without requiring a login. Entries using “premium data” (subscription resources such as the Living Atlas ) must set up the display to permit access without needing a log in. See procedures here.
  3. Entries must provide two links in “short URL” format
    (e.g., http://arcg.is/1KfRSSR). One link to the item details page and another one link to the map display page.
  4. Virginia will use a rubric that includes the criteria and weighting of the national rubric that follows.
Point Value Criteria


Topic  clearly identified.

  • Topic focuses on state theme, “What’s In my Watershed”
  • Featured content is within Virginia borders


Presentation within the “map product” is effective in informing the topic.


Effective cartography
Cartography facilitates the viewer’s grasp of individual elements of the topic and story.


Data used are appropriate.

  • Volume of data adequate to support the topic
  • Data significant to the topic and do not include extraneous elements
  • Data include elements significant to the topic


To be awarded for 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)


Geographic analysis  is evident.

  • Appropriate and effective application of analysis tools such as classification, symbolization, filtering, and geoanalysis
  • The product includes more than uniform dots/lines/areas
  • The product includes more than picture(s)


Documentation  in the item details page is clear and complete.

  • All non-original content (including images) in the product are appropriately referenced and/or linked so their sources are clear
  • Original content is described and/or linked
  • Processes used to analyze the content are identified
  • Any persons who assisted in the product are specified, including stating no one provided assistance


Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

  1. Schools should consider issues around exposing PII. See http://esri.box.com/agoorgsforschools 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. 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.
  3. The winners of the state competition will be notified and asked to provide authorization to disclose the information as stated below..
  4. 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).
  5. 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.

 Next Steps

  1. Registration with the VGA is requested so that the VGA can determine the number of entries anticipated.
  2. Complete registration document https://goo.gl/forms/j5yo2SJJdxpRd5w43.
  3. Submission of registration form does not obligate your school’s participation. Absence of registration does not preclude your school from entering the competition.
  4. Registration forms are due by midnight February 19, 2017.
  5. Should you have questions or need further information send email to http://vgamapstory@gmail.com. Expect to receive response within two business days.

Spread the Word

Here’s a flyer than presents key information and dates.




 Participating Virginia Schools

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