2016 Hudson Data Jam Competition

Making data "sing" through creative expression

Now in its third year, the Hudson Data Jam Competition challenges students to creatively tell stories for a general audience using data from the Hudson River watershed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

For Teachers/Team Advisors

Am I required to participate in one of the workshops in order to have my students participate? No. These workshops are optional and are provided to support you as you support your students.

Are Cary Institute educators available to help? Yes. Cary Institute educators are always available by e-mail at caryeducation@caryinstitute.org.

Am I guaranteed to receive a classroom visit if I register my class for the Data Jam? Not necessarily. We would like to provide classroom support to all interested teachers, but our time and resources are limited. To increase your chances of receiving in-class support, be sure to register for Data Jam by February 1.

What should I do if my students’ team information changes after I submitted it on the online registration form? Please use the team information sheet to submit changes to student names, project titles, project needs, etc. We ask that you aim to finalize all team changes by submitting your team information sheet no later than May 27. You can mail us this sheet by e-mail (caryeducation@caryinstitute.org) or snail mail (Shelly Forster, Cary Institute, P.O. Box AB, Millbrook, NY, 12545).

I need to submit my students' parental consent forms. How can I send them in? You can send us your students' parental consent forms by e-mail (caryeducation@caryinstitute.org) or snail mail (Shelly Forster, Cary Institute, P.O. Box AB, Millbrook, NY, 12545).

Are my students required to attend the Data Jam Expo? No. Students are still eligible to receive merit prizes regardless of their attendance at the Data Jam Expo on Saturday, June 18th at Marist College. However, the door prizes and the People's Choice Awards will only be given to students in attendance at the Data Jam Expo. All prize winners will be announced at the event.

My students live far away from Marist College. Are there any scholarships available to help fund their travel to the Data Jam Expo? Pending funding, travel scholarships will be available for students who live over 40 miles away and demonstrate financial need. Send us an e-mail at caryeducation@caryinstitute.org for more information about travel scholarships.


For Students

Can I register and participate independently of my teacher or class? Yes.  Any middle or high school student or student team is eligible to participate.  You do not have to register through your teacher. You do, however, need to have an adult represent your team as a team advisor. This can be a parent or another trusted adult.

I need to submit my parental consent form. How can I send it in? We encourage you to check in with your team advisor about this question. You or your team advisor can mail us your parental consent form by e-mail (caryeducation@caryinstitute.org) or snail mail (Shelly Forster, Cary Institute, P.O. Box AB, Millbrook, NY, 12545).

Why does my project need to be submitted online? All projects are required to be submitted online because judging for merit prizes takes place online. This means that all of the files you submit online must clearly show your project in its entirety because that is how the judges will see it. If you create a 3-D object, send us lots of photos so we can see it from all angles!

If projects are submitted and judged online, do I still need to present my project at the Data Jam Expo? It's not required, but all winners will be announced at the Data Jam Expo on Saturday, June 18th. By attending this event, you will also have the chance to win the People's Choice Award and door prizes.

I live far away from Marist College. Are there any scholarships available to help fund my travel to the Data Jam Expo? Pending funding, travel scholarships will be available for students who live over 40 miles away and demonstrate financial need. Send us an e-mail at caryeducation@caryinstitute.org for more information about travel scholarships.

I can't attend the Data Jam Expo. Am I still eligible to win a prize? Merit prizes will be awarded to students whether they are in attendance at the Data Jam Expo or not. The People's Choice Award and the door prize, however, will only be awarded to students who are in attendance and presenting their projects at the Data Jam Expo on Saturday, June 18th at Marist College.

What file formats can I use to upload my materials on the project submission website? New this year: To make life easier for our judges, all files except videos must be in PDF format. If you would like to submit a video, upload to YouTube as a private video and submit the link. Click here for a how-to on uploading a private YouTube video. You will be able to embed your YouTube video on the project submission website.

What should I bring to the Data Jam Expo? We ask that you create a tri-fold poster board display (no larger than 36" tall by 48" wide) that contains all of the components of your report. This should look very similar to a science fair poster display and make it easy for visitors to see the information in your report. In addition, you should bring all of the materials you need to present your creative data display. If you submitted a YouTube video, you might want to bring a laptop computer and a pair of headphones for visitors to watch and listen to your video. Be sure to bring any computer chargers or electrical equipment needed. We will have tables and electric outlets available.

You are also encouraged to bring your family and friends to the event. This is your chance to show off your work and also see the work of other students in the competition.

How should I present my creative data display digitally so I can submit it online? It's up to you to determine the best way to view your project online. Remember, the judges will be determining the merit prize winners based on what you upload online, so be sure that you include a narrative description of pieces as needed. Take a look at our 2014 Winning Projects and 2015 Winning Projects pages for ideas about how to display your work digitally.

In the past, we found that most students chose to either photograph or video record their work. Students took photographs of their comic strips, dioramas, dresses, and paintings. Students recorded YouTube videos of their interactive displays, choreographed dances, puppet shows, movies, original songs, and stop-motion videos. Click here for a how-to on uploading a private YouTube video. You will also be able to embed your YouTube video on the project submission website.

What do the different dataset levels mean? The simple answer is this:

  • Level 1= Easy,
  • Level 2= Moderate
  • Level 3=Challenging
  • Level 4= Very Challenging.
The much more detailed explanation is this:

Level 1 (Easy): These are the simplest datasets. They contain a limited number of variables and fewer lines of data than the other datasets. Level 1 data sets can be very successfully analyzed using a simple bar graph or scatter plot. Level 1 is a good starting point for students who would like to participate in Data Jam but have weak data analysis skills. However, Level 1 also receives the lowest scaling bonus, so Level 1 students will have to be especially thorough to outscore competitors in other levels.

Level 2 (Moderate): Level 2 data sets are more challenging than Level 1 because they contain more variables and/or more lines of data. They may have multiple sampling sites and their trends are often less obvious than the Level 1 datasets. However, with some patience student should be able to create a straightforward bar graph or scatter plot that will encapsulate their data.

Level 3: (Challenging): These data sets contain multiple variables, such as multiple sampling sites, timepoints, and dependent variables. Data tables will likely be challenging to interpret. In addition, the Level 3 datasets include many lines of data, but this should not be a deterrent. Using Excel or other graphing software students can quickly and efficiently visualize large datasets. Students who choose a Level 3 dataset will most likely not need to graph every variable. Their great challenges with Level 3 will likely be deciding how to compare the most interesting variables and analyzing data that may not have clear trends.  

Level 4 (Very Challenging): These datasets link to long-term monitoring sites with years of data. Most of these sites collect data multiple times per hour. Most also collect data for multiple variables, such as air temperature, ozone, and carbon dioxide. The datasets are simply too enormous to tackle in their entirety. Students who select a Level 4 dataset should approach their data with a scientific question that will help limit their scope to particular variables and timepoints that are of interest. For instance, a student using the Cary Environmental Monitoring Network data may ask if ground-level ozone and ammonia in the air were correlated from 1990-2010. Level 4 projects will receive the greatest scaling bonus, and an excellently executed Level 4 project will earn more points than a similarly strong project from a different level.

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