2017 Hudson Data Jam Competition

Making data "sing" through creative expression

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

For Students

For Students


We’re in need of students like you to help us tell stories about the Hudson River and its tributaries!

So how do you get started?

To learn what Data Jam is about, look at our 2014-2016 Data Jam project gallery and some “Best of” examples from professional artists and scientists. Read through the “Contest Essentials” to gather the details and be sure to make note of important dates.

Now that you’re psyched to win that $500 first prize and the People’s Choice Award, it’s time to get to work!

Step 1:  Decide—Work alone or with others? 

Decide whether you want to work alone or with others.  If you want to work with others, talk to your friends and teacher to find out who else might be interested in participating.  Talk to your family and teachers and let them know that you would like to participate in the competition and direct them to this website for more information.

Step 2:  Register through a team advisor.

Whether you enter as a team of one or many, you’ll need to choose an adult team advisor. Your team advisor can be a teacher, parent, or another trusted adult.

Have your team advisor register your project for the competition. Registrations are due May 1, 2017.

What your team advisor will need from you:

  1. the number of students on your team
  2. your teammates’ names
  3. a possible project title (you can change this later if you want to)*
  4. the type of project you want to do (sculpture? play? puppet show? rap song?)*
  5. your school’s name and address

***If you don’t know these yet, you can submit this info later.

Step 3: Return signed parental consent forms.

Make sure you return your signed parental/guardian consent form to your team advisor as soon as possible (it is due back to the Cary Institute by May 12, 2017).

Step 4: Get to work! 

It’s now time to start working on your project:

  1. Decide what data set(s) your team will use.  What interests you?
  2. Look for trends or comparisons in the data. When you’re looking for trends, you may want to look to see if something changes over time (say, between 1995 and 2014) or across space (say, from South to North along the Hudson River). When making comparisons, you may want to see how one place compares to another place in some aspect; or how one year or time period compares to another; or possibly how one plant or animal species, or environmental variable such as salt, compares to another species or different environmental variable in some respect. There are many possibilities—it’s up to you to decide what you want to investigate.
  3. Put together your project report and make sure it includes the ten components listed on the Contest Essentials page).  Putting together this information will help you better understand how these data were collected and what we can learn from them—and what we can’t, which is often just as important. Make sure your report is typed up in the format shown in our REPORT FORM.
  4. Create!  Use your creativity to convey the same trend or comparison you described in your report, but presented specifically for a non-scientific audience. Your creative work can be a 2-D graphic, sculpture, story, play, song, puppet show, or other product—your imagination is the limit! Remember, your project must explain the specific data, not just give general information about your topic.
  5. Download the judging rubric to make sure you've completed all of the parts of the project. Place a check mark next to each part you've finished. Double-check to make sure you have cited all of your sources of information!

Step 5: Submit your project.

Submit your project online between May 1 and May 12, 2017. Instructions for online project submission will be e-mailed to your team advisor. To ensure our judges will be able to open your files, all documents must be submitted as .pdf files. Deadline for submissions is 11:59pm EST on Friday, May 12, 2017.

Step 6: Attend the Data Jam Expo!

All student participants, team advisors, family, and friends are encouraged to attend the 2017 Hudson Data Jam Expo. Bring your project and a tri-fold poster neatly displaying all ten components of your report. The Expo will be held from 1:30-3:30 on Saturday, June 3 at Marist College.

Remember, while attendance is not necessary to enter to win merit prizes, the People's Choice Award and the door prize are only available to participants present with their projects during the 2017 Hudson Data Jam Expo. Travel scholarships are available for students who live over 40 miles away and demonstrate financial need. Send us an e-mail (caryeducation@caryinstitute.org) for more information about travel scholarships.

Need inspiration? Here's a sample Data Jam project from the Beacon FRAME team to help get your noggin cooking. Keep in mind that this group worked with professional video makers from Spark Media Project, so they had much fancier video equipment than we expect from the average Data Jammer!

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

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