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Contest Essentials

The challenge

Students must graph, analyze, and creatively interpret Hudson River watershed data for a public audience. The goal is to present a compelling data-based story or message that accurately describes a finding from local scientists.

Students may create a graphic, story, play, song, or other product—your imagination is the limit! Just make sure projects accurately summarizes and portrays the trends from the data.

For a comprehensive look at the Hudson Data Jam, download our PDF Guidebook.

Introducing a new competition category: Family Data Jam!

Looking for an exploratory activity that siblings and parents can work on together? Consider Family Data Jam! Rather than submitting separate projects for the middle and high school categories, siblings of different ages can instead work together on a single project.

Family Data Jam


Early Registration: Projects registered by February 5 will be eligible for a free classroom visit (in person or virtual) by a Cary Institute educator to introduce Data Jam or assist with student projects. These are offered on a limited basis.

Registration for the Hudson Data Jam Competition is required three weeks before project submissions are due. All registrations must be completed by April 16, 2021. Registration is non-binding, but it helps us estimate the number of judges we will need.

Fill out the registration form. Only one registration form is necessary per advisor.

You will receive a confirmation by email. If you have not received a confirmation within 24 hours of submitting your registration, please call or email us (845-677-7600 x303;

All students participating in the competition must complete the consent form. Team projects with missing consent forms cannot be judged.


We provide dozens of local datasets collected by Cary Institute and other local organizations like Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper. We also highly recommend using the data from the Day in the Life of the Hudson, especially if your students participated in Day in the Life. Our datasets are available as Google Sheets through the Datasets page. If you want a fun, easy way to try graphing, you might want to try out our interactive drag-and-drop graphing portal hosted on Tuva.

If there is a local dataset you’d like to use that we don’t have on our page yet please let us know, as we are always trying to make our collection more engaging and classroom-friendly.


Projects are both submitted and judged online.
Instructions for project submissions
Judging rubric
Family Data Jam judging rubric


Students can work on projects on their own or in groups as small as two students or as large as a whole class. Prizes are awarded for a project, so winnings must be split between team members.

Family Data Jam teams can be as small as one child and one parent/guardian.


Prizes will be awarded separately for middle and high school students. Each age group will include:

  • Best overall project ($500)
  • Level 1 winner ($200)
  • Level 2 winner ($200)
  • Level 3 winner ($200)
  • People’s Choice Award chosen at the Data Jam Expo ($100)

For Family Data Jam, there will be the following prizes:

  • Best overall project ($200)
  • Level 1 winner ($100)
  • Level 2 winner ($100)
  • Level 3 winner ($100

Parts of the Project

Each submission to the Hudson Data Jam Competition will include two parts – a scientific report and an interpretive creative component.

  1. Report. Each team must submit a report that summarizes their project for judges and others to review. The report is worth 55% of the total project score. The report should be completed using the Hudson DJ Report Form. Family Data Jam: In lieu of a formal report, Family Data Jam projects will include a brief interpretation of data trends plus a short explanation of the creative component, worth 40% of the total project score.
  2. Interpretive Creative Component. Communicate your findings! The creative piece should clearly explain the data to someone without the scientific knowledge to interpret datasets or graphs on their own. Skits, videos, songs, puppet shows, poems, photographs, exhibits, sculptures, interactive displays and more are encouraged. The projects will be judged online, so live performances must be submitted as electronic audio or a YouTube video. Recordings must be 5 minutes or less. The creative project is worth 45% of the total project score. Family Data Jam: Creative component is worth 60% of total project score.

We recommend reading the Data Jam Guidebook for a scoring rubric and detailed information about what the Report and the Creative Component entail.