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Contest Essentials & Registration

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 summarize and portray the trends from the data.

For a comprehensive look at the Hudson Data Jam & Junior Data Jam, please download and read the Hudson Data Jam Guidebook before registering your students. Hudson Data Jam is open to middle and high school students, and a modified Junior Data Jam is offered for elementary-level students (recommended for grades 4-5).


All participants are required to have an adult adviser who registers them. Advisors can be parents, guardians, teachers, or other mentors. We will contact the team advisor with a confirmation email and any future updates. If you are registering an entire class, you only need to submit one registration form; we will collect individual student information at a later date.

Early Registration: Projects registered by Wednesday, November 22, 2023  will be eligible for one free classroom visit by a Cary Institute educator to introduce Data Jam or assist with student projects. These are offered on a limited basis and may be virtual or in-person (in-person offered if in Dutchess County).

Registration Deadline: Registration for the Hudson Data Jam Competition must be completed by Friday January 12, 2024. 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 email us at

All students participating in the competition must have their parents/guardians complete the consent form by February 8, 2024. 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
Junior 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.


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

Traditional Data Jam (middle and high school)

  • Best overall project ($400)
  • Level 1 winner ($200)
  • Level 2 winner ($200)
  • Level 3 winner ($200)

Junior Data Jam (elementary school)

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

Honorable mentions and two “special” prizes from our sponsors will also be awarded.

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. Junior Data Jam: In lieu of a formal report, Junior 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. Junior 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.