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Your guide to the Hudson Data Jam webinars

Data Jam is an opportunity for students in grades 4-12 to explore ecological datasets, creatively communicate the stories they tell, and win cash prizes. Write a song, record a video, create a book, paint a mural – your imagination is the limit.

As an educator, parent, or advisor, you may be interested in Data Jam – but where to begin? We’ve curated a list of our recorded webinars that can support you and your students and kick start your Data Jam journey.

There are two categories for the competition: the traditional Hudson Data Jam (middle and high school) and Junior Data Jam (recommended for upper elementary, grades 4-5).

While all of these webinars are applicable to Junior Data Jam, please see the 'Guiding Young Learners' category for webinars that may be particularly helpful for that age group.

Since these webinars were recorded in 2020-21, please refer to the following timeline as well as the updated supporting documents currently on our website.

November 15, 2023 - Early-bird registration (to be considered for a classroom visit).
January 12, 2024 - Registration deadline.
February 8 – Parent/guardian consent forms due.
February 22, 2024 – Project submissions due online by 11:59 pm ET.
March 28, 2024 – Virtual Data Jam Awards Ceremony & Celebration. All prizes awarded during the event.

Introduction to Data Jam – What Is Data Jam and How Do I Get My Students Started?

Brand new to the Hudson Data Jam competition? These webinars will give you an overview:

Welcome to Data Jam!

This webinar serves as a foundation for your Data Jam experience and provides an overview of the Hudson Data Jam competition for middle and high school students, plus the Junior (previously ‘Family’) Data Jam.

This webinar also includes a walkthrough of the Data Jam website. Learn how to access datasets using the online portal, submit your project, and explore other handy resources.

Speakers: Bess Caplan, former Education Program Leader at Baltimore Ecosystem Study + Ashley Alred, Education Program Leader at Cary Institute

How to Engage and Support Students

In this session, explore fun ways to introduce Data Jam to students and spark curiosity about their local environment. Learn how to structure students' Data Jam journey by developing a project timeline, broaden the experience with film and literature connections, and use resources on the Data Jam website. Discover interactive online apps and resources that will enrich and support the Data Jam experience.

Speaker: Karen Bodnar, M.S., M.S.T., R.D.; Middle School Science Teacher at Irvington Union Free School District in New York, New York

Creatively Engaging Students in Local Climate Science

Discover how educators can engage middle and high school students with local datasets to explore climate change in the Hudson Valley region. Datasets cover a range of topics including bird migration, sea-level rise, and impacts of large storms on Hudson Valley ecosystems.

This was an interactive presentation geared toward educators of middle and high school students as part of 'Hudson Valley Climate Solutions Week'.

Speaker: Ashley Alred, Education Program Leader at Cary Institute

Junior Data Jam - Exploring Ecological Data with Elementary Learners

This webinar is for educators or parents interested in learning how to facilitate data exploration for elementary-aged students. Michelle Velho, an experienced Data Jam adviser to elementary students, will share tips and tricks for how to immerse young students in complex data, and help them have fun as they explore the numbers and trends. You’re never too young to delve into data and learn about your local ecosystem!

Speaker: Michelle Velho, STEM leader at Hudson Montessori School

Videos to Share with Students – Inspire & Engage!

Introduce Data Jam to your students with the help of these two videos. Depending on availability, a Cary educator may be able to do a virtual or in-person classroom visit with students. (Interested in scheduling a classroom session? Email Ashley Alred at

Please note: At the end of both videos, there is an in-person student presentation. For 2022, there will be a virtual awards ceremony and celebration.

How to Data Jam - by Beacon FRAME

This video was created by a team of high school students working with Spark Media Project through Beacon FRAME. Made by students for students, this video explains contest essentials and shares hot tips for Data Jam success. 

A Quest for Evidence - by The Art Effect

This video was created by high school students working with The Art Effect in Poughkeepsie. Our heroes are on a quest to prove that the Hudson River ecosystem is changing. Discover how to gather evidence, use data to inform reasoning, and build a claim about changing Hudson River temperatures.

Data Interpretation for Beginners – Explore Google Sheets & TUVA

These videos can help advisers introduce students to basic data exploration.

Diving into Data - Part 1

Learn how data helps us make connections to better understand Hudson Valley ecosystems, and watch a brief tutorial on how to create simple graphs.

Speaker: Miriam Straus, Middle School Science Teacher at Longfellow Middle School in Berkeley, California.

Diving into Data - Part 2

Learn how to use Google Sheets or TUVA (an interactive tool to help make sense of data) to perform basic calculations that will deepen your ability to interpret graphs. Make data patterns easier to see by adding trend lines to your graphs, and discover complex ecosystem patterns by examining more than one environmental variable.

Speaker: Shelly Forster, Former Cary Institute Education Program Leader

Creative Communication – How to Use Artistic Expression for Science

Half the fun of Data Jam is getting creative! The following webinars will open your mind to the endless possibilities of telling data stories with art. Teachers may want to share these videos with students to help get their creative juices flowing. 

How to Tell a Science Story With Art

Learn how to use different materials and media to communicate data in a fun, effective, and engaging way. View exemplary projects from previous years to spark ideas for the wide range of artistic possibilities to explore. 

Speaker: Bowie Zunino; Co-Director of The Wassaic Project, a nonprofit arts community and education space

Data Jam for Families: Telling Science Stories Through Art

Creatively communicating data trends is the heart of the Junior (previously ‘Family’) Data Jam Competition. How can you use visual art, music, dance, creative writing, or other art forms to tell the science stories of your local ecosystem? See examples of winning Data Jam projects from past years, learn how to make the most of limited materials at hand, and explore how professional artists use different media to convey messages and tell stories.

Speakers: Bowie Zunino; Co-Director of The Wassaic Project, a nonprofit arts community and education space + Bess Caplan, former Education Program Leader at Baltimore Ecosystem Study

Guiding Younger Learners – Junior Data Jam

Interested in introducing data exploration to upper elementary students? The Junior Data Jam is a great place to start!

Please note: The Junior Data Jam was previously known as ‘Family’ Data Jam, but the rubric and rules remain the same. Rather than being family-based, this competition category is designed for 4th or 5th grade students to work with an adult facilitator.

Exploring Ecological Data with Elementary Learners

This webinar is for educators or parents.

The Stories in the Spreadsheets: Data Exploration for Families

This webinar explores the basics of data jamming and share strategies for engaging young learners in data exploration and communication.

Data Jam for Families: Becoming Eco-detectives

Wondering how to pick a dataset? Learn how to access datasets from Cary Institute and the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, choose an appropriate topic, use Google Sheets or Excel to explore your data, and tell a data ‘story’ using graphs.There are many exciting data stories to interpret and share. Learn how to work with data and create a project that clearly communicates the trends you discover.

Thank you to our generous Data Jam supporters: Central Hudson and Price Chopper's Golub Foundation.