High school students challenged to visualize water quality data

Screenshot of Locus GIS for environmental management contour output with data grid

Posted by Neno Duplan

In January 2016, U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency challenged high school students in 13 states to create compelling and innovative visualizations of nutrient data from open government data sources.

Students from across the United States participated in the challenge, demonstrating their creativity and commitment to environmental stewardship. For the winning visualizations, students effectively used geographic information systems software (GIS) and water quality datasets to describe nutrient pollution in their local watersheds in innovative ways.

Plant nutrients can be valuable in agricultural and urban settings, but too much at the wrong place or time will produce algal blooms, hypoxia, and other nutrient-related water quality issues that are particularly acute in the Great Lakes Basin and Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

The winners of the challenge:

National Grand Prize

Understanding Eutrophication in the Chesapeake Bay

Washington-Lee High School; Arlington, Va.

Chesapeake Bay Regional Prize

Nutrient Pollution, the Bay’s Biggest Threat

Poolesville High School; Poolesville, Md.

Great Lakes Regional Prize

Algae Affliction of Lake Erie

Father Gabriel Richard High School; Ann Arbor, Mich.

National Geographic Prize

Eutrophication in the Chesapeake Bay: Fertilizer and Manure

The National Grand Prize winner is being awarded $2,500 and an opportunity to attend the Esri Education Conference in San Diego, CA in June.

The Visualize Your Water Challenge is part of the broader work of the Challenging Nutrients Coalition. The coalition was formed in 2013 when the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy convened a group of federal agencies, universities, and non-profit organizations to seek innovative ways to address nutrient pollution. This challenge built on the activities of the Open Water Data Initiative, which works in conjunction with the President’s Climate Data Initiative, to further integrate existing water datasets and make them more accessible to innovation and decision making.

Visualize Your Water involved students analyzing data and creating maps using online GIS software like Locus GIS.

The winners are being announced during National Environmental Education Week, a nationwide celebration of environmental education.

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