2017 SOS Student Contest

NOAA launches a contest for K-12 and college students to design content for NOAA’s Science On a Sphere®

Is there a story you’ve heard about how Earth is changing that you can tell using maps and images? Where do major weather events (like hurricanes and tornadoes) occur and why? What are the “hot spots” of activity in the ocean and what animals are found there? These are just a few examples of the many stories you could choose to tell about our dynamic planet using Science On a Sphere.

We invite you to create new maps, visualizations, and stories that help share NOAA’s mission in creative and innovative ways. Winners will receive a $250 gift certificate to be used on educational products, a certificate from NOAA, and have their work featured at the 2017 SOS Users Collaborative Network workshop as well as in our online catalog of content that is available to our worldwide user community.

With public installations of Science On a Sphere® (SOS) around the world at more than 130 institutions, we use SOS to support NOAA’s mission of understanding and predicting changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, sharing that knowledge and information with others, and conserving and managing coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.

For a complete overview of the contest as well as submission requirements, please click here.

Note: this first year of this contest will be a pilot in which we will be examining how well the process works. Please feel free to give us input.

Goals of the 2017 Student Competition:

  • To provide opportunities for students to learn about and create data visualizations
  • To increase student awareness of SOS
  • To engage students and teachers with NOAA science
  • To encourage students and teachers to visit a nearby SOS institution
  • To get teachers involved in technology associated with data visualization


  • Contest launch: January 17

  • Submissions due: March 17, 11:59 PM EDT

  • Review of submissions: March 20-31

  • Selection and notification of winners: April 3

  • Winning entries announced and showcased: April 25-27 (during 2017 SOS Workshop)


Submissions must be created by K-12 or college students in the U.S. who are currently enrolled in an education institution or are homeschooled. Entries can be submitted by individuals or teams of up to 4. Submissions do not have to be part of a school project or assignment.

Contest submission categories

Single dataset (image, image sequence, or movie)

These submissions will contain a single image or animation and an accompanying description about how the dataset relates to NOAA's mission.

Example: Human Influences on Marine Ecosystems

Full story (live program)

These submissions are a sequence of datasets with an accompanying script that ties them together into a cohesive story that relates to NOAA's mission. Full stories must contain at least 1 new dataset and at least 3 total datasets (which can include datasets from the existing SOS catalog).

Example: One Ocean

How to submit entries

The deadline for submitting entries has passed.

Please make sure you review the contest guide and submit all of the following elements:

  1. Name(s)

  2. Email address

  3. School or college (name of institution and address)

  4. Current grade/year in college

  5. Submission title

  6. Submission type (single dataset or full story)

  7. Explanation of how your submission relates to NOAA's mission.

  8. Credits (dataset or image source(s), names of other group members)

  9. Feedback: how can we improve any future contests? (optional)

  10. Category-dependent requirements:

    1. Single dataset

      1. Map, image, image sequence or video file

      2. Description*

      3. Colorbar and/or labels file (optional)

    2. Full Story/Live Program

      1. For each new dataset (you can submit more than one dataset)

        1. Map, image, image sequence or video file

        2. Description*

        3. Colorbar and/or label files (optional)

      2. Presentation playlist

      3. Script

* The description should be a simple overview of the dataset that provides the following details: the source of the data, whether it is modeled or measured, what it shows, notable features, and why it’s important. It should be a non-technical description that is easily understood. For examples, visit the SOS Dataset Catalog: Note: this information will be published in SOS Data catalog if selected as a winning entry.


Thanks to a partnership with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, the following prizes will be awarded:

1st Place: $250 gift certificate for educational products (will be awarded to individual or divided among a team), NOAA weather radio, certificate from NOAA, submission featured at the 2017 SOS Workshop, and content included in the online SOS Dataset Catalog

2nd and 3rd Place: NOAA weather radio, certificate from NOAA, submission featured at the 2017 SOS Workshop


If you have any questions, please email us: