- Look at previous national winners and honorable mention projects. This is a "map competition." Entries should be analytical in nature, map-centric rather than photo-centric or relying on too much text. Use of videos or static images generated by anyone other than the team members must be carefully documented, and such media should be used sparingly (few times, as supplements rather than primary visual elements); such outside content generally detracts from national scores. The project should emphasize student work; professionally generated GIS data generally does not detract from national scores this way. A good way to judge project balance quickly is to identify the "number of screens" a viewer would encounter and the number of seconds a viewer would spend consuming the entire project; map-based time and attention should be at least two thirds.
- Good projects gently help even a viewer unfamiliar with the region know quickly the location of the project focus. Requiring a viewer to zoom out several times to determine the region of focus detracts from the viewing experience. (Pretend the viewer is from a different part of the country, or a different country.)
- Maps should invite interactive exploration by the viewer, not be static ("images"). The presentation should hold the attention of the viewer from start to finish.
- Maps should demonstrate "the science of where" -- the importance of location, patterns, and relationships between layers. There is an art to map design; too much data may feel cluttered, but showing viewers only one layer at a time may limit the viewers' easy grasp of relationships.
- Care should be taken to make "popups" useful, limited to just the relevant information. They should add important information, and be formatted to make the most critical information be easily consumed. These popups can include formatted text, key links, images, data presented in charts, and so forth.
- Entries based on a project involving more than more than the entry team should note carefully the work done by the team members. For instance, if a class of 20 works together on a single project and three teams of two students each create different entries based on the 20-person project, each entry should clearly indicate what work was done by the team members. Any content prepared by the teacher/leader must be clearly identified. (For instance, "a Survey123 form (linked here) was created by our teacher, so our competition team do all the data gathering.")
- Schools should consider issues around exposing PII. See http://esri.box.com/agoorgsforschools for strategies for minimizing PII. Teachers and club leaders should help students minimize exposure of their own PII and that of others, including in map, image, and text.
- Entries submitted to Esri for the top national prize (i.e. 1-HS and 1-MS) must agree in advance to expose student names, school names, and school city/state (homeschool students would be identified to closest city/town name).
- Esri will not seek, collect, or accept student names for any entrants other than the national prize entrants (1-HS and 1-MS per state). These and only these will have names exposed by Esri.