See the data, find a solution

by Amanda Pruzinsky

VizYourWater-AllStates-3-2-2Ever remember a time when you were in school thinking “why am I learning this?” I sure can. But I can also remember the first time everything just clicked and made complete sense. For me, it was in my high school environmental science class where I felt like I could make a real difference by helping plants, animals, and people all at once!

To provide students with the opportunity to work on important environmental projects, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency worked in collaboration with many organizations to create a contest for high school students in the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay regions. The Visualize Your Water Challenge asks students to use open government data to help visualize nutrient pollution.

Though nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus are vital for life, too many nutrients in our waterways can cause algal blooms that harm aquatic life. This contest gives young people an opportunity to dive into the world of environmental data, GIS technology, problem solving, communications, and more.

I know that when I was a high school student, I would have been ecstatic for this kind of opportunity to use real-world data for environmental problem solving. Data visualization helps us to see the data in a new way, so we can not only better understand what it is telling us, but how we can more effectively communicate it to others.  People all over the world, including here at EPA, are working on creating these kinds of visualizations to help make decisions and find new solutions to environmental challenges.

If you are a high school student, parent, teacher, or know someone who is, there is more information available on the contest and eligibility.

Get in on the challenge today! The competition closes on March 1, 2016.


About the Author: Amanda Pruzinsky is a physical scientist for the Water Protection Division in EPA’s mid-Atlantic region working to support all of the water programs with a focus on data management, analysis, and communication.