Imagine Cup Earth
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Wednesday, 02 September 2015

The latest Imagine Cup competition for student coders around the world has been launched, this time with NASA as the co-presenter.

Students aged between 6 and 18 worldwide are eligible to enter the Imagine Cup Earth coding completion, which is being jointly presented by Microsoft Imagine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The aim of Imagine Cup Earth is to combine learning to code with exploring the latest science about Earth and entrants will be able to use NASA’s publicly accessible content and data from the earth-science missions. Eighteen winning students will share $36,000 in prizes for their earth-science coding projects and there are different categories aimed at beginners and intermediate students.

Students who choose the Beginner category can create a game, app or simulation using Microsoft’s free learn-to-code tools, including Kodu Game Lab, Microsoft Touch Develop and Project Spark. The project should be earth-science themed. Contestants can choose from four main ideas as the basis of their project:

  • Long term populations of tuna
  • Satellite measurements of light generated by cities
  • Eddying currents in the ocean near Australia
  • Migrating zebras



Some ideas about what might be interesting projects based on these underlying themes are provided on the Imagine Cup Earth website, or you can think up your own idea based on one of the underlying themes. 

You do, however, have to choice on of the four themes and you'll find more information on each in the Sensing Our Planet section of NASA's Earthdata site

At Intermediate level students have to create a web app using NASA data and imagery, coding in HTML5/CSS/Javascript, Python, or other web languages of their choice. The starting point is an Earthdata article, Cleaner water from space




The web app should use real scientific data showing algae levels in Earth’s oceans measured by a satellite detecting Chlorophyll-A in the water. What the app does with the data is up to the entrant.

There are three rounds of the contest, each with their own deadlines and prizes, so that students can choose a round that fits with the school schedule in their particular country. Students can compete in any round, or in more than one round if they wish. The first round deadline is 23:59 GMT December 15, 2015. The second round will end on 23:59 GMT March 31, 2016, and the final round will close on 23:59 GMT June 15, 2016. For each round there will be a first prize in each category of $3,000, a second prize of $2,000, and a third prize of $1,000.

This competition seems like a great stimulus to incorporating coding into the science laboratory or geography classroom - and Earthdata is certainly a resource worth knowing about for teachers and students alike.


More Information

Imagine Cup Earth 


Register for Imagine Cup Earth

Related Articles

Microsoft Extends Imagine Cup To Pre-Teens With Kodu Challenge

Imagine Cup Winners 2015

Teaching Coding To The Next Generation



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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 September 2015 )