National Geographic


Real-world problems call for real-world solutions




About the Geochallenge

The GeoChallenge is a standards-based competition from the National Geographic Society that challenges student groups in grades five through eight to develop a creative solution to a real-world problem. Participating students form teams of between four and six people. These groups respond to a problem, challenge, or critical issue by using research, collaboration, creativity, and communication to create and present real-world solutions. The best projects have the chance to move on to a regional competition.

This year’s challenge—On the Move!—invited participants to learn about the problems facing migratory species while building skills in geography, mapmaking, storytelling, theatrical techniques, and video production.

Teams submitted a video and application to National Geographic for their chance to attend a regional competition.

Registration for the 2017–2018 GeoChallenge is now closed. Teams that have qualified for regional competitions in California, Colorado, Illinois, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Texas were notified on March 6, 2018. Be sure to check back in the late summer for the 2018–2019 GeoChallenge theme and registration.


This Year's Challenge: On the Move!

The 2017–2018 GeoChallenge—On the Move!—was centered around helping your students address critical issues facing migrating species.

Teams of students from fifth through eighth grade practiced important skills such as teamwork, research, innovation, critical thinking, and persuasive communication while they worked through the steps of this challenge:

  • Telling a fact-based story about a migrating species’ journey from one location to another.

  • Developing a map that shows the migratory path the species takes.

  • Designing and creating a physical model of a solution to an obstacle the species encounters along its journey.

  • Creating and presenting a fact-based, theatrical video of the story that includes a character who delivers a call to action.

Powered by Destination Imagination

Key Dates

Now – Feb. 1, 2018

Register for the GeoChallenge, assemble student teams, devise solutions, prepare challenge materials, and create GeoChallenge submission videos

Feb. 1, 2018, 11:59 p.m. ET

Deadline for receipt of GeoChallenge submissions for review by National Geographic

Feb. 2, 2018 – Mar. 6, 2018

National Geographic reviews submissions

Mar. 6, 2018

Notification date for regional competition qualifiers

Apr. 6, 2018

Regional competitions

Geochallenge 101


For a team of students to participate in the National Geographic GeoChallenge, a teacher or paid school employee must act as the GeoChallenge Coordinator and register the team here.


Student Teams

Student teams are comprised of a minimum of four and a maximum of six middle school students. All student team members must be in grades five through eight.

GeoChallenge Coordinator

This person is responsible for registering the team, delegating a coach or serving as the coach, monitoring the progress of the project, ensuring the National Geographic Explorers Code and rules are followed, and submitting materials to National Geographic if the team is applying to participate in the state-based regional competition. The GeoChallenge Coordinator must be a teacher or paid school staff member. The coordinator abides by the Explorers Code. There is only one GeoChallenge Coordinator per school.

GeoChallenge Coach

The GeoChallenge Coach is either the GeoChallenge Coordinator or is delegated by the coordinator. The coach must be an adult. (S)he may be a parent volunteer or community member. This person is responsible for recruiting the team, providing a time and place for the team to work together on a regular basis, and making sure students work safely when making progress on the project. The coach introduces the National Geographic Explorers Code and rules to the students and ensures that they are followed. The coach also abides by the Explorers Code.

Parents and Volunteers

Parents and volunteers may assist the coach with recruitment, transportation, and providing space for team meetings. Parents and volunteers must also abide by the Explorers Code.


Grade Level

All students on a GeoChallenge team must be in grades five through eight.

School Eligibility

Any U.S. public, private, or homeschool with grades five through eight may participate in the GeoChallenge.

Only one project may be submitted per team, but a school may have multiple teams.

Teacher/Parent Involvement

Adult involvement in GeoChallenge projects must be minimal. GeoChallenge Coordinators, GeoChallenge Coaches, and adult volunteers cannot actively participate in the research, design, testing, or building of any parts of the project. Adult roles include organizing the team, providing meeting places, ensuring safety, and giving encouragement. Adults may instruct students on how to use the tools—including mechanical tools, hardware, or software—needed to create the project, but they may not actively work on the project, contribute ideas, or provide solutions. Adults make sure rules are followed and remind students of the Explorers Code, requirements, and deadlines.


For the solution model and map, students are encouraged to use available school materials or materials from home. Using repurposed or recycled materials is encouraged. The projects do not require expensive purchases, and spending large amounts is discouraged. Appraisal of the projects will focus on design, innovation, and creativity, not on the value of the materials or equipment used to create the project. Basic video equipment, including mobile devices, may be used for the video submission. Appraisal of the videos will focus on creativity and not on the image quality or sophistication of recording or editing equipment used.

Explorers Code

In addition to the rules above, team members, school GeoChallenge Coordinators, GeoChallenge Coaches, and volunteers will adhere to the Explorers Code.

As a team member, I share the values of the GeoChallenge Explorers Code.

  • I am curious about the world and how it works. I seek out new and challenging experiences.

  • I am responsible. I am concerned for the welfare of other people, cultural resources, and the natural world.

  • I am respectful. I consider multiple perspectives, and honor others regardless of differences.

  • I am empowered to make a difference. I act on curiosity, respect, responsibility, and adventurousness, and I persist in the face of challenges.

  • I appreciate our interconnected world. I value knowledge and how it increases my abillity to solve global problems. This included knowledge about human cultures, wildlife and habitats, and the changing nature of the planet.

  • I observe, research, and document the world around me, and attempt to make sense of my observations.

  • I collaborate with others to achieve goals.

  • I communicate experiences and ideas through language and media.

  • I solve problems. I generate, evaluate, and implement solutions to problems.

  • I am a decision maker. I am able to identify alternatives and weigh trade-offs to make well-reasoned decisions.

In-Person Regional Competition Participation


School GeoChallenge teams may apply to participate in a regional competition. To be considered, teams must submit the following by February 1, 2018, to the National Geographic Society:

  1. GeoChallenge story video. Name the video file using the following system: School Name.GeoChallenge Coordinator Name.State Abbreviation. Example for Coordinator Katie Rollins from Westfield Middle School in Texas: WestfieldMS.Rollins.TX  

  2. Five photos from various angles and distances of the solution model.

  3. One photo of the map.

  4. Explorers Code signed by the school GeoChallenge Coordinator, the GeoChallenge Coach, and all team members.

All materials must be sent digitally to Video files tend to be large. These may be sent to using a free file transfer service that allows you to send large files, such as WeTransfer ( or FileMail ( Both of these services allow you to send large files at no cost. You will receive a confirmation email once your file is sent, and another email notification when the file has been downloaded. This way, you can be sure we’ve received your video submission.

Using copyrighted music, artwork, videos, or other materials is prohibited.

Team Attendance

A majority of the team members must be present at the regional competition. If the team has six members, at least four students must be present. If the team has five members, at least three students must be present. If the team has four members, at least three must be present. Attending students are invited to take part in a full day of events at the regional competition.

Coordinator and Coach Attendance

Either the GeoChallenge Coordinator or the GeoChallenge Coach must accompany the team to the regional competition. That person is invited to take part in a full day of events at the regional competition.


Prizes will be awarded to teams that excel at the regional-level events.


Can a whole class participate?

Yes, but the class must be divided into teams of four to six students. One teacher may act as the coordinator and coach for all the teams in the classroom.


Can students in different grade levels be on the same GeoChallenge team?

Yes. Students in grades five through eight are eligible to be on the same GeoChallenge team.


Does the GeoChallenge align with curriculum standards?

Yes. This challenge is aligned with the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), including Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs), as well as MS-LS2-4 and MS-LS2-8.


Must the team coach be present at all team meetings?

No, but if the coach cannot attend, the coordinator must be present.


May a school have more than one GeoChallenge Coordinator?

No, only one person, who must be a paid employee of the school, may function as GeoChallenge Coordinator for the school.


May a school have more than one GeoChallenge Coach?

Yes, the GeoChallenge Coordinator may delegate coaching to more than one person, each with one or more teams.


Can a coach support more than one team?

Yes. A coach may support more than one team.


Do all student team members have to be attending the same school?

No, the team members may be attending different schools, though all participating students must be in grades five through eight.


How much does this cost?

There is no fee for participating in the 2017-18 GeoChallenge.

Have a Question?

The National Geographic GeoChallenge team is here to help! Please submit your questions to