2016 Imagine Cup Earth (Beginner)

2016 Imagine Cup Earth (Beginner)

Competition year

Active Dates (GMT):
Mon, 17 Aug 2015 00:00 - Wed, 15 Jun 2016 23:59

Online Competition

Imagine Cup Earth is a new contest for students ages 6-18 in which you’ll use computer programming to create a game, simulation, or story inspired by the kinds of earth science that NASA and other researchers do every day. 18 winning students will win prizes totaling $36,000! You can read the official rules here.

Do I need to know coding?

For the Beginner challenge, no coding experience is necessary! You can learn to code with free online coding kits from Microsoft Imagine and make your first game, app, or science project in about half an hour using our free learn-to-code tools Kodu Game Lab, Microsoft Touch Develop, or Project Spark. After doing a couple of those coding kits, you should be ready to start thinking about your project for Imagine Cup Earth.

Here are some suggestions to get you started on your coding journey:

  • If you’re interested in making a game, try using Kodu Game Lab on your Windows PC and our KoduMan coding kit to build your first game. If you’re not on a Windows PC, try using Microsoft Touch Develop which is a website that works on any computer or touchscreen device like a phone or tablet; the Brick Breaker coding kit is a great place to start.
  • If you want to try coding an app you can use on your phone or tablet, try Microsoft Touch Develop and our Magic Ball coding kit.
  • If coding a story intrigues you, you could try using Project Spark on your Xbox One or Windows 8 or 10 PC with our Lunchtime Blues coding kit.

What is the deadline to submit my project?

We know that around the world, students have many different school schedules. So we have three global deadlines and you can pick the one that’s right for you! They are:

First Round Deadline: 23:59 GMT December 15, 2015 (First Round Submissions Closed)

Second Round Deadline: 23:59 GMT March 31, 2016

Third Round Deadline: 23:59 GMT June 15, 2016

You can enter any round you want. You can even enter multiple rounds – if you don’t win one round you can make a new project or improve your old one and try again!

What are the prizes?

In the Beginner challenge, three students will win a prize for each round:

Beginner Bracket

For the best earth-science themed game, app, or simulation using Kodu Game Lab, Microsoft Touch Develop, or Project Spark.

1st Prize: $3,000

2nd Prize: $2,000

3rd Prize: $1,000

What should my project be about?

Thanks to our partnership with NASA, we have some great inspirational material for you to start with.

Projects for Beginner Coders

If you’re competing in our Beginner skill bracket, please take a look at these four articles from NASA’s Earthdata website and choose one as the inspiration for your project. For each article we have provided some project ideas. You can use one of our ideas or make up your own! But you must pick one of these four articles for your project.

Zebras without borders: Zebras who have been unable to migrate for generations started doing so. How did they know where to go and when was the right time to leave?

  • Make a game about animals finding a new migration route
  • Create a simulation where you adjust temperature and rainfall until you successfully trigger an animal migration
  • Tell a story about how you imagine animals might find new migration routes

Shadowing the tuna boats: Fishing boat captains have recorded data on fish harvests for hundreds of years and scientists use it to study the depletion of tuna. Scientists are taking that data and applying it to a simulation of how captains make decisions about when and where to fish.

  • Make a game about directing fishing boats to only catch mature tuna and not young ones
  • Create a simulation where you set quotas on how many tuna fishing boats are allowed to catch and see how the tuna population changes year to year based on your quotas
  • Tell a story about being a fishing boat captain who wants to keep the tuna population healthy

Prosperity shining: Satellites have measured the amount of light generated by cities since the 1970s. Scientists can correlate light levels with prosperity – the richer the city, the brighter the lights.

  • Make a game where you add more and more lights to a town before the satellite passes overhead
  • Create a simulation where you adjust the prosperity levels of cities and see how their brightness changes
  • Tell a story about how a small town grows larger and the townspeople keep adding more lights to their buildings

Pedestrians of Eddy Avenue: Eddying currents in the ocean near Australia help create vibrant ecosystems.

  • Make a game where you move invasive species out of an eddy area to protect the local wildlife and plants
  • Create a simulation where you adjust the location and speed of eddies and see the result on the ecosystem
  • Tell a story about a family of hungry sea urchins who eat too much kelp, making it hard for other wildlife to survive

What do I submit?

Your entry will consist of the following:

  • Project Summary: Include a short description of your submission and how it applies to the topic
  • Project URL: This is a link to your actual software project.

If you use Kodu Game Lab, you will share your project to the Kodu community site: http://worlds.kodugamelab.com/browse

If you use Microsoft Touch Develop, you’ll share it at the Touch Develop community site:


If you use Project Spark, you’ll share it at the Spark community site:


  • Project Video URL: Record a video of no more than 3 minutes showing your project while you explain what you’ve done. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy – just use a smartphone or webcam to record the video so you can tell our judges about your project. When you’re done, upload your video to any website or to a cloud storage service such as Microsoft OneDrive, and then provide the URL to view your video.
  • Project Screenshots: Take 3 screenshots of your project in action and upload them to our site.
  • Consent Form: If you're 13 or younger, you'll need to download the Consent Form and have your parent or guardian complete it.

How do I get started?

Register now for Imagine Cup Earth! You’ll need to create a Microsoft Account first if you don’t already have one, and if you’re 13 years old or younger you’ll need your parents’ help. Then sign up for the contest and visit your Dashboard where you’ll find the submission form for your entry.


Competition Rules

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