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2021–2022 High School Big Data Challenge

Cleaner Energy at the Individual and Community Levels


Changing the sources and usage of energy for a

better and sustainable future for all

Under Patronage of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO

In Cooperation With



This year’s Big Data Challenge encourages high school students across the world to learn the fundamentals of data analysis and apply their computational thinking efforts to find ideas and solutions for UNESCO Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) “Affordable and Clean Energy”.

Participants will use federal, provincial, municipal, and NGO open data to analyze how technical and social innovations could make a difference in access and affordability of Clean energy at the personal, community, regional and global levels.

It is an inquiry-based, interdisciplinary, experiential learning program that strengthens students’ data analytics, problem-solving and critical thinking abilities. It synergizes with in-person, blended, and online learning and extracurricular programs to foster an active digital citizenship position and:

Computational Thinking

Develop analytical and computational thinking by using computational techniques in the context of current, real-world challenges in clean energy.

Data Analysis

Learn data visualization to present student-found results from Big Data analytics.

Interdisciplinary Mindset

Engage in an interdisciplinary, problem space led by student-driven inquiry.


Scientific Communication

Practice scientific writing and publish your ideas in the peer-reviewed STEM Fellowship Journal, through the largest national scientific publishing group.



Network with academics, industry professionals, and other forward-thinking students.

Note: Prior knowledge of coding is NOT required to participate. Students from all programs are welcome to participate.

Through this challenge, students will:

  • Collect and Investigate Data on access to sustainable and clean energy and culture around it.
  • Analyze the role of various factors including gender, race, geographical region, and socioeconomic conditions on access and use of Clean energy.
  • Hypothesize and Formulate innovative solutions to improve access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Present Findings through scientific and scholarly writing in the form of a research project report.


Teams of up to 4 students will be provided with datasets, workshops, learning resources, mentorship, and tools for data analysis to undertake exploratory analysis of sustainable energy. Data analysis is combined with scientific writing, insofar that the teams present their research findings in the form of scientific manuscripts, which are then evaluated by academics and industry professionals. All aspects of the BDC, including the delivery of workshops, resources, and mentorship, will occur online and are equally accessible to all students regardless of their location or other circumstances.

At the end of the program, the research abstracts of all teams and the manuscripts of winning teams are published in the open access, peer-reviewed NRC Research Press STEM Fellowship Journal.

The top teams are then invited to defend their findings in front of a panel of experts in competing for monetary and academic prizes, at the culminating finale event.


Access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy is crucial to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals – from poverty eradication via advancements in health, education, water supply and industrialization to mitigating climate change. (Education 2030 Agenda) However, it varies significantly due to economic, cultural and education levels.

Open data and analytical methods present a unique opportunity to look at the problem of fair distribution and sustainable use of energy

Students are free to define their research topics that can address technological, economical and social aspects of Affordable and Clean Energy.

Here are some suggested topics:

  • Energy security and cybersecurity at individual, community, regional and national levels.
  • Clean energy solutions against the impact of pandemic, climate change and other crises.
  • Exploration of options, costs and benefits for 100 percent clean energy in the local community.
  • Personal, family, community, and social network energy consumption and optimization. Comparison of best practices and sustainable energy results in gender, race, differing income groups of students.
  • Advanced vehicle and personal transportation technologies in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and addressing inequalities.


Scholarly publication of winning project manuscripts in the peer-reviewed STEM Fellowship Journal, published by NRC Research Press.

Tokenize your project with a STEM Fellowship NFT (Non-Fungible Token) on a Blockchain Network

CCUNESCO Scholarly Communication Award In memoriam of Mohammad and Zeynab Asadi-Lari

    • 1st Prize: $1000 + Publication
    • 2nd Prize: $250
    • 3rd Prize: $100

Infor Technological Solutions Award

    • 1st Prize: $1000 + Publication
    • 2nd Prize: $250
    • 3rd Prize: $100

Hunter Hub, University of Calgary, Entrepreneurial Thinking Award

    • 1st Prize: $1000 + Publication
    • 2nd Prize: $250
    • 3rd Prize: $100

Let’s Talk Science Analytics Talent Awards

    • 1st Prize: $1000 + Publication
    • 2nd Prize: $250
    • 3rd Prize: $100

Digital Science International Excellence In Analytics Award

    • $1000

RBC Future Launch – Arnold Chan Memorial Award for Student Innovation

    • $1000 + Publication


Information Sessions

September 25  – October 16, 2021

Q&A and sample workshops for teachers and their students about the High School Big Data Challenge. Recordings and material will be provided following the orientation session.

Students and teachers may register HERE.

To view the recordings of each session, click on them below.

Registration Deadline

October 29, 2021 (11:59 PM PST)

Form your team(s) of up to 4 students and register them online HERE.

Team Inquiry with Mentor Support

November 1, 2021 – January 31, 2022

  • Crowdsource resources and investigate analytics tools (SAS, Python, Pandas, etc), choose the one you will learn and use.
    • Workshops covering Data Visualization, Statistics, Python Programming, Data Analysis, SQL, and Scientific Writing Skills will be provided to participants to help with this
    • Obtain certificates from Cisco Networking Academy in Big Data Fundamentals, Empowerment Technologies, Cybersecurity, and more!
  • Attend mentor sessions and ask questions to learn more about anything within the realm of data science and its applications.
  • Learn from talks given by working professionals in the analytics industry from organizations like Gartner, the University of Calgary, and more!
  • Work on your data set for 3 months. Work together with your team, making use of your mentors, teachers, and the provided resources to analyze your data and propose solutions.

Tell the story of your data discovery through a scientific report. Use Overleaf to prepare your project report, and submit it to us at .


Project Submission Deadline

February 1, 2022 (11:59 PM PST)

Submit your project report developed in Overleaf before the deadline (2:59 AM EST on February 2) for evaluation by a team of academics and industry experts.


Finalist Announcement

February 18, 2022

The finalists (top 20 teams) will be announced! If selected, your team will have the opportunity to present your work at Big Data Day.


High School Big Data Day

March 5th, 2022 (Tentative)

The Big Data Day will be organized online. The details for the Zoom call will be announced to those attending well before the event.


Here are samples of last year’s workshops to give you an idea of this year’s live, interactive workshops. This year, we will have workshops that focus on statistics, data manipulation, data analysis, machine learning, and more! We encourage you to read these ahead of time to help prepare you for the upcoming BDC.



Previous Workshops


At STEM Fellowship, we care about the health and safety of our participants and the community at large. The Big Data Challenge will be conducted entirely remotely and online this year. Should the COVID-19 Pandemic persist and prevent an in-person Big Data Day, we will have the Big Data Challenge finalists submit a video presentation and have judges evaluate them remotely. Further, we will host video-conference interviews with academia and industry experts, as well as video presentations of speakers instead of the live round table and presentations at Big Data Day.


The Big Data Challenge (BDC) for high school students is an inquiry-driven experiential learning program that invites students from across the country to strengthen their problem-solving and critical thinking skills while learning the fundamentals of data science.


You do not need previous experience with programming. We welcome all students who are eager to put effort into learning and expanding their skillsets, as well as those who show any level of interest in data science or the challenge topic.


We encourage participants to start forming teams before the event. You may also register and participate on your own or request to be placed into a team after registration.


You do not need to have an idea before registering. Think about what interested you the most in the field of the provided topic. Reflect on your day-to-day; talk to your friends and professional network from academia and industry; explore emerging technologies and platforms; read the internet and research articles. In hackathons like these, many teams come up with their topics in the first few days of the challenge, rather than beforehand.


Yes, anyone who has graduated within 12 months is eligible to register for our Big Data Challenge, however, if you are enrolled as an Undergraduate, then we recommend you sign up for the Undergraduate Big Data Challenge.


Check out last year's Big Data Challenge

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