DawsCon 2023 Data Journalism Challenge

Great prizes to be won! No prior experience required for participation!

The challenge is designed to be doable for college students of any background or program. Preparatory exercises will be provided for participants. A workshop will also be given on the morning of Saturday, March 25th at 10:00AM in 5B.16 in hybrid format. It is highly recommended that students attend in person for maximum benefit but students may follow along virtually. See preliminary schedule below.



Mitigating the impact of climate change is one of the most urgent challenges of our century. Understanding where emissions come from, and how they are evolving over time is crucial to making progress. However, the amount of information can be overwhelming, especially when put in context with history and economics. The field of data science offers some of the tools to help us parse the massive reams of data, and extract insight from interactive visualizations. These visual representations of data can help us make informed arguments and decisions as we collectively work to preserve the health of our planet. 

The DawsCon – DawsonAI data challenge this year is meant to help introduce us to the broad field of Data Journalism, wherein large datasets from various sources are compiled into a visual aid at the center of a story meant to inform the general public. Inspired by the work done at Our World in Data, we will begin with publicly available C02 emissions data for Canada at the provincial level, and set the stage for you to lead your own data journalism project.

Image generated by DALL-E 2

Orientation: Friday, March 24

17:15-18:00 [rm 3F.43] Challenge Kickoff as part of DawsCon networking session

Challenge Day 1: Saturday, March 25 [rm 5B.16]

9:00-10:00 Onsite registration and team formation
10:00-10:15 Opening remarks
10:15-13:00 Sameer Bhatnagar & Vanessa Gordon — Challenge Warmup Tutorial Session:
Data science and visual literacy workshop for the challenge with instructions and tips.
13:00-13:30 Lunch
13:00-20:00 Challenge accepted! Supervision ends at 8 PM, but the college will remain open until 10 PM.

Challenge Day 2: Sunday, March 26 [rm 5B.16]

9:00-12:00 Challenge submissions due at 12:00
12:30-14:00 Team presentations and judging
14:30-15:30 Prizes and closing remarks.

Instructions for Warm-up (optional)

Preparatory exercises can be done alone or with team members and will be provided two weeks before the challenge. The outline of the preparatory exercises is given below for context.

  • Open a new jupyter notebook Google Colab (requires a Gmail account)
  • In a separate window, open the Tutorial Notebook (link to come in the lead up to the challenge) . The goal of this tutorial is to break down the code required to generate the graphs we see in the Our World in Data article, which gives the CO2 emissions over time, for any country, over the last 50 years.
  • Cell by cell, follow the tutorial, and copy cell chunks over to your blank notebook. This will allow you to see for yourself how different code chunks work for yourself, without losing your original copy of the tutorial
  • Notice the use of different variables to contextualize the raw data: e.g. country population, economic output

Registration and important notes

  • Challenge kickoff and orientation will take place Friday, March 24 at 5:00-6:30PM in 5B.16. Attendance not mandatory.
  • The challenge can be done in teams of 2 to 5 members. If you don’t have a team, we will help you find one.
  • Students who would like to do the challenge for course work or independent study projects will have been prompted by their teachers to pursue this as an option.
  • The challenge will also be part of an extra session of the AI Launch Lab Winter 2023 Cohort. For more information visit this link. Week 1 of the AI Launch Lab begins March 4, 2023.
  • Demos and workshops will be run Saturday, March 25 throughout the day. Mentors will be present to  help the teams.

Last Modified: March 23, 2023