Get your students ready for the Skills Canada GIS competitions

January 9, 2014 Angela Alexander

Skills Canada offers a GIS competition in Ontario and Manitoba to secondary students. Find out how your students can get involved and read about the preparation required for the competition.

If you’ve been teaching with GIS for at least one year and you have  students interested in gaining more knowledge and experience with the technology, then why not register them for the Skills Canada GIS competition?

This is an opportunity for you to show your students the numerous career possibilities they have with GIS. Currently, Ontario and Manitoba are the only provinces in Canada that offer this competition to their students.

Skills Canada is a national, not-for-profit organization that actively promotes careers in skilled trades and technologies to Canadian youth. The competition in Ontario is an opportunity for secondary students to test their classroom GIS skills and gain experience in a professional GIS environment.

Students are challenged to answer a spatial question based on a real-world problem, using ArcGIS for Desktop software tools and data. Each team presents a final poster that includes maps that depict results of analysis steps, written statements and/or diagrams that outline the methodologies they used to come up with their final decision, a written summary of the process and a conclusion.

For the last five years, the Education and Research group has been involved in preparing the question and judging the annual Skills Canada-Ontario GIS competition held in May in Waterloo, Ontario.

Our group also dedicates time to judging and assisting teachers who run their own regional board-wide competitions in Ontario before the final competition in May. Explore past competition questions and find out what's required to run your own regional competition (if you have more than one team in your school board interested in participating). Make sure to submit your requests for judges before February 1.

The GIS competition at Skills Canada-Manitoba is similar in format to the one offered in Ontario. It is held at Red River College in Winnipeg. Past competition questions have included locating an aquaculture farm, high intensity livestock operation, wind towers and flooding. 

Figure 1.1: Map posted created by winning team from the Skills Canada - Ontario competition, 2011.

For more information about the GIS competitions, contact:

  • Ontario - Barry Harrison at Skills Ontario
  • Manitoba - Steven Hills at Assiniboine Community College, Manitoba - (204)725-8700 ext 7003

All publicly funded schools in Ontario and Manitoba have access to ArcGIS for Desktop through the Ministry of Education license in each province.  If you're new to GIS and would like to incorporate it into your teaching, connect with us at

About the Author

Angela Alexander

Angela Alexander is a K-12 Education Resource Developer on the Esri Canada Education and Research team. She has over six years of experience working with educators across Canada. Angela is responsible for producing geographic information system (GIS) and curriculum specific resources, conducting and creating custom workshops for educators and judging and developing the question for the annual GIS Skills Ontario competition in Waterloo, Ontario. Angela has a Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Sociology from the University of Western Ontario and completed the Applied Digital Geography and GIS certificate program at Ryerson University.

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