Whale of a time – Tesla STEM students make a splash in mapping competition

Whale of a time – Tesla STEM students make a splash in mapping competition
Tesla STEM - Bhowal and Porwal

Two rising seniors from Nikola Tesla STEM High School (Tesla STEM) used mapping to tackle an important issue for a local endangered species. Siddhant Porwal and Druhin Bhowal brought awareness to the Southern Resident Orca Whale (SROW) population decline through state and national ArcGIS mapping competitions. The duo used data from NOAA, The Whale Trail and other sources to help map the location of the species. 

"Our submission to ArcGIS’s online competition was short and sweet,” said Bhowal. “It was about the critical issue of Southern Resident Orca endangerment, something which is not only a potential ecological catastrophe but also a cultural one."

ArcGIS is a mapping program that helps users better visualize data by associating it with a particular location. Esri, known for their geographic information system (GIS) software, location intelligence and mapping, sponsored the contest. Through Esri’s annual ArcGIS Online Competition for U.S. High School and Middle School Students, students have an opportunity to use ArcGIS geospatial software to map important events in their communities.

"Analyzing factors ranging from dietary changes to seafaring vessel pollution, the project provides motivation for further conserving the orca, providing insight as to how Washington state helps in the orca’s recovery," the students said. "The project also displays vivid maps that pinpoint the orca’s range, their prey’s range, and the extent to which humans have affected their seas."

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