Education Design Challenge

Cart Lab Design Challenge

The Cart Lab Design Challenge is an annual event organized by the UW­–Madison Cartography Lab and the Department of Geography. The Design Challenge is a one-day mapping workshop that challenges students (cartographers and geographers) to create a map or a series of maps during an eight-hour stretch. Teams of students work with community partners, topic experts, and data experts on real-world issues. In the past, our students have mapped the hazardous waste trade in North America, temporal fossil data to better understand past climates, community resources provided by a local community center making an argument for a new facility, and recidivism in our community.

Check out each Design Challenge below, including maps, awards, and blog posts.


Transforming Justice

In collaboration with Jenna Loyd, Kelly Lytle Hernandez, and Transforming Justice, this year's Design Challenge will explore everyday experiences of policing in Milwaukee. Drawing on video documentaries and workshop transcripts, we will explore how these experiences build on histories of segregation and how they continue to shape divisions in the city, access to shared spaces, and well-being.

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Feminist Cartographies and Recidivism

Last year's Design Challenge explored the geographies of recidivism in Madison through feminist mapping! Working Catherine D’Ignazio, we learned about feminist visualization principles and then put theory into practice in an all day mapping event. In teams, we worked with the Journey Home Initiative of the United Way of Dane County to make maps that have a positive and productive impact on our community disrupting the cycle of recidivism in Madison.



Meaningful Work for Your City Bridge Lake Community Center

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Visualize Spacio-Temporal Fossil Data

For this second annual Design Challenge, students generated new insight from fossil records in North America. They developed unique visualizations to facilitate communication of trends in multidimensional spatio-temporal data.

Award Winners | Publicity


Eighteen geography students spent their Valentine’s Day wading through a complicated, real-world dataset, to create data visualizations that will help researchers better understand the hazardous waste trade in North America. Dr. Sarah Moore obtained EPA records of transnational trade of hazardous waste through a pair of Freedom of Information Act requests. The data are big and messy, and real. They arrived as scans of shipping labels, which had to be coded. Students over the course of two semesters have worked to code the data, putting it into a format that can be analyzed. With a little over a quarter of the data entered, it was time to start digging around to see what stories could be unearthed.