Announcing the 2023 Barbara Petchenik Children’s Map Competition to celebrate the creativity, imagination, artistry, and wisdom of child mapmakers!
Postmark entries by February 23 to meet the February 28, 2023 deadline!
U.S. National Competition
Organized by the Cartography and Geographic Information Society, the Children’s Map Competition is a map competition for all children ages 15 years or younger. The goal of the contest is to promote the creative representation of the world in graphic form by children. It is offered every two years to celebrate the creativity, imagination, artistry, and wisdom of child mapmakers.
Children are encouraged to submit a handmade map for this national competition. Teachers are encouraged to promote this competition to their students. First, second, and third place winners are selected in four age categories: under 6 years old, 6 to 8 years old, 9 to 12 years old, and 13 to 15 years old. An entry can be drawn by a single child or multiple children (up to three within the same age category).
National winners will be selected in March 2023 and submitted to the international competition in which winners will be selected in June 2023. Send in your entries by February 23 to meet the February 28, 2023 deadline!
Barbara Petchenik International Competition
Six entries will be chosen to represent the United States in the international Barbara Petchenik Children’s World Map Drawing Competition. This competition, now in its 28th year, was created by the International Cartographic Association to honor Dr. Barbara Bartz Petchenik after her death from a short illness in 1992. Barbara was a U.S cartographer who contributed significantly to modern cartography, especially in the area of children’s maps and atlases.
The international competition includes student entries from around the world, and the maps will be considered for greeting card, calendar, and poster designs for organizations such as UNICEF. The judges select first, second, and third place winners in the four age categories, and they choose a winner for the Creativity Award. Votes by exhibit attendees determine the winner of the Public Vote award.
This Year’s Theme
This year’s theme, “A Map of My Future World!”, may be illustrated in any way, using pictures, drawings, words, objects, or other graphical elements, but the illustration must include (somewhere) a map of all or a large portion of the world, with recognizable continents, age-appropriate features, and/or representations. The maps should tell a story or convey a message about the world—in this case, the world of the future. This future maybe interpreted as tomorrow, or the world in 50 years, or centuries beyond!
The first step is to send your entries or your students’ entries to the U.S. Children’s Map Competition. See the Rules and Judging and Teacher’s Checklist pages for more information about submitting entries. Contact Colleen Conner, the U.S. competition coordinator, at cconner@esri with any questions.
Here are some quick links to resources:
Archives of previously submitted maps in the Petchenik Children’s Map Competition:
Books of maps from the Petchenik Children’s Map Competition:
- The World Drawn by Children (2021)
- Children Map the World (2017)
- Children Map the World (2015)
- Children Map the World (2005)
Looking for a great art, science, or social studies project?
Encourage your students to create an entry for the Children’s Map Competition!
- DOWNLOAD the poster or the flyer to advertise the competition—with the theme “A Map of My Future World”—at your school.
- ANNOUNCE the deadline for entries from individual students or teams of up to three students in the same age group.
- ORGANIZE the student entries by age category—under 6 years of age, ages 6 through 8 years, ages 9 through 12 years, and ages 13 through 15 years—based on the child’s age as of January 1, 2023.
- SCHEDULE a classroom or after school activity for students to work on their map entries (see the Rules and Judging page for details).
- COMPLETE an entry form for each entry.
- ATTACH the completed entry form to the back of each entry.
- COLLECT permission slips from each student’s parent or legal guardian for each entry.
- REMEMBER to scan or photograph the entries for your records. They will not be returned after the U.S. Children’s Map Competition.
- MAIL your school’s entries—with entry forms attached and permission slips—in one package to the address below.
380 New York Street
Redlands, CA 92223
- ASSURE that your package is postmarked no later than February 23 to reach us in time for the February 28, 2023 deadline.
- WATCH this web page for the announcement of U.S. national finalists in April, 2023.
- CONTACT Colleen Conner (U.S. National Competition Coordinator) at email@example.com with any questions.
Rules and Judging
Children 15 years of age or younger are invited to produce a map illustration on the theme “A Map of My Future World.”
- The maximum size for an entry is 17 x 11 inches. Illustrations can be made using any unbreakable material. Mixed media entries are welcome, but the height of pasted-on components must be no greater than 0.2 inches.
- The theme “A Map of My Future World” may be illustrated in any way, using pictures, drawings, words, objects, or other graphical elements, but the illustration must include (somewhere) a map of all or a large portion of the world, with recognizable continents, age-appropriate features, and/or representations. It may be helpful for children to begin their design and illustrations by thinking about how maps can tell a story or convey a message about the world, in this case, the world of the future. This future may be interpreted as tomorrow, or the world in 50 years, or centuries beyond!
- Entries will categorized by age groups—under 6 years of age, ages 6 through 8 years, ages 9 through 12 years, and ages 13 through 15 years—based on the child’s age as of January 1, 2023.
- One entry may be submitted by a single child or a group of up to three children in the same age group.
- In cases of multiple children creating one illustration, the adjudicated age category for the entry is determined by the age of the oldest child.
- Each entry must include a completed entry form and a signed permission slip. These forms are also required by the International Cartographic Association for the international competition.
- The completed entry form should be attached to the back of the illustration.
- All materials for a single entry or all materials for the entries from a single school should be sent in one package and postmarked no later than February 23 to arrive in time for the , February 28, 2023 deadline. Entries should be sent to:
Colleen Conner; LIB-250; 380 New York Street; Redlands, CA 92223
- Submitted illustrations must be original and hard-copy—no digital files (image files, .pdfs, etc.) will be accepted.
- We encourage participants to scan or photograph the finished illustration for their records. Submitted entries cannot be returned.
- Members of the U.S. National Committee (USNC) for the International Cartographic Association (ICA) will select first, second, and third place winners in each of the four age groups. Honorable mentions may also be awarded.
- Winners will be sent official certificates of award.
- The four first place winners, plus two additional entries selected by the USNC-ICA, will be entered in the international Barbara Petchenik Children’s World Map Drawing Competition.
- Entries in the international competition will be displayed in the Children’s Map Exhibition held in conjunction with the International Cartographic Conference. ICC 2023 is currently scheduled for August 14 through 18, 2023.
- An international jury will select the winners for each age group. In addition, a winner selected through a Public Vote by the exhibit attendees and a winner of the Creativity Award will be announced during the closing ceremony for ICC. The winners will be notified immediately after the ICC concludes.
- International winners become the property of the ICA and the library of Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
The national and international judges will focus on three areas:
- A recognizable message—a connection between the form, shape, and use of cartographic elements that creatively address the competition’s theme of “A Map of My Future World”.
- Cartographic content—appropriate cartographic elements, such as symbols, colors, names, labels, etc., which help address the competition’s theme. Note: cartographic accuracy (e.g., of coastlines of continents) is not a primary concern, although the illustration should be recognizable as a map in combination with the artist’s unique interpretation or design to portray his or her theme or story.
- Overall quality of the execution—aesthetic quality in such matters as balance and harmony, use of color, legibility, and relations among the illustration elements.
- Any number of “systems of projections” can be used to depict coastlines, land masses, or boundaries.
- The illustration should be an original piece of work.
- The illustration can be made using traditional methods (i.e. color pencils, crayons, watercolor) or computer program.
- Please do not use glass or other breakable materials or perishable materials (e.g., leaves of plants).
For more info on the international competition, please visit the website of the International Cartographic Association, the Commission on Cartography and Children, or the Commission’s Facebook profile.
Check out the winning illustrations from previous competitions on the website of the International Cartographic Association. You can search and browse all maps entered in the competitions since 1993 in the Carleton University Library archive of the Barbara Petchenik Children’s Map Competition.
About Barbara Bartz Petchenik
Dr. Barbara Bartz Petchenik is among a number of pioneering women who contributed significantly to modern cartography across the globe. She is remembered predominantly for her interest and research into the theme of children’s maps and atlases. But this is by no means the only area that she specialized in. From 1962–1992, she contributed to about 60 articles, papers, reviews, and other map related research in cartographic typography and type legibility, communication aspects, historical cartography, and the psychological aspects of map design, among others. During her career as a cartographer, Barbara Bartz Petchenik believed in the power of maps to communicate a “larger, meaningful, reality.”
She grew up in a rural town in northern Wisconsin. She got her Bachelor of Science degree from University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in chemistry and English, and she taught geography there the year after she graduated. She then went to University of Wisconsin–Madison for graduate work. She intended to focus on physical geography but soon discovered cartography, and thus began her illustrious and prolific career in cartographic research and writing through collaborations with her mentor and friend Arthur Robinson. Together they established foundations for American cartography as we know it today.
Before obtaining her PhD, she was the cartographic editor with the Field Enterprises Education Corporation in Chicago where she was a cartographic researcher and designer for the World Book Encyclopedia. She is well known for research on children’s cognitive abilities with maps which began in earnest in the early 1960s through her work on the World Book Encyclopedia. Her research focused on maps designed for nine through fourteen-year old children. She interviewed a thousand elementary school students and observed how they interpreted symbology, scale, coordinates, typography, and other map content. Their distinct perspectives differed from those of adults, and lessons on clarity and simplicity in cartographic design shaped her philosophy on cartography and map design in general. She used the word “miraculous” to describe children’s abilities to find meaning on maps in a unique way.
After earning her doctorate in 1969, she returned to World Book as a Staff consultant in Cartographic Research and Design. She worked at the Newberry Library in Chicago where she was co-author and cartographic editor of the The Atlas of Early American History. She later coauthored a scholarly, philosophical book, The Nature of Maps (1976), with Arthur Robinson. This is perhaps her most significant publication. Robinson and she also co-wrote two works about communications aspects of cartography, including the award-winning “The Map as a Communication System”. She became the senior sales representative of cartographic services for the R.R. Donnelly & Sons Company, a commercial map-making organization, as a sales representative to consult with clients on planning, designing and producing maps for publications, textbooks. She managed to write more than sixty articles, reviews and essays on cartography, about the theory and practice of map design and cognitive aspects of the discipline. Through all of this, she became a true trailblazer for women in cartography.
Barbara was involved in many cartographic associations and was a member of the US National Committee for the ICA. In 1991, she was the first woman to be elected to the ICA Executive Committee of the International Cartographic Association. She served as a vice president until her death after a short illness in June 1992. At that time, the U.S. appointed Judy Olson to the ICA EC to complete Barbara’s term (until 1995). In 1993, the biennial Barbara Petchenik Children’s World Map Drawing Competition was created by the ICA as a memorial of Barbara’s lifelong interest in maps for children. The aims of contest named in her honor are to promote children’s creative representation of the world, to enhance their cartographic awareness and to make them more conscious of their environment.
- Bevington-Attardi, Dierdre. 2021. Personal Communication.
- Tyner, Judith. 2019. Women in American Cartography: An Invisible Social History. United States: Lexington Books.
- The Future Mapping Company. Women who shaped the world: Barbara Petchenik.