US Flu Forecast: Exploring links between national and regional level seasonal characteristics

For the flu forecasting challenge ( participants are required to predict several flu season characteristics, at national and at regional levels (10 HHS regions). For some of the required quantities  such as peak percentage influenza-like illness (ILI), and total seasonal ILI count  one may argue that national level values have some relationship with the regional level ones. Or, in other words participants may be led to believe that national level statistics can be obtained from regional level ones.

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Super Tuesday Amazon Gift Card and Badge Merit Points Winners!

Winners 6/10/14

Congratulations, winners! The following SciCast forecasters won both a $25 Amazon Gift Card and badge merit points. Learn more.

Winners, please let us know your Twitter handle if you have one, and we’ll tweet to you directly when you win. Be sure to share your news with friends!


College Bowl Leaderboards June 10


Here are this week’s scores for the individuals with highest points. Scores are the actual gains on College Bowl questions that have already closed during the contest. Updated 6/10/14 at noon EDT.


User Name Score Team
sflicht 1764 Harvard University
ctwardy * 1203 George Mason University
dvasya 854 George Mason University
ted 528 Stanford University
jkominek 438 University of Colorado
Geoff 287 Oregon State University
Question Mark * 254 Duke University
yuan10 189 University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign)
HAL9000 115 University of California Berkeley
Beth81 111 George Mason University
MerrySeeker 109 California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech)
arjunr 86 University of Pennsylvania
MemberFDIC 63 George Mason University
witless 51 Stanford University
scotchval 49 Duke University
iconreforged 39 Duke University
peaigr 33 Stanford University
mollyb 27 George Mason University
Rylinks 24 Oregon State University
saurabh_02 22 Texas A&M University

*Not eligible to win.

Team Leaderboard

NOTE: Here are the top 20 Colleges represented in the College Bowl. So far, none have reached 50 participants. Don’t wait! Recruit some teammates today and win BIG! Reach out to your alumni groups and personal networks.

George Mason University
Duke University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech)
University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign)
Florida State University
Marquette University
Stanford University
University of California, Berkeley
Yale University
Dartmouth College
Michigan State University
Northwestern University
Oregon State University
University of California Berkeley
University of Michigan
University of Pennsylvania
University of Wisconsin
Virginia Tech
Arizona State University

Learn more about the College Bowl & participate!

Yesterday’s Super Tuesday Amazon Gift Card & Badge Merit Points Winners Announced!

Winners 6/3/14

Congratulations, winners! The following SciCast forecasters won both a $25 Amazon Gift Card and badge merit points. Learn more.

Winners, please let us know your Twitter handle if you have one, and we’ll tweet to you directly when you win. Be sure to share your news with friends!


Update to Extra Points Given

We recently increased everyone’s assets, giving users an extra 4000 points and we started out new users with 5000 points. Read about it here

SciCast is a research project and we appreciate the feedback of our users. See commentWe have changed the inner workings of the trading interface. The standard (safe mode) interface has been adjusted from using up to 4% of a user’s available points to up to 1% of his or her points. Now that we have 5x the starting points this is still a bit more of an effect with out overpowering the trade. This adjustment ensures a user can make more trades and be more involved in the market.

Sneak Peek: Sample Questions

The team is working very hard and we’re getting close to launch! We’re excited to share a sneak peek at some of the questions you will see…

Here’s an example:

What will the average arctic sea ice extent be for September 2014?

Some background: Passive microwave satellite data reveal that, since 1979, winter Arctic ice extent has decreased about 3 to 4 percent per decade. Arctic sea ice typically covers about 14 to 16 million square kilometers in late winter, and reaches a minimum of about 7 million square kilometers in mid-September.  However, recent minima have all been below 6 million square kilometers, with 2012 at only 3.4 million square kilometers.

And, another question:

What percent of managed honey bee colonies in the US will be lost during the 2013-2014 winter?

Some background: Estimates of winter loss for managed honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies are an important measure of honey bee health and productivity. Last year’s loss of bee colonies was 31.1% which is slightly higher than the previous 6-year average loss of 30.5 percent.

There will also be an opportunity to make forecasts in questions that are “linked” where the probability of something happening in one is affected by the other. For example, we’ll also ask:

How many billions of pounds of almond meat will be harvested in California in 2013?

This is linked to the previous question because almonds depend on bees for pollination; therefore bee colony health will affect agricultural yield, and may affect the amount of almonds harvested.

If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up at to be notified the week of December 2 when we launch. We’re also looking for people to help create and edit forecast questions! Send a note to if you have questions you’d like to see on the site.