Endangered Fruits

Presentation here

Team Members: Paul Choi, Miguel Garido, Yi Zeng, Margaret Tian

The data say that the bee population is rapidly declining and that bees are essential to the production of many of our favorite fruits and vegetables. We want to tell this story because we didn’t feel that reading research studies or news articles about the impact of fewer bees on agriculture would feel like a real, actionable problem to everyday people. Our overall goal was to educate people on how they as consumers will be directly affected, and make the problem more personal by relating the loss of bees to the loss of the shopper’s favorite fruit. This sketch only contains the case where a shopper selects watermelon, but we envision that the same process could be applied to many different fruits.

We used the bee data from the Bee Informed Partnership to tell our audience about how declining bee populations puts a lot of things at risk, including our favorite fruits. The target audience is grocery shoppers waiting in line to check out. Our sketch would appear in the form of an interactive touch screen display/quiz that shoppers could quickly navigate through.

The bee data show a drastic decline in bee populations in the past few years. Watermelon production data from the USDA shows that the Southeastern United States produces the majority of US watermelons. Dr. Claire Kremen, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, found that bees are responsible for up to 80% of pollination for a variety of fruits, so we knew that the large drops in bee population could result in significant drops in fruit production. Since fruits are an everyday product that our audience enjoys, we decided to use the title screen “your favorite fruit is in danger” to draw our audience in.
Maps played a central role in our interactive display. Our biggest issue was smoothly jumping from bee decline to watermelon decline while keeping our audience engaged the whole time. We decided to show bee decline for the entire US, before focusing on the Southeast to transition to watermelon decline, and zoomed back out to show why that fewer watermelons in the Southeast is a problem for all of us. The simple, concise facts combined with cute graphics hopefully make the interactive experience informational and fun.

Healthy Eating for Everyone

Team members: Margaret Tian, Tony Zeng, Kimberly Yu

Slides located here.

Many people in the US rely on food assistance programs (ex: SNAP) to meet their day to day needs – over half a million people are on SNAP in Massachusetts alone. SNAP recipients are given roughly $1.50 to spend on each meal, which means they often forego more expensive fresh produce. Programs such as Project Bread bridge the hunger gap by providing healthy, inexpensive food for people who are otherwise unable to afford it. We want to tell this story to raise awareness and support for Project Bread and related programs. Our audience is MIT students, most of whom are on the meal plan and are not usually aware of how privileged we are. We hope to display our slides on screens located in dorms with dining halls to catch students’ attention while they wait for eat. Our goals are to raise awareness about food insecurity and encourage MIT students to engage in activities that help end hunger in our local community such as participating in the Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger on May 7th, donating to Project Bread, and minimizing food waste when eating in MIT dining halls.

We used the Food for Free data source as well as Project Bread’s website to gather data about food insecurity in Massachusetts and Project Bread’s impact. To get an idea of what a typical meal for people on SNAP would be, we used a blog post written by a graduate student at Johns Hopkins who participated in the SNAP challenge. Ideally, we would gather more robust data on SNAP recipients’ diets. We couldn’t find data on how much Project Bread cost for one person, so we estimated it to be the same cost as providing SNAP (~$1.50/meal). 

By comparing a SNAP meal with a typical MIT dining meal, we hope to bring a more personal aspect to our message. Many MIT students are dissatisfied with dining, but by comparing the food content, amount, and cost, we clearly show how lucky we are and emphasize how important it is for people struggling with food insecurity to have easy access to healthy food. This emphasis is iterated through a quote from Project Bread about healthy food being a right that everyone should have access to. To put things into perspective, we also include a slide that gives context to the impact we can have. Finally, we end with a slide that calls MIT students to action and encourages them to join Project Bread’s Walk for Hunger on May 7th. The entire slideshow would be automated and play quickly enough that students in dining line would see the entire message.

Margaret’s Data Log: 2/13

The types of digital data collected throughout 2/13/17.

  • Location/travel: Facebook messenger’s location services track where my messages were sent from, and Uber receipts show that I traveled into Boston. MIT ID taps log when I entered my dorm and when I ate dinner in the dining hall
  • Health: Fitbit tracks my heart rate, active minutes, calories burned, steps walked, etc. It also registered my morning workout and categorized the type of exercise I did. The treadmill recorded my pace and distance.
  • Spending: Credit card data shows what I’ve spent (and it hints at what I ate). Venmo transactions record the payments I made for brunch
  • Email: timestamps stored in Gmail show when I was received/opened/responded to emails
  • Internet history: Chrome internet history remembers the web pages I visited
  • Text messages: texts record who I interacted and the plans I made with friends for the upcoming days
  • Calendar events: Google calendar stores my schedule for the day
  • Computer downloads: these reflect the homework/readings I downloaded during the day
  • Entertainment: iOS Game Center records when I opened mobile games and Spotify history shows when I listened to music (and what sort of mood I was in)

Lose it – Gauging Portion Sizes

With a new year comes new years resolutions, and my personal goal of eating healthy recently lead me to explore a new app called Lose it. One of its features gives users visuals of how large servings sizes are for various food groups. Like any other food-tracking app, you can enter in what you ate and how much you ate, but Lose it tries to help you gauge portion sizes with graphics like the one shown below.

Lose it appears to be marketed towards a younger, modern audience that wants to track their food consumption and lose weight. The app is filled with bright colors, sans-serif fonts, and motivational weight-loss phrases. The goal of the infographic, as well as the entire app, is to convince users that calorie-counting can be simple through Lose it. Remembering what items you’ve eaten in a day is hard enough, but knowing how many cups or grams of each food you consume is harder.

Lose it presents serving size data very effectively. Cups and grams are difficult for most people to gauge. I have seen various other attempts at visualizing serving sizes and few have been as effective as the ones in Lose it. Others generally compare food servings to lesser-known objects (ex: one bagel serving is the size of a hockey puck) which are still hard to understand. Lose it makes an effective presentation by using common objects (eggs, golf balls, baseballs) for comparison and including a picture of the food next to the object for reference. Combined with an easy-to-use UI, Lose it’s graphics make serving-counting much simpler.