Save the Bees: Final Project

By Almaha Almalki,  Autumn Jing,  Sean Soni, & Jingxian Zhang

Link to slides


We created an interactive US state map of foods that depend on bees.  As the user moves a slider, the year changes, and the map changes color to represent the amount of bee colonies left if bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) continues at its current rate.  Additionally, we display how food prices might change, given the amount of bee colonies remaining in a particular year.

We paired our interactive map with an informative display about CCD, as well as pre- and post-interaction surveys.  We then went to the Copley Farmer’s Market in Boston and tested our interactive with 11 subjects who were shopping at the farmer’s market.  Upon completion of the demo, each participant received a free packet of bee-friendly wildflower seeds, and was encouraged to donate or sign a petition to help save the bees.



We got our data from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), which publicizes data about bee colony numbers in the United States.  This data provided bee colony numbers by state over the last three years, as well as the estimated amount of money spent on bee pollination by state (the less wild bees, the more farmers must spend on pollination services).  We found that bee colony were rapidly and alarmingly decreasing.  In order to estimate the rate of decline of bee populations in each state, we calculated the average rate of decline in bee population for each state, and then used this average percent decrease to extrapolate over the entire period of our demonstration.  It should be noted that this is a rough estimate, and obviously other factors will influence bee population, and decline is unlikely to be by the same percentage amount every year.  Thus, we were careful to tell our participants that this data was calculated as if bee populations were to keep declining at the current rate.

While the colony decline calculation was relatively straightforward, we had more difficulty calculating the increase in food costs.  After much research on projected costs, we found no academic work that contained the data we were seeking.  Thus, we decided to extrapolate a prediction based on the dollar amount of bee pollination services used.  We found that the amount of money farmers spent on bee pollination services was increasing every year, and we thus calculated the average rate of increase for each food crop, and used these rates to predict the price increases.  This is a rough prediction at best, since other factors will play into food costs, and alternative pollination schemes are likely to emerge when food prices become high enough to make them economically viable.  Thus, we were careful to explain to our participants that these were projected prices, and the real prices could vary widely in the future.  

In order to build our demo, we calculated all of these rates of increase, placed this data into a spreadsheet, and then imported it into our Javascript application.  Aside from our simple calculations described above, there was no data cleaning to be done, as the data provided by the USDA was already in a very useable format.  By making simple calculations, we were able to turn this historical data into a story about the future.  By allowing participants to choose which fruits they personally enjoyed, and only have those appear on the map, we turned a large amount of impersonal data into a story about the participant, allowing them to become more engaged and relate to our story on a personal level.



While we were brainstorming about ideas for this project, we knew we wanted to tell a story using the bee data, and we knew we wanted to create a map.  We spent a long time considering different ways to tell this story, but ultimately decided that we wanted to target people shopping at farmer’s markets, since they were likely already predisposed to care about these issues.  With this target audience in mind, we decided to focus on the cost of produce, as this would be a very tangible thing to people who are in the process of spending money on produce.  With this audience in mind, we began to think about our goals.  Our ultimate goal was to help end CCD, and we came up with three concrete ways to make a contribution.  First, we would ask participants to sign a petition to ban neonicotinoid pesticides, second we would ask them to donate to Save the Bees, and finally we would give them bee-friendly wildflower seeds to plant.  We also hoped to have them think about CCD over the long-term, and share this information with their friends.

In order to gauge the effectiveness of our visualization, we implemented a pre-demo and post-demo survey on the iPad, and also asked a series of verbal questions.  The iPad survey asked the participants to rank three issues (CCD, climate change, and urbanization) in order of least threatening to most threatening to our food supply.  The verbal questions at the end of the demonstration asked how likely the participants were to buy organic, plant the seeds, and tell their friends about CCD.  

The iPad survey was not as successful as we would have liked, with the majority of participants not changing their answers and consistently ranking CCD second.  Some participants ranked CCD as the most threatening issue on the pre-demo survey, most likely in an attempt to placate us (one person told us as much).  Thus, when they did the same on the post-demo survey, it was difficult to gauge if their perception had changed.  Overall, we found that most people had strong pre-existing beliefs about these issues, and our audience was in general well-educated and knowledgeable about these issues (3 of our 11 participants happened to be MIT graduates).  We found that the mention of climate change in the survey tended to derail the conversation, as many participants had strong views about climate change.  In the future, we would alter this portion of the survey.

The verbal interview questions were much more effective, and here we got our greatest source of feedback.  The first person we spoke with was, by pure coincidence, an amateur beekeeper, and his feedback was especially valuable.  He loved our idea, but said he wanted to see more information on CCD available to our audience, beyond the facts we presented.  Indeed, this desire was expressed by others, so in future iterations we would bring along informative brochures we could hand out.  Other participants noted that they already shopped organic, some exclusively.  Almost all of them said they would plant the seeds, and most seemed excited about it.  When asked if they would share information about CCD with friends, most took it as a suggestion and nonchalantly acquiesced, as if we were making a request rather than an inquiry.  Overall, we received very positive feedback, and with a few tweaks, we believe this could be a viable project on a large scale that could make a significant difference in helping combat CCD.

The Road to Paris

Ashley Wang, Brandon Levy, Kevin Zhang, Nina Lutz, & Nikki Waghani

Link to slides:

Link to web site:


Transportation is currently the second largest contributor to emissions, just behind electricity generation. Our primary goal is to reduce emissions by targeting commuters, and specifically those who drive to work. We want to show them the impact they can have by choosing a greener ride to work. We specifically sent out our web page to communities on Facebook and Reddit that are already inclined to care about climate change but might not be convinced that they can help. We aim to help them better understand the magnitude of the problem, convince them their actions can make a difference, and then show them how they can reasonably adjust their commute to contribute to our goal. In addition, we assume they are busy people so we aim to provide them with practical solutions they can actually implement. To do this we look at each individual’s commute and give concrete, specific options on how they can make it greener.

We would also like to inspire a grassroots effort to combat climate change in the face of lacking government leadership. Progress was made when the United Nations came together to draft the Paris Agreement in 2016 and it looked like the world had stepped up to the challenge of fighting climate change. However, with the recent administration change in the United States, it is possible that America will pull out of the Paris Agreement, making it important to educate and inspire Americans to act green regardless of what the government decides to do.

To evaluate how well our webpage accomplished our goals, we tracked how many users clicked on the petition link at the end. This data was collected from posting on the March for Science facebook page, reddit (r/climate and r/environment), and sending out the link to friends and family.

In total, 92 individuals accessed our web page and 13 of them (14%) clicked on the petition link at the end. Seeing as our target audience is already primed to care about this issue, this result could be viewed in one of two ways. It’s possible they already signed this petition or a similar one and so did not feel the need to sign this petition. Alternatively, it might suggest that our site was not effective in discussing the importance of the Paris Agreement, although user responses to other questions would suggest this isn’t the case.

We also asked users to complete a short post-survey. 31 users (34%) completed the post-survey. 13% of these individuals said our page made them “much more concerned” about climate change and 20% said that our page made them “slightly more concerned,” whereas 67% were “equally concerned” afterwards. The fact that our site was able to increase users’ concern at all is a solid accomplishment given that this audience is already primed to care about the issue.

Moreover, 13% said that they are “very likely” to change the way they commute after going through our web page, compared to 33% who said they are “slightly likely” and 54% who said they are “not at all likely.” Given that altering one’s commute can be a significant change to an ingrained routine and some of our respondents likely already take public transportation, bike, or walk to work, these results are encouraging.

85% of respondents said we should stay in the Paris Agreement, 10% said they weren’t sure, and 5% said we should not. Since our audience is already primed to care about global climate change, this is a bit disappointing. We seem to not have made a strong enough case for the importance of the US keeping its Paris commitments, since doing so should have been a really easy sell to our target audience. On the other hand, in reality, very few people said “not sure” or “no,” so perhaps these were people were outliers.

Finally, 52% of respondents said they think individual transportation choices can have a “big impact” on US greenhouse gas emissions, while 45% said “some impact” and 3% said “no impact.” Although it’s unclear whether our site caused these feelings of personal power, the numbers are still a great sign, since encouraging people to think their individual actions matter was the primary goal of our site. Even if they don’t change their commute, these people may institute other changes that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


The arc of our story begins with an introduction that establishes the planet is warming and quantifies how much warming has occurred over the past 130 years using data from NASA’s Goddard Institution for Space Studies. Next, we have an interactive that asks the user to project how much the Earth will warm if we continue emitting greenhouse gases at our current rate. After they make their guess, we show scientists’ actual prediction under the business-as-usual scenario and detail some of the effects of such a large amount of warming, including rising sea levels and more severe storms. Then on the same graph where users make their predictions, we display what will happen to temperatures if the Paris Climate goals are met. The numbers for both scenarios are drawn from global temperature projections supplied by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This portion of our web page concludes with a brief explanation of the Paris agreement.

The second part of our web page begins with a bubble chart that shows the carbon footprint of the United States in 2005 and what the US’s footprint will need to shrink to by 2025 in order to meet its commitment under the Paris agreement. Next to this chart, we display the five sectors of the economy that contribute to American greenhouse emissions and invite the user to increase or decrease them to see how much a change to each sector would affect US emissions. Data concerning the United States’ annual greenhouse gas emissions came from the World Bank, and numbers for the contribution of various sectors of the economy to US emissions came from the US Environmental Protection Agency. We conclude this section by informing the user that transportation is the second largest contributor to emissions in the US economy, just behind electricity generation.

The third section of our web page begins with an invitation to help the US meet its Paris commitment by changing the way the user commutes. This section features an interactive that informs the user about how fuel efficient their car is. Our page displays five cars, one in each quintile of fuel efficiency. We then ask the user what kind of car they drive and ask him or her to drag their car to a place on the scale from most fuel-efficient to least fuel-efficient. To do this, we utilize data on the fuel efficiencies of different passenger vehicles from the US Department of Energy.

The final section features an interactive that recommends changes to the user’s commute based on its length and how they currently get to and from work (by car, bus, or bike). We utilize the Google Maps API to calculate the length of the user’s commute, which is then used to determine the amount of carbon the user would produce by commuting by car, bus, and bike using numbers from the European Cyclists’ Federation. We also used that API to determine whether taking the bus or biking is an option for the user. We only recommend taking the bus as an option if it there is a bus route and it would reduce the carbon footprint of the user’s commute (since the bus route may be significantly longer than a direct route via car). Similarly, biking is only recommended if the user’s commuting distance is less than two kilmometers. In all cases, we also recommend carpooling or purchasing a more fuel efficient car as ways to “green” the user’s commute.


Team Members: Erick Fritz, Krithi Chandrakasan, Aina Martinez Zurita, Sam Resnick

Link to Video:


The USDA has been collecting data on the US honey bee population for the past several decades.  It has been tracking the population of bees per state, the productivity per hive, and the price of honey.  This data is available on the website in .txt form with a different page for each year.  We cleaned it by grouping all the years together in one .csv file with columns according to: State, Colonies, YieldPColony, Production, StocksPricePound, ValueProduction, Year.

Upon first looking at the data there seemed to be random fluctuations in state’s honey bee population, except for one state, which consistently grew until it far surpassed all the others in honey productivity.  This state is North Dakota.  As soon as we saw this we became interested.  Why did this state that is so rarely on our radar have such a significant growth in honey bee population relative to all the others?  We started to do some additional research and began to see articles by beekeepers and conservationists saying that “North Dakota was the last best place to keep bees in America.” We found out that this is because the honey bee’s habitat has largely been destroyed across the rest of the country as prairies have been converted to farmland to product high yield cash crops. This loss of habitat due to farming and pesticide use has been given the name colony collapse disorder.  Even North Dakota is not safe from this epidemic, however, and its own prairies are starting to shrink, seriously endangering the last of the American honey bee population.  These prairies were once protected by the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which protected natural grassland across the midwest, but as farmers learned that they could make more money by planting crops, the CRP has been slowly pushed back.  There are several organizations working to sponsor the planting of wildflowers instead of cash crops in farm fields as well as encourage advocacy at the national level.  Pheasants Forever is one of these organizations that operates in North Dakota, and is encouraging conservationists to sign a petition to expand the CRP this coming year.  This organization is intending to spread across six other states in the midwest in the next year to help preserve the honey bees habitat.  This issue is not only a matter of habitat preservation.  Since the honeybee is responsible for pollinating most of America’s crops, the security of our food source is at stake.  This is an issue that affects every single person living in America today, and that is why we need to tell the bee’s story.

This story is about a large scale issue that affects the entire US population, across all states, but it has its roots at a small scale level.  Because of this, we determined that our story lent itself well to a zooming in, zooming out approach – similar to The Powers of Ten by Ray and Charles Eames.  Additionally, the story has a central geographic theme since it is about the role of a single state in the welfare of the entire country.  We therefore decided to tell our story by starting with a wide lens looking at the US bee population changes over the past few decades, then zooming in on North Dakota as an anomaly.  We zoomed into a specific town, with a specific apiary, owned by a specific beekeeper, and took a look at a single hive of bees as we explained his story.  We then started to zoom out as we told the reasons for the delicacy of the bee’s situation and how grave the problem could become.  As we approached our initial viewing point, we left the viewer with a positive message knowing that they could help by signing this petition.  The viewer finds him/herself in the same position as they started in but now with a deeper knowledge of a complex problem that affects them directly and with a resource at their fingertips through which to help the cause.  


There were a few short term goals we had for this data story. First and foremost, we wanted to educate our audience on bee colony collapse and provide them with a new perspective on the issue. In addition we wanted them to understand that bees are one of the largest factors that impact our food security. As an immediate action step we hope that this video will motivate them to buy honey. In the medium term we hope that viewers will sign the petition. Finally, in the long term we hope that viewers will become strong supporters of legislation that preserves habitat.

For this data story we target young Americans both in and out of the midwest who are interested in conservation and are active on social media. While narratives like this one are often targeted at the more liberal community our story aims to cut across party lines. The organization Pheasants Forever which we promote within the story has bipartisan support, as many conservative hunters support the organization because it helps conservation and allows them to hunt pheasants.
In order to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of our data story we showed the video to farmers market patrons, beekeepers, and a North Dakota resident. We framed the start of the video with questions asking what the viewer thought was the most important factor that affects food production and which state the most honey bees live in. As a follow up to the video we asked if their answer to the first question had changed, if they had learned anything new about honey bees, and if they would be more willing to sign the petition supporting CRP(detailed Q&A given below). We then gave viewers a small strip of paper with the link to the CRP petition which served as the call to action.
Based on the results of our user testing it was clear that our short term goals were met. Most of the participants had predicted crop disease was the most important factor for food production, however after watching the video all but one participant changed their answer to bee colony collapse. Additionally, after watching the video it was clear that they had gained new perspective on the plight and importance of the honey bees and learned where geographically the problem was taking place. We also met our medium term goals, as all participants seemed very excited to receive the slip with information and said they would sign the petition when they had a chance. Finally, based on our user testing it is too early to know if we met our long term goal, however the positive responses we received are a good sign that viewers will care more about legislation preserving habitat in the future.
Overall, we believe that our data story addresses the very important topic of bee colony collapse with a powerful narrative, and both educates and motivates viewers to take action to help solve the problem.

Before questions:

  1. Which of these factors do you think affects food production the most?
  • Drought
  • Bee colony collapse
  • Global population increase
  • Crop diseases
  • GMO
  1. Where do you think most honeybees in the US live? (Select state)

After questions:

  1. After watching this video, does your answer to question n.1 change?
  • Drought
  • Bee colony collapse
  • Global population increase
  • Crop diseases
  • GMO
  1. Did you learn something new about honeybees in America?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. After watching this video, if someone asked you to sign the petition would you be more willing to do so?
  • Yes
  • No

 Person 1: Middle aged man, a tender at one of the stalls.

  1. Crop Diseases.
  2. Arizona
  3. Same answers, still crop diseases.
  4. Yes
  5. Yes

Person 2: Young girl

  1. Bee colony collapse
  2. California
  3. Same answer, bee colony collapse.
  4. Yes, specially commenting that she didn’t know about North Dakota.
  5. Yes, I would already have, but certainly would sign it after seeing the video.

Person 3: Young girl

  1. Bee colony collapse
  2. Texas
  3. Same answer as 1.
  4. Yes, commenting as well about the fact that they didn’t know about ND.
  5. Yes.

Person 4: Young girl(Friends with Person 3)

  1. Crop disease
  2. (Where is somewhere warm…)Florida
  3. Yes, bees.
  4. Yes, commenting they didn’t know about ND.
  5. Yes

Person 5: Man, middle aged.

  1. Crop disease
  2. California
  3. “Well, after seeing this video, clearly the bees are important”
  4. Yes, commenting they didn’t know about ND.
  5. Yes, however commented that “they doubt it would have any impact”

The Arctic Ice Project

The Arctic Ice Project

by Aina Martinez Zurita / Christian Feld / Kevin Zhang / Lawrence Sun

We worked with the “Multisensor Analyzed Sea Ice Extent – Northern Hemisphere” data set. The data shows that the ice cover is in the shrinking over time. We want to tell the story of what consequences this might have for the animals living in the Northern Hemisphere and for our own lives.


The data not only provides the numbers of the ice extent but also the shape and location of the ice. We want our audience to see the world through the eyes of the animals living there: with the ice melting, their habitat gets smaller and smaller. In our map project we want to transfer this experience to a person living in the U.S.


The core of our project is a two-part map which simultaneously portrays the extent of the Arctic sea ice (right) and a standard map where everything is blacked out except a circle which represents the regions you can reach. The circle has the same area as the sea ice extent and is centered around a location that the viewer can determine. The default location is where the viewer currently is.


The slider below the map allows the viewer to change the year and visualize what it would be like to have their living space melting away each year. In a next iteration of the project, we would show notifications as landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty melt away. Furthermore, to get a second layer of reading and dig more into the data, there is a graph below the maps, which show the increase of CO2 emissions over time.


We see our project as part of a museum exhibition on climate change. The map is adjacent to related exhibits which display the impact of CO2 on the climate. We want to target people that care about the environment and are looking for concrete ways for getting involved. After exploring the map, we direct them to take action by calling their elected officials and oppose H.R. 861: To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency.


We believe that our double map is an effective tool for bringing the abstract idea of “melting sea ice” closer to the viewer, transferring something far away at the North Pole into the viewer’s own geographic region.

Save the Bees!

By Sean Soni, Almaha Almalki, Jingxian Zhang, Autumn Jing

The data say that the number of bee colonies in the United States has been rapidly declining over the last decade.  We want to tell this story because bees are the main pollinator of many of our favorite fruits and vegetables, and without bees we could lose these foods forever.  Thus we have created an interactive display for farmer’s markets which shows customers how the price of their purchase would change as the number of bee colonies decline.  When customers check out, their receipt has a QR code that they can take to a kiosk and scan, with the promise of a free packet of seeds as in incentive.  At the kiosk, they can interact with a map of where their produce comes from.  As they slide a slider to manipulate the number of bee colonies, the density of the produce on the map increases or decreases, and the price they would have paid for today’s produce increases or decreases as well.  After the demo is complete, a free packet of local, bee-friendly seeds is dispensed, and the customer is presented with the opportunity to sign a petition to ban bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides, as well as donate to Save the Bees, an organization studying Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).  Our data is sourced from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, and we used historical changes in food prices due to the cost of beehive rental to extrapolate how food prices might change in the future.  Although this data is subjective, the exact numbers aren’t as important as the final number:  With zero bees, several fruits and vegetables will cease to be available, no matter how much one is willing to pay.
Our audience is any customer shopping at the farmer’s market.  We believe that these customers are already more aware about their food sources than the average consumer, and are more likely to support our cause.  In addition, implementing our demonstration at a farmer’s market rather than a grocery store allows us to target our message at people who are mainly buying produce, increasing its relevance.  We believe our method is effective because people are more likely to be engaged by the interactive nature of our display, and giving out free seeds encourages people to reciprocate with their support.  Our goals are to help end CCD by raising money to research and prevent this disorder, as well as to garner enough signatures for a petition to Congress to ban neonicotinoid pesticides, which scientists believe are a major contributor to CCD.

Make Bees Great Again!

Team Members: Erick Friis, Krithi Chandrakasan, Sam Resnick, Willy Zhu

The USDA bee colony datasets show an alarming decrease in honey production by state between the years 2000 and 2016. The one exception to this trend is North Dakota, which remains the final safe haven for bees.  However, due to destruction of habitat through increased pesticide use and decrease in conservation efforts, this last home for the American honey bee is being destroyed. We want to tell this story to make people aware of North Dakota’s importance in sustaining the US bee population and the serious threats that lack of preservation legislation poses to these bees.

For our creative data map project we used the power of ten visualization technique to show both the drop in honey bee production and the loss in grassland that is contributing to the demise of the bees. The map initially shows how honey production varies by state over time at the largest scale(showing the whole US). The visualization then descends downward focusing in on North Dakota followed by a specific region in the state, a specific apiary in the region, and finally down to a specific hive in the apiary.  The story narrows down on one bee keeper, Zac Browning and allows the audience to hear his own personal story to gain a grounded, personal point of view on this otherwise large and expansive story. The visualization then quickly reverses direction and the field of view expands outward showing the rapid decrease in grassland in North Dakota and comes to rest after it has panned back to the original starting point. This positive, human interest story narrows down to a personal level while zooming in, then creates a negative, warning story that blows up again to the macroscopic scale.  At the end you are at the same place as in the beginning, but you are left with a new perspective and hopefully the motivation to help preserve grassland and habitat by signing a petition.

Our target audience for this sketch is Americans who want to understand the dynamics of the decline in bee population. This visualization would be particularly effective if it was embedded in a news story on the bee crisis. People who live in North Dakota and other Midwestern states may be more aware of the problem of loss of habitat than people who live in other parts of the country.  Most people have heard the story that we are loosing bees at an alarming rate many times.  This story does not just state this again, rather it gives the reason why and gives people a concrete way to help.  For local North Dakotans the story has a personal “what’s going on in my backyard” nature, and for the rest of Americans, the story educates them  on where this problem is occurring, why it is occurring, and how they can help.

Put simply, our goals for this project are to educate viewers on both the scale of this problem and the forces that are driving it, as well as to motivate them to advocate for solutions. We accomplish the first goal with the use of the power of ten technique. We are able to tell two complementary stories, the first showing the scale of this problem over time and the second showing the direct relation between the problem and the underlying cause. We accomplish the second goal with our call to action, giving viewers instructions and a direct link to support legislation that protects grassland and habitat for American Wildlife like the honey bee.

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.

Buzz About Bees

Sharlene Chiu, Tricia Shi and Zachary Collins

The data says that bees are dying and colonies in many areas are declining in size. We wanted to tell this story because we believe that, although many people know bee populations have been declining, they are unaware of what they can do to help stop it.

Our audience are flower shoppers. Many varieties of flowers offer a means for bees to collect the nectar they use as an energy source. Some can be more impactful than others, allowing bees to gather nectar more easily. People who are already thinking of planting flowers can make decisions that could have an impact on bee populations in their area.

Our goals are to have them understand the problems bees are facing, recognize that planting flowers can help and aid them in picking flowers that both grow well in their area and easily allow bees to collect the nectar they need to survive.

Our sketch is an interactive display that can help localize the problem to the individual. The flow works as follows. We would set up the display in a supermarket / plant nursery / flower shop with an opening display that consists of “Did You Know” bee facts and a clickable map that invites individuals to learn more about bees in their state. Upon clicking they’ll be presented with information about the good bees do for them in their state – plants they help pollinate, honey they produce. Then it will transition to damage being done to bees – Both locally and nationally. This highlights the problem at hand and localizes it to where the individual is from. We present facts like how many colonies have declined over the past year and that bumblebees have recently been placed on the endangered species list. We will then pose that planting particular flowers can help bee populations. Then, we would allow the user to select between different flowers, pulling up a map of what counties in the state these flowers grow well in. Finally, it provides a link where one can learn more information about the problems bees are facing.

Our sketch takes a national problem and localizes to the area the individual is from. It demonstrates a simple way they can help through a platform that is very inviting and easy to use. We attempt to help them understand the existence of the bee decline and point them in the direction toward flowers that can help bees successfully collect the nectar they need. Since they are probably already thinking of purchasing flowers, showing them which kinds help could sway their decisions.

The map display we utilize is important in allowing us to get our message across. We want to provide the buyer information about what grows well in and around their local area. We present the flowers in a checkout guide manner – allowing them to select between them and see pictures of what the fully grown version looks like. Without the bees in mind, this could already be effective in helping them pick out what flowers they like. Giving them options among the kinds that help bees the most pushes them toward making a decision that could influence populations in their area. Placing it on a map familiar to them allows them to compare the locations in which they grow effectively and couldn’t easily be replicated using another form.





Take Action Against Gas Leaks in Your Town!

by Mikayla Murphy, Divya Goel, Tina Quach, Brandon Levy

The data say that natural gas leaks are a problem throughout Massachusetts, and it can take Eversource (formerly called NStar), the utility company for 51 of the state’s towns, as long as several months to fix them from the day they’re reported.  We want to tell this story because gas leaks are a big problem with major environmental, economic, and public health consequences, and we want to motivate Massachusetts residents to take action to improve their lives and local community and develop a habit of practicing civil engagement.

Our audience is environmentally conscious adults living in Massachusetts towns where the natural gas is supplied by Eversource. Our goal is to inform these residents about gas leaks in and around their hometowns so that they can judge whether the leaks are being addressed effectively and, if not, demand that Eversource address gas leaks with greater urgency. By addressing leaks as soon as possible, we can reduce their many negative impacts.

We drew our data from NStar gas leak data, which lists gas leaks, the date of report, the date of repair, the gas leak location, and the grade, a rating of the potential danger*. We’ve presented this data through an interactive website module (see mockup here) meant to be shared through climate change and gas leak response advocacy groups in the Massachusetts Area (such as Mothers Out Front). The module

    • prompts the audience for the town they live in
    • presents information regarding why they should care about gas leaks
    • raises questions about how well gas leaks in their hometown are managed by Eversource (How many gas leaks were reported in my town compared to other towns? How long did it take before the gas leaks were repaired? How does my town compare to the towns near me and to the state as a whole?)
    • answers these questions through informative data visualizations
    • asks audience to voice their concerns to local government and energy providers through social media and direct email and/or phone communication



We made 3 visualizations. The first visualizes the total number of gas leaks that each town reported in a choropleth map centered on the user’s specific town and allows him or her to compare the number of gas leaks to that of the surrounding towns (normalized by population). The second is a choropleth map to visualize the average time from report to repair for each town, where darker colors correspond to longer times to repair. We use the color red to convey the urgency and alarm that should be associated with the need to respond to gas leaks. Once again, the audience can easily compare its town to other towns and realize that there is a need to push for faster responses to gas leaks. We emphasize this through our third visualization: a number line plotting where the town lies in relation to other towns and the state as a whole in a more explicitly quantitative way. Our module is effective overall because it conveys information in a visual manner that is easily understood and makes comparison easy. It also uses the target audience’s environmentally conscious attitudes and town pride to motivate them to take action.


Grade 1 is in a contained space and so considered potentially explosive.  Grade 2 is near a foundation and so must be watched.  Grade 3 is everything else no matter how big the amount of gas leaking from the pipe, so low-priority Grade 3 leaks could potentially emit large amounts of gas before they’re fixed.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Ashley Wang, Kimberly Yu, Margaret Yu

The data say that honey consumption in the U.S. is increasing, but the yield per bee colony is declining in the U.S. We want to tell this story because bees are very important for the pollination of approximately one third of the United States’ crop species, including a variety of fruits and nuts. Given the inversely proportional relationship between honey consumption and yield per bee colony and the phenomenon of colony collapse disorder, beekeepers should be well-informed of the situation of bee colonies in their state. Our audience is potential hobbyist beekeepers. Our goals are to provide beekeepers with information about trends in yield per colony in their state as well as resources for becoming a beekeeper.

We looked at USDA datasets from the years 2000 – 2016 as well as the winter loss rate from the years 2007 – 2016 and yearly honey consumption data from the USDA. From the winter loss rate data, we see that the number of bee colonies is decreasing at higher rates.

We used Tableau to create a time series of the yield per bee colony in the United States between the years 2000 – 2016. The hex tiles represent the honeycomb constructed by bees, and each hex tile corresponds to a U.S. state. The golden-yellow hues represent the amount of honey and the yield per bee colony. The darker the hue, the higher the yield.

Presenting the data as a time series using hex-tile maps provides the audience, potential hobbyist beekeepers, with relevant information on how productive/healthy bee colonies are in different states.

Clicking on a state will reveal more detailed statistics on metrics such as production, stocks, and average price per pound as well as resources such as links to websites for beekeepers in a specific state and general beekeeping resources. We included this user interaction because we feel that potential hobbyist beekeepers could benefit greatly from learning about the details of beekeeping within a specific state.

National Honey Bee Day (the third Saturday of August) would be a promotional day where Amazon would display the slides on their website and have a sale on bee starter kits, and grocery stores can set up a special booth selling honey and bee starter kits as well as displaying screens with the slides.