CMS.631 | Spring 2017 | Undergraduate
Data Storytelling Studio: Climate Change

Assignments

This page describes each of the homework assignments, listed by the session in which they are due. It also provides some suggested datasets for each sketch, and selected examples of student work from the 2017 and 2016 classes on some assignments and the final project. (While the 2016 version of the class wasn’t specifically focused on climate change, the sample works are good illustrations of overall goals of the assignments.)

See the syllabus Course Requirements section for more details on these assignments and grading criteria.

SES # HOMEWORK DESCRIPTIONS SUGGESTED DATASETS & SAMPLE STUDENT WORK
Finding and telling stories with data
1 No homework due  

2

Homework 1: Visualization blog

Write a post on the class blog about a data presentation you saw recently (250ish words). Include a link and a picture/screenshot of the presentation. Make sure to address:

  • what data is being shown
  • who you think the audience is
  • what you think the goals of the data presentation are
  • whether you think it is effective or not and why

 

3

Homework 2: Data log

Create an activity log of all the types of data you create and are captured in digital form during the course of one day, and enter it on the class blog.

 

4

Homework 3: Software installations

Download and install the following:

 
5

Homework 4: Tableau installation

 
6 No homework due  
Sketch 1: Charts and creative charts
7 No homework due

Suggested datasets:

Hubway data challenges: 2011-20132017

NYC tree census data: 2015 / 2005 / 1995

World Bank CO2 emissions: global or per country (ZIP) (This file contains: 2 .csv files.)

Or any other climate change-related dataset you are really excited about

8

Homework 5: Start Sketch 1

Come to class knowing what dataset you are working on, an outline of the story, and a sketch of what you want to make.

 

9

Homework 6: Sketch 1 finished, blog post

Finish your sketch.

Write up your project on the class blog. Start with a summary sentence in the form: “The data say ________. We want to tell this story because _____.” Include a 300ish word summary of your data sources and why what you made is an appropriate and effective way to tell the data story.

 
Sketch 2: Data sculptures
10 No homework due

Suggested datasets:

IPCC global temperature projections (2007) from various models (using these emissions scenarios, global average temperature in Kelvin)

Unofficial unverified air quality readings in Beijing from US State Department (judged via this standard scale)

Or the Hubway, NYC Tree, or CO2 emissions data from Sketch 1

11

Homework 7: Start Sketch 2

Start working on your idea for this sketch. Come to class with with:

  • The data you are going to use (remember to go data shopping!)
  • The audience you want to make something for (remember “general public” is an unacceptable audience!)
  • Good but not required: one abstract word in your data story that you need help representing in concrete ways (“inequality”, “hate”, “asylum”, etc.)

 

12

Homework 8: Sketch 2 finished, blog post

Finish your sketch.

Write up your project on the class blog. Start with a summary sentence in the form: “The data say ________. We want to tell this story because _____.” Include a sentence saying “Our audience is _______.” Include a 300ish word summary of your data sources and why what you made is an appropriate and effective way to tell the data story.

Sample student work: Data sculptures

Fireworks: Fun and Dangerous (2016)

Sketch 3: Personal stories

13

Homework 9: How to tell a story (The Moth)

Read Paige Williams, “How to tell a story: The Moth.” Nieman Storyboard (Harvard), August 2012. Choose and listen to one Moth Story. Write down and bring to class your analysis, as Paige Williams lists in her article’s item #3.

Fill in the class midterm survey.

Suggested datasets:

Pew Research Center. “Global Concern about Climate Change, Broad Support for Limiting Emissions.” 2015.

Compiled public input to the GoBoston2030 campaign [data not available for OCW]

Food for Free data on food scarcity and food rescue around Boston [data not available for OCW]

Or any dataset from a previous sketch

14

Homework 10: Start Sketch 3

Start working on your idea for this sketch, and bring into class: data, audience AND goals!

 
     

15

Homework 11: Sketch 3 finished, blog post

Finish your sketch.

Write up your project on the class blog. Include a short title for your project, and all your team member names. Start with a summary sentence in the form: “The data say ________. We want to tell this story because _____.” Include sentences saying “Our audience is _______.” and “Our goals are _______.” Include a 300ish word summary of your data sources and why what you made is an appropriate and effective way to tell the data story.

 
Sketch 4: Participatory data games
16 No homework due

Suggested datasets:

Hubway data: 2011-2013

Kyoto cherry blossom flowering dates: data and background

NSIDC Arctic sea ice coverage (CSV or GeoTIFF files)

Somerville MA tree data [data not available for OCW]

NYC tree data

US Fuel Economy measurements

17

Homework 12: Start Sketch 4

Start working on your idea for this sketch, and bring into class: data, audience AND goals!

 

18

Homework 13: Sketch 4 finished, blog post

Finish your sketch.

Write up your project on the class blog. Include a short title for your project, and all your team member names. Start with a summary sentence in the form: “The data say ________. We want to tell this story because _____.” Include sentences saying “Our audience is _______.” and “Our goals are _______.” Include a 300ish word summary of your data sources and why what you made is an appropriate and effective way to tell the data story.

Sample student work: Participatory data games

Donate by Playing: A Fundraising Board Game for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (2016)

How Much Do You Actually Know About Commuting In Boston? [Hubway experience quiz] (2016)

Sketch 5: Maps and creative maps

19

Homework 15: Map Somerville tree data

Use Tableau or CartoDB to make a map of the Somerville MA tree data

Watch the Tableau Basic Mapping Tutorial [9 min video] (requires Tableau registration)

Online Mapping for Beginners tutorials from CartoDb
 

Suggested datasets:

NSIDC Arctic sea ice coverage (CSV or GeoTIFF files)

Somerville MA tree data [data not available for OCW]

NYC tree data

2017 USDA bee colony data (PDF) by state (historical data too)

2015 NStar (now Eversource) gas leaks data, from HEET-MA

  • Leak definitions: 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 total volume of emissions.
20 Homework 16: Start Sketch 5

Start working on your idea for this sketch, and bring into class: data, audience, goals, and question.

 

21

Homework 17: Sketch 5 finished, blog post

Finish your sketch.

Write up your project on the class blog. Include a short title for your project, and all your team member names. Start with a summary sentence in the form: “The data say ________. We want to tell this story because _____.” Include sentences saying “Our audience is _______.” and “Our goals are _______.” Include a 300ish word summary of your data sources and why what you made is an appropriate and effective way to tell the data story.

 
Final project studio

22

Homework 18: Start final project

Read the final project requirements. Think about what topic, datasets, and output technique you want to explore for your final project. This could be building on one of the sketches you did before, or starting something new.

 

23

Homework 19: Begin group work

Meet with your group to better define your final project.

Come to class ready to tell me: the datasets you’re using, the audience(s) on which you are focused, the goals you have for that audience, and the main technique you want to use.

 
24

Homework 20: Testing and check-in

Continue working on your final project. Be prepared to present what you’ve got so far to me. Remember that you need to try it out with a few people in your target audience to test if you are accomplishing your goals.

 

25

Final project completed and presentation

Finish your final project.

Post your methodology, impact, and presentation slides (if any) as a post on the class blog.

Fill in the team-member assessment survey, one for each teammate.

Prepare a 5 minute presentation of your final project. This could be us playing the thing you made, a video of it in action, photos from using/showing it somewhere else, or something else. Include an introduction with short descriptions of your datasets, goals, audience. Be sure to summarize your impact findings.

Sample student work: Final projects

BeeSmart (2017)

Save the Bees (2017)

Affluent White Bostonians Unfairly Targeted by Stop and Frisk Practices…Mostly While Leaving SoulCycle (2016)

Course Info
Instructor
As Taught In
Spring 2017
Learning Resource Types
notes Lecture Notes
co_present Instructor Insights