Impact of “What Should You Eat?”

Team Members: Gary Burnett, Jane Coffrin, and Michelle Thomas

Check Out Our Presentation Here

One fourth of produce is wasted before it reaches a grocery store due to visual imperfections. Meanwhile, 11.4% percent of households in Massachusetts are food insecure. And the food they have the hardest time providing for their families? Fruits and vegetables. Organizations like Food for Free and Boston Area Gleaners help to rescue this ugly produce and get it to households who need it. Recently, Whole Foods joined the cause and has started selling ugly produce in some California stores, if sales go well they will sell ugly produce in all locations. Many people don’t know about the existence of ugly produce and the waste that goes along with it. We want to raise awareness, as well as encourage the participation and sale of ugly produce through changing the stigma around it.

We created a custom 52-card deck to expose the high visual standards for produce given by the USDA. With this deck, we are targeting families with children. The deck includes instructions for 3 games that can be used with the cards. Memory, Go Fish, and Spoons were selected because they appeal to a larger age range of children as well as a matching as the component. Through testing we found that teenagers care less about the visual appearance of their produce than the adults in their lives. Children tend to grab the first apple they see, whereas their parents will sort through a pile of apples to find the most visually appealing one.

We started by showing our initial sketch (just a memory game) to Sam Liberty from the Emerson Game Lab. He suggested that we eliminate the factual text from the cards, as people are unlikely to read it while playing, and that we add the option to play other matching based games such as Go Fish and Rummy. From his suggestions we removed the text, only leaving the name of the fruit or vegetable on the card. We also increased the number of cards we had from 16 (8 pairs) to a full deck of cards 52 (13 sets of 4) providing one visually perfect item and 3 variations of its ugly counterparts. After we made these changes we met with the Green Team, a group of high schoolers, from Groundwork Somerville. We played Memory, Go Fish, and Spoons with them. Spoons was by far the favorite for these students, they enjoyed both playing and cheering their group members on once they had been eliminated.  After playing with them, we found that: they liked the labels, they wanted a clearer distinction between the “perfect” produce and the “ugly” produce, and they wanted more information on how they could help. All of the students were surprised to learn that 26% percent of produce is wasted just do to visual appearance. From their comments, we have decided to include extra cards that provide more information such as facts and how they can help as well as added a golden border to distinguish the perfect and ugly produce.


Methodology Behind “What Should You Eat?”

Team Members: Gary Burnett, Jane Coffrin, and Michelle Thomas

Check Out Our Presentation Here

We decided to look into the Food for Free data that was provided to the class. None of us had used this data set for previous projects, so we didn’t know what to expect. After looking through the data we found that 1 in 9 people in Massachusetts are food insecure. We also noticed that while the majority of the comments collected were thanking Food For Free for providing fresh produce, it was the only item that the organization had to spend money purchasing rather than receiving enough in donations. So, we turned to the internet to learn about food insecurity and find a story. From searches, we found learned about ugly produce. Ugly produce are fruits and vegetables with visual imperfections that taste the same, but are not sold in many grocery stores due to appearance. The reality is, one fourth of produce is wasted before it even reaches the store. Most of this waste is due to visual imperfections. In fact, according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 52% of all produce is wasted in North America. With all this food waste, you’d think everyone was getting the produce that they need, but according to the Food for Free data, produce is the number one needed and desired food for those who receive donations. Groups like Boston Area Gleaners and Food for Free are rescuing ugly produce and getting it to those who are food insecure.

Most people are unaware of both the amount of produce wasted and the existence of ugly fruits and vegetables. We wanted to tell a story to encourage the sale and purchase of ugly produce. Who decides what qualifies as ugly produce? It turns out the USDA offers Grade Standards for produce based on visual appearance. While these standards are just guidelines, they have been closely followed by the grocery stores who hold the produce they purchase to these high standards. We sorted through the visual guidelines for fruits and vegetables and selected the standards that were only cosmetic (and wouldn’t impact health if consumed). For example, tomatoes with green on them have the potential to be harmful if consumed and aren’t just visually less appealing.

Recently, Whole Foods has started selling ugly produce in some of its California stores at discounted rates (source). If it is successful in California they will start selling ugly produce at all their stores. Knowing Whole Foods was trying to start selling ugly produce, we decided to pretend we were Whole Foods and make an interactive game that could be used and given away at EarthFest. EarthFest is a concert festival in Boston to promote reducing the environmental impact, it is put on by the 92.9 radio station and Whole Foods. We would set up by the Kids Planet stage in order to reach our target audience of families with children (6-18). In making the game we used the USDA visual guidelines to depict food that is grade “U.S. Fancy”, or the highest visual standard, and have kids match them up to food that is graded not fit to sell.


Ending Veteran Homelessness

Team Members: Aneesh Agrawal, Reem Alfaiz, Jane Coffrin, and Michelle Thomas

The data say that in 2015 there were more than 47,000 homeless veterans across the United States. And while this number has decreased from the more than 78,000 homeless veterans in 2007, more needs to be done to end homelessness for our veterans. We want to tell this story because we value the service of these veterans have provided for our country and we want to continue to encourage decreasing the number of homeless veterans by asking for support from states and cities to help get these veterans out of shelters and streets by providing the support they need to find permanent housing.

Our audience is the citizens of the United States who care about our veterans and want to make an impact on their local communities. We will focus on reaching this audience through social media. Our goals are:

1. To praise City Mayors for joining the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness

2. To encourage Mayors, that haven’t already, to join Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness

3.To bring awareness to the number of Homeless Veterans within a viewer’s state.

In 2010 the Obama Administration released Opening Doors, the nation’s first strategic and aggressive plan to prevent and ultimately end homelessness. One of goals was to end veteran homelessness by 2015. In an effort to call officials into action, First Lady Michelle Obama issued the mayors challenge to end veteran homelessness which calls on mayors across the country to pledge to take steps towards the 2015 goal. Since 2010 the number of homeless veterans in the United States has decreased every year, but with more than 47,000 homeless veterans in 2015 there is a ways to go before veteran homelessness will end. We believe that more needs to be done to help end Veteran Homelessness. Although over 600 mayors have joined the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, we hope to continue to get more Mayors onboard to help eliminate veteran homelessness.

We used a map to show the number of Homeless Veterans per Capita in each state from 2007 to 2015. We think that this aligns with reality: veteran homelessness has been reduced since 2007, but there is still more work to be done. Our map is color coded by percentage of Homeless Veterans per Capita from the HUD Homelessness Data and Yearly State Population Estimates. It is also interactive and allows the user to scroll through time (from 2007 to 2015) as well investigate their own state via drop down menu to learn more about homeless veterans in their state. From there they are able to see the list of Mayors for the selected state that have already joined the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. If their Mayor is on the list, great! The user will be prompted to send their Mayor a pre-written thank you note for Joining the Challenge. If their Mayor is not on the list, the user will be prompted to send a pre-written letter encouraging their Mayor to pledge to end veteran homelessness.

You can check out the website here.

Our data sources were:

  1. HUD Homelessness Data → 2007-2015 Point-in-Time Estimates by State
  2. 2000-2010 Vintage State Population Estimates
  3. 2011-2014 Vintage State Population Estimates
  4. 2015 Vintage State Population Estimate

Explore Hubway

Michelle Thomas, Katie Marlowe, and Jane Coffrin

The data say that people are most frequently using Hubway on weekdays and that some stops are more utilized than others, such as South Station and MIT at Mass Ave.  We want to tell this story because if more people take advantage of what Hubway has to offer, it can lead to enjoyment, health benefits and environmental benefits . Our audience is existing Hubway users and encouraging new users to join (specifically targeting those who are college age). We use the data about their trips to encourage them to take more trips. Our goals are to encourage Hubway Riders to explore Boston and use Hubway on the weekends as well as for their daily commutes.

Our data comes from, and includes every trip taken through 2013. When we looked through the data, we saw that there were many more trips on weekdays than there were on weekends. From that we gathered that there are many people using Hubway for their daily commute to/from work or school, but they aren’t using it as much for other activities such as exploring a new neighborhood. The data also told us that there are many stations that are very heavily used and had 15,000 or more trips ending at them, whereas some stations were used very little and had less than 1,000 trips ending at them. From this we decided on a goal of encouraging Hubway riders to utilize Hubway for more exploration of Boston, which comes from incentivizing them to use Hubway for reasons outside of their daily commute.


We decided to create a concept for a mobile phone application that users would get for free with their purchase of a Hubway membership. The application, Explore Hubway, links to users’ accounts, and tracks the information about their rides. The features of the application include:

Social Networking: The application includes a social networking aspect, allowing users to see what their friends are doing. This serves as a form of extrinsic motivation, incentivizing users to bike more so they can show off to their network.

Earn Badges: Explore Hubway also incentivizes users by earning badges, which each are worth a certain amount of points. This is also a form of extrinsic motivation to get out and bike more.

PrintProfile: Each user has a profile page, where they can view stats about themselves, a form of intrinsic motivation.

Rewards: Users can cash in the points they earn in for real rewards, which for many users, would probably be the biggest piece of motivation. These rewards come from the Hubway Bicycle Benefits program that is already in place. The rewards program also helps the businesses by getting bikers to visit their stores.

Leadership Board: Users can see how they stack up against other Boston riders.

Map: The map feature allows users to easily see where they can find a Hubway station nearby. Users can also search for stations by both station number and station name.

Because the app is linked to the user’s Hubway membership, it would be able to keep track of when you check bikes in and out of stations. This means it will keep track of badges for the user and knows when a new station used. It also means that at the end of the ride the app will send the user a notification on their phone and show up with one of several possibilities such as: the number of people who used the end station in the past month, the number of minutes the trip took, the number of calories burned, how the length of your trip compares to the average trip length. These notifications will serve as immediate feedback and another intrinsic motivation to continue to use Hubway.


Check out the other concept pictures here!

Jane 2/8 Data Log

  1. Made a phone call • Tracked by AT&T
  2. Texted throughout the day • Also tracked by AT&T
  3. Carried phone around throughout the Day • Location tracked by Google
  4. Paid using Debt Card • Tracked by Bank of America
  5. Used MIT ID to tap into Dorm • Tracked by MIT
  6. Paid using Tech Cash • Tracked by MIT
  7. Streamed Music on Spotify • Tracked by Spotify
  8. Did a Google Search while logged into Google • Tracked by Google for smart article suggestions and frequent searches
  9. Tracked the package I ordered last week • Tracked by UPS
  10. Collected Aluminum Can Pressure Data in Lab • Kept track in a course spreadsheet
  11. Watched Netflix • Tracked by Netflix
  12. Posted a picture on Instagram with geotagged location • Tracked by Instagram

Use of Non-medical Adderall

“College Students Aren’t The Only Ones Abusing Adderall”

This article focuses on non-medical Adderall use, a drug that is believed to frequent college campuses everywhere to keep students more focused while studying. But title implies that it isn’t only frequently used on college campuses like some articles in the news will lead you to believe. In fact, we learn that Adderall is used across many ages. This article is looking to inform a wide range of adults about who is actually using non-medical Adderall most frequently and how that compares to the perception that college student are the biggest abuser.


The first visual aid is a simple bar chart that compares different ages to the used of non-medical Adderall. But it also separates college students from their counterparts in the most common age bracket for college students, 18-22. While we might note that college students age 18-22 do have the highest percentage use of non-medical Adderall at over 14%, we can clearly tell that they are closely followed by 3 other groups that all have more than 10% use. Although this graphic is simple it is effective in showing the all-around use of this drug because it requires little additional explanation to understand the graph.


adderal-collegesLater in the article, there is a comparison to selectivity of the school to non-medical Adderall use, shown by the second visual aid. We can see a clear positive correlation, as the school gets more selective the percentage of students using increases. And a few schools are highlighted to show where they fall on the graph. This graphic is not very effective; the four selected schools seem as though they were chosen at random,  and I don’t think the graph accurately portrays what the rest of the article is trying to say. The graph alone would lead you to believe that the brightest of college students frequent Adderall most often to succeed, but from the reading we learn that it tends to be the students with lower GPAs at their respective college that abuse Adderall.