Project 1

When You Were Young ...

For the first visualization project you will be creating a scientific visualization without the use of a computer. The idea is to have you think more broadly about visualization without being constrained by the limitations of a computer screen. This may take you back to your grammar school days when your teachers would ask you to create a diorama - I still remember building an Iroquois longhouse and a solar sail. This time however you will not have your parents around to help out with the work.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has a web page with a bunch of data on air quality at

This site holds data on Carbon Monoxide, Ground-level Ozone, Lead, etc from 1980 through 2007 for individual sites in individual states and averaged over the entire country.

Your job is to come up with a good physical visualization of a subset of this data.

Some thoughts

Please ask if you have any questions about what are legitimate ingredients.

You will need to brainstorm a variety of ideas before you start constructing your visualization. This should start with a series of sketches, but you should also start looking around for suitable building materials. Since you are building a real thing you need to make sure what you want to build can actually be realized in a structurally sound way, and it should probably be something that you can repair quickly if something unfortunate should happen to it. Its probably a good idea to buy spare parts too.

For a C you need to create a 2d visualization where the data varies across time or space for 1 pollutant / source with at least 20 data points

For a B you need to create a 3d visualization where the data varies across time and space for 1 pollutant / source with at least 50 data points

For an A you need to create a  3+d visualization where data varies across time and space for at least 2 pollutants / sources with at least 100 data points

You should create a web page that describes your work on the project - what data you used, what you are visualizing, why you think this is a good visualization,  including photos of what you created. I will be linking this web page to the course notes so please send me a 320 x 240 jpg photo of your visualization for the web. This should be named p1.<your_last_name>.jpg. Web pages like this can be very helpful later on in helping you build up a portfolio of your work when you start looking for a job.

Each student will bring his / her visualization to class to present it and describe its features to the rest of the class. This allows everyone to see a variety of solutions to the problem, and a variety of implementations.

last revision 1/19/08