Final project grading rubric

Your final project is graded out of 35 points and counts towards 35% of your final grade:

  • 4 points – brainstorming
    • your 30 ideas & post-its brought to class
  • 6 points – project pitch
    • clear and convincing write-up and in-class pitch of your idea
  • 3 points – project status update
    • you posted your status update to the class blog
  • 4 points – project concept
    • new interesting, creative concept
    • concept does not replicate what has been done by others
    • concept is inspired by something in the real world
    • concept is relevant to the theme of heat
  • 2 points – mastery of class material
    • project references citizen science concepts from this class
    • project is appropriate for your skill level
  • 1 point – external skills or concepts
    • project incorporates something we did not learn in class
  • 8 points – project demo Dec 1
    • the extent to which the project actually works during the demo session
    • how polished your demo is visually
  • 8 points – project documentation and write-up Due Dec 8
    • clearly shows the design rationale, process, and iteration
    • clearly shows how your project was made (diagram, parts list, materials used)

If you want to be included as a co-author on the DIS submission, please also email me a 3 paragraph academic-style writeup by Tuesday, Dec 8. The paragraphs should be:

  • your motivation (why you chose your topic and what your goals were)
  • your process (how you did what you did, your materials, iterations, etc.)
  • your outcomes (what you achieved and how this contributes new academic knowledge)



Final project status update

Post an update about the progress of your final project. Include the following:

  • Quick reminder summary of what your project is (1-2 sentences)
  • Components status (whether you are still waiting on any parts or if you have everything you need)
  • A picture and description of what you have created so far
  • Describe any changes you made to your project since the proposal
  • Describe any challenges or problems you are having

Post your project update to the class blog.

This assignment is worth 3 points
1 point for project summary and components status
1 point for a picture and description of what you have created so far
1 point for describing your project challenges and whether/how your idea changed since your proposal

Final project pitch and proposal

In this assignment you will finalize your project idea. This is a 2-part assignment: you will post your project proposal to the blog, and you will pitch your idea in class.

Project pitch (5 minutes in class)
You will have five minutes to pitch your idea to the class. You can use any format you want (slides, skit, poster, video, etc.). Your goal is to convince the class that your project is a good idea. Since you only have 5 minutes, you have to succinctly explain the vision, problem or opportunity your project fulfills (or how your project fits within our class theme of heat); who might use your project; where it might be used; and why it’s a good idea.

Project proposal
In addition to the pitch, write a more detailed project proposal for the class blog. At the very least, include the following:

  • motivation (similar to the pitch, describe what problem, research question, or opportunity your project addresses)
  • related work (do a quick search to see if other projects have tried to address a similar topic; find 2-3 similar projects)
  • your idea (what you plan to build, who will use it, where it will be used, and why it’s different from existing work)
  • implementation (how you plan to implement your idea)
  • parts list (a tentative list of components you might use for this project)

Post your project proposal on the class blog under the “project proposal” category.

The proposal posted on the blog is worth 4 points and counts towards your final project grade
1 point for describing your project  motivation
1 point for describing related work
1 point for describing your project idea
1 point for adding your parts to this list and descriving implementation details in your proposal

The in-class pitch is worth 2 points and counts towards your final project grade
2 points for clearly presenting your idea in class

Collective Final Project?

How do you guys feel about doing a collective final project, centered around a solar-cooked banquet? There are so many processes we could think about, not just solar cooking/baking but also sun-drying, sun-brewing, hot composting, etc.

What I’m envisioning is each person prototypes a functional artifact around this theme (e.g., a solar cooker, a sun-drying box, a composter, etc.) developing a few recipes and then hosting a banquet using only sun cooked foods as our final showcase.

Regardless of how the class goes, I am setting up this work as a submission to

If you are interested in making this into your final project and co-authoring a submission with me that would be great. If you would rather work on something else, that’s great too. Let me know what you think.

Food science field trip

This week, for our food science unit, we took a field trip to Doc’s Artisan Ice Creams. DSC_0774

A big part of my research examines food as a platform for both everyday science and habitual sustainability. Last semester, working with Tina Santana and Elenore Long, I conducted extensive fieldwork and workshops with practitioners who routinely experiment with preserving, fermenting, brewing, pickling, foraging for, and healing with food. The practices we studied include making homemade beer, fermenting vegetables and fruit, foraging for local edibles, brewing kombucha and kefir, farming livestock, and encapsulating human placenta (as a dietary supplement), to name a few.

With this work, I am interested in alternatives to top-down production of both food and knowledge. Food is a widely-adopted platform for amateur science, whereby people learn about and perform a host of scientifically-oriented experiments at home. At the same time, these projects also engage with many critical sustainability issues: food preservation and security, human health and nutrition, and everyday scientific literacy. How is quotidian expertise scaffolded, and how are at-home food science practices positioned as a deliberate alternative to mainstream systems?

DSC_0770 DSC_0772

Framing my interests in food science within the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), my research contributes to 1) citizen science, by examining how social, digital, and physical materials shape scientific literacy; and 2) sustainable interaction design, by engaging with practices that counter mass-consumption and work around top-down systems.

Sharing my research with my class and involving students as collaborators in DIY science (or as NSF would put it, “integrating research and education”) has been productive and fascinating. Being able to integrate all this with my passion for dessert is of course even better!


Our site visit today served as an introduction to basic in-situ interview and fieldwork methods, as well as a foray into the study of everyday food science.

Doc’s is a unique place, not only because it boasts truly bold and experimental flavors (e.g., habanero-mango, grape-peanut butter, or lemongrass-coconut-lime sorbet), but also because making these products is seen as both an art and a science. Today’s discussion deeply engaged with how experimental practices of food preparation, selection, and storage draw upon art practice and scientific knowledge. This raises interesting questions about whether approaching this area as a science devalues the art of food and touches on complex intersections between science and art more generally.


Coming from the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering at ASU, which spans the spectrum of creative practice, research, and computer science, these insights resonated with our own work and experiences.

Thank you Doc’s for your invaluable time, insights, and of course… the gelato and sorbet. Can’t wait to go back!


Before you do anything watch this video.

UPDATE: If you are interested in doing a collective final project, read this first. If you want to work on ‘using heat for good’ as a class project, you can center your brainstorming around that.

If you’d rather work on something different, you can think of ideas across a range of citizen science topics (environment, food, biology, politics, education, etc.).

Either way, your task is to come up with 30 ideas for your final project. Go for breadth! Do not worry about what’s realistic or possible, and don’t think about implementation!

Write or sketch/draw each idea on a separate post-it note. Each note can be just a few words, but be specific. For example:

  • a plant that cleans up soil pollutants
  • a story book that narrates fermentation

Do not get stuck on one specific idea (do not submit 25 ideas that all sound like this):

  • air quality sensing on a bike
  • air quality sensing on a watch
  • air quality sensing on a shirt

Lay out your 30 post-its on a table, take a picture and upload it to the class blog under the “brainstorming” category. Bring all of your post-its to class on Thursday!

This assignment is worth 4 points
3 points for posting a picture of your 30 ideas on the class blog
1 point for brining all your post-its to class

Everyday food science

Broadly speaking, food science studies the preservation, selection, storage, and distribution of foods. Everyday food science practices include fermenting, brewing, or pickling edible materials, foraging, bartering, or dumpster diving for food. Through its long tradition of experimenting and tinkering, at-home food science engages with many critical sustainability issues: food preservation and security, human health and nutrition, and everyday scientific literacy.

In this assignment, you will conduct and document a food science experiment. Your project can focus on creating a new flavor (e.g., apple-flavored sour kraut); trying a new method (e.g., cold-brewing); or simply creating something you have not made before (e.g., sour dough starter). Most importantly, you should try something that is informed by prior knowledge but where the outcome is uncertain.

Clearly document what your goals were, how you designed your ‘experiment’, and what you achieved (include pictures and a description of flavors, smells, appearance, etc). If this project developed over the course of several days, document the transition! To receive full credit, you must also relate your work to the broader themes in everyday food science:

  • Materially-oriented practice (how did materials inform and shape your work?)
  • Sustainability (how is your project positioned in relationship to mainstream production?)
  • Scientific literacy (what scientific knowledge did your project draw upon? how can this knowledge be shared?)

Post your project under the ‘foodscience‘ category.

This assignment is worth 5 points
2 point for conducting a food science experiment and documenting the results
1 point for describing how materials influenced your work
1 point for contextualizing your project within sustainability issues
1 point for discussing how your project relates to scientific literacy

Biomarkers and bio-indicators

Everyday biomarkers are common biological organisms that express information about an ecosystem or its many parts. In this assignment, you will find and observe an organic system (plant, insect, animal, or a combination of these) to infer something about the environment. Working off ideas from Nurturing Natural Sensors, your goal is to find something living and use it as a sensor.

You can apply any mode of inquiry to identify local biomarkers: online research, interview an expert (e.g., local gardener, beekeeper, etc.), personal experience. Once you pick a bio-indicator or biomarker you must find it in the real world, document it (photograph or video), and explain what it tells you about the environment.

Post your assignment under the “biomarker” category.

This assignment is worth 3 points
1 point for researching an organic system that can be used as a biomarker for region
1 point for finding, observing, and documenting this biomarker in the real world
1 point for explaining what the biomarker you observed tells you about the environment

Soil system concept

So far, the assignments have asked you to create concrete artifacts that engaged with particular issues (e.g., a print that responds to heat; a sensor that measures heat). Shifting now from heat to soil, this exercise asks you to think more broadly:

How can citizens engage with soil quality? What kind of system would support this engagement and how would it be evaluated?

In this assignment you will create a concept for soil sensing system. This means moving beyond one particular sensor, and more broadly thinking about:

  • who would use your system (gardeners, children, general population, etc.)
  • where or how the system would be used (e.g., in someone’s yard or home, across the entire city)
  • what issue it would address (pollution, water retention, biodiversity, general engagement with soil, etc.)
  • how would success be measured (what are the intended outcomes?)

This is a maker assignment, so you must physically make at least some part of the system you envision. The tangible artifact you create could be high-tech or low tech. For instance, if your system concept is a toy for kids that measures soil pH, you might prototype the actual sensor or the physical form it might take on; if your system is a gift economy where people send each other plants grown in their home soil, you might prototype a container or an image capture application that shares the results.

Post your assignment under the “soilsystem” category.

This assignment is worth 5 points
1 point for addressing each of the above questions (who, where/how, what issue, and success metrics)
1 point for prototyping a physical artifact that would be part of your system

Heat or UV exposure indicator

In this assignment, you will play around with Arduino and low cost temperature, UV, and Temp/Pressure sensors.

Create an Arduino-based circuit that drives your sensor and creatively shows its output. You should demonstrate that your project does indeed respond to different solar/temperature conditions by documenting your sensor and output in a few different settings.

Document your project on the class blog under the “heat sensing” category. Include a photo or video and a brief description explaining what you made, why you made it, and what you learned.

This assignment is worth 5 points
2 points for creating an Arduino circuit and code for sensing heat or UV radiation
1 point for visualizing sensor output beyond just the terminal printouts
1 point for describing what you did and why you did it (including pictures or videos)
1 point for describing what you learned (if you are fluent with Arduino and sensing, what did you do to make this assignment interesting and challenging for yourself?)