Final Project, The Plant Project


The Plant Project is an experimental, community-reliant collection and visualization of municipal water quality using mung bean sprouts. Across several neighborhoods and cities, volunteers germinate and  record the growth rate of mung beans in a controlled environment. They submit time lapses of their mung beans growth to @theplantprojectcmu as an individual data sample.  Subsequently, on Instagram’s map we can connect the variations in growth rate to the variations of water quality in correlation with individuals’ location. The Plant Project’s purpose is to provide people with a simple, unintimidating, tangible way to monitor their own water quality, and an opportunity to engage in the discussion of water pollution.



Update – April 26th_____________________________________________


  • Found app to use as time lapse creator: MemoryLapse
  • Created Instagram, Facebook Page, and Instructions.
  • Created list of places to obtain mung beans
  • Created logo with Adobe Illustrator (learned that Adobe Illustrator is complicated)
  • Delivered two Plant Project kits
  • Established 5 nonlocal volunteers.

Not accomplished and pushed to the side:

  • creating phone app using phone gap.

To do:

  • Perhaps create or find Android version of time lapse creator
  • Perhaps create website of Time Machine versions of Instagram posts – then change instructions
  • Clarify Instructions
  • Find easy, affordable source of jars for people obtaining their own supplies
  • create print-out of mobile stabilizer to send to participants creating their own stand
    • create instructions of how to create mobile stabilizer
  • create new Plant Project Slideshow Presentation.
  • Perhaps attach some kind of stats/data/information (or even just a link to the respective water supplier) to each post.

Old Plant Project Presentation:

Google Docs – via Iframely


Update – March 18th_______________________________


  • 1st physical prototype of stand/box/case/….
  • Sketches of the entire package (including stand/box/case, and plant, and instructions)
  • Plan A: water/air <> environment
    • tap water?
  • Plan B: if it’s not about environment/water, then what is it about:
    • person (instead of plant) as focus? caretaker?
    • plant <> person relationship? is it evident/visible in the look/health of the plant after 1 month?
  • Wireframe the App (use Axure, or OmniGraffle, or Google Presentation…) whose goals are:
    • Create a “brand” or “community” of all users
    • Allow for users to see others’ contribution
    • Allows to “see the big picture” (maps, stats, …)
    • Allow user to take really good pictures (proper lighting, framing, compositions, …)

Thoughts on pros and cons of project so far:

  • pros –
    • this is a very non-scientific analysis of own water supply, which could add some charm to it, with the understanding of the extent of its legitimacy(which is not very legitimate)
  • cons –
    • risk that there may not be any visible results!
    • risk that it may be too uninteresting for people to want to get involved

Create Phone App:

  • Summary: App that …
  • Instructions for how to treat plants
  • Instagram connection
  • counters of what day the plant growth is on
    • editable by user
  • updating Time Machine time lapse
  • location map with links to other collections of pictures and time lapses so far
    • visualization of water pollution data of different chemicals in municipal water…

Create Purchasable kit:

  • contains:
    • jar with germinated seeds(seeds are on day 5)
      • given amount of seeds – 30?
      • cotton balls/paper towel/moisture wick thing – research online
      • top mesh to keep seeds from falling out
    • cardboard (or perforated plastic for Master Gardeners) iphone stand
      • idea: create a stand that holds both the phone and the jar in place.
    • printed out instructions
  • Sell
    • on Amazon, ebay, craigslist, etc., on facebook, to groups and organizations, schools
    • within a given radius, hand deliver it for free
      • outside of this radius, charge shipping fee – (if ppl that far are reached by ads and are interested)

Water Pollution in Pittsburgh:


  • reported to be radioactive in 2011
  • lead poisoning?
  • PWSA …
  • ozone pollution plant monitors

Update – February_______________________________

Plant the same kind of plant but with different air/water sources from different parts of pittsburgh, similar to how the lemonade project illustrated different water sources. Create a month-long gigapan time lapse like this one to hopefully illustrate different growth rates and effects of different water sources. Use createlab’s air and water monitoring tools to get measurements of each thing

  • bob bingham environmental art projects
  • raspberry pi vs security camera
  • bingui raspberry pi
  • ask illah about where
  • i don’t know if there actually will be any visible effect on the plants? maybe I can measure the safety levels of their edibility?
    • this student did a brief project on lima beans, in which his simulated fracking-effected polluted water showed that the chemicals effected the height of the lima beans. It’s not very official, but it’s been done
  • would need to create system of consistently watering them their designated water sources…
    • contact Garden Dreams and/or other gardening sites to get their opinions?
  • transportation to gardening site, and getting locals involved in taking care of plants
  • gardening site? – round hill is supposed to have a garden….
  • what to do with time lapse afterwards? Project this time lapse on different places in city? post video online with links to other visualization and anti-fracking sites? project at one site and create interactive interface to zoom into your where you are from to watch your local plants?

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