Gapminder Project

Gapminder Project

Author: Bill Wietman
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Introduction to Psychology

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Project Description

Create a 1-2 minute video that tells a compelling story about the world we live in using data from Gapminder.org.  The video must use Gapminder in the background and the story must connect to what is shown by the data.  However, the contents of the story or explanation should go beyond just the data -- there are many relevant components that tie into history, politics, culture, and health that should be tied in when relevant.  Additionally, you may need to come up with your own theories when a clear explanation is not available.  The class can collaborate on ideas and have similar graphs, but each team will need to record their own video about their own story.  Teams must have 2 people unless granted an exception to work alone or have an extra partner.

Project Rubric

Project rubric: 50 total points

Note that rubric items will be scored on a continuous scale (you could receive an 8 if your work is halfway between the rubric's 5 and 10 explanations).


The video is digitally recorded, is 1-2 minutes long (unless granted an exception), the video is not shaky, and the audio is clear.

10: all of the above, 5: too long or short or clarity problems, 0: not recorded or severe audio problems


You identify a pattern or trend and talk about it.

10: all of the above, 5: identify a pattern but fail to expand on it, 0: no pattern identified


You identify causation (explanatory and response variables) and discuss any potential lurking variables.  You mention possible combinations of variables that explain the response variable.

15: all of the above, 10: you show causation between the variables on the screen and explain your reasoning but leave out lurking variables, 5: you correctly plot the explanatory variable on the x-axis, 0: no causation identified


Gapminder is used to guide the telling of the story.  The data must appear in the background of the video (by recording the computer screen with Videolicious or using screencasting software).

15: all of the above, 10: Gapminder is used, but it is not the major driver of the story, 5: at least one of the axes is ignored and the tool is not important to the story, 0: Gapminder is not used


The story is coherent and compelling.  You bring in outside information to explain outliers or sudden changes in the data.

15: all of the above, 10: the story is somewhat interesting but not very original (reusing topics from examples / peers), 5: the story is choppy and doesn't flow well / no outside information is used, 0: there is no flow to the telling of the data.

Project Recording

Option 1: Use screen-casting software, such as Screencast-O-Matic, to record Gapminder playing through the data on the screen.  Your voice will be recorded to go along with the video.  If you have other images to bring in, those can also be displayed on the screen.  Click here to use S-O-M.  You may need to create a YouTube account to upload the video.  If you wanted to come in and use the Smart Board in my room you could do that too.

Option 2: Use a class iPad and Videolicious, Aurasma or your own PLD to record yourself talking in front of a computer screen or another iPad screen.  This is literally a 1 minute video.  Be sure to be in a quiet room when recording so the video is clear.  If you do not have access to a computer with a microphone, this is a good fallback.

Option 3: Be like Hans.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbkSRLYSojo and present in front of the class with the data on the SmartBoard.

This will be due on April 25th.

Gapminder Video Example Using Screencast-o-matic

Gapminder Video Example using Videolicious

Possible Project Topics

Percent of internet users vs. quality of life (as measured by the Human Development Index).  Notice how nearly all nations are moving online at a logarithmic rate, and at the same time, these nations are improving quality of life.  You could talk about the impact of access to information or how all nations are moving online at the same logarithmic rate regardless of poverty (though the rich nations got online first and thus are far ahead on a linear scale).  You could also zoom in on a few countries like China, Brazil, Russia, and India and discuss the effect there.

Energy use per person vs. quality of life.  Traditionally, we hear about how bad it is to build a large dam on a river or burn fossil fuel because of its negative effect on the atmosphere.  This graph highlights the positive side of energy consumption.  You could talk about the many plausible reasons that increased energy use improves quality of life -- less time spent gathering wood for heat and cooking, the ability to read indoors, and on an industrial level, the ability to run factories that create jobs.  Note that the color is not region, but national income, to highlight the hidden variable of general wealth of the nation.  India is highlighted as a potential case study.

Income vs. life expectancy and the world views of different generations.  Look at the make-up of the world at different snapshots in time.  What did the world look like when your great-grandparents were in school?  Grandparents?  Parents?  You could talk about how each generation has a very different perspective on Asia because of the great change in health and wealth of Asian nations over the past century.  You could also look at the overall mixing of colors (health and wealth by continent) that didn't start to happen until recently.

Income vs. life expectancy and the development of China.  Most of the countries have moved in a fairly steady pattern from the bottom left (poor and sick) to the top right (rich and healthy).  However, China has all kinds of funky things happening if you follow the trail through the mid-1900's.  You could talk about the effect of WWII, Mao and the Communist Party, "The Great Leap Forward", and the opening up of foreign investment.  The data adds a fascinating piece of context to the recent history of China and its current path in the 21st century.

Internet users vs. inequality.  The internet is viewed by many as a great equalizer.  This graph highlights 3 countries that have decreased their Gini index (a measure of inequality within a nation) while growing their internet users.  You could talk about why this might happen or other nations that go against this trend.  Note that this dataset has very few data points.

Adult female literacy rate vs. child mortality.  As mothers, women are often responsible for the health of their children.  This graph shows the compelling relationship between the literacy rate of women and the child mortality rate.  You could talk about the incredible importance of education for women in order to save the lives of children or focus on a few nations who have made significant improvements to women's education in recent years.  India, Cambodia, and Morocco are currently highlighted.

List of student-selected topics from the iSchool in NYC.