Bee Colony Collapse Disorder has been known for a while, but there is still a lot of mystery around the causes of this phenomenon. There have been numerous approaches to solving the issue, from robotic bees to redesigning of hives. We believe that a solution can be found only if people from unconventional fields decide to take on the problem and explore new methods to answer unconsidered questions.
We decided to specifically target MIT students for our story, as we believe that the MIT community has little to no background knowledge about bee colony collapse disorder. By informing them, we’re hoping to inspire to take action, whether it’s get involved in bee research, joining bee-related extracurriculars, or starting their own projects. After they interact with the cups, we invited the audience to read a pamphlet that listed our more bee colony collapse disorder facts, and listed current MIT bee research and the MIT beekeeping club.
We designed our surveys such that we measured prior knowledge of issues by asking if they thought bee research was a pressing issue. We then follow-up in post asking if the exhibit changed their minds or no (1 indicating no change, 5 most change). We also ask if MIT should be more active in this area, with a 1 being no change, and 5 an emphatic agreement.
We ran an in-person test of this survey on the 5th floor of the student center, near the beehives that the MIT Beekeeping club has. Being able to have a direct connection with the space we were in was helpful in maintaining participants interest beyond the initial appeal of free food.
We got 5 responses, 4 of which responded that bee research was “maybe” important, and one saying that it is wasn’t. In the post survey, we asked for their opinion change, getting two 5s, one 4, and two 3s as responses (5 being a paradigm shift, 1 being no change). In addition, when asking if MIT should be more active in this area – our call to action – respondents gave one 3, three 4s, and one 5 as an answer.
It is worth noting that all of our survey takers were undergraduate students involved in Computer Science (3A-6, 6-3, and 18C majors) and only one was male. We suspect this is just a fluke of our small sample size. In the future iterations, we hope to increase this impact to graduate students and more departments.
In addition to these data, we also noticed that participants engaged deeply with the exhibit, often leading to a thoughtful discussion of current research and future avenues. Of note, many participants seemed to really enjoy the taste of honey (more so than we were expecting) which reaffirmed our belief that tasty food would be a great way to engage and attract participants. This was even true for participants initially disinterested in the project. However, the impact and interest in the exhibit did seem to depend on the participants’ prior knowledge of the bee decline issue.