Data Drop, our data-focused weekly feature, is closing in on its  first anniversary in March, so we thought it would be a good time to highlight some of the many diverse topics we've explored so far. There were so many, in fact, that you probably missed one or two. 

Here were some of our favorites, in no particular order: 

1. What Minnesotans are throwing away, but could be recycling

Data tracking recyclable items that ended up in landfills or at incinerators shows Minnesotans are trashing less than they used to overall, but more of some items like plastic bags and bottles. There are interesting cultural trends in the data, too, like an increase in cardboard from all those packages we get delivered these days.

2. Minnesota has the second-highest rate of working mothers

More than 80 percent of Minnesota mothers with children under 18 are in the labor force. The Midwest leads the nation, but which is the only state that beats us out?

3. How has the popularity of your name changed in 100 years?

Data on names of babies born in Minnesota sheds light on the names that have been rising and falling in popularity over time. Look up the popularity of your name of the last 100 years.

4. Bigger boats are invading Minnesota's lake culture

The days when 14- and 15-foot motor boats dominated the lake scene are long gone, surpassed by a bigger-better mentality that includes a fascination with luxury pontoon boats, a brisk business in $80,000 wake-surfing inboard motor boats and a boom in 18- to 20-foot, deep-hulled fishing boats. However, if you're going small, there are some categories seeing growth.

5. Language diversity among Minnesota's schoolchildren is growing

The share of students who primarily speak a language other than English has tripled in the past two decades, shows our analysis of Department of Education data.

6. What we learned tracking golfers' holes-in-one

Golf courses all over the state send us information on golfers who hit aces, but 2015 was the first time we decided to track and then analyze the data. Here's what we found.

7. Why playing Pokemon Go is harder in the suburbs

Why are some areas chock full of Pokéstops and others are Pikachu dead zones? We take a look at a sample of the data to help you avoid boring locations.

8. Minnesota's largest library system is near the top of the stack nationally

Among the nation's biggest library systems, see how our largest fares against its librarian peers -- and where we win in one surprising category.

9. How common is it for Minnesota kindergartners to get vaccination exemptions

Less than 2 percent of Minnesota's kindergartners get vaccination exemptions, the vast majority of which are for non-medical reasons. But that rate is much higher in some districts and schools. Look up yours to see how it fares.

10. Minnesota job sectors that are expected to grow

OK, you've just graduated from high school and you're headed to college. Now what? What should you major in? Here's a look at what types of work will be available in five years.


There are many more great stories to explore on our Data Drop page.

Data Drop is a weekly feature that uses data analysis and visualizations to explain, surprise, inform and entertain readers on topics relevant to Minnesotans. Do you have an idea you'd like us to explore? Contact MaryJo Webster