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General Science and Teaching

Graphing and Data Collection

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Shalen Boyer Shalen Boyer 5700 Points

I'm looking to re-vamp my unit over graphing and data collection. I teach this section prior to experimental design. Usually I teach it through a PowerPoint, the kids take notes and then do a practice packet. Any suggestions on how I could use the 5E learning module to give this unit some excitement and interest?

Susanne Hokkanen Susanne Hokkanen 79520 Points

Shalen, I attended some amazing PD opportunities at the NSTA National Conference in Boston last spring offered through the American Museum of Natural History on using data and graphing within specific science concepts. Here is a link to their educator website: If you have an opportunity to attend a National or Regional NSTA conference, I would highly recommend attending any PD opportunity offered through the AMNH. I attended the all day Professional Development Institute (PDI) and several other workshops they offered - and they were all great!

Sandy Gady Sandy Gady 43175 Points

There are a couple of really good resources I have used with my middle school students around data collection. One is called “Tech Trek: Graphing Calculators” which introduces students to statistics in the real world where they have to collect, organize and represent data using a graphing calculator as a tool to achieve that goal. A second article is “Rev Your Engines!” which is a really fun hands-on lab that engages students in a lab where students collect data from the cars they build and race. When the data belongs to the student, they are more likely to one to learn it more quickly and efficiently. Both of these projects have worked well with my students. There is also a really interesting Web Seminar that is archived that had my student’s interest as well. It is called “Algebraic Equations: Calculator Controlled Robots, April 18, 2012. This seminar has been offered throughout the year and is always enlightening to take. Marti Phipps provides a really good in-depth look at programming and investigating calculator-controlled robots. My students were able to engage with the creation of the robot, program it and then find ways to collect, analyze and graph data. Many of my students come back year after year and tell me how meaningful these experiences were. I am created a small collection of these resources for you to take a look at and am attaching it to this post. There are many more resources available on the NSTA website as well.

Data Collection (3 items)
Cris DeWolf Cris DeWolf 11965 Points

Have you ever considered teaching experimental design, data collection and graphing (w/data analysis) as part of a comprehensive project? Rather than teaching them in isolation model how science is done authentically.

Shalen Boyer Shalen Boyer 5700 Points

I've been looking at a catapult design project for something like a comprehensive project. I'm worried that students might not receive enough practice to become proficient with it though.

Patricia Rourke Patricia Rourke 45925 Points

I agree that hands-on inquiry that enables students to gather and to analyze the data supports understanding of variables and their relationships to each other on a graph. There are numerous examples of such activities in the resources available in the Learning Center. For example, this simple activity introduces terminology: Science Sampler: First-class inquiry By: Sandra Dopp, Kathi Hesser, and Gayle Buck Sue Garcia wrote this in her review: Sue Garcia on April 13, 2011 This article develops an introduction to levers at a level that 4-8 grade students would benefit from. It is very short, but covers the basics as well as introducing some of the terminology needed to teach within this unit. At the younger grades, terminology may need to be addressed more. There is a Part A and a Part B to investigate that will allow the students to use spring scales (a tool that I find sometimes hard to find good activities for) as well as collect data. The materials are easy to obtain, set-up, and use. Student inquiry is abundant in this activity.

Naomi Beverly Naomi Beverly 19130 Points

Here's a link to's 'Title and Label Graphs' video. This is one video that is part of a series.

You can use it to engage or reteach. Perhaps some of the other videos in the series can be used to extend. I hope this helps!
All the best,

Naomi Beverly

Naomi Beverly Naomi Beverly 19130 Points

Here's a video that is a 'Beginner's guide to Graphing Data' Youtube video that looks good. He goes over five graphs, including bar graphs, line graphs, scatter plots, pie chart, and histograms.

You could use it to preview, engage, or review.

All the best,

Naomi Beverly

Amanda Upton Amanda Upton 5955 Points

Both Vernier and PASCO offer technology and software as a dynamic way to teach science, putting technology into the hands of students,while helping educators develop the next generation of scientists and engineers. On their websites they offer free training and educator resources. NSTA teacher awards programs have awards packages for teachers to apply for and win PASCO and Vernier products, cash prize money, and expense money to attend the national conference on science education held in Chicago this spring. The deadline is November 30th. Go to and apply!

Danielle Penrod Danielle Penrod 2295 Points

My students just completed an activity where they had to insulate a beaker full of hot water. We took temperature measurements every minute for 20 minutes and then create line graphs to show the data. I was able to get an AEP Teacher Vision grant for $500.00 to purchase digital thermometers for this project. I also used hot pot or electric kettle to heat the water. So many opportunities to discuss the data displayed and the types of insulation used. The students initially thought that the highest change of temperature was a good thing, but when I asked them questions about my beaker--the control, they decided differently. Much of the learning takes place as you analyze and discuss the results of your data and the trends/ information you see depicted in the graphs.

Patricia Rourke Patricia Rourke 45925 Points

Danielle, thank you for the lovely contribution and insight into how your students analyze data graphically and what they learn from interpreting their graphs. This is all important to students understanding their investigations into phenomena and how to share their understanding with their peers. Is their graphical work also a tool for you to peek into what they know and how they apply concepts to their explanations of their understanding of content? Thanks for sharing and for re-invigorating this thread. Patty

Karen Antoszyk Karen Antoszyk 865 Points

Teaching fifth grade math, I always appreciate the science classes incorporating data collection and graphing into their science lessons. The reinforcement, as well and additional detail and requirements for another subject really help to reinforce this important concept for the students.

Patricia Rourke Patricia Rourke 45925 Points

Hi Karen, Thanks for chiming in on this thread. Learning how to graph, especially with a line graph in addition to bar graphs or pie charts, sets the foundation for all science and math learning in addition to meeting new STEM and NGSS standards. this thread has been quiet for awhile but will become lively again with the onset of a new academic year. Karen, it would be absolutely super if you could share classroom ideas or even a lesson that you have found successful and/or inspiring in your classes. Please take a moment and share something with us. Patty

Virginia Harris Virginia Harris 935 Points

I have no suggestions but I hope to gain some ideas. My students seem to struggle with accurate data collecting. They also have some trouble understanding how to analyze and plot data. Sometimes I think I may not be presenting the information/lesson appropriately. If anyone has any good lesson plans that they can share I would be most greatful.

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