Goal
Demonstrate relationships between objects or events and the variables, factors, functions or patterns that describe them.

Objectives

  • Represent data in an organized, graphic way in order to see patterns between variables and factors
  • Use graphs, words, mathematic symbols and/or pictures to describe relationships between observed phenomena
  • Gain experience using spreadsheet software to input data and generate a graph or graphs
Materials

  • Student Observation and Reflection Journals with data from InquiriesTwo and Three
  • Computer(s) with Microsoft Excel or Open Office spreadsheet software
Time
(Depends upon number of computers available and how many projects each student decides to graph). At the end of the week, the class meets as an entire group to discuss the findings and give one another feedback.

Activities
During class discussion, students create criteria for “what makes an informative graph.” The criteria will be used to assess student work. An example of a criterion: “A graph must produce a straight or curved line to show a patterns or function.” Another example might be: “A written explanation must help describe the graph,” or for students who are up to a challenge: “Mathematic notation of variables must work with any number.”

Students enter data they collected from one or two experiments they conducted in Inquiry Two (or data from Inquiry Three) into Microsoft Excel, Open Office Calc, or another spreadsheet program, while referring to their Observation and Reflection Journals. Each person generates one or two graphs, a written explanation in English, other pictures if they wish, and a mathematical/symbolic description as well.

Closure
Each student posts his or her graphs on the bulletin board. Students take a “Gallery Walk” in a line to look at other people’s data and graphs. Here are some samples of student work:

Student Work Sample 1

Student Work Sample 3

Student Work Sample 4 (before graphed on computer)

Discuss
What did you notice in looking at your colleagues’ graphs and explanations?
Why do some lines on graphs curve while others are straight?
 

Assessment
Students gain feedback from one another during and after the Gallery Walk. Teacher uses criteria generated by students when giving evaluation and feedback.
 

Extensions
An optional culminating activity would be to challenge students to find objects or events in the world they’ve actually seen, experienced, or heard about in the media. Examples include:

  • The best size of a tire for a race car
  • The most absorbent paper towel
  • The longest burning candle
  • The best recipe for lemonade
  • The best fabric for a raincoat
Plan B
Students draw their findings on graph paper instead of using software.
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