Animal Speed and Data

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SWBAT collect data and turn that data into a graphical representation or graph in order to draw conclusions about animal speed.

Big Idea

In order to understand how scientists use data to make determinations, students need to practice with collecting it and turing it into a visual model that can be used to understand concepts. In this activity, students use animal speeds to create their grap

Let's Pretend

5 minutes

To start this lesson, I want kids to pretend to be scientists that are headed across the world in search of data regarding the top speeds of animals. To begin I place them into groups of two and three. They then move to their group to play pretend. I ask them to play a game of pretend, where they are scientists out to study the speed of animals. They will be collecting data as if they were true scientists in order to report to others the tops speeds at which some animals have been found to run. Although, pretend might sound silly, they do enjoy the change of pace the lesson sounds like it will bring and my classroom is excited to get the data. 

Data Collection

15 minutes

Students will need their science journals in order to collect their data. We are going to do this as whole class in order to get all the numbers written. Before giving them the data, I thought it would be more fun to teach them about median. I explain that I will give them three numbers and that will be using the median of the three. In order to do this I model how to find the median of a set of numbers. 

Next is the pretend data collection. I explain that they are going to start off with clocking the speed of human. I then give them three different speeds in miles per hour. As a class, we determine the median and circle it. We continue this method of numbers being given and then figuring out the median in order to understand what number we will use in on our graph. I chose five other animals: rabbit, chicken, elephant, lion, and cheetah. You could use any animals. We checked our median numbers so that all groups could start with the same data. 

Creating Graphs

20 minutes

Students now will create a graph to represent the data they collected. Before they begin, I model how to create a bar graph that runs horizontally and not vertically. I also explain that when they create the lines that will represent speed, they need to do these in whole numbers of ten. This requires a model for them to understand and to base their own representations on. 

Students are then given a large white piece of construction paper and a ruler in order to create their graph. Color can be used once the data has been added and students have checked to make sure their graphs are accurate. I walk around and monitor the charting process. Accuracy will matter as we try to make determinations on animal speed and how this effects their survival. We will also use the data to discuss how animals speed is effected by their physical body structure. Students can then add other animals that have unique structures to help them move.