Analyzing the Data
Lesson 6 of 7
Objective: SWBAT select, create, and analyze an appropriate graph to display their data.
I start the lesson by having the students take a copy of the Data Quickwrite as they enter the room. Upon entrance, they have five minutes to write everything they can related to the cartoon on the quickwrite. I give very little guidance because I do not want to hinder the creativity or thinking of the students. Rather, I ask them simply to think and write - and not to stop writing until time is up, signified by a timer or some other visual or auditory signal.
After time is up, students work with their table partners and utilize a Round Robin strategy to share one idea at a time, until all ideas have been shared from each student at every table. I then call on volunteers to share an idea that was brought up during the Round Robin, either from themselves or a peer.
Analyzing and interpreting data is one of the eight practices of science and engineering that the NGSS Science Framework for K-12 Science Education identifies as essential for all students to learn. In other words, it's pretty darn important! Not only is it crucial in the context of completing a science project or experiment, but it is central to understanding information in every discipline, and therefore a skill that will be necessary for both college and career readiness. I cannot think of a profession in which the collection, organization, and/or analysis of data would not be used regularly.
In order to become more familiar with the science and math behind data collection, students complete two different Study Jams (from Scholastic) intended to help them learn about how to collect and display data. The activities are as follows:
After completing the Study Jams, I share a Google (online) spreadsheet that I have created. In column 1 of the Sheet, students type their first name. In columns 2-3, each student writes something they learned about data collection from the two activities they just completed. I challenge them to write something that no one else has written. In column 4, each student must write a note to one classmate, providing feedback to their responses either as an "I agree because..." , statement, an "I disagree because..." statement, or an "I agree, AND..." statement.
Not only does this require students to read the responses of their peers, but it also requires them to think deeply about these statements and analyze them to find consistencies and inconsistencies in the thinking of themselves and their peers, or to go one step further by adding additional information to their peers' ideas.
Now that students have become more familiar with ways to display their data for easier analysis, it is time to give them a chance to work with some raw data and make sense of it. I hand out the Plant Data worksheet, explaining that this data was collected by someone who is conducting their own science fair project, and have students read through the question and hypothesis.
They read through the data, quickly realizing that it is not very well organized. I have them work with a partner to create an organized table to display their data in a format that is easier to read. Once they finish the table, I have them turn their raw data into a suitable graph, which demonstrates the growth over the testing period. (A multiple line graph would be the best option.)
While I tend to have my students hand draw a graph, there are other options available. I walk you through some of these options in this video.
Finally, students analyze the graph to determine whether or not this person's hypothesis was correct. If the graph is constructed correctly, it will be fairly easy to analyze the data.
However, failure to create the graph correctly or to read the hypothesis carefully can cause mistakes to be made. This usually occurs and is a great "AHA moment" for students. It can spark a great discussion about the importance of an x and y axis, labeling units and axes on the graph, and reading carefully for detail.
As a final assessment, I ask students to answer the following questions on an index card before leaving class:
- What did you learn about collecting and displaying data from today's lesson?
- What type of graph would be suitable to display the data from your science experiment? Why?