In order to get the data into my students hands as quickly as possible, I gave each student a photocopied Arizona Cities Data Table from the previous Researching Climate Data lesson, where students were randomly assigned two cities to research climate data on using the internet. I asked them to look over the data, and look for anything that stood out to them, or didn't quite look right. There were numbers that didn't require any prior knowledge to recognize there was something wrong.
We discussed how this might have occurred (cities in other states or countries could have the same name, the decimal could have been missing, the student that did the research might have gone to a website that wasn't credible).
Next, I showed a similar set of data with California cities. I asked them to find the highest and lowest elevation, from the data, and I showed them how to use this to make a key on using one of the Blank Map Keys. We tried counting by several different numbers until we found one that worked. Then I colored the boxes to create a key. Finally, I used the data to color an area "about the size of a Skittle" around each city on a California map.
I continued this process until each city was complete. I then had look for clusters of similar colored dots together that we could color as a region. I had them imagine the color spilling out from each city until it reached another color. I let them know they would need to be making some guesses, but to do their best based on the data.
Finally, I gave them four Blank Map Keys, and had them write a title on each one. I told them their job was to use the same process, finding the highest and lowest data point, and then choosing an appropriate scale to count by.
Once their scale was finished, they could color in the boxes on the left however they wanted. When their keys were finished, I gave them four Arizona maps each to color their data points.
I made a few extra copies, but I wished that I would have given more, as more than one student didn't know the color of their dot mattered, or the color of the region, and had to start over.
When each student finished their map, I gave them a piece of large construction paper to mount their maps and keys on. When they were all there together, I asked them to respond the following questions I posted on the board:
1. Look at one map. What patterns do you see? (I was looking for something like the southwestern part of the state is all low elevation, or the northern part of the state has a higher elevation.)
2. Look at more than one map. What patterns or connections do you see? (I was trying to help them discover relationships, such as areas with higher elevations have lower average high temperatures.)
3. What would have made our maps more accurate? (Originally, I was hoping they would suggest having more data points, but because of the high number of errors in reporting the data, I expected the focus to shift to double checking measurements and not trusting data from other kids.)