** Background for Teachers**

Students have organized their collected data and created graphs summarizing their results. This is the evidence that will support or refute their project hypothesis. Now is the time to look at that evidence through the “What does it mean?” lens. The outcome of this activity can be simple: a statement addressing whether or not the hypothesis was supported, and a few statements or bullet points discussing why or why not. More generally an outcome is an increased understanding by students that** the data are the facts, and interpreting data is where some judgment calls come in.** It is important for students to go through the whole process, from dealing with those facts to making the calls.

Emphasize that there is a bit of ‘best professional judgment’ involved in interpretation– scientists can only base their findings on the evidence, and often the evidence is incomplete or we wish we’d sampled some additional variable. This is why science is sometimes perceived as frequently changing or tentative.

It is at this point that students may be apt to say they were wrong or right, or that their hypothesis was proved. To steer them away from such statements consider writing the following on the board for the students to use as a template for how they share their data:

“The data that we have are consistent with the idea that (insert hypothesis) because _____, therefore I can refine my model in the following way..." and,

“The data that we have are not consistent with the idea that (insert hypothesis) because ______, therefore I can refine my model in the following way..."

Share these sentences with your students and point out that they differ by one word and that in science there is no right and wrong, only different ways to think about the research questions, based upon the results of any particular study.

**Goals**

- Students will interpret their data with relationship to their hypothesis

**Outcomes**

- Students will make a statement about their data, their hypothesis, why the data do or do not support their hypothesis and what that means for their research

**Where does this lesson happen in the Project?**

This is the last activity in Unit 5: Data Analysis.

**Getting Ready**

Each group needs to have their hypothesis (as an “If, Then…Because” statement) and their “Results” graph.

**Materials**

- Hypothesis
- Graphs
- “Reading a Graph” modeling graph and hypothesis
- White board (or other space) with the following two statements written:

“The data that we have are consistent with the idea that (insert hypothesis) because _____, therefore I can refine my model in the following way..." and,

“The data that we have are not consistent with the idea that (insert hypothesis) because ______, therefore I can refine my model in the following way..."

**Student Prerequisites**

- Students must have their hypothesis and their data represented in graphical form
- Students must understand why they have used the type of graph that they chose to display their data
- Students should understand that the graph is a tool to use to understand whether the data support or do not support their hypothesis

**Time Needed**

One class period, or less.

**Doing the Activity**

**Model**

After gathering all materials model general graph explanation and interpretation (need a cheat sheet for teachers with the researcher’s hypothesis on it).

For example, for the following graph a description would go something like:

Nitrogen-related Time Series Graph needed

“This graph shows years on the X axis, and_______ on the Y axis. Each dot represents ____ and the bars are a measure of how confident the person is about ____.

**Then end with the take home message of the graph in plainer English:**

*“So this graph says that over the years _____.”*

That is the explanation; now interpret the results with regard to the hypothesis:

*“The data that we have are consistent with the idea that (insert hypothesis) because _____, therefore I can refine my model in the following way..."*

OR

*“The data that we have are not consistent with the idea that (insert hypothesis) because ______, therefore I can refine my model in the following way..."*

**Student’s turn**

For each research group:

- Hypothesis: Students read aloud the group’s hypothesis.
- Explain only: Then have each group show its data product and explain what is shown. Make sure they describe what is on each axis or in each column, list the units displayed, and end with the important plain English sentence saying what it means. If you can say what a data product’s message is in plain English you’ve got the finding internalized and not memorized.
- Interpret: Students now need to make a judgment whether their hypothesis was supported or not supported based on the data they have shown.
- Use the sentences provided if they help-

**“The data that we have are consistent with the idea that (insert hypothesis) because _____, therefore I can refine my model in the following way..." and
“The data that we have are not consistent with the idea that (insert hypothesis) because ______, therefore I can refine my model in the following way..."**

Additionally students should discuss as a group:

- Thoughts why the hypothesis was or was not supported: “We missed the sampling event right after deepest snowpack, so we could not determine how much nitrogen was released then…”
- What would they do differently next time: “In the future students should consider sampling once a week, and then sending in samples that fit with the events that they want information about”.

Be sure that the students keep a hard copy or electronic version of the figures, tables, diagrams, legends, and bullet points. They will use these in Unit 6.

**Assessment**

**Formative**

Students can review other students’ and provide feedback on interpreting the graphs. The graph creators receive feedback to improve or clarify the story that they are trying to tell. Each student should review at least two graphs generated by other students and provide feedback. The feedback that these students receive in turn should be used to improve or clarify their own graphs. Students are assessing the work of each other and in turn being assessed on their ability to be discriminating consumers of graphic information.

During the classroom activity have different groups present the research for each other. Have the originating group take notes of when the presenting group stumbles over their research (if at all).

**Summary**

Students formally (but briefly) write their data interpretation—with hypothesis, data, explanation and interpretation.

**Lesson Extensions and Supplements**

For some groups and some questions one graph may lead to another question and another graph. Students who are ready to continue exploring the data might follow through with some plotting of other data that may help tell their research story.

The skills used in this unit can help students interpret and understand the limitations of graphs and data. Using newspapers, magazines, or the Internet, have each student or group find several examples of graphs or data presentations in the public media. Have students interpret each graph, either individually or in a group discussion. Ask them whether the graphs show a clear pattern, differences, or a relationship. See if they can locate any ‘fine print’ or comments on the variability of the data. Based on the data – the empirical evidence shown in the graphs they’ve found – how much faith do they put in the conclusions of the graph producers?

**Lesson Resources**

- Graph for modeling graph interpretation