After collecting data in the field and receiving results from the laboratory, students will understand and apply the concepts of data analysis. There are three important warm-up activities that set up the conceptual understanding behind graphing and data display, which are important in getting students to begin to think about data differently – grouping data and making generalizations about patterns, rather than seeing only the extremes. The exercises build toward a key skill – connecting the research question to the data. Three activities follow that deal more specifically with the data produced in the students’ own research. The activities in this unit build from each other, and we recommend doing them in the order presented here.
We strongly recommend that all graphing activities are done by hand – on paper or whiteboards – before students consider graphing using computer software. To understand the concepts, graphing by hand will focus attention on the data, not the tool, and is reasonable with our small data sets.