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Principles of Graphing - Basic

Key Concepts:

Understand the three components of a completed graph: (1) main title, (2) x and y-axis titles, and (3) using correct units of measurement. Distinguish between data representing independent and dependent variables. Choose the most appropriate graph to useline, bar, or piegiven different sets of data. Analyzing and interpreting data that may be difficult to appreciate in a table format.

As data is gathered during a laboratory investigation or experiment, it is often helpful to not only generate data tables, but graph the data for further analysis, comparison, and interpretation. Graphs help to show relationships between sets of data that may be difficult to appreciate in a table format only. These data are called variables. Independent variables can be changed, altered, or modified by the scientist running the experiment. Dependent variables rely on the conditions of the investigation. Dependent variables are dependent on the independent variables and can be thought of as the outcomes of an investigation or experiment. Three types of graphs will be used in this activity: line graphs, bar graphs, and pie graphs. Line graphs generally show connections between two sets of data in which the independent variable is continuous. Bar graphs are used when there are no connections between pieces of data. Pie graphs, also called pie charts, are particularly useful when parts or pieces of data will be compared to the whole. Pie graphs normally include a key or legend describing the data each piece represents.

Example of a Line Graph

Example of a Bar Graph

Example of a Pie Graph pie_ex1.png

Graph paper (several sheets per student) Unlined, white computer paper (several sheets per student) Protractors (at least one per student group) Metric rulers (at least one per student group)
Calculators (or use of the calculating function on any cell phone)

Pencils and/or pens

Part 1: Pre-lab Questions

Answer the following pre-lab questions in the space provided. 1. What are variables and how do they affect scientific investigations? _____________________________________________________________________________ _ _____________________________________________________________________________ _ _____________________________________________________________________________ _

_____________________________________________________________________________ _ 2. Describe the difference(s) between independent and dependent variables. _____________________________________________________________________________ _ _____________________________________________________________________________ _ _____________________________________________________________________________ _ _____________________________________________________________________________ _

3. What are the three things that all graphs need to be complete? a._______________________________________________ b._______________________________________________ c._______________________________________________

Part 2: Making Graphs

For each of the following groups of data, make the appropriate kind of graph on a separate sheet of paper. Be sure to include the three components that complete a graph. Line and bar graphs should be drawn on graph paper, whereas pie graphs can be drawn on unlined paper if available.

1. Relationship of Water Temperature to the Heart Rate of Northwest Pacific Salmon (Line Graph)



10C 11C 13C 15C 21C 29C 31C 34C 38C

Input Labor Machinery

0/min 8/min 12/min 16/min 19/min 23/min 23/min 20/min 0/min

2005 1.1 kcal/m2 103.9 kcal/m2

2. U.S. Expended Energy in the Production of Wheat for 2005 (Bar Graph)

Gasoline Nitrogen Phosphorus Potassium Seeds Irrigation Insecticides Herbicides Other

196.4 kcal/m2 232.4 kcal/m2 11.2 kcal/m2 16.4 kcal/m2 15.3 kcal/m2 8.2 kcal/m2 2.5 kcal/m2 2.5 kcal/m2 123.8 kcal/m2

3. Distribution of Butterfly Species in North America (Pie Graph)

Species Name Number of each Species Fraction of Total Students to fill in Percent (%) of Total Students to fill in

Tiger Swallowtail Black Swallowtail

4,200 9,200

Giant Swallowtail Pine White Cabbage White Orange Sulphur Harvester Blue Copper Great Purple Hairstreak Silver-Spotted Skipper Totals

6,000 12,500 70,000 6,500 750,000 5,000 46,000 4,000 913,400

** Fraction of Total = Number of each Species/Total # of all Species (report in decimal form) ** Percent of Total = Number of each Species/Total # of all Species x 100

Part 3: Post-Lab Questions

1. What is the independent variable for question number one?

1a. The independent variable should be graphed on the ____________ axis. 1b. _______________ graphs show the relationship between two kinds of data in which the independent variable is continuous.

2. Why do you think individual bars on a bar graph are not connected to each other as data points are in a line graph?

2a. _______________ graphs are used when there is no continuity or continuation from one piece of data to the next.

3. Look at the data given in question number three. What would be an effective way to check your math calculations for percents and fractions to make sure your graph is correct? In other words, what should your totals add up to?

3a. Can you think of any other units of measurement pie charts can be graphed in other than percentages? (Hint: Think about the shape of a pie graph).

References: Activity adapted from Making Graphs by MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc.