Graphing Science

Brief Description:
This lesson overlays other science activities to involve the use of spreadsheets and graphing as a part of the science curriculum.

Main Curriculum Area: Computer

Grade Level: Secondary

Approximate Time Required: 1 hour

Primary Goal and Objective: 3.2

Other Goals & Objectives from the NC Standard Course of Study:
The science objectives covered are dependent on the course this activity is overlayed upon.

Other Subjects Covered: Science

Teacher's Lesson Goals/Objectives:
Students will be able to draw meaning from data collected in an experiment. Students will also explore the concepts of averages and experimental error.

Materials/Resources Needed:
A science experiment involving repeated readings over time; for example, the temperature change during a chemical reaction. Another example would be the measurement of the growth of a plant.

Technology Resources Needed (computer hardware, software, etc.):
Computers for each student for one class period
A computer for the entire time of the experiment. The
computer should have a spreadsheet package installed.

Students should be introduced to the data they are expected to record. The data needs to be organized such that each group of students (or individual student) acquires data with the same frequency and at the same interval. Students should also be introduced to the concepts of replication and experimental error.

Students will perform the experiment in groups or individually. Students should record data on paper and then enter the data into a spreadsheet. All students should enter their data into the same spreadsheet file on a different line. After the experiment is completed, the teacher should copy the spreadsheet file on to multiple disks or copy on to the file server. At this point, each student should individually total and average the readings from each data recording. The students should then calculate minimum and maximum readings. Eventually, the students should calculate the standard deviation of the data at each point. Finally each student should produce a chart that shows the average readings and the standard deviation of the reading.

Students should print the spreadsheet and their chart. They should interpret the chart and the findings of the class including which readings are reliable and which should be excluded when interpreting the data.

Supplemental Resources / Information for Teachers (handouts, background information, bibliographies, examples of student work, etc.):
This activity requires the use of a science experiment of the teacher's choice. Only those experiments that involve repeated readings will work well with this activity.

Relevant Web Sites:
NC A & T School of Education Web Site

Additional Comments from the Author of This Lesson:
These materials were developed to support and enhance the use of 1998 K-12 Computer/Technology Skills Standard Course of Study.

About the Author:
this activity was originally developed by Christopher I. Cobitz (NCA&T State University) and Denise E. Hedrick. reproduced with permission of the authors.