## Wednesday, December 15, 2010

### Displaying Data again

Yesterday I showed three ways to construct a pie chart, or circle graph. Today we can look at a line graph, which is one of the more complex ways we teach elementary school kids to display data.

Here's a sample chart or graph which comes from our fourth grade material.

The chart shows distance (across the bottom or X-axis) and elevation (on the vertical or Y-axis). The green line is drawn connecting various points that our rider noted during his training ride. These points are also described in a story that accompanies the chart.

For this problem, we asked students to identify the points labeled 1, 2 & 3 on the chart. These corresponded to things mentioned in the text. This process allows kids to become familiar with the concept of the chart without having to construct everything themselves. Then we asked a question based on the data. Here are the answers:

The next week we asked for a bit more. We described a bike race, with a narrative story, then asked them to plot the ride on a blank grid. They had to decide the units on the Y-axis, label both axes, label the graph, and plot points based on the text. Finally, they had to ask their own question based on the data, and provide the correct answer.

Here's the completed graph:

Is this rocket science? No. Is it difficult to do? Yes. Does it help to visualize this if you took the bike ride first? Yes. Math is a representation of the reality around us, but it is not totally independent of that reality.

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