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Lesson Ideas

Graphing Activities & Analyzing Scientific Data for Students

This collection of activities can be used to teach middle school and high school students about data analysis, graphing, and interpretation. Check out these teacher-designed lesson plans using real data from scientific research.

1. Graphing and Data Analysis: Comparison of Fishing Methods

Students will choose the best way to present four groups of data, and then interpret the findings from this adapted research article. In this activity, students will learn about one option to reduce the impact of fishing on marine life.

2. Graphing using Spreadsheets: Endangered Rhinos

Students will graph real, downloadable data from conservation scientists at Kruger National Park in South Africa who have been monitoring endangered white and black rhinos for many years. By the end of the exercise, students will learn about different threats to rhinos and what can be done to help.

3. Data Visualization Using Maps: Ancient Caribbean Peoples

Video tutorial

Students will place examples of DNA evidence and archaelogical findings on a map of the Americas to summarize findings from real scientific research. In this activity, they will illustrate migration patterns in the Caribbean and learn about how different types of scientific findings contribute to our understanding of the past.

4. Graphing Using Spreadsheets: Ocean Plastic

Students will learn about plastic waste in the Earth’s oceans and the amounts of plastic waste generated by each country in the year 2010 (the earliest year data was available). Students will further compare the amounts of plastic waste produced by collecting data and entering it into a spreadsheet.

5. Graphical Interpretation: Tree Rings and Rainfall


Students will interpret data and graphs of findings from a longitudinal study of rainfall in Australia that relies on core samples from old, native trees. In these activities, they will learn about the role of indirect information and inference in scientific research.

6. Claim, Evidence, Reasoning Using Models: Climate Change in the Arctic

Students will interpret a researcher’s model of climate change based on data about precipitation and temperature over time. In these activities, they will learn the scientific background behind Arctic sea ice, its role in the environment and climate regulation, and have discussions centered around the future impacts the study predicts.

That’s Not All!

  • Check out other types of lessons, labs, and activities for your students in the “Additional teaching resources” section on each article page.
  • Take a look at our blog which features lessons to go along with some of our most popular articles. (You can find our blog under the “Resources For Teachers” dropdown on our homepage.)
  • Remember, you can also search our articles for different types of scientific methodologies and figures if you’re looking for something specific.

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