Illuminations: Weather Watchers

# Weather Watchers

 Students collect and analyze data about the weather and learn to make a stem-and-leaf plot. Students use newspapers, the Internet, or other sources to collect weather data. This lesson was adapted from "Finding Our Top Speed", as found in Mission Mathematics II: Grades 6–8, a joint NASA/NCTM project, NCTM 2005.

### Learning Objectives

 Students will: collect, organize, and describe weather data construct, read, and interpret different displays of data, such as line graphs, line plots, and stem-and-leaf plots formulate and solve problems that involve collecting and analyzing data

### Materials

 Newspapers, Internet sites (such as the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration), or other sources of weather data

### Questions for Students

 Why do you think that this graph is called a stem-and-leaf plot? What numbers are the stems? What numbers are the leaves? [The graph may resemble a tree or a plant. The tens place value is represented by the stem, and the ones place value is represented by the leaf.] How does this graph help us "see" the data better? [You can see the data by the tens place value.] Is this the best way to organize the data? Why or why not? [Student responses may vary. Students may suggest scatterplots or tally charts as alternatives.] What other data could we organize in this way? [Student responses may vary; students may say heights (in inches), test scores, and other numerical data.]

### Assessment Options

 As you plan assessment for this activity, consider how the assessment offers opportunities for students to evaluate, reflect on, and improve their own work - to become independent learners. You may want to ask students to: Write a paragraph to summarize their findings from their data and share the paragraphs with partners. Explain why it is important to keep weather data from year to year.

### Extensions

 Ask students to keep a journal or record of the predicted weather, using a local newspaper or news program. Compare that data with data they collect. Are the meteorologists always right? What factors affect the meteorologists' accuracy? As students become more proficient with the stem-and-leaf plot, you may want to introduce a back-to-back stem-and-leaf plot. For example, students can plot both the high and low temperatures for the thirty days by having a center column for the stems, a left column for the leaves of the low temperatures, and a right column for the leaves of the high temperatures.

### NCTM Standards and Expectations

 Data Analysis & Probability 3-5Represent data using tables and graphs such as line plots, bar graphs, and line graphs. Collect data using observations, surveys, and experiments. Describe the shape and important features of a set of data and compare related data sets, with an emphasis on how the data are distributed.

2 periods

### Web Sites

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