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Electronic spreadsheets and online weather databases are excellent tools for making real-world comparisons of local, national, and global climate trends. The activities described in this article incorporate these tools to help familiarize students with electronic spreadsheets and how to use authentic data sets available from the internet to answer authentic scientific questions. These activities address important standards-based concepts in science, mathematics, and geography, and are appropriate for grades 4–6.
A selection from Science and Children—April/May 2010
For students to understand how climate models are developed, they need to understand how to interpret data. The author has students learn how to organize and analyze data by using publicly available data to construct their own graphs. By using spreadsheets, they can make more concise and well ordered graphs. In turn, they can more readily identify patterns because their scale will be standardized. I especially liked the author's extension to compare local data with global data. This is a solid set of lessons that will prepare students to analyze larger data sets in the future whether that be junior high or high school.
Ruth Hutson (Westmoreland, KS)
This article provides what will turn out to be several lessons on teaching students how to use spreadsheets to graph data for analysis. It is a time consuming lesson, however, it does teach students useful skills in how to graph on a computer and once they know how to do that, the lessons will go more quickly.
Once students can graph data from the spreadsheet, now they can create their OWN graphs instead of passively reading textbook information. This lesson would be good at any level 4th or 5th grade and up to learn how to use spreadsheets to create graphs and/or how to analyze data from spreadsheets or online databases. I especially like the authors suggestion of work groups instead of individuals to allow for social construction of meaning for the data, I do this a lot, especially when I am introducing a complex topic where "two heads are better than one". Good article!
Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN)
$1.29 - Nonmembers