Graphing the Elephant Seal Population Data

Author: Joe Spagna


  1. Students will be able to graph data that they generated in the elephant seal exercise using proper format and labeling.

  2. Students will be able to interpret the graphs they created and make A) conclusions, and B) predictions based on that graph.

Grade span: 6-8 or 9-12

Each student will have one worksheet/handout page (download pdf) to make graphs on, a pencil, and a straightedge.
The teacher will provide the class data for the students to use in their graphs.
For my "motivation" I am bringing reprints of a paper that summarizes all the findings in a single, simple graph.


  1. Guided practice (15 minutes):

    On the board, we will graph the following data set-- this represents the Cartoon Bear population in Jellystone State Park.

    Year: Population:
    1995 25 bears
    1996 30 bears
    1997 35 bears
    1998 30 bears
    1999 40 bears

    Together we will draw the axes, make the scale, label the axes, label the divisions, mark the data points, label the whole thing on the front board, leaving graph on front board as an example.

    Discuss : What kinds of things can we DO with this information?
    -- Find patterns
    -- Make predictions
    -- Test hypotheses

  2. Independent practice (15 minutes):
    Students will complete worksheet to graph the two population datasets and answer questions about them.

  3. Summary and conclusion:
    What did we find out? What is a good graph useful for?