8th Grade Scatter Plot Project

I made this project to give my 8th graders the opportunity to use their statistical skills (collecting, organizing, describing, and analyzing data) by exploring a research question of their own creation.

Step 1: Develop a research question. (about 30 minutes)

I “modeled” how to develop a research question by pretending to create the question “What’s the association between an animal’s weight and its brain weight?” which I borrowed from Unit 6 Lesson 8 of IM.

Then students worked alone or in pairs to create a research question and a plan for collecting data. I gave students three options for collecting data:

  1. researching online
  2. experimenting on their classmates
  3. surveying their classmates/community

To inspire students, I offered them:

  1. A list of materials they could use to design an experiment.
  2. A list of sample survey questions to get them thinking
  3. Many books about animals. (Just because animals are appealing to many students AND easy to research online.) Here are some of the ones I purchased on a spree to the bookshop. I love having math-y picture books…my classroom feels instantly more stimulating.

Kids spent some time picking their topic and worked alone/with a partner to complete this project plan handout. Nearly everyone needed to revise their research questions and add significantly more detail to their plan. I created this checklist of “look-fors” to help me and my co-teacher give feedback to kids:

Step 2: Practice Round (55 min)

During the next lesson, students learned about the project expectations by helping me with “my research project.” I modified lesson 8 to fit this purpose. Students used the data provided by IM to construct, describe, and analyze a scatter plot with a linear model while familiarizing themselves with the checklist of expectations.

Step 3: Students collected data for their projects. A fun + chaotic day! (55 min)

Research questions included: Is there an association between….

  • – a person’s mouth span and the number of mini-marshmallows they can fit in their mouth
  • – the circumference of a person’s bicep and the number of pushups they can do in 30 seconds
  • – an animal’s heart rate and its life span
  • – an animal’s weight and its tongue weight
  • – an animal’s weight and the weight of the food it eats per day
  • – the number of bites someone takes to eat a twizzler and the time it takes them to eat a twizzler
  • – the weight of a car and its gas mileage

Step 4: Organize Data (55+ min: most groups needed two class periods)

Students constructed their scatter plots and then created a poster on newsprint paper with their results. This was a great opportunity to review how to calculate slope. Fingers-crossed it sticks with more of them this time.

A couple of samples:

Step 5: Celebration! Kids got to see each others’ posters, and give feedback to their peers. (25 min)

All of the materials I created can be found in this folder!

If you are looking for a more straightforward project for students to practice working with scatterplots, check out this activity I created on TPT where kids pretend to be biostatisticians investigating increased asthma rates in “Midwood City”:

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for improving this project or how I share my projects.

Always happy to hear from readers!