Teach the Earth > Introductory Courses > Activities > Plotting Florida River Data Using Excel

Plotting Florida River Data Using Excel

Kim Hannula
Fort Lewis College
Author Profile

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process. This review took place as a part of a faculty professional development workshop where groups of faculty reviewed each others' activities and offered feedback and ideas for improvements. To learn more about the process On the Cutting Edge uses for activity review, see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Apr 30, 2008


This exercise is used to prepare students to analyze data they will collect during their group project. It familiarizes students with previously collected data, and builds skills graphing and interpreting data.

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Introductory earth systems science course (see course profile), introductory environmental geology course.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

- Graphing data by hand.
- Using networked campus computers.

How the activity is situated in the course

This exercise comes in the middle of a series of exercises that prepare students to collect and interpret water quality data. Before this exercise, students have looked at maps of the Florida River basin, and have plotted monthly discharge data for two sites by hand. After this exercise, students will collect their own data from one of the sites, and will compare it to the data that was previously collected.
See an overview of this project and find descriptions for each of the activities on the Florida River overview page.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

- Graphing using MS Excel

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

- Analysis of data based on graphs
- Formulation of hypotheses

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

Students graph existing water quality data using MS Excel, and use the graphs to discuss the changes in discharge, sediment load, and dissolved load along the length of the river and over time. This exercise prepares students to analyze and discuss their own data later in the semester.

Determining whether students have met the goals

- Evaluate printed plots: have students succeeded in plotting the data?
- Compare answers to data: are the answers reasonable, given the plots?

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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