Rainfall and Elevation: A Charting and Critical Thinking Exercise

Kay Yeagley
Newport Middle High School
Author Profile

This material was originally developed by the the National Numeracy Network
as part of its collaboration with the SERC Pedagogic Service.


This Computer Technology lab is designed to engage students in the process of organizing and presenting data in a visual way so that they can then summarize in writing their conclusions about the relationships between the data.

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Learning Goals

Goals include:
  • ability to create a chart from non-contiguous data spreadsheet
  • label chart data to accurately describe the content
  • copy data between programs
  • describe in writing what the charts portray

Context for Use

This is a Computer Applications activity appropriate for high school freshman. Access to a computer and a spreadsheet program capable of charting and a word processing program are needed. This assignment serves as a capstone to a group of charting activies. Prior instruction includes entering data in a spreadsheet, using the chart wizard, editing chart features, and applying and understanding a trendline. This activity will require an hour (likely more) depending on the student.

Description and Teaching Materials

Instruction handout, spreadsheet data file, spreadsheet program capable of creating scatter charts and a word processing program.

  • Description of the steps students follow to complete this assignment. Assignment Sheet Handout (Microsoft Word 28kB May22 08)
  • Excel(2003)file containing the latitude, longitude, elevations, and montly and yearly rainfall averages for 46 selected towns, cities or loctions in the state of New Hampshire.NH Precipitation Data - Metric (Excel 23kB May21 08)

Teaching Notes and Tips

Students may wish to enhance their charts by using an appropriate picture in the plot area or chart area background. Care should be taken to keep the chart easy to read. Review of the writing rubric prior to the writing portion of the assignment may help students.

If you are willing to spend the time, a data sheet can be prepared for any geographical area from the data available at http://www.worldclimate.com; compiled by Robert Hoare.


Two grading rubrics provided.

References and Resources

WorldClimate Web Site http://www.worldclimate.com