Live graphing!

What do you do with 44 grade 8 students on a sunny Friday morning? Instantly build a graph to reveal a pattern!

It was the end of the week and it was going to be a shorter-than-usual class. I wanted students to learn the relationship between the diameter of a circle and its circumference while also learning that graphing data is one way of visualizing relationships.

Before class started, I made a simple Google Form and raided the science lab for callipers and measuring tapes. At the beginning for class, it took about 5 minutes to show students the form and show them how to use the callipers. I then sent them off to find and measure as many circles as they could find around the school, entering the data in the form as they went. Students used laptops, tablets and smartphones to access the form, but I also had a computer set up in the classroom to prevent technological glitches from getting in the way of the fun.

Circle Data Form

Once students were out collecting data, I set up the table of results on the data projector. As students submitted their data in the Google Form, it appeared in the spreadsheet and automatically plotted on the graph. As students returned to the classroom, we talked about the shape of the graph and what it told us about the relationship between diameter and circumference. Because the students were the ones who actually collected the data, we were also able to discuss why some of the points were outliers.

Circle Data Responses

Circle data graph

Are you interested in trying this with your class? You can view the Google Sheets file with the data that my students collected here. Under the “File” menu, you can select “Make a copy”, give the file a new name and use it as template for your own live graphing activity. You can access the form and the link to share with students under the “Form” menu. Enjoy!

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