Using graphs to investigate precipitation in various biomes

Using graphs to investigate precipitation in
various biomes
Step 1
Precipitation distribution
Software: Microsoft® Office Word
What to do: Work in pairs to gather data from websites regarding monthly rainfall in desert
biomes around the world
Before looking at any websites, make a hypothesis about what you expect to find. Ask yourself:
Which biomes have similar amounts of precipitation?
Do some biomes have more precipitation in certain months than others?
What is the range of precipitation for the various biomes?
Record your answers in a Word document and save it for later reference.
Step 2
Create a worksheet
Software: Microsoft Office Excel® 2007
What to do: Create an Office Excel 2007 spreadsheet with the data you have gathered
Open a worksheet in Excel. In cell A1, type the title Precipitation in Various Biomes
In row 3, beginning in cell A3, type the following headings:
Bonn, Germany
Siberia, Russia
Yukon, Canada
Sort the list alphabetically. Here's how: Highlight the cells from cell A4 down. On the
Data menu, choose Sort. Make sure it is in order A to Z.
Next, starting in row B3 and going across, type the name for each month of the year, starting with
January. After the months (N3), type “Average Yearly Precipitation”, and in O3 type “Total Yearly
Step 3
What to do: Find precipitation levels for each month in the locations given.
Using the internet, find monthly precipitation values for the biomes selected. When you find the
information you are looking for, enter it into the graph on the Excel worksheet. Do not enter
yearly values yet. You can make any notes you like about the locations you are researching on
your Word document.
Step 4
What to do: Add formulas to your spreadsheet
Now you can automatically calculate the average amount of rainfall for each biome. Click inside
cell N4, click on Formulas, then click on the bottom of the AutoSum button. Click on
Average. There will be a highlighted box across row 4 in your data. Make sure it highlights all the
data you want averaged and hit enter. Do the same as this for all biomes.
To calculate yearly rainfall, click inside cell O4, then click on Formulas, then click on the
AutoSum button. Make sure only the monthly precipitation data is highlighted for your biome
(and not the average column). Hit enter.
Step 5
Create graphs
What to do: Create two charts and add your data
Use the graphing tools in Office Excel to produce at least two different graphs.
Choose the graph types that best represent the data, such as a bar graph or a column graph. For
example, you might choose to chart the distribution of precipitation in a single biome or the total
amount of rainfall for all the biomes in your sample.
Highlight cells A3:M11. On the Insert menu, choose graph type. Once you click on one of the
graphs, a graph will appear. Manipulate the data range by clicking on “Select Data”. Go to
Format to add titles to the graph and to the x and y axes. Try playing around with different
features, and if you get stuck, try using the Help feature (question mark) on Excel.
Step 6
Writing the report
What to do: Analyze your data and use Office Word to write your report
Right click on your graph, then paste in your Microsoft Word document. In your report, do the
Compare your initial hypotheses about the biomes (in Step 1) and the expected precipitation with
actual survey results. Copy and paste spreadsheet and chart data into Word where appropriate.
Discuss the advantages/disadvantages of representing data in spreadsheet tables, column charts,
bar graphs, or pie charts. For example:
When is it best to use one chart type instead of another?
What is the value of using different types of precipitation data for this report?
Directions: Read the following three scenarios, then using the data provided,
construct a graph on Microsoft Excel. Read carefully to pick out clues about how to set
up the graph.
Graph #1 Rizwan and Jake are working on a lab activity where they are tracking some
leaves that are floating past them in a rain runoff channel near their home. They have to
measure how far the leaves travel in different amounts of time. They place a long tape
measure along side of the runoff channel to measure distance. A borrowed stopwatch
will let them record the amount of time. They plan to have time intervals that begin at
two seconds, and increase by two’s until they get to 20 seconds. The data they recorded
is below:
Graph #2 A group of students are doing an experiment where they roll a ball down a
ramp and then measure how far across the floor it rolls. The factors that are the same
each time are:
• the ball
• the ramp, including its length and angle to the surface
• where on the ramp the ball starts from
The students change the type of surface the ball rolls on. The data they
collected is shown below.
Graph #3 Creating this graph will be a bit more difficult. How can you display data
from two different plants in the same graph?
Gertrude the Goat wanted to be sure that the fish in the wadi got enough oxygen. She
designed an experiment to determine the depth at which she should place the two
different water plants so that they would produce the most oxygen.
Depth (meters)
Number of bubbles
Plant A
Plant B
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