Lesson Plans

Data Literacy Cube: Intermediate Graph Data using Soil Moisture Data

Mojave Soil Moisture


Use the My NASA Data Cubes to guide students’ exploration of data to enrich their observations and inferences.  This is a flexible resource that may be used with a variety of graphical representations of data.  This activity requires a graph for students to evaluate.   For the purposes of this lesson, students will analyze a graph of the Monthly Soil Moisture of the Mojave National Preserve, south of Las Vegas, NV shown in mm.

Learning Objectives

  • Observe and interpret physical characteristics of the Earth System using graphs of NASA data
  • Characterize the independent and dependent variables
  • Analyze graphs values with statistics
  • Research how the phenomena changes of time and space
  • Identify relationships among variables
  • Summarize trends in the data

Essential Questions

  • How is the data represented in the graph?
  • How do we identify changes in these data?
  • How does change in the independent variable affects the other variable?
  • What relationships do you claim to exist among these variables?

Materials Required

  • 1 Cube per group/studentIntermediate Graph Cube
  • 1 matching Cube Question Sheet
  • 1 Sheet of paper per student
  • Pencil
  • Graph

Teacher Preparation:  

Print copies of the cube on cardstock and cut out.  Assemble the cube with glue. Note: consider laminating after you cut these out for multiple uses.  Also, print off copies of the Cube Questions. Distribute to students for group or independent work.

question sheet

Technology Requirements

  • Standalone Lesson (no technology required)

Background Information

For more information about the procedures for accessing MND data on the Earth System Data Explorer, visit our YouTube page and watch the tutorials.


  1. Distribute one cube per group, as well as the related Cube Questions sheet and the graph.
  2. Students roll the cube and find the matching question on the Cube Question sheet. 
  3. Answer one question found under matching question on a sheet of paper, labeling the question with the number and letter of the question.  See example below, 5.A.
  4. Repeat Steps 2-4 until at least 10 are answered.