Creating a Bar Graph

Sample Bar Graph

Image courtesy NASA

To engage students in basic bar graph construction using authentic NASA data.
Grade Level: K – 2
Estimated Time for Completing Activity: 1 50-minute class period
Learning Outcomes:
  • Students will observe numerical data about surface temperature change
  • Students will construct basic bar graph using numerical data and converting to bar graph format
  • Students will evaluate changes in the surface temperature over one year’s time
  • Students will draw conclusions about temperature change
  • Students will label the axes and title a bar graph
  • Using graphed data, students will infer the type of clothing and activities people might participate in for a particular location
  • Students will manipulate data sets from MyNASAData website via printed copy
  • Knowledge of temperature in Fahrenheit (normal/comfortable temperature ranges)
  • Knowledge of basic structure of a bar graph
Lesson Links:

Bar graphs are simple ways to display data. Taking numbers and creating a bar graph makes it easier to read and draw conclusions.


Tips provided under teacher notes section

Pre-Lesson Prep: Before beginning the lesson you must decide if you can/want to convert units of Kelvin to Fahrenheit with the students using the Excel spreadsheet (ideal if you have a way to project the computer screen so the students can all view), or if you want the data already calculated and ready for student graphing.

1. Display a map of the United States. Ask students if they can find California.
2. Once California is located, ask students to find San Jose.
3. Hand out blank bar graph sheet. Explain that you will be tracking changes in temperature over one year (2006) in San Jose, California.
4. Ask students to put their finger on the left side of the graph. What do you think we will be putting along this side?
5. Have students label the left side Temperature in degrees Fahrenheit
6. Ask students to find the bottom of the graph. Ask them what the bottom is showing.
(Months of the year)
7. Have students label the bottom Months of the year

-If you have a way to project the converter, continue here, if you do not, or wish to prepare this ahead of time. . .skip to alternate step

8. Display Kelvin to Fahrenheit converter. One by one, enter the Kelvin value and have students read the Fahrenheit value out loud. Graph data.
(Depending on comfort or amount of exposure to bar graphs, students may need this modeled)

-Alternate step 8

8. Hand out converted values or display for student view. One by one, have students graph values.
(Depending on comfort or amount of exposure to bar graphs, students may need this modeled)

9. Once data is graphed, have students/class come up with a title that fits what they graphed.


Pre-Lesson Inquiry Activity
Have your students work on groups of two or three and have them draw a picture of how they think NASA measures temperature and on the other side how they measure temperature. An alternate activity could be to have your students write a few sentences on what they think temperature means to them and to give some examples of things that have different temperatures.

Which month has the highest temperature?

In that month, what type of outfits would a person most likely wear?

Which month has the lowest temperatures?

In that month, what type of outfits would a person most likely wear?


Provide data for pairs to graph and ask questions.

Lesson plan contributed by Becky Schnekser, MY NASA DATA Team

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