What Do You Want to Know? - Country Statistics
By Brink Harrison, Kirstin Bittel and Sally Rusk

Time: 1-2 class periods
Preparation Time: 5 minutes coping current country data
Materials: Graph paper
Access to computer lab with Excel or some other spreadsheet program

The students have collected a good deal of information about their specific countries and need to develop graphs to assist in the presentation of statistics about specific countries.

Purpose – To identify and create graphs that will best represent specific types of data, lead to better or easier analysis, and have the most visual impact when the students are presenting important information on their specific countries in the final project.

Students will be able to:

1. Identify the characteristics of a variety of graphs (i.e. bar graph, line graph, pie graph, scatter plot, population pyramids, etc.)
2. Recognize how the type of data to be presented plays a role in choosing the correct form of graph
3. Create a series of graphs for analyzing and presenting data for their final project country.

National Mathematics Education Standard:
Data Analysis and Probability:

Select and use appropriate statistical methods to analyze data.
Develop and evaluate inferences and predications that are based on data.


Use representations to mode land interpret physical, social, and mathematical phenomena.

Resource Websites



Discuss with the students how graphs are a useful way to analyze information. Ask, “ What graphs have you seen recently in newspapers or magazines? How were they used?” Review the main types of graphs and how they are constructed. (i.e. bar graph, line graph, pie graph, scatter plot, etc.). Ask the students, “If the graph has a horizontal and vertical axis, what data is typically represented on the x-axis? The y-axis?”

Have students make a rough sketch of each type of graph and discuss what type of data might be represented on the graph and why. For example, ask them, “ Would you use a pie graph, a bar graph, or a line graph to show the percentage of people in a specific country belonging to different religions?” Have a few volunteers share with the class to ensure that all students are on the same page on the various graphs.

Have students get together in groups by their specific country and create at least 5 graphs, in addition to the graphs they have made earlier, to present information about their country. They should have a variety of types of graphs on their final project, which means they should discuss and choose carefully what data they want to use and what graph is most appropriate. Some ideas of what to include are:

o Poverty rate over time or
o Number of people living below the poverty level over time
o Economic factor (GDP) over time
o Labor force by occupation
o Amount of products that are produced in the country and how much of the product is exported
o Amounts of products that are imported
o Exports vs. imports over time
o Import partners
o Export partners
o Infant mortality rate over time
o Religion
o Literacy of total population or change in literacy over time
o Mortality rate or projected life expectancy over time
o Population Pyramids: change in population over time and predictions for the future

This is just a starting place. Students may graph whatever data they feel with help them the most in the upcoming Model N.

(As a longer-term project, you might ask the students to collect graphs over a week or longer, putting the graphs into their notebooks and writing reflections on how well the graph represents the information and how easy it is to interpret the information)

Embedded Assessment
Through informal discussion you will be able to assess how well the students understand the types of information that can be presented by the different types of graphs. As the students are making their graphs, wander around the room and observe if the individual groups are using a different types of graphs as well as choosing the most appropriate graph for the chosen data.


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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