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edited by Robert Panoff
published by the Shodor Foundation
supported by the National Science Foundation
This simulation-based lesson for grades 5-9 provides hands-on practice in exploring bar graphs using authentic information. It features an interactive Java graphing applet to create and read bar graphs. Students can work within parameters provided in the applet or input their own data sets. This resource includes a complete lesson plan, teaching tips, and alignment to NCTM standards.

Editor's Note: Of particular note is the support provided by the author for students to generate their own data. The approach is a highly engaging way to introduce students to computer spreadsheet inputs, which will lay a foundation for future study in quantitative analysis.  

This resource is part of CSERD (Computational Science Education Reference Desk), a portal of the National Science Digital Library. The Interactivate collection contains more than 200 standards-based activities, many of which have been classroom tested.

Please note that this resource requires Java Applet Plug-in.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education Practices
- Active Learning
- Technology
= Computers
Mathematical Tools
- Probability
Other Sciences
- Mathematics
- Middle School
- High School
- Elementary School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- New teachers
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Intended Users:
General Public
Access Rights:
Free access
© 2009 Shodor Education Foundation
bar graph simulation, data analysis, graph, graph simulation, graph simulator, graphing tool
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created March 1, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
January 11, 2012 by Caroline Hall

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

9. The Mathematical World

9B. Symbolic Relationships
  • 6-8: 9B/M3. Graphs can show a variety of possible relationships between two variables. As one variable increases uniformly, the other may do one of the following: increase or decrease steadily, increase or decrease faster and faster, get closer and closer to some limiting value, reach some intermediate maximum or minimum, alternately increase and decrease, increase or decrease in steps, or do something different from any of these.
  • 9-12: 9B/H4. Tables, graphs, and symbols are alternative ways of representing data and relationships that can be translated from one to another.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M2. Mathematical models can be displayed on a computer and then modified to see what happens.

12. Habits of Mind

12B. Computation and Estimation
  • 3-5: 12B/E9. Use appropriate units when describing quantities.
  • 6-8: 12B/M6. Insert instructions into computer spreadsheet cells to program arithmetic calculations.
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Record Link
AIP Format
, edited by R. Panoff (Shodor Foundation, Durham, 2009), WWW Document, (http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/lessons/BarGraphLesson/).
CSERD Interactivate: Bar Graph Lesson, edited by R. Panoff (Shodor Foundation, Durham, 2009), <http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/lessons/BarGraphLesson/>.
APA Format
Panoff, R. (Ed.). (2009). CSERD Interactivate: Bar Graph Lesson. Retrieved August 1, 2014, from Shodor Foundation: http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/lessons/BarGraphLesson/
Chicago Format
Panoff, Robert, ed. CSERD Interactivate: Bar Graph Lesson. Durham: Shodor Foundation, 2009. http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/lessons/BarGraphLesson/ (accessed 1 August 2014).
MLA Format
Panoff, Robert, ed. CSERD Interactivate: Bar Graph Lesson. Durham: Shodor Foundation, 2009. National Science Foundation. 1 Aug. 2014 <http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/lessons/BarGraphLesson/>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {CSERD Interactivate: Bar Graph Lesson}, Publisher = {Shodor Foundation}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {1 August 2014}, Year = {2009} }
Refer Export Format

%A Robert Panoff, (ed)
%T CSERD Interactivate: Bar Graph Lesson
%D 2009
%I Shodor Foundation
%C Durham
%U http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/lessons/BarGraphLesson/
%O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D 2009
%T CSERD Interactivate: Bar Graph Lesson
%E Panoff, Robert
%I Shodor Foundation
%V 2014
%N 1 August 2014
%9 application/java
%U http://www.shodor.org/interactivate/lessons/BarGraphLesson/

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CSERD Interactivate: Bar Graph Lesson:

Is By The Same Author and Covers a Similar Topic As CSERD Interactivate: Plop It! Grapher

A similar simulation for exploring mean, median, and mode by interactively constructing a bar graph on an axis with a given range. The three central values are automatically generated each time a block is "plopped" into a column on the graph.

relation by Caroline Hall

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