Title

Version 1.1.2 (Updated Aug 21, 2021)

Females singing to be heard

Challenging long-held assumptions about birdsong through data visualization

1. Overview

Target Subject:

Math

Grades:

Adapted for 5-6, 7-8, & 9-12

Estimated Time:

3 x 45 min

Driving question(s):

What is the best way to visualize data?

Essential question(s):

  1. How do our assumptions (biases) affect our conclusions?
  2. What are the pros and cons of scatterplots vs. histograms?

Learning Targets (I Can):

  • Solve a cipher (a type of secret message)
  • Learn and use new vocabulary
  • Interpret a scatter plot
  • Create a histogram from raw data
  • Compare and contrast scatter plots and histograms
  • Persevere, even when a task seems too hard

Lesson Hook:

A Polymath Puzzle challenges students to decode the text parts of a graph, drawing them into a fascinating lesson about storytelling through data visuals.

Keywords:
animal communicationbarn swallowsbirdsdata literacydot plotshistogramspeer reviewscatter plotssonggrit

2. Lesson Preview

Lesson Trailer:

Teach it in 15:

These quick prep presentations are intended to give someone with no training in the lesson's subject matter enough background to lead the lesson, in 15 minutes or less. Additional detail on lesson procedure and scientific background are provided below.

→ Teach It in 15 | Part 1: Ciphers and Data Visuals

→ Teach It in 15 | Part 2: From Tables to Graphs

→ Teach It in 15 | Part 3: Visualizing Song Data

Lesson Description

This lesson teaches students about data visualization (how to read and interpret scatter plots, dot plots, and histograms), and connects to a broader theme of how our assumptions affect our conclusions. Students learn how scientists and birders alike have assumed for decades that most female birds don't sing. As students explore real data from a recent study, they will learn how this assumption could be reinforced by the fact that females sing much less than males, and further, how this biased oversight has limited our understanding of bird research from its very beginnings. See Scientific Background for details.

The lesson will take 3 class periods for most learners. Students dive in with a data literacy puzzle, which we call a “Polymath Puzzle.” Students are given a figure from a current scientific study on barn swallows (a common bird across the world), but with text elements coded with an alphabetic shift (e.g. each letter is shifted: A to B, B to C, and so on). They have to work in teams (or individually) to decipher the messages, and then try to understand the figure. This is a high-level data literacy task that piques students’ natural love of puzzle-solving, while working on GRIT/grappling and the 21st Century Skills (4 Cs). Videos guide students through each stage of the Polymath Puzzle. In Parts 2 and 3, students create and interpret histograms from the same data, allowing for a deeper understanding of the pros and cons of scatter plots and histograms for visualizing data patterns. The culminating task is for students to synthesize the conclusions from the two types of graph, along with additional background information to hypothesize a reason for why female song has been missed until 2020 in this widely studied species.

3. Teaching Materials

*You will need to be logged into a free Google account and click "Use Template" to add files to your Google Drive.

Resources needed:
3 Digital Items
Presentation x 3 Parts
7 Printed Items
Teacher Worksheet x 3 Parts
Student Worksheet x 3 Parts
Table 1 Reference (just Part 3)
4 Other Requirements
Teacher's computer
Internet Connection
Projector
Speakers

Grade Level Variations:

Part 1: G5-6 & 7-8 receive an easier cipher than G9-12.

Part 2: No meaningful differences between grade level adaptations.

Part 3: For G5-6 & 7-8, Table 1 and 2 data is more straightforward, referring to the sexes as Male and Female. G9-12 students have an added challenge of determining the true sex of individuals listed as “One” and “Two” by referring to patterns in the scatter plot and histogram. G9-12 students also have to bin data and draw histograms for both sexes, while lower grades are provided the female data as an example.

Part 1 will take a full class period and is broken into 4 time chunks. It uses a “Polymath Puzzle” hook to draw students into carefully studying a scatter plot created from real data. Students then learn about how female song has been missed in barn swallows (a very common bird species).

  1. Presentation

  2. Student Worksheet

  3. Teacher Worksheet

Students learn how to make dot plots and learn how histograms are made by binning data into ranges. This lesson is slightly shorter than the other two parts.

  1. Presentation

  2. Student Worksheet

  3. Teacher Worksheet

Students create a histogram from raw data and use the scatter plot and histogram for reflection and synthesis. They will also synthesize all they have learned about histograms, dot plots, scatter plots, and the barn swallow study to answer big questions about why female song has been missed in this common species and why that matters.

  1. Presentation

  2. Student Worksheet

  3. Teacher Worksheet

  4. Table 1 reference for Part 3

Part 1 will take a full class period and is broken into 4 time chunks. It uses a “Polymath Puzzle” hook to draw students into carefully studying a scatter plot created from real data. Students then learn about how female song has been missed in barn swallows (a very common bird species).

  1. Presentation

  2. Student Worksheet

  3. Teacher Worksheet

Students learn how to make dot plots and learn how histograms are made by binning data into ranges. This lesson is slightly shorter than the other two parts.

  1. Presentation

  2. Student Worksheet

  3. Teacher Worksheet

Students create a histogram from raw data and use the scatter plot and histogram for reflection and synthesis. They will also synthesize all they have learned about histograms, dot plots, scatter plots, and the barn swallow study to answer big questions about why female song has been missed in this common species and why that matters.

  1. Presentation

  2. Student Worksheet

  3. Teacher Worksheet

  4. Table 1 reference for Part 3

Part 1 will take a full class period and is broken into 4 time chunks. It uses a “Polymath Puzzle” hook to draw students into carefully studying a scatter plot created from real data. Students then learn about how female song has been missed in barn swallows (a very common bird species).

  1. Presentation

  2. Student Worksheet

  3. Teacher Worksheet

Students learn how to make dot plots and learn how histograms are made by binning data into ranges. This lesson is slightly shorter than the other two parts.

  1. Presentation

  2. Student Worksheet

  3. Teacher Worksheet

Students create a histogram from raw data and use the scatter plot and histogram for reflection and synthesis. They will also synthesize all they have learned about histograms, dot plots, scatter plots, and the barn swallow study to answer big questions about why female song has been missed in this common species and why that matters.

  1. Presentation

  2. Student Worksheet

  3. Teacher Worksheet

  4. Table 1 reference for Part 3

Resources needed:
3 Digital Items
NearpodNearpod Lessons x 3 Parts
2 (Optional) Printed Items
Teacher Worksheets (optional for Part 3)
Student Worksheet (optional for Part 3)
4 Other Requirements
Internet connection
Student laptops
Scratch paper & pencil (may or may not be necessary)
Speakers/headphones

*Remote teaching of our lessons requires a minimum (free) Silver Subscription to Nearpod. Sign up here.

Grade Level Variations:

Part 1: G5-6 & 7-8 receive an easier cipher than G9-12.

Part 2: No meaningful differences between grade level adaptations.

Part 3: For G5-6 & 7-8, Table 1 and 2 data is more straightforward, referring to the sexes as Male and Female. G9-12 students have an added challenge of determining the true sex of individuals listed as “One” and “Two” by referring to patterns in the scatter plot and histogram. G9-12 students also have to bin data and draw histograms for both sexes, while lower grades are provided the female data as an example.

Part 1 will take a full class period and is broken into 4 time chunks. It uses a “Polymath Puzzle” hook to draw students into carefully studying a scatter plot created from real data. Students then learn about how female song has been missed in barn swallows (a very common bird species).

  1. Presentation

Students learn how to make dot plots and learn how histograms are made by binning data into ranges. This lesson is slightly shorter than the other two parts.

  1. Presentation

Students create a histogram from raw data and use the scatter plot and histogram for reflection and synthesis. They will also synthesize all they have learned about histograms, dot plots, scatter plots, and the barn swallow study to answer big questions about why female song has been missed in this common species and why that matters.

  1. Presentation

  2. (Optional) Student Handout for Filling in Table 2

  3. (Optional) Teacher Handout for Filling in Table 2

Part 1 will take a full class period and is broken into 4 time chunks. It uses a “Polymath Puzzle” hook to draw students into carefully studying a scatter plot created from real data. Students then learn about how female song has been missed in barn swallows (a very common bird species).

  1. Presentation

Students learn how to make dot plots and learn how histograms are made by binning data into ranges. This lesson is slightly shorter than the other two parts.

  1. Presentation

Students create a histogram from raw data and use the scatter plot and histogram for reflection and synthesis. They will also synthesize all they have learned about histograms, dot plots, scatter plots, and the barn swallow study to answer big questions about why female song has been missed in this common species and why that matters.

  1. Presentation

  2. (Optional) Student Handout for Filling in Table 2

  3. (Optional) Teacher Handout for Filling in Table 2

Part 1 will take a full class period and is broken into 4 time chunks. It uses a “Polymath Puzzle” hook to draw students into carefully studying a scatter plot created from real data. Students then learn about how female song has been missed in barn swallows (a very common bird species).

  1. Presentation

Students learn how to make dot plots and learn how histograms are made by binning data into ranges. This lesson is slightly shorter than the other two parts.

  1. Presentation

Students create a histogram from raw data and use the scatter plot and histogram for reflection and synthesis. They will also synthesize all they have learned about histograms, dot plots, scatter plots, and the barn swallow study to answer big questions about why female song has been missed in this common species and why that matters.

  1. Presentation

  2. (Optional) Student Handout for Filling in Table 2

  3. (Optional) Teacher Handout for Filling in Table 2

4. Procedure

Estimated 3 x 45 min periods

This lesson is broken into 3 Parts, which will each take a full 45min class period for most groups of students, though upper-level high schoolers may finish more quickly. Part 3 may require extra time for thorough reflection.

Introduction to ciphers: using puzzles to teach graphing
05101520253035404515 min.
1
Introduction to Ciphers

Students learn how to crack a type of secret message called a cipher. They will need this background to solve the Polymath Puzzle engagement hook.

By spending some time introducing students to ciphers, we are laying the groundwork for cipher-based puzzle hooks for each part of this lesson. The Polymath Puzzle in Part 1 draws students into decoding the labels on a graph in order to engage them in trying to understand the next level of meaning in the graph, creating a rich data literacy learning experience. In the first step, students learn that ciphers are used to make a secret message. We use a simple cipher called an alphabetic shift, where each letter of each word in a message has been shifted a certain number of places (e.g. +1 would mean A becomes B, B becomes C, and so on). This section works on assimilating new vocabulary, as well as encouraging students to have a growth mindset. They need to quickly orient themselves to the "system" of ciphers and how they work. Parts 2 and 3 of the lesson will build on this engagement hook.

Vocab
  • algorithm : a set of steps, like a mathematical recipe
  • alphabetic shift: type of cipher where each letter has been shifted a certain number of places (dictated by the algorithm)
  • cipher: a secret message that uses an algorithm to make a message seem like nonsense
  • decipher: 1) to convert a secret message into readable text; 2) to succeed in understanding something
  • encipher: convert readable text (plaintext) into a secret message
  • plaintext: readable text (not a cipher)

Ask students to read slides and predict what the next slide will be (e.g. the next letter in the alphabetic shift). Model a growth mindset, and that it's ok to not completely understand at first.

2
Cipher Practice

Students practice determining an algorithm given plaintext (normal text) or a cipher.

In the remote version students provide responses digitally using Nearpod.*

All remote versions of GP lessons can be completed using a free Nearpod account.

Deciphering the graph
05101520253035404510 min.
3
The Polymath Puzzle

Students use their new skills to decipher the coded axes of a scatter plot graph representing data from a real scientific study.

Decipher algorithms for grade bands:

  • 5-6, 7-8: (-1 shift)
  • 9-12: (+3 shift)

Set a definite time limit (e.g. 5min) to solve and enter deciphered text, and move on. The videos will clear up any misunderstandings.

4
How to solve the cipher

Students watch ▶"How to solve the Polymath Puzzle from the "Females Sing" lesson" to scaffold student understanding.

Students will either discuss their strategies (in-person) or choose which strategy they adopted (remote).

Understanding the graph
05101520253035404515 min.
5
What Does it Mean?

Students watch ▶"How to read the deciphered scatter plot" to scaffold understanding. Then they’ll discuss as a class.

Students share all their observations and wonderings about the graph. They then come up with their own educated guesses (hypotheses) for what the graph's story is. (i.e. What species is being studied? What patterns are shown? What was being studied?)

For the remote version, classroom discussion/ brainstorming is done with a Nearpod Collaboration Board. If doing student-paced lesson, this will need to be enabled.

Encourage any student observations or guesses at the graph's meaning, no matter how basic. Start with, what kind of data are on the X and Y axes? Which sex has the most songs per day? Are there any "weird" points (outliers) that stand out from the rest?

6
Mystery Reveal

Students watch ▶"Polymath Puzzle Reveal—Is the graph about birds, spiders, whales,…?", which connects the puzzle to current research and data literacy.

Introducing histograms and the idea that choice of graph matters
0510152025303540455 min.
7
Pivot to Histograms

Students learn about how the study’s original authors were questioned on their use of scatter plots vs histograms.

Vocab
  • data visualization: a representation of numbers or other types of data in a way that makes it easier to see patterns. Ex: scatter plots, histograms, & other types of graph
8
Choice of Data Visuals

Students watch ▶"Scatter plots or histograms? Why data visualization is important", which connects scatter plots to histograms and pivots to Part 2 of this lesson.

Students are briefly introduced to the concept of peer review & learn about how scientists (& everyone) can disagree about the best way to represent data. Students are put into the shoes of the study's authors and over the next two sessions will learn what a histogram is, make the histogram with the real data, and determine whether the study reviewer was right in suggesting that a histogram would be better than a scatter plot to show this data. A key concept here is that understanding graphs is a type of literacy that gives us power.

9
Reflection

Part 1 ends with a customizable reflection slide and review of covered vocabulary, and topics.

Reflection Ideas:

  • What types of data have you seen represented as a scatter plot?
  • Why do you think female barn swallow song has been ignored until 2020? (This will be a repeated theme.)
  • 3-2-1: 3 things I learned today; 2 things I found especially interesting; 1 question I still have.
Warm Up Cipher
05101520253035404510 min.
1
Engagement Hook

Students begin by solving an alphabetic shift.

“Cherry Trees” is a reference to the histogram example…leave it for students to notice.

Review
0510152025303540455 min.
Background for Understanding Histograms
05101520253035404515 min.
3
Concept: Range

Students learn new vocabulary. Then histogram is explained through a real world example of heights of cherry trees.

Vocab
  • analyzing: organizing and exploring data to unlock its meaning
  • data visualization: a representation of numbers or other types of data in a way that makes it easier to see patterns. Ex: scatter plots, histograms, & other types of graph
  • range: a set of two numbers: the least and the greatest number in a data set. Usually expressed as Small Number – Big Number
4
Concept: Dot Plot

Students follow along as the presentation shows how the data is used to create a Dot Plot. Check-in formative assessments of understanding are built in.

Vocab
  • dot plot: a graph with one point for each data observation
  • binned dot plot: a dot plot where observations have been binned into ranges
  • histogram: a type of bar graph showing the distribution of a set of measurements for 1 variable. A common pattern (called a "normal distribution") is bell-shaped, with most observations having values close to the average, with about equal, increasingly rare measurements that are very high or very low. Human height is a good example of a normal distribution, with many "average/medium" height individuals, and very few individuals being significantly shorter or taller than all the rest.
  • scatter plot: a graph showing the relationship between two continuous variables. Each data point represents the measurement for variable X and variable Y for a particular individual.
5
Concept: Binning

Students watch ▶"Connections between dot plots and histograms (with sound)" and then follow along as the presentation shows how to bin the cherry tree data.

This video has some silly sound effects which will hopefully increase engagement and help students remember the connections between dot plots and histograms.

Vocab
  • binning: combining groups of observations into ranges. The bins could be ranges (like 0-5, 6-10, etc), or named categories, like when we classify people into “short,” “average,” and “tall” height categories.
Synthesis
05101520253035404510 min.
6
Analyzing the Data

While showing the completed histogram, presentation asks two questions prompting analysis and critical review of the graph.

Review & Reflection
0510152025303540455 min.
7
Review

A quick review of the steps just taken (find range, create dot plot, bin data, draw bars to create histogram) to prep students for Part 3.

8
Check-In

Students are asked to match graphs to their names.

The end of Part 2 ends with a customizable reflection slide and review of covered vocabulary, and topics.

Part 3 is a bit longer, so if you have extra time, you may want to preview part of what's coming up tomorrow.

Warm-Up & Review
0510152025303540455 min.
1
Engagement Hook

Students warm up with a cipher. They need to shift back 3 to decipher “FEMALES SING,” referring to the overlooked fact that many species of birds sing, just less frequently than males.

Make sure to only spend a few minutes on the warm-up. This is a long lesson.

2
Review

Students get reoriented to the driving question: Is a scatter plot the right way to show the data? The scientist peer reviewer had suggested that a histogram would be better. Students will make a histogram and decide if they agree.

Getting to Know Your Data
05101520253035404510 min.
3
Understanding Table 1

Students are guided through understanding what the data are and how they are categorized in Table 1. This is the raw data, representing the number of songs recorded for each bird, along with their sex & ID code.

Vocab
  • binned data: summary data where measurements have been combined into bins (ranges)
  • raw data: original, unmodified measurements
4
Connecting the Data to Reality

The ▶"Getting to know your data: Counting barn swallow songs" video shows what barn swallow song sounds like and how songs were counted, to deepen connection to the data. (It’s not said, but this is male song. Female song is not shown in this lesson. See the bonus video for examples).

5
Check-In

Students are reminded of how data points are plotted on a dot plot. To check in they’re asked to draw the missing point (remote) or say how many songs the missing bird sang (in-person).

Mini-Review & Worked Example of How To Bin Data
05101520253035404510 min.
6
Synthesis

Presentation reviews the cherry tree height data from Part 2 to show how data organization affects the type of graph you can make. We want to bin the data in order to make a histogram to answer our driving question: Is a scatter plot or histogram better to visualize our song data?

7
Binning Data

Students are walked through what a “bin” is (a range of data points that get combined), and how this looks in table and graph form.

8
Worked Example

Students are walked through how to count up the raw data in Table 1 and bin them in Table 2.

For G5-8 versions, male data is binned as an example. In G9-12, students have to bin both sexes, which are also coded as “one” and “two” in order to require a deeper understanding as the older students figure out which is male and female by comparing the two graphs.

Students Bin the Remaining Data
0510152025303540455 min.
9
Students Bin Data

Students fill out Table 2 by binning the raw data in Table 1. (All they have to do is count up the number of individual birds who sang a number of songs in a given range).

Students have the option of copying it down on scratch paper or downloading it as a word document (linked in the presentation). If using in-person version, the worksheet is provided.

It's important to set a hard time limit on this step, otherwise, it may eat up class time. You may consider doing the whole table as a class together, depending on your class's grade or motivation level.

Students draw a histogram from Table 2
0510152025303540455 min.
10
Students Draw Histogram

Students use their binned data to create the histogram. G5-8 students only need to make the female histogram. G9-12 make both (except for 2 example bins which are done as an example).

Students will draw the histogram digitally or on their worksheet, based on remote or in-person teaching.

Again, make sure to provide a clear time limit on this step in order to finish.

Wrapping Up
05101520253035404510 min.
11
Connecting the Dots

Students are asked to solve one of two puzzles, depending on their grade level. Both tasks assess how well students understand how the same data is represented in the 2 graphs.

12
Reflection

Students are asked a set of reflection questions and should conclude that the scatter plot is a better visualization for this data set because: with the histogram, we lose out on the important detail that females only sing early in the spring.

Task: (G5-8) Draw the legend on the scatterplot from comparing to the male and female histograms or (G9-12) figure out the true sex of the coded “one” (female) and “two” (male) histograms from looking at the scatterplot with labeled sexes.

13
Discussion & Synthesis

Part 3 has a customizable discussion. You may copy and edit slides to make it your own if you prefer.

Key Take-Homes to Drive Toward During Reflection

  • Female birds sing, and this has been neglected for decades, holding back scientific research into animal behavior
  • 1 reason for this is the assumption/bias that females don’t sing. This is self-fulfilling, as females often look similar to males, sing much less in total & only sing early in the breeding season.
  • This is a form of confirmation bias (though we don’t introduce that term), where we may latch onto evidence that confirms our preexisting assumptions. (And we should be wary of that).
  • The scatter plot was a better visualization for this data because it shows the timing of song and when scientists need to focus study of female song to address this gap in our knowledge.

5. Bonus Content

Day 3 Bonus Challenge

For students who finish early/ want to explore on their own at home, there is a code hidden in the lesson title. Decoding it will require them to gain new tech skills. It also gives them a glimpse at a huge realm of knowledge (binary and hexadecimal encoding of data), though they don’t need to fully understand it to solve the problem.

At the end of the worksheet, students can optionally learn to translate a hexadecimal code into a web address. Hexadecimals (hex) are a system for encoding information in computers. Search for a “hex to text converter.” Translate the Task # on the front page to get a secret web link.

This is a fun “tech-savviness/independence” growth activity. Students are asked to dive into a complex topic (hexadecimal encoding/decoding of text) without much support. But it’s actually not that hard. The goal is to encourage all students to not shut down when something sounds complicated and to learn how to think creatively and use the power of the web to their benefit.

They should do a web search for “hex to text converter”

  1. The first hit is likely: http://www.unit-conversion.info/texttools/hexadecimal/, but almost any will work
  2. They have to type or cut and paste “6269742e6c792f6770686935” from the title page into the “Input Data” field
  3. Choose “Hex to Text” to decode (the example converter defaults to encoding Text to Hex)
  4. You “magically” get bit.ly/gphi5
  5. If the student then copies/types that web address into the address bar, it will result in:
  6. a cat gif

6. Background

studyThumbnail.png Link to the scientific study

Scientific Background

This lesson is based on a recent study that describes female song in barn swallows for the first time. Barn swallows are one of the most common birds in the world and have been the subject of more than 1000 studies, yet published birding field guides and scientific papers have all failed to describe female song or they describe it incorrectly as being the same as male song (females have their own song type). This is an important oversight, because research on male bird song has informed a lot of theory in biology about how populations evolve through mate choice and competition involving vocal communication, and how new species form.

Ignoring the sounds females make may result from inherent biases. Since bird song became an area of scientific study in the 1800s, it was almost exclusively researched by white males in the Northern Hemisphere. Since women have become welcomed into all areas of science, and research institutions have focused more intent study in tropical regions of the world, studies have discovered that female song is the ancestral state (i.e. the ancestor of all living song birds had both singing males and females). Moreover, female song has not been entirely lost in most species. As in the barn swallow, natural selection has favored females that sing less often, and to have more concise songs that are often restricted to the pre-egg-laying part of the breeding season. This drop in female singing after egg-laying is thought to stem from trying not to draw predators to nests. Due to lack of study, the full function of song in competition among females, male mate choice, or other functions is not well understood in most species.

Further Reading:

Lesson Connections to this Research

This lesson allows students to explore the actual data from the study and to hear from the study’s lead author to deepen data literacy and understanding of the scientific method. Students explore one of the primary figures in the study, a scatter plot (graph) showing different patterns of male and female singing output over the breeding season. Importantly, males sang much more than females and for a longer time (May-Aug, rather than just May). Thus, because males sing more frequently, if we assume (as has been common for birders and scientists until recently) that only males sing, your assumptions are reinforced more easily, because you are less likely to see a female sing.

During the peer review process, an anonymous scientist suggested that the scatter plot was not a good way to represent the data, instead suggesting that the authors should have displayed a histogram. In Parts 2 and 3 of the lesson, students aggregate (combine) the authentic study data in order to create a histogram. They must then interpret the data in both formats (deepening their understanding of how histograms and scatter plots relate to each other), and conclude which is a better way to demonstrate the study’s findings, explaining why.

For further reflection, students are then asked to synthesize what they have learned, along with new information presented to them. Why has female song been missed? Partially because of a pre-existing assumption that females don't sing, along with less common singing behavior in females. Why do females sing less? Because natural selection favors females who sing less. Females must sit on eggs for around 2 weeks, leaving them open to predation. If they were to sing as loudly and provocatively as males, they would attract predators which would eat them or their eggs, passing on no genes. Thus, natural selection has likely caused female song to be lost, simplified, or to be produced for short time periods during establishment of the breeding season in many species around the world.

7. Standards

This Galactic Polymath Learning Chart illustrates the areas of knowledge covered. This lesson targets a mathematical understanding of the connections between scatterplots, dot plots, and histograms, but also aligns to national standards across all 4 subjects: Common Core Math and ELA; Next Generation Science; and College, Career, and Civic Life Social Studies Standards. Specific standards codes and statements are listed below.

In total, there are 41 standards across the 3 grade band lesson versions (G5-6, 7-8, and 9-12). There are about 13 standard alignments per grade.

Notes on Standards

*Standards are broken down into “Target” and “Connected” categories. Target standards are directly reinforced or taught; connected standards are not fully addressed in the lesson, but connected enough to provide a foundation for teachers to build upon.

Learning Standards

Note: Click on any standardfor details on how the lesson aligns to it.

Target Standard(s)

Math - Common Core Math

Dimension: Measurement, Data, Probability & Statistics

How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students are given data represented in a scatter plot and are asked to identify and interpret the graph
How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students create a histogram from raw data
How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students compare the data in a scatter plot and a histogram, then determine the differences between the two graphs

Connected Standard(s)

Dimension: Language, Speaking & Listening

How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students define, use, and reference new words including: cipher, encipher, decipher, discern, algorithm, data visualization, dot plot, scatter plot, and histogram

  • Students use a real research article to read, interpret, and identify new/unknown words.

  • Students read a published research article to identify and define new/unknown words in context.

  • Students learn, use, and reference new words including: cipher, encipher, decipher, discern, algorithm, data visualization, dot plot, scatter plot, and histogram

How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students evaluate quantitative information by comparing the same data in the form of a scatter plot and a histogram

  • Students evaluate quantitative information presented in the forms of a scatter plot and a histogram

  • Students compare the results of the two graphs, evaluate differences, and inerpret the findings.

How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students are taught the definitions of new words including: cipher, encipher, decipher, discern, algorithm, data visualization, dot plot, scatter plot, and histogram
  • Students use and reference the new words throughout the lesson
How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students are asked to interpret, discuss, and draw conclusions from a scatter plot that was created from raw data in a real research study

Dimension: Reading

How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students are asked to interpret, discuss, and draw conclusions from a scatter plot that was created from raw data in a real research study
  • Students are asked to interpret and evaluate data represented in a scatter plot that was used in a real research study
  • Students are asked to interpret and evaluate a scatter plot from an empirical study on Barn Swallow birds
How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students are taught the definitions of new words including: cipher, encipher, decipher, discern, algorithm, data visualization, dot plot, scatter plot, and histogram
  • Students use and reference the new words throughout the lesson
  • Students define, use, and reference new words including: cipher, encipher, decipher, discern, algorithm, data visualization, dot plot, scatter plot, and histogram
  • Students use a real research article to read, interpret, and identify new/unknown words.
How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students practice making and reading a histogram from data provided in the lesson - Students make a histogram from data they collect on their own
  • Students practice making and reading a histogram from real data provided in the lesson - Students make a histogram from data they collect on their own

Dimension: Measurement, Data, Probability & Statistics

How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students are given data represented in a scatter plot and are asked to identify and interpret the graph
How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students use real data to construct a frequency table, then use the data to create and compare the results in a scatter plot and histogram.

  • Students evaluate the results of the two graphs, discuss how the two graphs provide similar and different information, and determine possible conditional probabilities with regard to female and male bird songs.

How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students create a histogram using raw data from a published research study
How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students are given data represented in a scatter plot and are asked to identify and interpret the graph

Dimension: Science & Engineering Practices

How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students create and compare results of a scatter plot and histogram using real scientific data
  • Students are asked to interpret, discuss, and draw conclusions from a scatter plot
  • Students analyze and compare the results of scatter plots and histograms
  • Students develop and support theories about female barn swallows using real empirical evidence and scientific reasoning
  • Students compare the results of a scatter plot and histogram to construct explanations about female and male bird songs.
  • Students are asked to support their explanation using scientific reasoning
How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students compare and contrast scatter plots and histograms created from empirical and self-generated data sets

  • Students examine the results and interpret their findings

How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students are asked to interpret, discuss, and draw conclusions from a scatter plot
  • Students create a histogram using real data - Students analyze and compare the results of scatter plots and histograms
How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students construct a histogram using raw data from a real research study, interpret the results, and identify possible relationships
How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students use algorithms to solve a series of ciphers
  • Students construct their own algorithms and ciphers.
  • Students construct a histogram using raw data from a real research study, interpret the results, and describe the findings
How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students interpret a scatter plot based on real scientific data
  • Students create a histogram using raw data - Students draw conclusions based on the scatter plots and histograms
How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students solve a series of ciphers using algorithms
  • Students create their own algorithms and ciphers

Dimension: Evaluating Sources, Communicating Conclusions & Taking Action

How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students are asked to compare the information provided in a scatter plot and a histogram

  • Students discuss how the two graphs provide both similar and different information and how the differences may influence one's interpretation of the results

  • Students compare the information provided in a scatter plot and a histogram

  • Students discuss how the two graphs provide similar and different information and how the differences may influence one's interpretation of the results

How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students are introduced to Barn Swallow bird songs and historical scientific findings of female versus male bird calls; students interpret the data presented through scatter plots and histograms to construct explanations for the findings in a new research study
  • Students are introduced to a research study on female Barn Swallows and are asked to develop explanations for differences in male and female bird songs based on real reseach. Students use the data from the study to support their explanations.
How does the lesson align to this standard?
  • Students are introduced to a research study on female Barn Swallows and are asked to develop explanations for differences in male and female bird songs based on information in a scatter plot

  • Students compare the information provided in a scatter plot and a histogram

  • Students discuss the similarities and differences of the two graphs and construct explanations for the perceived differences in findings about female and male Barn Swallows

8. Feedback

Got suggestions or feedback?

We want to know what you think!

Please share your thoughts using this form and we will use it to improve this and other future lessons.

What others had to say about this lesson:

Teachers

This is a fantastic lesson! I love how it combines actual research and allows the students the opportunity for analysis. I also love the fact that the peer review process is included in the explanation for the types of graphs used. This really allows students to see and understand the scientific process in action. Love it!!
Overall Rating: 5/5
Student Engagement: 4/5
Overall Learning: 5/5
Would Recommend to Other Teachers: 5/5
Student Level: Grade 8

–Sarah Huneycutt, Homeschool Teacher in Nashville, TN

Students

I really enjoy this lesson! It is so engaging and fun!

–11th Grader in Nashville, TN

I think it looks like a very interactive lesson and it will hopefully be engaging and interesting to some students. It looks uncomplicated and it gives you all of the resources you will ever need for the lesson. The fact that it shows you how to create graphs and diagrams in the individual powerpoints is a good attribute in my opinion. -11th Grader in Savannah, GA

My biggest takeaway from the lesson was the importance of choosing the right way to display data…I don’t have any negative feedback…I really liked the lesson and appreciated how it was interactive and not just a lecture, like many of my online classes have become.

–11th Grader in Nashville, TN

9. Credits

Lead author and creative director:

Matt Wilkins, PhD

“I worked on this lesson for months, adapting my research into what will hopefully be a mind-expanding learning experience for pretty much all students, aged 11 and up! If you enjoy this lesson, please let us know–we want your feedback! This is the first of many, many Galactic Polymath lessons. Feel free to tag me (@mattwilkinsbio) and GP (@galacticPM) on Twitter with your experiences and student questions! And don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list to hear about what’s coming up next!”

Graphic Design Work:

Carver Lee, MA (csalt design co.)

Development of Learning Assessments and Standards Alignment:

Elaine Perignat, PhD

Video production courtesy of:

Stephanie Castillo (aka Phuture Doctors)

Beta Testers

(Teachers who trialed earlier versions of the lesson with their children or students)

Jennifer Gentry, PhD
Postdoc, Homeschool Teacher
Vanderbilt U, Collab for STEM Ed & Outreach
Nashville, TN
Sarah Huneycutt, PhD
Postdoc, Homeschool Teacher
Vanderbilt U, Collab for STEM Ed & Outreach
Nashville, TN

Peer Reviewers

(Teachers who trialed earlier versions of the lesson with their children or students)

Greta Clinton-Selin
Education Program Coordinator
Vanderbilt U, Collab for STEM Ed & Outreach
Nashville, TN
David Gammon, PhD
Professor
Elon University
Elon, NC
Lauryn Benedict, PhD
Professor
University of Northern Colorado
Greeley, CO
Jeannie Long, PhD
Presidential PAEMST 2020 Award-Winning Science Teacher
Cleveland High School
Cleveland, TN
Greta Knudson MAT
STEAM Instructional Coach
Croft Middle School
Nashville, TN

Major Release Beta

0.1.0 Initial lesson build.

Apr 13, 2020

This is intended to be taught in a single day. Includes both classroom and a remote version with Nearpod.

0.1.1 Minor update to assets and styling.

Aug 12, 2020

0.2.0 Added videos

Sep 21, 2020

Produced by Phuture Doctors, scaffolding student understanding of content

0.3.0 Lesson broken up

Oct 04, 2020

From 1 day into 3 separate class sessions.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Sarah Huneycutt (Nashville, TN) for beta testing this with her class and indicating this needed to be broken up.

0.3.1 Part 3 modified to be more active

Jan 05, 2021

For G9-12, students make both histograms; younger students make the female histogram in Part 3.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Lauryn Benedict (Greeley, CO) for making the suggestion that students create (not just interpret) the histogram, and deepen learning.

0.4.0 Major improvements to style and flow

Mar 01, 2021

Aesthetics streamlined, graphics, new video showing song counting and other changes.

Major Release 1

1.0.0 First public release

Apr 01, 2021

Debut version of the first official Galactic Polymath lesson. Fully differentiated for G5-6, 7-8, 9-12, also with remote versions. Also added Teach-It-In-15 quickview presentations for all 3 days, and a lesson trailer.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Bonnie Flint (Dallas, TX) for feedback leading to changes to our final lesson format.

1.0.1 Minor fixes to Part 3 & Teach It in 15 presentations

Apr 05, 2021

Fixed slides 44-47 in Part 3 remote presentation more intuitive. Added pink coloring to lesson plan time, grade and subject stats.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Emily Hudson (Nashville, TN) for suggestions.

1.1.0 Added classroom materials and remote fixes

Apr 20, 2021

First version with a full complement of in-person classroom versions of presentations and handouts. Fixed problem with Part 3 warm-up. The descriptions of the solution were backwards (i.e. the cipher is -3 encipher, +3 decipher, not the opposite).

1.1.1 Updated Parts 1 & 3 Nearpod versions for all grades, which had links to old videos.

Aug 16, 2021

Also updated links in acknowledgments

1.1.2 Updated lesson front matter

Aug 20, 2021

-Changed driving question from "Why has female barn swallow song been ignored or missed by scientists and bird watchers until 2020?" to "What is the best way to visualize data?"