Graphs are capable of conveying a good deal of information in an efficient, effective manner.  Graphs are powerful weapons in the arsenal of data storytellers. 

In class, we created line graphs to tell a story about climate change.  Specifically, we graphed average temperatures in New Jersey over the last century.  In the previous class, we created bar charts to tell a story about the vast differences in the resources of baseball teams.

Your homework is to find a dataset on the internet, and create a line chart or bar chart based on that data.

As you complete the assignment, keep in mind the following:

  1. First, find some data and paste or import it into Excel.  Remember that for our purposes, a dataset is a rectangular matrix with cases in the rows and variables in the columns. Your dataset should contain at least 25 cases.
  2. Once the data are in Excel, press CTRL-T to create a table.
  3. Click "summarize with PivotTable."
  4. Set up the PivotTable.
  5. Make the chart - either line or bar chart.
  6. Use the group/un-group feature if necessary to simplify the data (as you did with the temperature data).  
  7. Make sure the chart is properly labeled.  There should be a descriptive title.  Label the axes as well.

  • Having trouble coming up with data?  Here are some examples.  One student found data on average (inflation-adjusted) teacher salaries in the US over several decades.  She made a chart displaying change over time in average teacher salaries.  Another student made a line chart displaying population change over time.

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