Graphs are used to visually show relationships between variables. Also, there are several parts to a graph which include the following:
- X-axis label: This is the horizontal axis, where the independent variable goes. The independent variable is the one that the scientist changes. Typically, time is usually an independent variable, but this is not true in all cases.
- Y-Axis label: This is the vertical axis, where the dependent variable goes. The dependent variable changes in response to the independent variable.
- Units: The units need to be included for any measurements that have been taken. It is important to include units. For example, if someone said they would give you 1. What are they giving you 1 of? Are they giving you 1 dog, 1 cat, 1 million dollars, 1 house, 1 cent, etc… Units matter, so make sure you include those units.
- Scale: Both axes have scales- evenly spaced increments that cover the range of numbers of the variables. Increments are shown by tick marks on each axis. Scales do not have to start at zero. This would just make lots of extra space.
- Data Points: The x,y-coordinates of each data point are plotted.
- Title: The title of the graph tells you what the graph is showing.
- Trend line: A line is drawn to show the relationship. It can be straight or curved. Note that the line does not connect the points. The slope of a linear graph is the “steepness” of the line. This can be positive or negative.
If you need help creating a graph, look over the following website: nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createagraph/Default.aspx