Any kid friendly graphing software out there?

AFTER you've done your research and concluded your experiments, it is time to prepare for the science fair. Ask specific questions about preparing for a science fair, including how to set up your display board, how to prepare a presentation, etc. (Please post questions about selecting a project or conducting your experiment by posting in the appropriate "area of science" forum.)

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Any kid friendly graphing software out there?

Postby janet_425 » Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:49 pm

I'm trying to help my kids use Excel, but it's quite a learning curve. Is there a simple, kid-friendly program out there that would do bar charts and scatter plots?

Thanks,
--Janet
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Re: Any kid friendly graphing software out there?

Postby Amber_MIT » Mon Feb 22, 2010 3:21 pm

Hi janet,

One of the many things we are looking to improve on our website is our graphing/data analysis section. Excel is not the most intuitive or user friendly program, and it took me a while to learn it when I was younger.

I found this cool website that allows you to create simple graphs, and it is even a kids website! http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createAgraph/default.aspx

Check that out and see if it suits your needs.

Good luck and let us know if you have more questions!
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Re: Any kid friendly graphing software out there?

Postby janet_425 » Mon Feb 22, 2010 3:54 pm

This will help greatly with the bar charts. I'm still looking for an easy way to make scatter plots if anybody has a good source for those.

Thanks,
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Re: Any kid friendly graphing software out there?

Postby Amber_MIT » Mon Feb 22, 2010 3:56 pm

Hi janet,

You can make a scatter plot with that website. All you need to do is go to the "XY" graph (the rightmost graph type) and they have options for scatter and bubble graphs.
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Re: Any kid friendly graphing software out there?

Postby janet_425 » Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:11 pm

Hmm... maybe I'm not asking for the right kind of plot...

Suppose you have 20 numbers, representing a survey of 20 randomly selected samples from a much larger group. I have one measurement for each sample. I have Y value (the measurement) but not an X value (whether the value was sampled first or fifteenth is not relevant to analyzing the data). So, what I'm looking for is an X-only chart? Not sure what it's called?

--Janet
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Re: Any kid friendly graphing software out there?

Postby Amber_MIT » Mon Feb 22, 2010 8:14 pm

In the case you are mentioning, you could display the data in a few ways.

One way is to show a bar graph or scatter plot and the x-axis would just have arbitrary names, e.g. Sample 1, Sample 2, Sample 3, etc., and your data would be shown on the y-axis (remember that the independent variable is on the x-axis, and the dependent variable - your data, is on the y-axis).

If you are trying to show the variance for the same x value (i.e. how different the y values (data) were for one x value), you could do a scatter plot and just enter in the y values but have them all have the same x value (so you'd end up with a vertical plot of data). So for example, let's say you put 5 numbers into a machine (x = 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5), and then the data that came out of that machine was (y = 2, 4, 6, 8, 10), but you did this multiple times, and got (2.5, 3, 4, 6, 8,) the second time. So if you wanted to show how the numbers varied when you entered in x = 2, for the graph you'd only plot (2, 4) and (2, 3), where the first number is x and the second number is y.

You could also do some kind of number line, though I don't know if that would work for this experiment.

Does this make sense? Most graphs do have some kind of x axis. It doesn't have to be quantitative.

If this doesn't make sense, give me some more details on the project and I can give you more specific details.
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Re: Any kid friendly graphing software out there?

Postby janet_425 » Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:17 pm

Having done a little research, I think what I need to create are "histograms" -- showing the range of values observed in each type of sample. I think your idea of putting them on an x-y plot would work as well. I may steal her science fair journal and play with her data before I try working on graphing with her. But, there are 180 pieces of data (when she's done-- just three more samples to go!) It's going to be a pain to type into a web page, and while the site let's you save the output graphs, if you want to go back and tweak something later, we would have to type out everything again. I guess we'll stick with excel for that part for now.

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Re: Any kid friendly graphing software out there?

Postby Amber_MIT » Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:30 pm

Yes, a histogram will work. It is really just the same as either a bar graph or a line graph (just depends on if you want the "line" to be jagged or smooth).

Like I said earlier, almost all graphs have both an x and y axis, but the x axis doesn't have to be numerical (and thus doesn't need to be in a specific order, unless it makes the graph easier to read). So for example, you could plot the names of states on the x axis (California, Nebraska, Florida, etc.) and the amount of average rainfall received today on the y-axis. It sounds like you are on the right track.

If you have more questions, let us know!
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Re: Any kid friendly graphing software out there?

Postby Amber_MIT » Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:05 pm

[Administrator note: in response to a post that has now been removed]

Hi spherical,

I'd say the website I linked to above is nice for beginners (http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createAgraph/default.aspx)
Excel, while not very intuitive, is extremely useful to know just because everyone uses it.
For advanced users, Mathematica and Matlab would be good choices. They have student versions which are cheaper (though it's still ~$100).
I'm sure there are some free websites and phone applications that are powerful too. Try some googling and see where it gets you.
Graphing calculators are also horribly designed, but they can do some pretty powerful things, too.
Stuck? Check out our project guides!
Project Guide: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_guide_index.shtml
Advanced Project Guide: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/competitions_index.shtml

Amber Hess
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