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How to graph data for your science fair project

Posted by on April 8, 2012

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Once you have your data, you will need to present it to your teacher and science fair judges. In a science publication, you would choose between a table and a graph, but for the science fair project it is acceptable, and even encouraged, to showcase the data in both forms. If you have to pick (teacher’s rules), then a graph (picture) is better than a table (numbers), EXCEPT that most scientists really, really like numbers – so we are happy to see the table too.

Type of graphs: Your first choice is to determine which type of graph would best communicate your findings. Your basic choices are bar graph, line graph, pie chart, or scatter plot.

BAR GRAPH – This is the most common type for science fair projects. You may select a bar graph when your independent variable is qualitative (categories) or quantitative (numbers). It is generally better to group the data by TREATMENT instead of TRIAL # because it allows a better comparison of variation within the treatment. This might not be intuitive if you collected by trial, but it is the better way to showcase your results.

An example of a bar graph

Look closely and make sure your bar graph has all the highlighted parts:

Independent variable may be qualitative or quantitative

LINE GRAPH – This is the second most common, but frequently used incorrectly, so be careful here. You should only select a line graph if your independent variable is quantitative (numbers) and you hypothesized that the changes in the independent variable would result in changes in the dependent one. For example, line graphs are great for showing changes in the dependent variable over time or distance along a transect.

An example of a line graph

Again double check the axes:

Independent variable MUST be quantitative

PIE CHART – Pie charts are good for projects that have qualitative independent variables and have generated data that can be expressed as percentages of the total. For example, if your data were counts (i.e. the number of times something happened), then this might be your best choice to compare different treatments.

An example of a pie chart

SCATTER PLOT – If the purpose is to see if the variables are related (common in environmental projects), but there was not a clear choice for independent and dependent variables (for example wind speed and water temperature), then a scatter plot would be your best choice. This option typically requires much more data than the others to observe a trend.

Scatter plots are also called X-Y plots

Scientists do not label graphs with a title, but if your teacher asks for one — make sure that is there too.

140 Responses to How to graph data for your science fair project

  1. jeffery

    this is a nice thing you are doing

    • Shyama

      Yes, Thank you very much.
      This really helps us folks who are trying to get our science fair projects going on…

      I really needed this

    • Tierra

      I have to turn in mines this week Friday so I really needed it this. Thanks for your help

  2. Sharee

    Excellent information, great page theme, continue the great work

  3. carolina

    i really need help on my data

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      What do you need, that you didn’t find here?

      First, think about which variable did you change? – that will be your INDEPENDENT variable and it will go on the x-axis (horizontal one). Now determine your DEPENDENT variable – it is the thing that you actually measured or counted. These data will go on the y-axis (vertical one).

      If your independent variable is quantitative (numbers) then you could do a LINE graph or a BAR graph, but if your independent variable is qualitative (categories like colors, or male vs. female, or high-med-low) then you should be making a bar graph.

      Hope that helps, if not – ask a more specific question – what help do you need?

      • Anonymous

        Hello, I have a query that I hope you can answer. On a graph, where would the control group and the constant of the experiment be, respectively? Thank you.

        • Anonymous

          Also, I’m asking about where it could be on *ANY* graph (pie graph, line graph, bar graph, etc.). Thanks for your help!

          • Dr. Maille Lyons

            Bar graph, generally put the control on the left.

            Pie charts and Line graphs, data will control where line ends up, but list the control first on the legend

        • Dr. Maille Lyons

          The is no hard rule, but generally you should put your control on the left and the experimental data on the right

  4. isabella

    I am confused. I am in 6th grade and I did my project on my question can I grow stalactites in a manipulated environment. I did two experiments. One in the house with a set temp of 76 degrees, and the other in the garage at random temps. How would I do a graph? They both grew but differently. I am not sure what kind of graph to do, thank you

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      OK – let’s take a look at what you did:

      1 experiment with 2 conditions: a. constant temperature condition and b. variable temperature condition

      How did you measure growth?
      If you only measured growth one time at the end, then you could do a bar graph showing the total growth attained. One bar for each condition – bigger bar wins!

      If you measured growth several times over the course of the time you let them grow, then you could do a line graph showing growth (y-axis) over time (x-axis). One line for each condition.

      You may want to re-phrase your question: What is the effect of temperature variation on stalactite growth?

      Hope that helps!

  5. Sydney

    I don’t know how to graph my data. I did which product affects the decaying of apple slices the most. I used Epsom salt, salt, and baking soda. The salt slowed down the decaying the most, and the baking soda sped it up the most. How do I put this into a graph????

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      OK – what did you actually measure? In other words, how did you get to the conclusion that the salt slowed down the decaying the most?

      Was it time (how long it took each one to decay?)
      Was it weight loss? or Percent weight loss?
      Was it percent color change?

      You will most likely be doing a BAR GRAPH- with each treatment: Epsom salt, salt, and baking soda on the x-axis and whatever you measured on the y-axis

      If you did a control (no treatment) – you can calculate the percent change from the control value

  6. Becky McKenzie

    I did an experiment melting M&M’s, trying to see if certain colors melt faster than others. I am trying to find a graph to show my results. I have not made a graph on the computer before. Please advise me as to website that would be best. Thanks.

  7. Martha

    I am doing the experiment how sodas affect tooth decay. Choose 4 sodas placed teeth in each measuring 600ml watching changes to each tooth over a 5 day period to observe which soda caused the quickest decay. How do i place the information on a graph?
    Thank you.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      How are you measuring “decay” – visually or will you weigh them… or ?

      If you have a quantitative dependent (time, weight, size, etc.) then that will go on your y-axis with type of soda on your x-axis.

  8. Sydney Juranty

    Thanks so much!

  9. Christopher Gallagher

    I am doing my science fair project on Wind using a homemade anemometer. I will be testing the wind every morning for 7 days and then compare the wind activity for the same seven days last year. How do set up a graph in excel? I am so confused and dont know how to set the formulas up-please help!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      First, what was your question?

      Based on what you have provided, it sounds like you want to compare this year’s 7 days to last year’s 7 days. I would recommend a line graph with day (1-7) on the x-axis and wind speed on the y-axis. Put one set of data (e.g. this year) in one color and the other set (e.g. last year) in another color. You will be able to see which line was “higher” (i.e. more windy) and which line was “more variable” and hopefully that will answer whatever question you selected.

      You can use excel to make a graph, but it will be hard for me to explain how if you aren’t familiar with excel. I generally recommend this website:

      (cut and paste into your browser; or Google “Create a Graph”)

  10. sheila scott

    Hello, I am doing my 6th grade Science Fair Project on Whether Pop Cans will sink or float. I used Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Caffeine Free Diet Coke, and Caffeine Free Coke Zero. They all floated except for the Coke. How would I do a Graph or Chart for this.

    Thank you for you help
    Sheila Scott

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      How many cans per type of soda did you do? Were the results all the same? You should probably just do a table with Type of Soda across the top and sink and float down the side: then fill it in with yes or no.

      • Kamden

        I’m doing this same type of project also. I wanted to note the sugar weight and how that effected floating and sinking of regular sodas versus diet sodas (containing small amounts of aspertame). I also weighed the cans on a gram scale (they were all a little different) Is there any way to make an actual graph to display on my science fair board? Thanks!

        • Dr. Maille Lyons

          If the only thing that you “measured” was yes or no regarding the floating … then no, not really. If you measured the time it took to for the can to sink or float then you could put that on the y-axis (bar graph)

  11. Darlene Couch

    My daughter is doing a science fair project on which soda stains teeth the most. She is using visual comparisons. How can she graph and chart this

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Generally, you can’t graph qualitative variables like which one stains the most unless you can come up with some sort of a rating scale. For example if she sets up a sequence from “no staining = 0” to “light staining = 1” to “moderate staining = 2” etc. up to heavy staining with whatever number you are on… then she could make a bar graph with soda on the x-axis and staining on the y-axis. You may need to establish the rating scale using something like time (so “light staining = 1” would be the equivalent to soaking for 1 (hour or day or week depending on the scale you are making)). You might need a rating scale for each soda, for example, you shouldn’t use a staining scale made with a cola to evaluate an orange soda.

      Alternatively she might be able to re-phrase the question looking at how long (time is a quantitative variable) does it take to get to a certain level of staining and then compare “time” as a proxy for “stains the most”.

  12. Luly Fundies

    Please help me, i think i should use a bar graph and have different colors for each trial, because i am finding the speed of waves through three trial. (by waves i mean waves from the eleectromagnetic spectrum)

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      I need a bit more information… Sounds like you could use a bar graph for that type of data. You would have speed on the y-axis and what ever was different in each trial on the x-axis

  13. Jessie

    My daughter is in 3rd grade and has to show a graph or table but I have no idea how to help her with this… Her project was sucking an egg through a bottle and all three times the egg went in… How would you graph it or make a table with that information?????

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      If she measured the time it took for the egg to go in, she could do a bar graph of treatment (x-axis; i.e. different conditions under which she tested the egg drop) vs. time (y-axis). If she didn’t measure the time but noted which conditions made the egg go in faster, she could make a table and rank them slow, medium, fast.

  14. Erli

    Hello , my daughter is doing a science project : color changing carnation , but we do not know how to make a graph , we use a food coloring in blue , 4 tubes , with 4 carnation , de first tube no colorant so no change , the second tube 10 drops , the third 20 drops and the fourth 39 drops of blue , the flowers in tube 2,3,4 changed blue , the fourth was the darker , how we can do ? Please and thanks so much !!!!! We do not know what to put in x axis and in y axis

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      The x-axis (horizontal) would be the number of drops, the y-axis would be something you measured. For example the time it took to first see color, or some measure of “how blue” each flower was. If you only have a yes/no as to color, then you can not make a graph. I would suggest making a table and including photographs to show the differences between the color in each flower as a function of how much food coloring was in the tube.

  15. Erli

    Thanks so much !!!!! We measured the time , for example ; we checked every two hours , and we saw changes in color , until 10 hours that was the darkest point . In the x axis can we put tube a ,tube b , tube c and tube d and in parenthesis 0 drops , 10 drops , 20 drops and 30 drops ?. The problem is the y axis , we do not know how to arrange it …. We can use the hours , for example 0,2,4,6,8 and 10 , but what we create the bars ? Thanks !!!!!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      You could make a TABLE with each Column being the Tube and each Row being the Time in two hour increments; the boxes would then be filled with words describing the color changes in each tube – so marking when the first signs of color appeared and then which ones got darker and when.

      For a BAR GRAPH, you would set up the x-axis as you described above and then use the TIME TO FIRST SIGN OF COLOR CHANGE (should be a single time point) or you could use TIME TO DARKEST COLOR CHANGE (if they didn’t all become the same color by 10 hours)

  16. Marguerite

    We need to graph 20 trials in which there was only one response per trial: Yes or No. Can we do a line graph for this and how would it be done?


    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      No – sorry, you can’t do a line graph with that type of data. At best you can do a bar graph to show what % of the 20 trials were yes, but if you don’t have a control group, then you would only have 1 bar. Try a pie chart with the % of yes vs. no

  17. Kery

    My daughter did a project on Which Stemmed Flower Lasts The Longest In water after picked. We did a rose, carnation and an amaryllis. We did two experiments, one set of flowers in one cup of water and one set with 1/2 cup of water for two weeks. How would you recommend that we graph this and which graph would be good to use?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      I will assume you measured “time” for your dependent variable? Then you would make a bar graph with flower type on the x-axis and time on the y-axis. I am not clear why you did one cup of water vs. 1/2 cup of water. Were there differences? If yes, make two graphs (one for each) but if not, average the results (or present two bars per flower type) on the bar graph.

  18. James

    Hello, my name is James and I am in 3rd grade. I am doing which method makes most tender beef. I used soy sauce, baking soda, meat tenderizer hammer and a control that did not have anything done to it. My dad cooked the meat. We gave a piece of each one to 5 of his friends. They decided which one was most tender down to the least tender. The baking soda was most tender. The control was least tender. They had different ranks for least to most tender. What is the best graph to use for this data? Thank you.

    3rd grade

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Great project! You could do a bar graph with “treatment” on the x-axis (control, soy sauce, meat tend., and hammer) and then the “average” rank on the y-axis. You would need to convert the “ranks” into numbers, just set a scale from least (1) to most (5?) and then average the numbers. I would also include a data table showing the each of the 5 friends ranks for each of the 5 treatments (set up a 5 by 5 table).

  19. Echo

    I am doing a science fair project to see if lemons or potatoes will keep a lightbulb lit the longest. I put ‘Time the lightbulb stayed lit(min)’ as my dependent variable and lemons and potatoes as my independent variables. (I.e. in the bar graph you made, coffee and water would be substituted for lemons and potatoes.) Is this correct? The main problem I’m having with this is that I’m not sure what I should put as their title, for example, where you put treatment. Can you please help me? Thanks!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      “Treatment” still works for you, it is just a generic term for “things that varied in my experiment”; Alternatively you could use “Battery” or “Organic Battery”. Make sure the “Batteries” are on the x-axis and time (min) is on the y-axis.

      • KZ

        I am doing a science fair project on how to make a potato powered light bulb. I’m lost on trying to make a graph/table. Can you help me please

        • Dr. Maille Lyons

          To make a graph, you need to collect data… so are you testing different types of potatoes? or brightness of light? or length of time light works? If the question is just “can I make this work” and the answer is “yes or no” then there is no graph to be made. You can try making the potato powered light bulb and then changing one aspect of it and seeing if you can make it “better” – then at least you could make a bar graph with the thing you changed (=independent variable) and the measure difference (=dependent variable).

          • KZ

            How about if I used a russet potato and a sweet potato? What can I measure between the two?

          • Dr. Maille Lyons

            That is the key … what will you measure? You can try measuring brightness (you would need a light meter) or time (see if one lasts longer than the other – but that could be a long time to wait; and they would need to be the same size) or something else. You want more than a yes/no answer of did it work or not otherwise it is still just a demonstration and not an experiment.

  20. Alexis

    If I have 10 trials, and in each trial I mark yes or no that my bug tried to climb the wall of the maze, and I want to show change over time, how could I show that on a line graph?

    More info on my assignment:
    First three trials were baseline.
    The next eight tracked whether or not wall climbing happened while my intervention was in placed.

    So, I need to show the Yeses go down over the course of ten trials and the No’s go up over the course of the same ten trials. I want to show it on the same line graph for comparison, but I can’t figure out how to show it .

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      OK – so there is no line graph in your future… sorry, you don’t have the correct type of data.

      And I can’t see 10 trials based on the info you have provided. You have 3 trials for a control and 8 trials for an experiment (I am assuming your “intervention” was the same for each of the 8 trials).

      You can do a bar graph showing what percentage of times “wall climbing” occurred by calculating the number of “yes” for the control (0 out of 3; or 3 out of 3; or # out of 3) and compare that to the percentage of times for the intervention (# out of 8).

      If you are trying to show “learning” – that perhaps the bug learned to climb (or not climb) the wall, then make a table of the 8 trials in the order that they were done, perhaps it would show a pattern if, for example you had data like: yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, no, no, no – would suggest the bug “learned” not to climb as compared to if your data looks like: yes, yes, yes, no, yes, no, no, yes – Do you see the difference?

      Did you always you the same bug?

  21. cathy

    I am creating egg geodes for my science project. I have several solids such as alum, sea salt, Epson salt, and sugar. I’m not sure about my question or my graph. Please help

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      That’s a great idea – but it is not an experiment. You need to vary something and measure a difference in the outcome of something. So you could ask: Which solid creates the biggest geode? (Then vary the solids and measure the size of the crystals in the geode). Or you could ask Which solid creates an egg geode the fastest? (Then vary the solids and measure the time to complete formation).

  22. kaila davis

    Hello, for my sience fair project I am doing witch beverage stains your teeth the most. To test that am going to use eggs, i am going to put the egg in one type on drink, then I am going to let it sit for one day, the I am going to place a whitening strip on the egg for one day then I am going to compair the results. I repeating this procedure with different types of drinks. I need help with graphing, could you help me as soon as possible!?!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Unfortunately, you will not be able to graph anything because you are not actually measuring a number and graphs require numbers – i.e. your dependent variable is qualitative (“darkest color”) not quantitative (has to have a number associated with the measurement).

      You will be able to rank them: first, second, third, etc. according to their ability to stain the “teeth” (i.e. eggs).

      Take lots of photos and use the photos to show your results and the rankings. Also – you should soak THREE eggs for each type of drink you test for proper repliction.


  23. kaila davis

    Like what graph should I do and what should be in my graph.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Sorry – You can NOT make a graph because you do NOT have any numbers to put on the y-axis. Even though the x-axis can have numbers or categories (i.e. soda types) the y-axis needs a real number.

  24. kaila davis

    Could i do a table, if I can what should I put in it?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      If you recorded observations for each time then you could do a table with the type of soda for each row, and the day for each column and whatever observations you made in the box.

  25. Jordan Smith

    I have a quick question as to how I should graph my data. My science fair project is to examine how 3 different type of gymshoes effects how one completes a crossingover using a basketball. So, basically I want to ind out will each different shoe yield different results of a crossover(skill in basketball)

    Thank you

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      What are you actually measuring?

      If it’s “time” then make a bar graph with the type of shoe on the x-axis and time on the y-axis.

      If it’s “success” – i.e. yes/no was the skill completed correctly then the y-axis will be the percentage completed (# of successes divided by total number of attempts).

      Regardless: You should do at least 10 trials (ideally 10 different people completing the skill one time, each wearing the shoe being tested, etc.). The problem with using the same person 10 times is that – in theory – they should get better with practice so the number of successes will be potentially related to practice (not the shoe). So if you are testing at least three types of shoes then you will need about 30 people randomly distributed into three groups (i.e. don’t put all the basketball players in one group). If you can only find 10 people and you want them to each try the skill in each type of shoe… then randomize the order in which they test the shoes (i.e. do not always test running shoe first, then court shoe second, then high-top third- because you will run into the “practice” problem again).

      Hope that helps!

      • Jordan Smith

        Thank so you so very for responding and yes that helped. I will be measuring success so I will use the bar graph but can you give me a example of what should be represented in my bar graph? Should I list every shoe at the x-axis (bottom) – as you suggested that the # of success divided by the total attempts should go list on the y-axis(along the side) but what does it look like in numbers? By the way I am a 8th grader 🙂
        Thanks again!!!

  26. Jennifer

    Hello, I’m doing a science project on How do different sodas effect the meats we eat. And I’m not sure how to do a graph or data chart?

  27. Nata

    Hi I’m helping 4th grader record data. For chicken breast and sprite coke water project
    Really need some assistance on how to graph??

  28. Nata

    Measure chicken breast with coke , sprite and water.
    Effects of brand of soda on raw meat
    Will not soak up

  29. Nata

    Thanks for your help!

  30. Lynn

    This website is wonderful! Thanks so much for helping the parents and kids with our science expo projects. My daughter is doing an experiment on: Do bananas ripen faster in the light or dark? She did three experiments and took pictures at the beginning of the experiment and then pictures at the end (day seven). Is there a way she can use a graph to display her findings, or is it ok to just use pictures?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      In order to make a graph, you need numbers.

      If you can estimate % browning from the photos you could use that for a graph. One way to do this is to make a grid using a transparency. Place the grid (smallest squares that are practical) over the photo. Count the total number of squares each banana fills (let’s say you get lucky and it’s exactly 100). Count the total number of squares that have some brown (let’s say 50 of the 100 are at least partially brown). Then for that treatment (light or dark) you would have an estimate of the % browning (or % yellow if that was the observation for “ripening” – whatever she was monitoring) for each treatment; in this case you might conclude bananas in the dark ripened 50% more than bananas in the light (assuming when you do same thing for other bananas you get no browning; etc.).

      You could then make a bar graph with treatment on x-axis and status (i.e. % ripe or % brown etc.) on y-axis

  31. Lynn


  32. Reece Meyer

    I am doing the science fair for school and for my project I need to make a table for collecting data, NOT A GRAPH. Can you help me make one or find a helpful website so I can make one online and print one off? THanks!!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Data tables can be made in any spread sheet program (e.g. Excel). A table is just a set of columns and rows that you can organize your data in. You could even make a table with a rule and pencil.

  33. Randy Chong

    My kids are long past the science fair age, but I can well remember how frustrated they were trying to figure out how to convert their data to meaningful graphs, charts and tables. (And we all learned how to use Excel to make them!) You are providing a wonderful service with your site, but especially your commitment to having a dialogue with your young readers. All of your answers were very timely and contained so much useful information, without being condescending in any way. Way to go!!

  34. Summer

    Hi, I have a question about how to graph my experiment involving my 3 dogs during 5 days. I wanted to know if they found more expensive dog treats better tasting or do they prefer cheaper treats. All store bought. My dogs were tested individually. Thank you.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      How did you measure “better tasting” with the dogs? This your dependent variable and would go on the y-axis of a bar graph with the different brands of dog treats (ranked by price) on the x-axis.

      You could make one bar graph for each dog (three graphs), OR
      you could put three bars, each representing one dog on one graph, OR
      you could average the results for the three dogs and put the average on one bar graph

      If what you measured was not quantitative (i.e. a number), but rather qualitative (i.e. an adjective), the best you can do is a table with yes/no or more/less in each box (put brand of treat, ranked by price as the columns and each dog as a row).

  35. Tammy

    Hi my son has to do a graph or chart on his science project on what effect does salt have on an egg when placed in water. Could you help with what type he should use graph or chart?

    Thanks so much!!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      What did he measure?

      Most likely you will have a bar graph with two bars on the x-axis: one for salt and one for no salt (or if there were different concentrations of salt, then one for each amount).

      Whatever was measured goes on the y-axis

  36. Elysa Hozey

    My science fair project was to see which dessert melted faster, frozen yogurt, sorbet, or ice cream. We did 3 trials at 3 different temperatures (72, 72 and 74F). Measured out 1 tablespoon of each dessert. Rechecked at 30 minutes and each time the ice cream had melted faster. My mom and I can’t figure out how to graph it or which graph would be the right one. Please help.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Bar graph: put type of dessert on x-axis and time to melting on y-axis; make one for each temperature showing either (1) the average time to melting OR (2) put all three bars (1 for each trial) grouped according to dessert type (will have 3 sets of 3).

      If you choose to present the average, I recommend including a table showing you did do 3 trials per dessert, per temperature.

  37. Patti Ullerich

    My son is doing a science fair project on dyslexia. He was testing how long it would take an adult non-dyslexic fluent reader to read a sentence written as a dyslexic would see it versus the sentence written normally. (Some letters were exchanged for other letters.) He tested 10 subjects. The subjects were to try to read the sentences on their own as best they could. If they could not read them, they were given a key to help them complete the test. The key told them which letters were changed to other letters, such as a=o or t=l. All 10 subjects needed to use the key, but some needed it sooner than others. He didn’t take into account that he would be graphing the data, so we are having a hard time with it. We were thinking a bar graph with the dyslexic vs. non-dyslexic sentences as the independent variable and the time it took each subject to complete the sentences as the dependent variable.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Yes a bar graph is your best choice because you have a quantitative dependent variable and qualitative independent variables.

      Your dependent variable is quantitative (time) so that will go on the y-axis (vertical one) in all cases.

      You could:

      1. graph the average time for reading the normal sentence (one bar, average of 10 subjects) vs. the average time for reading the modified sentence (second bar); Ultimately this is the data that answers your question.

      2. graph the variation in reading the normal sentence (10 bars, one for each person) and present it next a graph (so 2 graphs labeled A and B) to the variation in reading the modified sentence (10 bars, one for each person) – this will allow you to evaluate if the modified sentence causes more trouble for some individuals, but maybe not all.

      3. graph the average time to someone asking for the key.

      4. make a bar graph for the DIFFERENCE between (e.g. the time for the normal sentence minus the time for the modified sentence) to find the average difference in times and then present that on the Y-axis with the groupings on the x-axis; group data by other means: men vs. women; age of reader; highest degree held; etc. To see if there are other trends in your data.

      Great project idea!

  38. Sally

    that was helpful

  39. Lucky


    I need help with graphing my data. I know I want to use a bar chart, but I have several variables and I am not sure how many bar graphs I need to generate.

    My independent variables are:
    dye material – red cabbage, mint leaves, turmeric, onion skin
    animal fiber – wool, silk
    mordant – alum, iron

    My dependent variables are:
    exposure to sunlight

    Should I make a separate bar graph for each type of dye material? I am so confused! This is for an 8th grade science fair project.

    Thank you!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      That’s hard to answer without more information.

      What was your question and/or purpose?

      Did you measure hue, saturation, brightness and exposure with quantitative means? (i.e. numbers; if yes then these would go on your y-axis) or qualitative means? (i.e. adjectives: least, most, relative rank, etc.; if yes then you don’t have data to graph, so make a table with relative rankings and show photos of the results)

      Think about what you want to show and then make graphs that will show that aspect.

      For each dependent variable that you have a quantitative measure of, you can group the data by type of material dyed (wool vs. silk); or type of mordant (alum vs. iron); or by pigment (red cabbage, mint leaves, turmeric, onion skin).

      It really depends on what your question was and what you intended to investigate.

      Good Luck – post more details if you need a more detailed answer

  40. Valentino

    Hi!This is my first project because I’m in EEUU since 3 months ago. So, I chose parachute size project.
    my independient variable is the size of 2 parachutes, one of 20 cm and the other 40cm(horizontal line X)
    my dependient variable is the time of speed fall in seconds(vertical line Y)
    I graphed two pictures, one bar graph and one line graph.
    Is this all right? Which one is most appropiated?
    Thank you so much!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Mathematically, both are correct because your independent variable is both qualitative (big vs small) and quantitative (20 cm vs. 40 cm). I recommend the bar graph because there are only two conditions (big, 40 cm vs. small, 20 cm).

      If you use the line graph, make sure the x-axis is size (cm).

  41. Alex Rivera

    I need help on making a line graph for my experiment by having an independent variable and dependent variable on my project. My project has to do with having many different liquids in which an egg is being dumped into. One egg per liquid. I have liquids such as water for the control, soda, tea, coffee, energy drinks and cold chocolaty drink. The experiment I am conducting has to do with what stains teeth the most.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      You can not make a line graph because your independent variable is not quantitative; you need to make a BAR GRAPH with the “treatment” on the x-axis and however you measured “staining” on the y-axis.

  42. cassandra

    I need a teeth staining scale reference how would you recommand me going about finding that.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Do some research on how stains are measured; perhaps there is one available on line. Alternatively, you can make your own scale by soaking “teeth” in known stains for known times; then using that to compare the results of your experiment.

  43. Gillian

    My daughter has to do a collection project for her Kindergarten science fair project. Her topic is “What kinds of batteries are found in my house?” What kind of chart, table or graph could she create?

  44. Brooke

    My son is doing a science fair project on the water cycle – we are using a glass bowl with warm salt water, plastic wrap covering it and ice cubes on top. It shows the condensation a glass we put in the middle of the bowl. Not sure we can graph anything on this but the project instructions ask for a graph. Any ideass?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      To make a graph, something has to be measured.

      If he sets up a few different bowls (or the same bowl a few different times) he could vary EITHER the salinity of the water in the bowl OR the number of ice cubes on top. This would be his independent variable. For his dependent variable, he needs something that yields a number such as the time to see first evidence of condensation (easy to measure) or the amount of condensation generated (probably hard to measure).

  45. Jasmin

    Hi, I am a sophomore in high school. I was supposed to do a science experiment based on kinetic energy, where I create a ramp on a table and see the distance of where it hits. I had to do 4 separate tables, each one for a different distance(3′,6′,9′,12′). All four of them have 5 trials each. I would like to know what form of graph should I use to show my results, where y is the distance and x is the position of the marble(ex:3″).
    Thank you.

  46. brenda

    my son is doing a project on peeling a raw egg. He used one glass with vinegar, one with water, one with soda. we checked the progress at the twelve hour mark, the 24 hour mark and the 36 hour mark. do we do a bar graph on the progress of each glass at the different times????

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      If he measured something as “progress” – that would go on the y-axis; he could do a bar graph with “treatment” (i.e. vinegar, water, soda) on the x-axis and make 3 bar graphs (one for each time). He could also make a line graph with “time” on the x-axis and “progress” on the y-axis, with one line for each treatment.

      If he does not have a number as a measure for “progress”, then he can’t make a graph. Instead make a table with treatment as rows and time as columns and enter words to describe his observations at each time for each glass.

  47. Jami A.

    Hello, I’m doing a science project on Which liquid would melt an ice cube at the fastest rate and I don’t know what kind of graph I should use. The liquids I’m using are: orange juice, dr. Pepper, salt water, and soapy water. Could you please help me? Thanks!!!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Bar graph with “treatment” on the x-axis (one bar for each trial for each of the liquids) and “time” on the y-axis with the amount of time it took each to melt the cube

  48. Joann

    My child is doing an experiment on what salt melts ice cubes the quickest… I have no idea how to do an line graph for this experiment

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      You can’t make a line graph – it is not the right type of data.

      Make a bar graph with the “type of salt” on the x-axis (one bar for each type tried) and time on the y-axis (shortest bar = melted fastest)

  49. Kerry

    My son is doing an experiment on 3 different protective coverings on an egg to prevent the egg from cracking. He Plans on dropping the egg at different heights and graphing whether or not the egg cracks using a few trials. I’m trying to help him create a graph including a yes or no answer for if the egg indeed cracked. Is that possible in a bar graph?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      You can’t make a graph if the answer is yes or no. But if he drops several eggs for each condition, he could calculate the percentage that break and then graph that (percentage broken on y-axis; type of protective covering on x-axis = bar graph).

  50. Kerry

    Great thanks! Another quick question….. Would he be able to put on the y axis feet broken at 1-8 and on the x axis put the type of protective covering? That would include all the coverings showing at what height the egg broke at as a bar graph.

  51. Robin

    My son has done his science fair project on Sudden temperature changes on aluminum cans. He did soda cans and juice cans (was told to empty them because otherwise could be very dangerous!). His control group was to add 15 ml of water to each group. He first placed 4 cans into freezer (one soda, one juice, one for control & one for without) those cans were placed into boiling water. He then had 4 more cans and placed 2 (one of each) on a burner until steam appeared and then 2 more mins., then into ice water. repeated with cans that had 15 ml of water in them. Cans from freezer of all groups did not change. Cans from burner to ice water…well, that was a game changer! the ones with no water; the soda cans smelled awful and had slight scorch marks (with whole 2 mins) with slight indentions on cans when submerged. Juice cans caught on fire before the time was even at half mark!!! When water was added to both, each made to 2 min. mark and both made loud “boom” and crushed when submerged into ice water. did notice that juice cans crushed from side to side and soda cans from top to bottom. (would love to do with contents in them..during the summer when his dad is home). I am thinking pie chart, but I am not really sure (he did 3 trials each) what to do with this data and he has tried all kinds of graphs but feel they do not make sense or go along with data. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Sounds like a very interesting project/demonstration – but it doesn’t seem like he measured an “outcome” that can be put on a graph, UNLESS – there were different outcomes for the same situation and then maybe he could graph “percent of cans that did whatever”.

      If you took photos, you could still present results qualitatively with the photos as evidence of different outcomes.

  52. Kamryn

    I am doing a science fair project on the function of a kidney and I was wondering how you would create a trial graph?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      It depends on what you are doing, but generally, whatever you measured goes on the y-axis (vertical one) and whatever you manipulated or changed goes on the x-axis (horizontal one). If what you manipulated is quantitative (e.g. time, temperature, distance, etc. – something measured as a number) then you can make a line graph OR a bar graph – pick whichever you like better; but if what you manipulated is qualitative (e.g. described as a category: male vs. female; color; small, medium, large; left vs. right) then you can only make a bar graph.

  53. Darlene

    My daughter is in 3rd grade and her science project is how to separate salt from water. We have added salt to the water. Poured the salt water over a black piece of paper and left near a window to allow the water to evaporate. In the end tiny salt crystals are left behind. Not sure how to graph it. What would you recommend?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      This sounds like more of a demonstration than an experiment. To make it an experiment:

      She needs to find (1) something to manipulate, for example, the color of the paper, type of paper, type of salt water, etc. and (2) something to measure, for example, weight, number of crystals, size of crystals, etc. each of which could be difficult unless you have sensitive equipment or use a large amount of water.

      • Darlene

        Thank you! We will add a light shade of paper and measure the length of time it takes to form he salt crystals. Does that sound right?

  54. teagan

    Hi I am in 6th grade and need help my science fair project is about sugar crystals. I am using google spread sheets and need help I can’t show the days and measurements. Also keep up the good work. 😀

  55. Caroline

    Hi, I’m doing a project that is testing dog’s nose prints. I have to do my results which means i need to construct a graph. All i do is stamp the dogs nose on a index card, how would i make a graph when my results are pictures/visuals.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Technically you can not make a graph unless you measured something. What were you “testing” with the nose prints? Can you measure … size? If yes, then you could make a bar graph with dog or breed on the x-axis and size on the y-axis. If no, then maybe you can make a table with the nose prints as the entry in each box of the table.

  56. Ella

    I am doing a project on a lemon power I don’t know how to graph it.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      OK – so what did you actually do? Generally, what you measured goes on y-axis, what you changed goes on x-axis and you will most likely make a bar graph. Unless you did not do an experiment, but rather a demonstration and then you will not have anything to graph. So present a table of observations and some pictures.

  57. Shirley Black

    hi, i am doing a science project on thin wire vs thick wire and unsure what kind of graph to do. i did the experiment and the thicker wire made the light bulb burn brighter then the thin wire. really need help. thanks Shirley

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      It would be a bar graph with wire type (thick, thin) on the x-axis and brightness on the y-axis. Hopefully you have a number for measuring brightness? If not, you can not make a graph because your dependent variable is not quantitative. In that case, make a table and show photographs for your results.

  58. Milissa Penrod

    This is nice website, i like it very much!

  59. Charles Ford

    I am in the fifth grade. I am doing a science fair project. The question that I am investigating is How many day will it take for a fertilized yolk to hatch out as a Chick? My question for you is how would you do or make a graph or chart showing my data?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      That project sounds more like an observation and less like an experiment. For an experiment, there needs to be an independent variable that is changed to see if it has an effect on a dependent variable. As is, you will not have data for a graph (just the answer to the question). Also, most schools do not allow experiments with vertebrate animals, like birds.

  60. Keerthi

    Hello, I am in the 5th grade, I am doing a project on, “How does vinegar, salt, and sugar effect calcium in teeth.” I did the experiment, but I don’t know how to make a chart in this situation. Please Help!!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Probably a bar graph with vinegar, salt and sugar on the x-axis with whatever you measured to determine “effect of calcium on teeth” on the y-axis – but that would need to be a number; otherwise you can not make a graph … so use photos and a table for observations

  61. anonamous

    I often do experiments with guinea pig. most of them end up being qualitative observations. This year I am doing a experiment to find out how my guinea pig reacts to different music. And recording their reaction. I know qualitative data is better then quantitative, but it’s too late to turn back now. how do a make a successful graph of the data?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      You can make a bar graph as long as you have measured anything with a number. So if you count the number of times the animals does something or you time the reactions or whatever. Put type of music on the x-axis and whatever you are measuring for the reaction on the y-axis. It can not be “looks happy” or “looks sad” but rather, the number of seconds/minutes it “looked happy/sad” – not ideal but still ok. For all your observations – present them in a table.

  62. Anonymous

    I’m in 6th Grade and my project is How Much Salt Does it Take For an Egg to Float in Water?, and the data I have collected is Egg 1-2 floated but 3-5 did not. It took 4 teaspoons for the egg to float. How do I graph this?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      You can not graph this because your dependent variable is not quantitative, but rather just a yes/no (i.e. float/no float).

      You could present your results as a table. Also – don’t forget to include the volume of water. 4 ts in a cup is much different from 4 ts in a gallon.

  63. Robyn

    Hi my son is in 4th grade and Need help making a bar chart. His experiment is growing mold on bread after wiping it on a germ surface. We measured the width and height of mold on the bread in centimeters but not sure how to turn that into one number to make a bar chart. We did a control plus 6 bread slices.
    I just found this site and it is due in 1 day. Please help!
    Thank you!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      You could convert width and height into area (width x height) and then have 1 number (it would be an estimate since mold doesn’t grow in perfect shapes). You could also use that for “percent covered in mold” by dividing that number by the area of the bread (width x height of slice).

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