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Graphing 101

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.

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).

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

147 Responses to Graphing 101

  1. Chris Harrris

    This is Really Helpful

  2. Annette

    My daughter did an experiment to see which long stemmed flower would last the longest. What would be a good graph or is it possible to graph the results?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Bar graph: flower type on x-axis; time on y-axis. Hopefully you had at least 3 flowers (e.g. 3 roses) for each flower type. Present photos if you have them to show when you decided the flower was “done”

      • Annette

        Thank you!

      • arianna salinas

        Hi y daughter is doing a project on if an apple can charge a phone,and she doesn’t know what to put on a he graph or which one to use.

        • Dr. Maille Lyons

          She can only make a graph if she measured something such as the time the charge lasts, or the amount of charge generated, etc.

          If she just did it to see if she could… she won’t have a graph because the answer will be yes/no. This is more of an “engineering project” than a “science experiment” – unless… she continues by testing different types of apples, or some other variable.

      • Manar

        How about if she did how does colored water affect the color of the flower. What should she do for the graph.

        • Dr. Maille Lyons

          Sounds like her “results” are yes or no … so there is nothing to graph. There has to be something quantitative (i.e. a number like time or temperature or distance or percent change) to make a graph

  3. Melissa

    I’m doing an experiment on: How does the amount of water affect the growth of plants? I’m conflicted in which type(s) of graph I should use.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      You could do a bar graph, for each different volume of water used (x-axis) with the final growth (height? weight? number of new leaves? etc.) on the y-axis.

      You could also do a line graph with time on x-axis and growth on y-axis, using a different colored line for each volume used, if you measured growth over several time points.

  4. Desiree & Alaira

    We LOVE this idea…..our project is due in TWO MORE DAYZZZZ!!! and we didn’t even start on our projects yet because we didn’t know which one to pick…..and we have NEVER done a science project in our lives! the last part we needed was a chart to go with what our experiment was about….and all we wanted 2 say was thnk you! with love from Beaufort Middle School (South Carolina)

  5. Sophia Parker

    My son is doing a Science Fair Project on bacteria I have 8 different samples and 3wks of work what chart do you think I may need?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      What are the 8 samples?
      What did you measure?
      What do you mean by 3 weeks of work (i.e. what did he actually do?)

      Most likely a bar graph (based on 8 different types of samples), but potentially a line graph because time (3 weeks) is quantitative.

      • cindy

        My 4th grade daughter decided to do her Science Fair Project on the benefits of using worm compost on plants. For the experiment she planted 6 of the same seeds (lima beans) 3 were controlled (no worm compost applied) 3 were her independent variables with .25, .50 and .75 ml of compost applied at planting. Over the course of 2 weeks she collected data. We are not sure what type of graph would be best since “plant height” doesn’t necessarily make it the best plant. Thicker stem, larger true leaves, overall health of the plant in other words really tells the story of how the compost has affected the plant, not only height. Being that these are quite small and she is in 4th grade, measuring the exact size of the tiny stems is not possible yet some are clearly thicker than others. Do you have any suggestions. All plants were in same location, with same amount of sunlight and given the same amount of water every other day.

        • Dr. Maille Lyons

          Great idea for a project.

          Was there only one seed in each of the three amounts of compost? Next time, have 3 seeds for each treatment so she has some measure of variability. There were three for the control… how much variability was there between the results among those three? The problem with only one seed per amount of compost is that it will be difficult to tease apart the natural variation in seed to seed differences with that of the differences due to amount of compost.

          Since both of the independent variables are quantitative (0, 0.25, 0.5 and 0.75ml compost and 0 to 2 weeks time), she can select either line graphs or bar graphs. She could make both and decide which she likes better.

          Generally I would recommend the bar graph for the amount of compost and a line graph for the changes over time. She will need to decide what she is defining as “best” and plant height is one metric. She can use photos to explain that it wasn’t the only one.

  6. Diego Morales

    I am doing a science fair project on if music can improve taking free throws in basketball and I don’t know what graph to use

  7. Zoe Moore

    Did a science project on which substances made metal rust. No time involved. All metal rusted in different solutions

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Did they all rust the same amount? What was your control (plain water – maybe?) Did the control also rust as much as the others? Do they look different in ANY way? What metal objects did you use? What solutions did you test?

      • Zoe Moore

        Thank you. The penny and nail and paper lip all rusted at different time frames. Control was water and it rusted as much as the others. Metal button rusted at different rate. We also had the nail in mud and it rusted. The penny and button had white and black on it. The nail had orange on it. The paper lip was just black

        • Dr. Maille Lyons

          Your best bet will be photos with a data table for your observations (i.e. what you described each as). There really isn’t anything to graph unless you can somehow estimate the percent coverage of rust.

  8. Aden

    I am doing a science fair project on changing the color of carnations. I am using red, blue and green dye.
    I will try to find which color is absorbed the fastest. LIght, amount of wate, temperature of water and the number of dye drops will all be the same. I dont have a clue as to how to graph this project. Any ideas? Please help!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      If you measure the time it takes to first see color and/or the time it takes to get a fully colored flower, you will be able to make a bar graphs for time vs. treatment (each color).

      Alternatively you could photo at the start, then 1 hour, 6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, then once each day until you don’t see any further color changes (or any other time periods you think are best). You will then be able to make a line graph with time on the x-axis and percent colored on the y-axis. You will have three lines (one for each color). You can estimate percent coverage from the photos and compare.

  9. Jack

    My science fair project deals with behavior science. I am testing about 10-20 people between the ages of 15-60. I want to know how to make a graph or chart showing how well people remember a short poem. I am documenting how many pauses and mistakes and if they have to start over. I do not know how to show my findings though. Please give me advice. Thank you.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      You could group the data by male and female and make a bar graph for number of mistakes (y-axis) vs. male/female.

      You could group the data by age (pick 5 or 10 year categories like: 15-20, 20-25, 25-30, etc.) and do the same as above.

      You could also make a scatter plot graph with age on the x-axis and number of mistakes on the y-axis to see if older trends toward more mistakes.

  10. Anita Rodriguez

    I am doing a science project on which gum is stickier, chewing gum or bubble gum. I measured the tack of the gum by sticking each piece of gum (each piece cut to 2 grams) “sandwiched” between two pieces of foam board. I pulled the foam board apart and measured how far it stretched (stuck together) until it fell apart, at which point i measured the distance in cm. At that point I also recorded the area that was still covered in gum and recorded the percentage of gum still stuck to the foam board. Is there another (or better way) to measure the stickiness of the gum? How would I put the data on to a graph?

    Your help is much appreciated!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Sounds like you have already made the project your own and have quantitative dependent variables which is exactly what you want! Nice job.

      OK – for the graph, you can make at least 2bar graphs with Gum Type on the x-axis: 1 bar for chewing and 1 for bubble; then the y-axis will be Stickiness, measured as the length reached before breaking (in cm) = 1 graph and Stickiness, measured as the amount left stuck behind (in % still stuck) for the 2nd graph.

      If you want to do more work, you could also use your system, rigging a small cup/holder to the second board and see how much weight it can support before breaking (so instead of pulling up, let gravity pull down) – your metric would be the number of pennies (or other small weights) the gum can hold before breaking.

      You could also test more types of gum (e.g. different brands of each type) or if you can somehow get an estimate of sugar content you could compare “stickiness” vs. sugar content.

  11. Kimber

    My child is preparing for a science fair project – wants to know does different types of paint affect the drying time of the paint? The indepentent variable being the different types of paint. We have identified the level of dryness as the dependent variable though we are stuck on how to measure & then graph using quantitative measures since it is more qualitative. We identified a nonstandard measuring tool as a rubber glove with identifying 3 different levels of dryness (adjectives- wet, dry and tacky) by applying finger- touch pressure. We are not convinced this is correct- even though part of the experiment will be to test in certain, set increments of time & record the level of dryness. Would the time increments be the dependent variable instead of the level of dryness? Please offer any thoughts on this and graphing suggestions. I believe the x axis is to show the independent variable (types of paint), but it makes more sense to have the increments of time on the x axis and level of dryness (dependent variable) on y-axis & the graph show the different types of paint. Thoughts?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Every time you “touch” mark the time. Best if you “touch” at regular intervals of time (e.g. every minute, every 5 minutes, etc. whatever you feel will capture differences) – make sure you touch different parts of the flat object to be painted. I recommend painting something long and skinny (e.g. 2 by 4 piece of wood) so that you can systematically touch it and keep track of wet and tacky and dry. Take photos of the rubber glove to show the difference between tacky (some paint) and dry (no paint on glove).

      Then your dependent variable is level of dryness, measured as the time it takes to stop being tacky (quantitative).

      You will be able to make a bar graph with the type of paint on the x-axis and the average time to dry (as measured by touching) on the y-axis (because you should have at least 3 painted objects for each type of paint).

      You will also be able to make a data table with time across top (columns) and type of paint as rows with “wet” or “tacky” or “dry” in each corresponding box. If you touch systematically along a 2×4 then you should also have great matching photos.

      Data could look something like:
      Type 1: wet, wet, wet, tacky, tacky, dry
      Type 2: wet, tacky, tacky, tacky, tacky, dry
      Type 3: wet, wet, wet, wet, tacky, dry,

      You will not be able to make a line graph because “wet/tacky/dry” are not quantitative, but you have outlined a creative way to answer the question.

  12. Dawne Sheffield

    My son is making a crystal radio for a science experiment and is just testing whether it works or not. So it is yes or no results, how should this be graphed. What would the independent and dependent variable be ?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      This sounds more like a project and less like an experiment… There do not really appear to be any independent and dependent variables. Perhaps if you add more details – did he ask a question? did he test any particular aspects of the building? did he try different crystals?

  13. Kim Sprouse

    My daughter is doing an experiment on Bubble gum – Which graph would I use? She needs to show which one lost is color the fastest on Trials 1-10 and we used grape, strawberry and sour apple – Thanks!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Bar Graph! Sounds like you measured “time” as your dependent variable, so would go on the y-axis (average of ten trials); and “Type of Gum” or “Gum Flavor” would go on the x-axis, then label each bar accordingly (grape, strawberry or sour apple). I would couple this with a data table to clearly indicate you did 10 trials for each flavor. Or you could make an individual bar graph for each flavor, with time on the y-axis and trial number on the x-axis, showing 10 bars. This would be an indication of how variable your method of determining when the color was lost was. Good Luck.

  14. sarah

    My son is doing an experiment on erosion,he needs to find the results and is wondering if a pie chart would work best,he put a plant and soil in one pan,the other sand,and another soil.Which one should he use?Thanks!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      What did he measure? From the details provided, I would generally recommend a bar graph with each “treatment” on the x-axis (i.e. each condition he tested) and whatever was measured on the y-axis (hopefully a number of some sort).

      A pie chart is more for percentages – for example % yes vs. % no to a particular question; Or the % of people that picked a certain color; etc.

  15. Ashley Ford

    My son is doing a science fair project how many pennies does it take to sink a boat made out of aluminum foil what would are graph be

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      That’s not really a science fair project unless you made several boats with something changed for each one (e.g. size, shape, material made out of). Then you would make a bar graph with type of boat on the x-axis and the number of pennies need to sink on the y-axis.

  16. emily

    what website could we use to make a bar graph online

  17. Rose

    Hi, my son is doing a science fair project and wanted to see what kind of graph should he use. His project is he tested 6 people to guess 4 flavors of kool aid while blindfolded and see who guessed all correctly. Some only guessed 2 right and so on.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      He could do a bar graph with each person on the x-axis and the number of correct guess (or percentage correct) on the y-axis


    What kind of graph could I use to display the distribution age by two different treatment groups?

    Spinal Cord Simulation vs. Physical Therapy

    Sample Size
    •Much Bigger •Much Smaller

    •Higher mean •Lower mean

    •Bigger range in population age (4 to 72 years old) •Smaller range in population range (11 to 59 years old)

    •Close to 40% and 60% distribution •Close to 20% to 80% distribution

    Duration of disorder
    •Higher mean •Lower mean

    Duration of disorder

    •Bigger range in population’s duration •Smaller range in population’s duration

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      It’s not clear from the question what you measured… But if you have two treatment groups, they would usually go on the x-axis of a bar graph with whatever you measured (a number) on the y-axis to show how they compare. For example, if I had coffee drinkers vs. soda drinkers and I measure average height, I would make a bar graph with 1 bar for coffee drinkers and 1 bar for soda drinkers and then each bar would be the average height (height on y-axis).

      But from your groupings, I am not convinced that is what you have for data…

      If the two treatments were: Spinal Cord Simulation vs. Physical Therapy, then these would go on the x-axis and you would have 1 bar for each. Your y-axis could be age (1 bar each to show which treatment had older/younger subjects).

      Usually if you are interested in age distribution, you would make categories (for example group the data by year-class of 5 or 10 year intervals) and then graph the thing you want to show (maybe the number of subjects that use physical therapy?) for each age class. If you did one color bar for physical therapy and a different color bar for spinal cord simulation then you may be able to show there is a difference in the typical ages of who prefers which treatment…

      Hope that helps! If not, re-phrase you question or be more specific on the data you have.


    Thank you that’s perfect. I really wanted to see what kind of graph(s) could be used to display the distribution of age by treatment group?
    I think you’ve made it clear for me.

  20. jacob pelletier

    im doing a progect with heavy and light paper airplanes. what graph do i use?

  21. Cynthia

    My sister is doing a science fair project on will sunlight outside or inside affect the growth of a plant. What type of graph can she use

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Bar graph: “Inside” and “Outside” are the independent variables (x-axis) with whatever was measured (size? # of leaves? height? etc.) on y-axis.

  22. Vicki

    Hi Thank you for all the information available. It’s very helpful. My daughter is doing a project where she applies a treatment to a rose petal to see the results. The treatment is water, vitamin E, and “air.” The objective is to determine the impact that vitamin E has on the appearance of skin where the petal represents the skin. We are not sure what to graph. She plans to run the experiment over 10 days and repeat it 5 times. We were thinking time on the x-axis and color on the y-axis and have a line graph for water, vitamin E and air. Do you think this is the best representation? How would she show that she repeated the experiment?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      What is she actually measuring? That is the dependent variable and goes on the y-axis – it must be quantitative (not just “color”). It could be “time to first signs of losing color” or it could be “percent of petal with a color change” or something else (even percent change compared to the control), but it must be associated with a number.

      One independent variable is the treatment, so you could make a bar graph with treatment on the x-axis (water, vitamin E, and air) and a final outcome on the y-axis (one bar each, or one bar for each time she repeated the experiment).

      You can only make a line graph with time on the x-axis if you have quantitative dependent variable that changes with respect to time (e.g. percent of pedal with color loss); then you can have a line for each treatment. Same as above, there can be a line for each time she repeated it or she can present the trials (hopefully at least 3?) in a data table, then graph just the average as the line.

  23. omelda

    My son is doing a project on Roots – how do different types of soils affect the ability of roots to anchor plants what should he do. please help

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      So your independent variable is “type of soil”, that’s what he is changing. The dependent variable must be quantitative (i.e. result in a number) – so how will he measure “ability of roots to anchor plants”? This is what he needs to figure out. How can this be measured? How can this be estimated?

  24. omelda

    thank you so much

  25. omelda

    so sorry for asking but how would he measure it he the doesn’t understand it

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      That will be his choice for the design. I don’t know how to measure that “ability”, perhaps he should try something easier – like root length or number of new roots?

  26. milli

    Can any body please tell me which graph would be best for my daughter to use if she is doing how much of a temperature increase would occur when testing several different foods?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      What exactly is she “testing” ??

      From the limited information, it sounds like a bar graph with the type of food on the x-axis and temperature on the y-axis

  27. Mai

    My daughter is doing a science experiment in heat insulation.
    She is comparing commercial and natural materials, she had done 6 trials. What is the best graph to describe her results. Plotting it on a line graph sincethe data was recorded over a period of time. Or a bar graph of the average of temperature of the 6 trials. Thank you

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      It’s hard to say without more information.

      If she is interested in which material insulated something “better” then a bar graph with the type of material on the x-axis and the average of whatever “measurement” of “better” on the y-axis would show that.

      If she is interested in which material insulated something “longer” then a line graph with time on the x-axis and whatever was measured on the y-axis (with the average of each of the materials graphed in a different color) would show that.

      If she is interested in which material was “more consistent” then graphing all six trials for each material would show that.

  28. Stephan

    My daughter is doing a science project on which color feeder a blue jay would like best…What graph does she use? Please Help!

  29. Louryn

    Hi I did a science fair project to see when a apple goes brown on what day each day we wrote down what it looked like whould I be able to do a graph and wich one should I use.

    Yours sincerly Louryn

  30. Courtney

    My 4th grade daughter is completing her science fair project tonight on density. She has corn syrup, vegetable oil, maple syrup, water, and dish soap that she poured into a glass. Each trial was done in a different order to see if the corn syrup had the most density. How would she graph this? No time was documented. The variable was the order the liquids were poured.

    Thanks for your help.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Since the dependent variable (order) really isn’t quantitative… you can’t graph this. Her best bet will be to use pictures/drawings to show the order of liquids poured vs. the order of liquids layered in the glass. If she observed that corn syrup layered on the bottom, regardless of when it was poured in — then she could conclude it was the most dense of the liquids evaluated.

  31. Kayleigh

    My brother is doing a science fair project on which candle melts the fastest and I wasn’t sure what graph to use because there are 5 candles.

  32. kurtas

    We are confused how to make an accurate graph. The project was which materials clean up oil the best. The conclusion was based off of visual observations. How do you put an amount or percentage to this and then form a graph?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      What did you measure as “best” – if it is a number then it would go on the y-axis and the type of material would go on the x-axis (bar graph, one bar per material type).

      If you just looked and decided which one looked like it removed the most, but didn’t actually measure anything … then you can’t make a graph. Instead make a table with the observations in it.

  33. Jammie

    We are doing a project on what water filter works best. Using sediments. How could we graph this?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      How are you measuring “best”? You will need a number… water clarity? light transmission? weight of solids removed? etc.

      That will go on the y-axis; with type of water filter on the x-axis (bar graph)

  34. Jacquie

    Working on a water, salt, egg floatation experiment. I charted the time I finished dissolving the salt, how many tablespoons were in the water at the time and of course, the state of the egg at that time. My question, is there some time of graph I could make to represent these findings? What information should go on which axis?
    Thank you so much!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Probably a bar graph… with “Amount of Salt” on the x-axis and whatever you measured as the “state of the egg” on the y-axis. If you did not measure anything (just made observations about how it looked? or yes/no for floating?) then you don’t have the data to make a graph, but you could present your results in a Table.

  35. Essi

    Hello my daughter is doing her project on home made snow but I am not sure what graph I can use?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      It depends on what she actually did… In general, what was measured goes on the y-axis and what was changed goes on the x-axis. Bar graph if the “thing” on the x-axis is a category; Line graph if it is quantitative (e.g. time, temperature, distance, etc.).

  36. Jackie

    Hello my son is doing a science fair project on how well vinegar and water cleans tile when ketchup, mud, honey, crayon, jelly get on it. I am stumped on what type of graph to use and how to set it up. Thanks

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      It would be a clustered bar graph with two different colored bars, one for vinegar and one for water, for each “stain” tested (ketchup, mud, honey, crayon, jelly) across the x-axis. Alternatively, you could do two bar graphs, one for water and one for vinegar and display them side by side.

      What ever you measured as “how well it cleans” must be a number and will go on the y-axis.

  37. Rikki

    I need help to know how to describe how you would draw a graph to compare the different temperature requirements for various bacteria.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Either a bar graph with temperature on the y-axis and type of bacteria on the x-axis;


      Line graph with temperature on the x-axis and some measure of growth for each type of bacteria on the y-axis.

  38. Sasha p.

    I did a project on the affects of putting a glow stick in a different environment like to see how long it would glow,any changes in it etc. What kind of graph should I use?

  39. Rita

    My son is doing a project on can sound travel on string by making plastic cup telephones with 3 different types of strings of cotton ,metal n nylon.can I show that on chart or graph or tables or anything else

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Is the answer yes/no? or good/better/best? A table will be his best means of presenting the results.

      If he is measuring something (so more than just yes or no answer or more than ranking), then you could make a bar graph with type of string on the x-axis and whatever was measured on the y-axis.

  40. Sydney Corbett

    So, my hypothesis for my science experiment is that dogs best respond to dog treats, not verbal praise. How should I graph my data for a x axis and y axis chart?

  41. zuzaizai

    thank you a lot I will use these content to teach my student who gonna be a good scientist in future as soon as has this nice website.. thank you

  42. Amy

    My sons project is on the effects sugar has on teeth. We put 6 baby teeth in a container of different kinds of soda and watched the amount of decay. We also measured the phone level in each soda and are making a bar graph with that information. We need on more graph or chart.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      You could make a BAR GRAPH: The different kinds of soda will go on the x-axis and whatever you measured will go on the y-axis.

      You might be able to make a Line graph with time on x-axis and whatever you measured on y-axis, one line per type of soda

  43. Melissa Skirpan

    My son is seeing if a red eared slider turtle can recognize color. He is food training the turtle in front of the color red for one week. He will then change the position of the color red with three other colors. Four instance the color position could be red, blue, green, and yellow. We will then see if the turtle will go to the color red when we change the position of the red in the order on each night. This will be measured by which color zone he goes to first. We are struggling with independent and D pendant variable’s and then how to graph this. Any advice?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      First, remember the turtles have backbones so make sure you have school permission to do the experiment.

      If you do, then your independent variable (the thing you change) is color; your dependent variable is the thing you measure. It should be quantitative – so a number. Maybe time it takes to go to the red? Maybe time it take to go to each color? Maybe percentage of time turtle goes to red? If it is just yes or no, then you will not be able to construct a graph. If it is something measurable then color goes on the x-axis and whatever you measure goes on the y-axis (bar graph)

  44. Patty Lavan

    My son is working on an experiment measuring grafitti/paint removal–utilizing 4 different surfaces— metal, vinyl (siding), brick (stone ), and wood and 4 different cleaning agents. What graph would be best to use to shoe results?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      The only graph he can properly make is a bar graph.

      ONE option: He could put surface on the x-axis and whatever he measures on the y-axis with a different colored bar for teach cleaning agent AND/OR another option would be that he could put cleaning agent on the x-axis and whatever he measured on the y-axis and a different colored bar for each surface.

      Make sure what he measures is quantitative (i.e. a number) – maybe percent taken off? or even the amount of time it takes to get it all off? or some other number. Take photos for the display – but to make a graph it has to be more than “better/best” or “more/less” or other adjectives

  45. Bharti Verma

    Hi Dear, my son is in grade 5th. as his science project, he is planning to do “how to make simple motor” by using copper wire, d battery, needles and magnets, but not sure how to display that in graphs.. pls. advice.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      So… this sounds more like an engineering project than a science experiment. Did he “experiment” with any of the components? For example, type of wire, amount of wire, type of magnets, number of magnets, etc. If yes, then he could put that on the x-axis as the independent variable that he “changed”. He would need to measure something more than yes/no for worked or didn’t work for a dependent variable which would then go on the y-axis for a bar graph of results.

      • Bharti verma

        thanks for getting back, how will he show this in line graph?

        • Dr. Maille Lyons

          The only way he can make a line graph is if the independent variable is continuous, for example, time or temperature. Otherwise, it will be a bar graph.

          • Bharti Verma

            so,in this case his independent variable will be i guess, spinning time and dependent variable could be the shape of wire, round of wire i guess. i hope i am on the right track?

          • Dr. Maille Lyons

            Almost – You have them flipped. The independent variable is the one that is manipulated by the researcher – so in this case, the shape of the wire, type of wire, gauge, etc. and the dependent variable is the one that is measured, so in this case spinning time. Still looks like he’ll be making a bar graph, not a line graph.

  46. Megan

    How do you make a bar graph of which brand of glue has the strongest bond? Because this is for my experiment and I am having a major problem!! I don’t undersand how to plan this??!

  47. Megan

    I’m doing this with the three different brands of glue, to test the strongest bond at 20mins. What do you suggest?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      The bar graph would have the brand of glue on the x-axis (horizontal one) and whatever you measured as “strong” on the y-axis (vertical one).

      How did you measure which one was the “strongest”? If it is quantitative (a number) you are all set; but if it was not … if it was qualitative (an adjective) you can not make a graph. You will just have to rank them, so use a table instead.

  48. Sally

    I tested whether the temperature of water would affect the speed of a tablets reaction and I don’t know whether to use a bar graph or line graph?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Since temperature is a continuous variable, you can correctly do either one. I would recommend:

      If you did 2 to 5 temperatures (OR if the temperatures were relative measures: cold, room, hot, etc.), then do a bar graph.

      If you did 5 or more temperatures AND the temperatures were measured with a thermometer, so you have a real number; then do a line graph

  49. Julie

    My daughter is doing a science project on which stain remover is the best at getting out stains, what kind of graph would she use.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      It will depend on what she measured. How did she determine which was “best”? If it was anything quantitative (a number) then she will most likely make a bar graph (stain remover on x-axis; whatever was measured on the y-axis). If it was just a visual observation, then she can not make a graph. She should present her results in a table.

  50. Ari

    Hi, I’m doing an experiment on how direction of gravity effects root growth.
    I’m not sure what graph I should use, as I have not measured the lengths until the very last day. I have around 20 radish roots. thank you!!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Most likely you should make a bar graph with direction on the x-axis and root length (or number or whatever) on the y-axis. It would have been better to measure more often because then you could have made line graphs for each direction; but it’s fine. Just make the bar graph to show the final results

  51. Ruby

    Hello, my son is doing a science project on the effect certain drinks have on our teeth over time. Pretty much we soaked egg shells in different beverages and will watch the eggs throughout the next few days. I was thinking about doing a graph on how the egg shells change color (representing tooth decay), but was not sure what graph or chart to use. Can you please let me know what would be best for this?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Hi – in order to do a graph he has to measure something that is in numbers (e.g. time, weight, length, speed, etc.). If it is just observations (this one is darker than that one) then there is no graph.

      He might be able to measure time to first signs of discoloration, if the observations are drastic enough. He might also be able to measure percent change in color if the shell does not discolor all at the same rate… although this will be tough on a curved shell.

      The best way to present the observations will be a table, with descriptions in the boxes for each drink type on each day (or at the end)

      • Ruby

        Thank you for your quick response. So, let’s say we measure time to show signs of discoloration. Assuming time would represent the days, I’m not sure exactly how it should look. So, a bar graph or several bar graphs? My vertical axis would be the time (days) and my horizontal axis would be the different beverages. Would that be correct?

        Also, just to verify is the following correct:
        independent variable – different beveraes
        dependent variable – shades of discoloration
        costant variable – eggs??

        Again, thank you for your assistance! 🙂

        • Dr. Maille Lyons

          Most likely, you will have one bar graph with beverages on the x-axis and the number of days until discoloration started on the y-axis.

          independent: different beverages
          dependent: time it takes to start to see a change
          constants: size of egg shells, type of egg shells, temperature, volume of liquid

          Control… probably water

  52. Lizzy

    My project involves color change. How does Clorox affect a plant’s life span? So which graph should I use or can my experiment not be graphed?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      It all comes down to what you measured. If you measured anything that is a number – for example, time to see first signs of a color change or percent of the leaf that changes color, then make a bar graph with that number on the y-axis and treatment on the x axis with bars for control and Clorox. If your result is yes or no… then you will not have anything to graph. Present the answer in a table or as a statement.

  53. Rebecca Forthes

    My 11 year old son is doing density of liquid layers… He thinks these are the correct variables…
    Constant variable- Volume of each sample of liquid (100ml)
    Independent Variable- Type of liquid used
    Dependent Variable- the different masses and densities the samples of liquids had, that varied depending on which liquid was being used.
    Can you guide us on how to make a chart or graph??

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      This sounds a bit more like a demonstration than an experiment.

      Did he measure the density and/or masses of the liquids? – if not, then that is not the dependent variable.

      You can’t graph anything until you figure out what to measure… time to layer? height at which it layered? etc. It has to be something measured with a number. Then that number goes on the y-axis. The liquids will go on the x-axis and it would be a bar graph.

      The experimental group is the trial in which you change something…. here again, since this is a demonstration… it’s a bit hard to name the experimental group. You could call water the control group and each other liquid an experimental group – some will be positive and some will be negative, but that’s ok. The positive ones are lighter than water, negative ones are heavier than water.

  54. Rebecca Forthes

    Also, what the control group would be??

  55. Diane

    How do you graph a candle illusion. My son’s project is due this Monday & I’m lost trying to figure this out.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Without more details this is a hard question to answer… I don’t quite understand what his project was.

      But, Generally if he did an experiment (not just a demonstration) then whatever he measured goes on the y-axis (vertical one) and whatever he changed to see if it had an impact on the result goes on the x-axis (horizontal). The control is what was not changed, or the “normal” or “ordinary” or “regular” condition; with the change being the actual experiment.

      For example, if he manipulated … the light source? the distance from the light? etc. That’d be on your x-axis and if he measured… size of the illusion? that would go on the y-axis; it would be a bar graph

  56. Rebecca Forthes

    Thank you… The “problem” he states was :
    Does liquid’s density affect how they react with each other and objects place in them?
    If water, oil and honey are placed together in the same cup, then their difference in density will cause them to separate in different layers and objects will fall in different places,,,
    What will the experimental and control group be?
    And the dependent, independent and controlled variables be?

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      So… it still sounds like a demonstration…. there is no control and there is no dependent variable because he is not measuring anything…

      How about: How do the characteristics of an object affect the object’s buoyancy?

      Set up the layered honey, water, oil. For each object, measure its size (length? circumference? etc.) and its weight (should be able to use a kitchen food scale).

      Look for as many objects as you can, so that you have some that are the same size, but weigh different amounts and some that weigh the same, but are of different sizes.

      CHANGE the object (this is the independent variable): coins, marbles, nuts, bolts, grapes, almonds, washers, safety pin, etc.

      MEASURE: the height at which it “floats” within the three layers (tape a ruler to the container with the fluids; this is the dependent variable).

      Analyze: Was it size or weight that better matched where the objects layered in the fluids? Make line graphs with size (1) and weight (2) on the x-axis and height object stayed at in the fluid on the y-axis. Is there a pattern in the data (straight line? curved line? no line?); why or why not ??

      Control variables are the three liquids, temperature, etc. Everything that doesn’t change between dropping each object into the layered fluid.

      The control is the smallest object for size and the lightest object for weight. Then as the size/weight of an object is increased… the object will float (higher/lower/stay the same – PICK ONE for the hypothesis).

  57. Rebecca Forthes

    Wow!!! Thank You!!!
    You rock!! Keep up the good work!

  58. Jill Lewis

    Hi I am doing a science fair project on how rust forms. I have four jars each under different circumstances such as calcium chloride or vinegar. I am not sure which kind of graph to use for this sort of information. 2 of the 4 jars formed rust by the way.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      What are you measuring? Presence or absence of rust? Then your dependent variable is not quantitative (i.e. not a number) so there is no graph you can make. Are there more than one “thing” in each jar? Maybe you can measure the number of them that rusted… but if it’s all or nothing in each jar, then you still don’t really have a graph to make.

      If you measured something (maybe % rusted or time to first signs of rust?) – that number would go on the y-axis and whatever is in the jars would go on the x-axis; it would be a bar graph

  59. Angelica B Sanchez

    Are there any graph websites that you would recommend

  60. Nicole obrien

    Doing a project on the milk and dish soap experiment where you put food coloring milk(fat free,2%,whole) then add dish soap to watch it swirl. Can’t figure out what type of chart/graph to do!! Please help!!

  61. Kashima L.

    Hello! My daughter is doing a project in which she is growing bacteria samples from common objects and growing them in agar plates. Half of the plates have been swabbed in bacteria and the other half has an anti-bacterial agent spread on it to see if it will inhibit the spread of the bacteria. What type of graph if any can she use and what would be the appropriate way to label it. Thank you very much for your time!!!

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      What did she actually measure?

      Sounds like she has yes/no type data (either bacteria there or not there?) – in which case she does not have data to graph. Graphing requires a quantitative dependent variable such as, the number of colonies, or time to first growth, etc. Something with a number.

      Was the antibacterial agent put on the agar plates? or on the common objects? Sounds like, at best, she has a yes or no as to whether or not the antibacterial agent prevented bacterial growth after transfer – regardless of the object. Was that her question/project?

  62. Kashima L.

    Hi Dr. Lyons,

    Her question was two parts. First, to see which objects swabbed contained the most bacteria (colonies grown). Second, to see if the colonies were kept from spreading over to the anti-bacterial side of the dish.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      OK – then she can make a bar graph with the items tested on the x-axis and the number of colonies on the y-axis. She could have two bars per item – one for the agar and one for the agar plus antibacterial.

  63. Kashima L.

    THANK YOU !! I really appreciate your time in helping us with our graphing. I am a homeschooling mom who is trying to make sure that our daughter has a good science and math background. She is super excited to finish her science fair project!!

  64. Sam

    I need to prepare a lab report on how air has mass and weight. I decided to weigh 2 balloons on a hanger(one inflated and one deflated) and the one that is inflated goes down, which will prove that air has weight. But I don’t understand how to record this into a graph or form a proper hypothesis.

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Not really sure… but you might try:

      Hypothesis: If air has weight, then a balloon full of air will weigh more than an empty balloon and larger balloons will weigh more than smaller balloons.

      Experiment: Add air to one balloon, no air to another and observed which balloon is heavier. Repeat three times. Better if you have same sized balloons filled to different sizes.

      Data: really yes/no or which balloon tips the hanger down. But better is quantitative, so maybe if you use three balloons filled to different sizes (use same size balloon but measure the circumference of the balloon) and time how fast or to what angle the hanger dips.

      Graph: size of the balloon vs. time or angle

  65. Rhayn

    I’m doing a biology project on “What effect will adding soap to water have on surface tension?” what type of graph would you recommend?

  66. V.S.

    My project is on how a growth mindset score is affected by feedback given by a game. What graph/s should I use?

    • V.S.

      Actually, how different types of feedback affects mindset assessment scores

    • Dr. Maille Lyons

      Most likely will be a bar graph…

      The metric for mindset score (hopefully a number) goes on the y-axis
      The different types of feedback (does not have to be a number, can be a category) goes on x-axis

  67. Sheryl

    Hello, my daughter is doing flipping bottels with density. What kind of graph would you recommend to measure the density? Would you recommend to use two different graphs for flipping and measurement?

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