Get the Picture - Severe Weather

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Students review graphs and charts of severe weather data then answer "True and False" questions about the content conveyed.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will learn about different ways that informational data can be conveyed.
  • Students will learn about statistical tools and apply concepts of statistics to analyze weather data.
  • Students will analyze data in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims.



1. Spend class time discussing ways in which information is often presented (books, speeches, reports, graphs, tables, billboards, websites, apps...). Discuss which communication methods are most often chosen for information of a more technical, quantitative, or scientific nature.

2. Draw, project, or print simplistic samples of graphs, pie charts, tables, maps, and models. Review the basics of each tool, and why they are frequently used in science and mathematics to convey statistical, quantitative, and other technical information.

3. Discuss recent severe weather events with students, allowing them to share information that they have heard about or experienced firsthand.


1. Tell students that they will be tasked with analyzing graphs and diagrams that convey information about severe weather events in their small groups. Students’ understanding will be assessed based on their answers to the true/false questions that are paired with each graph.

2. Allow adequate time for students to begin reviewing, discussing, and deciding which card statements are true or false.

3. Project each graph or diagram at the front of the class for discussion and review once students have completed all true/false statements. Students should discuss what is being conveyed in each graph and any questions that they might have about it.

4. Ask students to consider if the visual representation is more effective and efficient than words alone? Why or why not? Which graph, if any, warrants further clarification? Ask questions that require students to extend what the graphs convey and make future predictions based on some of the trends shown.

NOTE: All true statements are in the column at left, while false statements are in the column at right.


Circulate among students and listen to their discussions as to why a statement is true or false. Note those who struggle with drawing conclusions with true or false statements that are clearly answered from the data conveyed. Note those who ask perceptive questions about the graphs or the statements provided and the discussion around the more difficult statements.

Ask students to write their own "True and False" statements to present to their groups for discussion. Add the most thoughtful and challenging questions from students to the two spots available on the "True and False" cards for the next time they are used. Continue to offer practice and growth in analyzing and interpreting data.


The statistical representation of scientific data often conveys important information in a manner that is more efficient and clear than words alone, but it can also potentially mislead those less experienced with interpreting statistical data, graphs, charts, and tables. Interpreting graphs takes practice! Review the Definition of Tools (PDF) for important background about popular statistical tools such as graphs, charts, and tables.


As an extension activity, have students practice writing true and false statements for one or more of the graphs that their classmates then have to judge to be either true or false. Good questions come from a strong understanding of the data conveyed.


  • This activity was developed by Teri Eastburn with the UCAR Center for Science Education.