Billion Oyster Project

Introduction to Data Analysis


Oysters & Organisms Lessons



Class Periods




Subject Areas



Students will compare two graphs, one which includes only two pieces of information and one that includes four. The students will compare and discuss the difference. Then, students will examine a set of oyster data to determine which columns provide relevant data and why data is relevant or irrelevant. They will then create a graph showing the data over time.


  • Students will consider which data is important and why

  • Students will graph data over time.

Materials and Resources


  • Graph Paper
  • Rulers
  • Projector/Document camera to display data

Before you get started

Tips for Teachers

This lesson can be done with any set of data from your Oyster Restoration Station (ORS). The data set I included has obvious examples of relevant and irrelevant data, but you should definitely use your own data or any other data that your students are excited about. The opening worksheet could take an entire class or could be completed quickly. It all depends on how deeply you want your students to investigate. If you take a period with it, then this lesson will take two class periods. There is a resource spreadsheet with more data Oyster Raw Data. Feel free to draw from that as well.


This lesson provides a basic introduction to the idea that not all data is relevant. It encourages students to consider what data is useful for analysis and it is not. It is an introduction to teaching students to consider large quantities of data and choosing their focus.

Instruction Plan


Examine the two graphs on the handout “Tigers and Wolves.” The handout asks students to compare a graph with only two pieces of data and one that is more complex and contains four pieces of data.


  • Put the data from the Graphing the Oysters! (or any other set of data from your restoration station) on the board or on a projector.

  • Ask the students to discuss in groups which columns of data show change over time and which do not.

As a class, once they have decided that, hand out the

Graphing the Oysters!

worksheet and have the students work on it.


Discuss with students that not all the data that you collect at your restoration station will be relevant. Have them give examples of data collected at the ORS that might not matter. Discuss what makes GOOD data and what data is not worth looking at.


Decide which data your group will focus on next time you go to the oyster site. Why have you chosen that data? Justify your answer.