Scientists collect and record data during their work. They represent this data in many formats, such as tables, narrative notes, graphs, or diagrams. Data can be recorded in different ways depending on the type of investigation and what the scientist is trying to learn. The way in which data is organized is important when interpreting and drawing conclusions from the data.
A data table is one type of graphic organizer used frequently in science. It is used especially during laboratory experiments when qualitative and/or quantitative data are collected. Data tables are not randomly constructed; they have at least two columns or rows and specific data entered into each column and/or row. In order to design a data table, you must know what the independent and dependent variables are.
Let’s look at the procedure of an experiment. Identify the independent and dependent variable. If you need help with identifying the independent and dependent variable, review the lesson titled Experimental Design, in this module.
Every data table needs a title that describes what is in the data table. For example, a title for the data table above would be How the Concentration of Salt Affects the Cooling Rate of Water.
Let’s try another. Look at the following procedure. What would the data table need to look like in order to accurately record the data?
Read the following procedure. Drag the labels to the correct location in the data table. Not all of the labels will be used.
Cars and Ramps Lab
- With the ramp flat on a table or floor, place the back of the car's wheels at one end of the ramp and measure the distance from the front of the car to the end of the ramp.
- Raise the ramp up on one block.
- Place the back of the car's wheels at the top end of the ramp.
- Release the car as you start the stopwatch.
- Stop timing when the front of the car gets to the bottom of the ramp.
- Repeat steps 3-5 two more times, then calculate the average time.
- Raise one end of the ramp on two blocks and repeat steps 2-7.
- Raise one end of the ramp on three blocks and repeat steps 2-7.