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Lesson 2: Stick Figures

Lesson 2: Stick Figures


Students will learn how to observe, record, and organize data.


  1. Stick Figures cutouts (LMR_1.2_Stick Figures)

    Advanced preparation required (see step 3 below)

  2. Poster paper

  3. Markers

  4. Sticky notes


collect record organize representations variables

Essential Concepts:

Essential Concepts:

Data consist of records of particular characteristics of people or objects. Data can be organized in many different ways, and some ways make it easier than others for achieving particular purposes.


  1. Engage students in a Think-Pair-Share (see Instructional Strategies) of the Data Diary handout that the students completed for homework. Ask them to think about the following questions as they reflect on their data collection homework:

    • How many observations did you make?

    • Where do you leave the most data trails?

    • What could someone learn about you if that person had all of this data?

  2. Explain to students that they are going to act as researchers and collect data on a strange group of people who appear to be completely two-dimensional. Their goal is to record as much information as possible about these people, and to then organize the information in any way they choose.

  3. Distribute one full set of 8 cards from the Stick Figures file (LMR_1.2) to each student team.

    Advanced preparation required:

    Print the Stick Figures file (LMR_1.2). The handout can then be cut into the 8 cards. You will need enough sets of the cards for each student team to share one full set. For example, if there are 5 student teams in a class, then 5 copies of the file will need to be printed so that each team gets all 8 cards.

  4. Every student from the team will select one of the cards from the team’s pile of 8, and should record all possible information in their DS journal. Once each student has completed this, the team should come together to share individual findings.

  5. Distribute one piece of poster paper and a set of markers to each team. The students will then begin to organize the data from all 8 cards into a visual that they think represents the data. It is important that no guidance is given during this portion of the lesson. Students should be free to come up with their own schema for organizing the data.

  6. Display all the posters around the room and allow students to participate in a Gallery Walk (see Instructional Strategies in Teacher Resources) to view other teams’ representations of the Stick Figure data. For each poster, the teams should write either a comment or a question on a sticky note and add it to the poster to provide feedback for the original team.

  7. Afterwards, engage the students in a discussion with the following questions:

    1. Describe some similarities among the team posters. Were the data organized in similar ways? Answers will vary by class.

    2. Describe some differences among the team posters. How were the data organized differently across teams? Answers will vary by class.

    3. What information was available about the stick figures on each card? The person’s name, height, GPA, shoe style, sport, and number of friends on social media.

    4. Which representations made it easy to see what (or who) the objects were that were observed? Which representations made it easy to see whether different stick figures had different characteristics? Answers will vary by class.

    5. Which representation makes it easiest to see which stick figure is tallest? Answers will vary by class.

    6. If you were handed a blank stick figure and knew only the person's name, could you fill in the rest of the information? No. You would not know a person’s height, GPA, shoe preference, etc. just by knowing their name.

  8. Explain to the students that the general categories of information, such as a person’s height, are called variables. Variables are simply characteristics of an object or person. As statisticians, we use variable names to organize data into a simplified form so that a computer can read them. This will be discussed further in lesson 3.

Class Scribes:

One team of students will give a brief talk to discuss what they think the 3 most important topics of the day were.