Activity: Graphing Lake Erie Temperatures

Summary: Students explore water temperatures from the surface to the bottom of Lake Erie, graphing and discussing the results.

You Need:


Create groups of six students and assign a station to each student in each group.

  • The six stations are 1047, e10, 968, E42, 1003 and 1190.

Part 1 – As a class

  • Determine the minimum and maximum depth for all of the stations.
  • Determine a scale for graphs (minimum and maximum depths and temperatures necessary to fit all data onto the graphs).
    • X-axis – 0 to 25 degrees Celsius
    • Y-axis – 0 to 35 meters
  • Discuss reasons for setting ‘0’ at the top of the y-axis.
  • 0 is the surface, the deepest station is 33 meters deep

Part 2 – Each student

Using graph paper:

  • Create a graph using the agreed upon scale
    • X-axis – 0 to 25 degrees C
    • Y-axis – 0 to 35 meters
  • Label x-axis and y-axis
  • Create a title including the station ID number
  • Label the bottom of the lake at each station
    • For example, station E42 is only 22 meters deep
  • Plot temperature (degrees C) by depth (meters)

Part 3 – In small groups

  • Answer data sheet questions
  • Have students compare their graph and data sheet answers with other students in their group.