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Box-and-Whisker Plots

Plotting the five-number summary for ascending data.

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The Ways of Weather

Credit: Scott S.
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/glass_window/384240793/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Did you know that a meteorologist does a lot more than talk about the weather on TV? A meteorologist studies the science of weather and makes predictions based on weather patterns. In fact, meteorologists also track those patterns over time and then analyze that data. Can you imagine tracking temperature for days or months or years? Well, if you did, you would need an effective way to present your data. That's where box-and-whisker plots come in!

Why It Matters

Meteorologists often use different data displays to present the information they have collected over time. Box-and-whisker plots are commonly used by meteorologists. Why? Well, it has to do with the way that box-and-whisker plots organize data. In a box-and-whisker plot, the data is arranged around the median of the data, the lower and upper quartiles, and the minimum and maximum values. Take a look at the following display of temperature data from the United Kingdom.

Credit: Laura Guerin
Source: CK-12 Foundation
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

These box-and-whisker plots show the monthly temperature ranges from 1950 to 1999 at the Southampton Weather Station in southern England. By looking at this chart, you can see that the highest temperatures were observed in the months of June, July, and August. But the more interesting statistic is that each of the plots on this chart shows the range of temperature over the course of 50 years for each month.

Take a look at this video on creating box-and-whisker plots: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UE_NSjgMOBQ

Explore More

Watch the video below to learn how to use a graphing calculator to create box-and-whisker plots. Practice making box-and-whisker plots of NBA statistics with the activity at the next link. Then, watch the video at the last link to learn more about the science of meteorology and how meteorologists predict winter weather.




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    Image Attributions

    1. [1]^ Credit: Scott S.; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/glass_window/384240793/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
    2. [2]^ Credit: Laura Guerin; Source: CK-12 Foundation; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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