Understanding Graphing in Physical Science


Many science investigations have students generate graphs. What to put on the axes is often told to us. Could we have decided what to graph on our own? Would we decide to graph something else? Does the graph have any meaning to us?

What is a graph?

Graphs in science model the physical world. They can give us information about a physical system in a very visual way. Graphs can show the relationships between variables.


Many students find it difficult to decide what data to graph, how to place it on the graph, and then it is often the case that once a graph is made they don't unterstand what it tells them. Graphs can be very powerful learning devices in science, but some fundamental concepts must be understood.

This section will help you:

  • Review how to plot a graph and also how to recognize some fundamental relationships.
  • Interpret graphs made from physical science data.
  • Predict graphs from physical situations.
  • Understand how graphs of the various variables for a given physical situation should be combined.