Mass Modeling of Mammals

Source: Pixabay

Type: Investigation

Theme: Statistics

Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Learning Target: Students will learn about scatterplots, modeling nature through functions, and least-squares regression.


This project is for groups of two (individuals OK).

  1. Find a dataset that plots data comparing a species age and its mass (height, length or another growth variable). Search: filetype:csv or filetype:xlsx.*
  2. Create a scatterplot of the data.
  3. Produce a least-squares linear regression on the data using Desmos (y-axis is mass, x-axis is age). Plot residuals (example). Is there a pattern to the residuals?
  4. Determine the best parent function for your dataset and regress the data using that function. Why does that function produce the best-fit?
  5. How does your coefficient of determination (R2 or R-squared) compare to other students?
  6. High school coding students: Use this graph to develop a Python or Javascript application which creates a least-squares regression for your data.


  1. Data.
  2. Write one or two brief paragraphs about your species and how it physiology develops as it ages.
  3. Graphs:
    1. Least-squares linear regression with R-squared values
    2. Other parent function regression with R-squared values
  4. Answer the following questions:
    1. Is there a pattern to the residuals for your linear regression?
    2. Why does your selected function produce the best-fit regression?
    3. How does your coefficient of determination (R2 or R-squared) compare to other students?
  5. High school students: Provide a link or code for your app.
  6. Peer reviews and revisions.
  7. Cite your sources.



*You are welcome to analyze alternative amazing bivariate datasets, such as litter size vs birth weight in multiparous mammals. Just consult with your teacher first.

Exit Ticket
Does the curve for reptiles differ from mammals??
CCSS Math Practice
  • I can model with mathematics.
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts
  • Systems and System Models