CareerStart lessons: Grade eight

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Essential question: How are best-fit lines important in many careers?

Learning outcomes

Students will gain an understanding of how to observe trends in data and how to use best-fit lines to predict future events.

Teacher planning

Materials needed

  • Optional: Graphing calculators
  • Worksheet: “Predict the Future” (Use this version if your students will be using graphing calculators. Includes answer key.)
  • Worksheet: “Predict the Future” (Use this version if your students will not be using graphing calculators. Includes answer key.)
  • Overhead copy of worksheet
  • Overhead projector and pen
  • Markers
  • Optional: Computer with internet access and projector

Time required for lesson

Approximately 55 minutes


Students will need to have had formal instruction on how to calculate a best-fit line before completing this assignment.


  1. Have students remind you what scatter plots and best-fit lines are. (5 minutes)
  2. Have students brainstorm possibilities of jobs that might use scatter plot/best-fit line information. Discuss how scatter plots and best-fit lines might be used in those careers. Examples may include market analysts, advertising executives, scientists, teachers, etc. For more detailed information, see Career Information below. (5 minutes) If students need help brainstorming, you may choose to access the following websites:
  3. Using the worksheet “Predict the Future,” work through the first scatter plot to help students understand what kinds of information they can predict by looking at scatter plots/best-fit lines. (15 minutes).
  4. Have students complete the worksheet and be ready to share their observations with the class (20 minutes).
  5. Ask students why this information would be useful in some of the jobs they brainstormed at the beginning of class. (5 minutes).
  6. Wrap up the lesson by reminding students of the careers they brainstormed at the beginning of the class, and how scatter plots and best-fit lines may be needed in those jobs. (5 minutes)

Career information

Career information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Market analysts
Market research analysts collect and analyze data. Some analysts are employed by a company and others are independent contractors (self-employed). Analysts research what items consumer want, what prices consumers are willing to pay, and how well competitors’ products are selling. The data gathered can also be used to predict future sales.

  • Education: bachelor’s degree or master’s degree
  • Pay: $44,000 - $85,000
  • Growth: Faster than average; 22% increase over the next 10 years
Advertising executives
Advertising executives in smaller companies are usually responsible for the advertising. They handle promotions, contact with the public, and marketing the company’s products. In larger companies they can be in charge of personnel that handle these responsibilities.

  • Education: bachelor’s degree in advertising
  • Pay: $54,500 - $119,900
  • Growth: Average growth; 12% increase over the next 10 years
Scientists gather and analyze data in many different areas. Environmental scientists research the earth and water resources to help keep the earth clean and identify and eliminate hazards that could harm people, animals, or the environment. Biological scientists research living organisms from the largest animals to microscopic organisms in microbiology. Chemists research new uses for many different types of products from drugs to make-up. Atmospheric scientists study the atmosphere, predict the weather, and analyze trends in the weather. Agricultural and food scientists research crops to increase the yield per acre and find new and different uses for these crops, including new fuel sources.

  • Education: bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or PhD
  • Pay: $43,000 - $101,000
  • Growth: Average to faster than average, depending on which type of science; 9% to 25% increase over the next 10 years

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 9–12 — Algebra 1

  • Goal 3: Data Analysis and Probability - The learner will collect, organize, and interpret data with matrices and linear models to solve problems.
    • Objective 3.03: Create linear models for sets of data to solve problems.
      • Interpret constants and coefficients in the context of the data.
      • Check the model for goodness-of-fit and use the model, where appropriate, to draw conclusions or make predictions.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 8

        • Statistics & Probability
          • 8.SP.2Know that straight lines are widely used to model relationships between two quantitative variables. For scatter plots that suggest a linear association, informally fit a straight line, and informally assess the model fit by judging the closeness of the...
      • High School: Statistics & Probability

        • Interpreting Categorical & Quantitative Data
          • SP.ICQ.6Represent data on two quantitative variables on a scatter plot, and describe how the variables are related. Fit a function to the data; use functions fitted to data to solve problems in the context of the data. Use given functions or choose a function...