Moving Averages

'Understand real life data and become rich and powerful!’

Finding trends in real life data can give us power and make us rich.  Evidence for global warming, financial data like stock prices and employment figures are often complicated because of the quantity of data and natural fluctuations.  This activity looks at these real life data and uses moving averages to iron out fluctuations and spot trends. 


Here is the worksheet to go with the activity Moving Averages
Data set for temperatures in Sydney and Central England climate change
Autograph file to demonstrate moving average of temperature data Temperature in Sydney
Life expectancy data Life expectancy France
To find out more about how moving averages are used in financial markets visit

Video demonstration of the effect of changing the moving average period


Students will learn how technology can make onerous time consuming calculations simply and quickly.  It is often important to do some manual calculations to understand what the computer is doing and this is no exception.  To this end  students will get practice in calculating and plotting 3-point moving averages.  Here is a decription of how the activity evolves.

  • Describe trends in yearly average temperatures in Sydney.
  • See how moving average calculations are made.
  • Use technology (video available if no access to Autograph) to analyse data using moving averages.
  • Use paper and pencil method to analyse life expectancy in France during 1910s.
  • Look for trends in the financial markets to find a good investment.
  • Data for mean monthly temperatures in Central England since 18th Century are available on the Excel spreadsheet should students wish to do more analysis of global temperatures. 
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