Human Coordinates

'You are a human coordinate.  Work in a team to produce interesting pictures and patterns in a huge grid.'

This hugely entertaining activity introduces students to the idea of plotting straight lines by highlighting certain positions in a grid.  The difference is that it is the students themselves that will act as the coordinates in a huge grid of chairs!  By watching themselves on a big screen, sharing observations and ideas with one another, the students learn very quickly how simple relationships lead to straight line graphs.


The following Teacher instructions will help you set this activity up
Picture grids & coordinate pictures
Coordinate cards
Editable picture grids
Optional - a webcam, laptop, projector and screen enable the students to see the graphs that they produce
Optional – a digital camera and/or video camera to record the students in action and watch together afterwards

The following slideshow demonstrates how to set up this activity

'Simple Approach'

A similar activity can be attempted with a smaller group of students and minimum preparation.  A grid of chairs needs to be set up as before, but the webcam and screen is optional.  The following video shows a class attempting to plot the line y=x (a filter effect has been used to protect the identities of the children).

Here are some graphs that the class could produce



The students thoroughly enjoy getting out of the classroom and interacting with one another to create graphs.  The invention of good quality webcams and projectors has improved the learning experience 10-fold!  The possibility of the students being able to watch themselves create these graphs enables them to understand that the different relationships between the coordinates affect the images (graphs) that they are able to produce. For full details about setting this activity up read Teacher instructions

  • Set up the chairs in a grid
  • Number the axes by sticking large numbers to the floor. Put the A3 paper and instructions on the chairs
  • Set up a laptop with a webcam on top of a set of step ladders.
  • Project the webcam image on a screen or wall
  • Produce coordinate pictures and lines following different instructions
  • Here are some possible graphs to try and plot

"Raise your hand if"

  1. "Your x coordinate is equal to 2"
  2. "Your x coordinate is equal to 3," etc.
  3. "Your y coordinate is equal to 1," etc
  4. "Your x coordinate is more than 3," etc.
  5. "Your x coordinate and your y coordinate are both less than 4," etc.
  6. "Your x coordinate and y coordinate are the same."
  7. "Your x coordinate is bigger than your y coordinate."
  8. "Your x coordinate is smaller than your y coordinate."
  9. "Your y coordinate is one more than your x coordinate," etc.
  10. "Your x coordinate and y coordinate differ by one."
  11. "Your x coordinate and y coordinate add up to 8," etc.
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