Your bones tell a lot about your body.  Archaeologists and forensic scientists study bones to estimate a person’s height, build, and age.  These data are helpful in learning about ancient people and in solving crimes.  The lengths of major bones such as the humerus, radius, or tibia can be substituted into formulas to find a person’s height.

As you do this project you will collect data about bones from your classmates and from adults.  You will use formulas to analyze the data and predict heights.  Then you will decide how to organize and display your results in graphs and spreadsheets.

Scientists use the following formulas to approximate a person’s height H, in inches, when they know the length of the tibia t, the humerus h, or the radius r.

1.Measure your radius bone and the radius bone of every student in your class. Measure from the base of your thumb to the bend in your arm.  Separate your data according to sex.

2.Display the data in a graph.  Choose the best type of graph for displaying the data.

3.Find the mean, median, and mode for the data you collected.  Choose the best type of graph for displaying the data.  Write a description of the data.

4.Measure your tibia and humerus bone lengths.  Use the lengths and the formulas to calculate your height.  Use all three formulas.  Are the calculated heights close to your actual height?  Explain.

5.An archaeologist found an 18-inch tibia on the site of an American colonial farm.  Do you think it belonged to a man or a woman?  Why?

6.Choose one radius measurement from the data in number one.  Calculate the person’s height.  Can you tell whose height you have found?  Explain.

7.Collect the tibia and humerus measurements of your classmates.  Separate all you data by male and female. Look for any differences between the sexes.   When predicting height, scientists use different formulas for men and women.

8.Organize, graph and display the data to see if there are differences between the sexes.

9.Measure the tibia, humerus, and radius bones and the height of several adults to the nearest half-inch.

10.Create a spreadsheet.  Organize the measurements.  Use the formulas in your spreadsheet to predict the heights of the adults.  Plan first.  You may need many columns.

11.Compare the predicted heights with the measured heights.  Does one of the formulas predict heights better than the other formulas?  Explain


H = 32.2 + 2.4t
H = 29.0 + 3.0h
H = 31.7 + 3.7r


H = 28.6 + 2.5t
H = 25.6 + 3.1h
H = 28.9 + 3.9r
The Big Dig.