Storyline is a game created by data enthusiasts to help people test their assumptions about historical trends.

This lesson plan features the game Storyline: Oil Production, in which students draw a line graph they believe will best represent five aspects of music recording trends: Vinyl Records, Cassette Tapes, Compact Discs, MP3 Downloads, and Streaming.



Tap students’ prior knowledge by asking what they know about oil production:

What is oil and what’s its relationship to gas?

Where do oil and gas come from?

How has our use of oil and gas changed over time?



  • Open BrainPOP’s Gas and Oil topic. Read aloud the description below the movie player.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding.
  • Students read one of the Related Reading articles. Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.


Step 3: APPLY

Students follow these steps to play the game, Storyline: Oil Production. Students follow these steps:

  1. Click PLAY to get started.
  2. Read the first quiz question and click PLAY again.
  3. Draw a line on the graph which extends across the entire X axis, that represents the best guess on how the Y axis changed over time. NOTE: You must go through the given point along the way. 
  4. Click the HINT button in the bottom right corner for additional information to generate one point along the line.
  5. When ready, click the SUBMIT button to see the graph of real data to compare with their guess.
  6. Repeat the steps above for all three game rounds.  


Step 4: REFLECT  

Prompt students with the following questions to reflect on their gameplay experience:

How accurate were your guesses to the real data from Oil Production? 

What information would have helped you make more accurate guesses?

Which of your rounds was most accurate?  What do you think helped you make such a strong prediction?

Which of your graphs was most inaccurate? Why?

What questions do you have? Discuss with a classmate.



Try one or both of the following extension activities with your class:

Overlap Graphs

  • Provide students with graph paper. Instruct them to draw all three lines from the game on the same graph. Let students know that the X and Y axis for each individual graph may differ.
  • Challenge students to examine how the graphs may influence one another. 
  • Ask students to consider how adding information from each graph helps to create a more complete picture of how oil production impacts the price of gasoline.

Build Your Own Storyline

  • Students identify a topic or trend of interest, and research it to identify changes over time. 
  • Students then select a time frame from their data to highlight in a graph.
  • Print or draw (with a permanent marker) students’ storyline graphs on a transparency.
  • On a separate transparency, print or draw blank graphs with the proper axis for students’ storyline graphs.
  • Display the blank graphs around the room and have students use a dry erase marker to make their guess in the same way as the online game.
  • Once all students make their guesses, overlay the answer keys (the graphs created by the students who researched that topic) to compare.
  • Ask students: What is something you learned from researching your topic? What is something you learned from a classmate’s topic? 

More Storyline Games

For continued exploration of data and graphs explore these Storyline games:

Storyline: Industrial Revolution

Storyline: Music Recording Technologies