Seeing the light
Seeing the light

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Seeing the light

Study note: information from figures

Activity 11 Information from figures

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Look back over Figures 2, 5, 6 and 8. Think about the nature of each figure – what kind of information or idea is it conveying? See if you can understand the significance of each illustration and how it relates to the ideas developed in the text. Consider why these figures have been included, and whether it might have been possible or preferable to have conveyed the ideas in words.


Each of the figures in this section is of a different type, although several of them may look rather similar.

The first, Figure 2, conveys in a simple visual form a lot of data and related information about people’s responses to temperature and relative humidity. To convey the same information in words would have meant a lengthy and complicated piece of text, and it’s almost certain that you would not have grasped the information as readily as you can from the illustration. Notice how the shaded area implies that the ‘comfort zone’ is less well-defined than might be suggested by the rigid rectangle enclosed by the dotted lines. The drawing inside the zone also implies the kind of activity for which this zone is ‘comfortable’.

Figure 5 is a different kind of illustration. It doesn’t really convey any more information than the article it accompanies, but it shows examples of the types of building forms that are outlined in the text. It therefore makes the text easier to understand. You might also find the pictures easier to remember than the words in the text.

The next illustration, Figure 6, is a graphical representation of some principles that are also explained in the text. The drawing enables you to literally ‘see’ what the author means; how the two important orientations happen to come conveniently at right-angles to each other.

Figure 8 is a visualisation of something that happens in three-dimensional space and time – the apparent motion of the Sun through the sky. Once again, the illustration easily conveys something that is much more difficult to convey with words alone; and it helps you to understand the text.

The figures are not there just to make the website look more attractive! Since technology is so often about real-world objects, illustrations are used in technology courses to explain those objects, and also to help you to ‘visualise’ the ideas connected with those objects.


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