LOGO - PULSE



How Many People Live There?

Author: Brink Harrison


Time: 1 class period
Preparation Time: 5 min to copy the Activity Sheet
Materials: Activity sheet
Calculators

 

Abstract
Students calculate the population density of countries as a whole and then calculate the population density of the larger cities within that country to demonstrate how density figures can be misleading. By comparing the population density of a larger city to the population density of the country as a whole, the students recognize the importance of paying close attention to how the interpretation of data depends upon how the data is being presented. They will also use population density data and representation when doing their final presentation to the community investigating the relationship between population density and environmental health issues.



Objectives

Students will be able to:-

i. Calculate the population density of a country
ii. Calculate the population density of large cities in that country
iii. Create an appropriate graph to represent their data for that country

National Science Education Standards
Data Analysis and Probability
Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them.

Related and Resource Websites
http://geography.about.com/od/populationgeography/a/popdensity.htm
http://www.fact-index.com/l/li/list_of_countries_by_population_density.html
http://www.studentsoftheworld.info/infopays/rank/densite2.html
http://www.demographia.com/dbx-regiona.htm

 

Activity

1. Ask the students if, in their science class, they may have been asked to find the density of an object. Have one of the students explain that density is calculated by using the formula,

2. Tell the class that another form of density is commonly used to compare countries around the world. Ask the class if they have ever heard of population density. If so, ask a volunteer to explain what population density means. If the class has not heard of population density or nobody volunteers to explain what population density means, tell the class that population density, when dealing with human beings, is a the number of people who live in a given amount of land, usually a square kilometer or a square mile. The formula for calculating population density is

3. Have the students calculate the population density of the countries listed in part 1 of the activity sheet. (Answers provided here)

(Source of data: http://geography.about.com/library/cia/blcindex.htm - July 2000 estimates)

Country Name
Population
Land Area
(sq. km)
Land Area
(sq. miles)
Density
(people per sq. km)
Density
(people per
sq. mile)
Australia
19,169,083
7,617,930
2,941,298
2.5
6.5
Bangladesh
129,194,224
133,910
51,702
964
2,498
Canada
31,281,092
9,220,970
3,560,234
3.4
8.7
Japan
126,549,976
374,744
144,689
337
874
Liechtenstein
32,207
160
61
201
521
Monaco
31,693
1.95
.75
16,252
42,094
Mongolia
2,650,952
1,565,000
604,249
1.7
4.3
USA
275,562,673
9,158,960
3,536,292
30
77

(Use: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html for 2005 estimates)

4. Referring to the chart they just completed, ask the students to discuss the possible ways a country might have a low population density. The country might: a) have a small total population; b) have a large land area; or c) a fairly large population, but a significantly larger land area. Ask the students to name other countries that they would expect to have a low population density.

5. Again having the students refer to the chart, ask them to discuss the possible ways a country might have a high population density. The country might: a) have a large total population; b) have a small land area; or c) a fairly large population, but a significantly smaller land area. Ask the students to name other countries that they would expect to have a high population density.
(For a full list of the population densities of various countries go to the following website:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_density)

6. Ask the students, "Exactly what does the population density of a country tell us?" Have a discussion about this and get the students to see that the population density of a country is similar to the average of a set of test scores. The average of the test scores tells us what the score on each test would have to be if the total score were spread out evenly over all of the tests. It does not tell you how well you did on each individual test.

Similarly, the population density of a country tells us how many people would live in a square kilometer or square mile if the population of the country were distributed evenly over the land area. Ask the students, "Does the fact that Canada has a population density of about 8.7 people per square mile really mean that there are that many people living on each square mile? " Discuss this and lead the students to realize that the population density of a country is not a very good gauge to measure a population's disbursement throughout the country. It doesn't give an accurate picture of where the people actually live in the country.


7. Have the students do part 2 of the activity sheet. (Answers are provided here)

In part 1, you calculated the population density of Canada to be approximately 3.4 people per square kilometer or about 8.7 people per square mile. Now calculate the population density of the following Canadian cities and answer the question that follows the chart.

City Name

Population

Land Area
(sq. km)

Land Area
(sq. miles)
Density (people per sq. km)
Density
(people per sq.mile)
Quebec
682,757
3,154.35
(1,217.90)
(216.4)
(560.6)
Montreal
3,426,350
4,047.35
(1562.69)
(846.6)
(2192.5)
Toronto
4,682,897
5,902.74
(2,279.06)
(793.3)
(2054.6)
Windsor
307,877
1,022.53
(394.80)
(301.1)
(779.8)
Vancouver
1,986,965
2,878.52
(1,111.40)
(690.3)
(1787.8)

(Source: http://www.canadainfolink.ca/canmap.htm)

a) How can you still justify saying that Canada has a population density of 8.7 people per square mile when in the city of Montreal alone there is a population density of approximately 2,192 people per square mile?

(The country is so darn big, it's second largest in land area, but it ranks 33rd in population, which makes its population density so low. Roughly 60% of the population of Canada lives a thin belt of land representing only 2.2% of the land between Quebec City and Windsor, Ontario. For good maps representing the population distribution within Canada go to the following site.
(Source: http://atlas.gc.ca/site/english/maps/peopleandsociety/population)

b) Ask the students," Why do you think so many Canadians live in the southern part of the country? What do you think are some of the factors people think about when they choose where to live in any country?" Discuss this, and then ask the students, "What do you think are the good points and bad points of living in a densely populated area? What are the advantages? What are the environmental health risks?"


Homework
Check with the social studies teacher to see what countries the students are studying in that class or the cities or countries they have been assigned to for their presentation. Have the students find the population density of the country as a whole and then calculate the population density of the larger cities of the country. The students could do a population density map of the country similar to the one they saw about Canada or they could do some other representation (bar graph, pie chart, histogram, etc.) to demonstrate how the population of the country is disbursed throughout the country.

A link could be made to social studies by also looking up environmental health problems that have occurred in the countries and looking for a correlation between areas of high population density and environmental health risks.

Embedded Assessment

Informal discussion as the students look at the examples of population density will help you assess their understanding of the concept. Informal observations as the students calculate the density populations for the cities in their respective country and choose how to best represent the data will help you assess how well the students are able to select appropriate methods of representing their findings and data.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:


an
NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award

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LOGO - NIEHS Center LOGO - NIEHS

Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694


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