Teaching Notes

Example Output

NOTE: This chapter was retired from the EET collection after CIESIN's US-Mexico Demographic Data Viewer became unavailable. The pages are available here for reference.

This map shows the variability of the population per square mile for each county in the state of New York, located within the US-Mid Atlantic region, as compared to each county in the state of New Mexico, located within the US-Border States region.

The key in the corner describes the range associated with each color.

Analyzing Populations Detail 8 Image

This map can be compared with maps produced by students during assessment.

Grade Level

Activity appropriate for grades 8-12. Dataset and tool use applicable for grades 5-16.

Learning Goals

After completing this chapter, students will be able to:

  • identify and locate regions of the United States and Mexico,
  • describe geographical aspects of regions in the United States and Mexico,
  • identify and locate states within two regions of the United States,
  • analyze population characteristics for regions, states, and counties, and
  • compare and describe differences in population characteristics between regions of the United States.

Instructional Strategies

Student preparation should include exposure to maps of the North American continent and familiarization with the concept of political boundaries to differentiate between countries, states, and counties. Also, discussions about population, including concepts related to population density or land use, such as urban and rural, will help prepare students for the activities presented in the chapter. Previous exposure to reading values that represent variables and to interpreting numeric values expressed as percentages will help students to interpret the data and the reports displayed.

The activities in this chapter can be completed either in a classroom setting or in a computer lab. Teacher led discussions can help introduce each mapping activity and reinforce the concepts when viewing the maps and statistical reports.

Completing the chapter activities in a computer lab will provide students with an interactive experience. Students can work in small groups to share techniques and discuss their results.

If completing the chapter activities in a classroom, a large display or computer screen should be available so that all of the students can see the maps as they are created.

Distributing printed copies of the Step-By-Step Instructions will assist students in completing the activities presented in the chapter and reduce the need to view the instructions on the screen while completing each step.

Learning Contexts

This chapter demonstrates how to engage in scientific inquiry by analyzing scientific data on populations. It introduces the concept of regions and provides an opportunity to analyze variables that represent population characteristics of states, such as the percent of population within specific age groups and population density. Analysis is conducted by selecting variables and viewing the results on color-coded maps to visualize differences in the population characteristics within the regions, states, or counties selected.

Science Standards

The following National Science Education Standards are supported by this chapter:

Grades 5-8

  • 8ASI1.3 Use appropriate tools and techniques to gather, analyze, and interpret data.
  • 8ASI2.4 Technology used to gather data enhances accuracy and allows scientists to analyze and quantify results of investigations.

Grades 9-12

  • 12ASI1.3 Use technology and mathematics to improve investigations and communications.
  • 12ASI2.3 Scientists rely on technology to enhance the gathering and manipulation of data.

Geography Standards

The following U.S. National Geography Standards are supported by this chapter:

  • 1. How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective.
  • 5. That people create regions to interpret earth's complexity.
  • 9. The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on earth's surface.

Time Required

1-2 hours

Assessment Strategies

To assess whether students have been able to create the map illustrating the variability of population per square mile for each county in the states of New York and New Mexico, compare the maps produced by students with the map presented at the beginning of the Teaching Notes.

To assess students' understanding of the concepts presented in this chapter, ask students to

  • describe the regions and states displayed on the maps that they produced;
  • discuss differences in the population characteristics of the regions, states, and counties displayed;
  • describe how they produced the maps of the population characteristics displayed.