Starting Point-Teaching Entry Level Geoscience > Mathematical and Statistical Models > Mathematical and Statistical Models Examples > World Population Activity II: Excel
Explore Teaching Examples | Provide Feedback

World Population Activity II: Excel

Activity and Starting Point page by R.M. MacKay. Clark College, Physics and Meteorology.

This resource received an Accept or Accept with minor revisions rating from a Panel Peer Review process

These materials were reviewed using face-to-face NSF-style review panel of geoscience and geoscience education experts to review groups of resources addressing a single theme. Panelists wrote reviews that addressed the criteria:

  1. scientific accuracy and currency
  2. usability and
  3. pedagogical effectiveness
Reviewers rated the resources:
  1. Accept
  2. Accept with minor revisions
  3. Accept with major revisions, or
  4. Reject.
They also singled out those resources they considered particularly exemplary, which are given a gold star rating.

Following the panel meetings, the conveners wrote summaries of the panel discussion for each resource; these were transmitted to the creator, along with anonymous versions of the reviews. Relatively few resources were accepted as is. In most cases, the majority of the resources were either designated as 1) Reject or 2) Accept with major revisions. Resources were most often rejected for their lack of completeness to be used in a classroom or they contained scientific inaccuracies.

This page first made public: Aug 30, 2006

This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


In this activity students import UNEP World population data/projections from either the World Population Prospects: The 2002 Revision Population Database UN Population Division or a text file. Students first graph this data by itself, and then along with logistic growth model predictions, and assess the model's ability to simulate the observed past and UNEP future projection of world population. Less detailed instruction is given here than in World Population Activity I as students are now assumed to be somewhat familiar with Excel.

Learning Goals

Context for Use

This activity and activity I provide a good overview of how to use Excel. These are appropriate for courses that intend to have students use Excel as a lab tool, for homework, or for modeling activities.

Teaching Materials

Figure 1. Low, Medium, and High UNEP projections of world population

Figure 2. Med-UNEP medium projections for World population to 2050 and Logistic model "best" fit. (Ao=2.52, K=10.8, and r=2.8)

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity will take students about 2 hrs to complete. Students unfamiliar with Excel should complete Activity I before working through this activity as less detailed instructions are provided in this second activity. Students should be able to work through this activity at home or in a computer lab will no supervision. Students more familiar with Excel can work through this activity more quickly.


Grading the completed activity sheet provided can be used as an assessment of student understanding. The future success of students on other Excel related activities is also another useful assessment tool.

An Excel Answers Document is provided above with several sheets representing different levels of completion for this activity. This can help instructors:

References and Resources

World Population Activity I should be completed before doing this follow-up activity.

UNEP web site (more info) is an interactive site that has past and future population data.


Environmental Science:Human Population, Mathematics:Statistics

Resource Type

Datasets and Tools:Datasets with Tools, Activities:Lab Activity

Special Interest


Grade Level

College Lower (13-14):Introductory Level

Quantitative Skills

Models and Modeling

Ready for Use

Ready to Use, Meets Peer Review Standard:Anonymous Peer Review

Earth System Topics

Human Dimensions:Population


Human Dimensions/Resources


Teach the Earth:Teaching Environments:Intro Geoscience, Teach the Earth:Course Topics:Environmental Science

See more Mathematical and Statistical Models Examples »