Social
Studies:
Area and Population Density
Summary: Students work with the concept of population
density and then discuss the significance of the population densities
of Minnesota and China.
Minnesota Academic Standards Information
Subject Area Focus: Social Studies
Educational Level: Teachers may adapt the activity for the
various grade levels. Intermediate, Middle, High
High (912) Level
The student will understand the regional distribution of human population
at local to global scales and its patterns of change.
For the complete standard, see the Minnesota Academic Standards
web site at http://education.state.mn.us/mde/Academic_Excellence/Academic_Standards/index.html
Middle (68) Level
The student will make and use maps to acquire, process, and report
on the spatial organization of people and places on Earth.
For the complete standard, see the Minnesota Academic Standards
web site at http://education.state.mn.us/mde/Academic_Excellence/Academic_Standards/index.html
Intermediate (45) Level
For the complete standard, see the Minnesota Academic Standards
web site at http://education.state.mn.us/mde/Academic_Excellence/Academic_Standards/index.html
The student will make and use maps to acquire, process, and report
on the spatial organization of people and places on Earth.
LEARNING ACTIVITY
Directions
Objectives:
 To understand the concept of population density.
 To consider how geography affects population density.
Preparation: None
Time Required: 2050 minutes
Description
 Explain that population density is a ratio of the number
of people to a given unit of area (e.g., square mile, square
foot, etc.).
 Have students explore population density in your school.
 First pose these questions to students: What is the population
density of our classroom? What units of measurement should
we use? Have students work together or in small groups
to solve the problem.
 Using the same process, find the population density of
other school related areas such as the lunchroom, the library,
or a bus.
 Compare the population density in each of the areas.
Think about how crowded each space feels to you. How
does your perception of the feeling of the space compare
to its population density?
 Demonstrate the population densities of China and the
United States, which are about the same size in area. In
the classroom, outline an area about five feet square with
yarn or tape. Have three students stand inside to represent
the density in the United States. In another area the
same size have 14 students stand inside to represent China.
Discuss what effects such difference in population density
has on the countries. For another comparison, compare the
population density of the province of Shandong (1513) with
that of Minnesota (53), noting that it is 28 times more dense
in Shandong.
 Have students review and compare the population densities
of a variety of communities. If you want to integrate
math calculations, have students calculate the population
densities from the population and area. Otherwise, use just
the population density figures directly.
Learning Resources
U.S. Census Bureau FactFinder
http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/BasicFactsServlet
You can search for data by state, county, or city.
Minnesota Fun Facts (published for young people) from the U.S. Census
Bureau
http://factfinder.census.gov/home/en/kids/funfacts/minnesota.html
Minnesota Datanet
http://www.mnplan.state.mn.us/datanetweb/
Printable Materials: None
Evidence of Learning: The following product(s)
supply evidence of student learning.
 Presentation of data.
 Classroom discussions.
Special Notes
Technology Integration:
Incorporate technology tools and resources in ways that enhance
and support teaching and learning.
 To integrate technology tools, have students use a spreadsheet
for the calculations and to create a bar chart.
Accommodations
Change the activity to accommodate students with different needs,
knowledge and skills.
 Provide calculators or preprogrammed spreadsheets for
computations.
Extensions
Extend students' learning with additional activities.
 Study changes over time in an area’s population density.
Sources/Credits: New International Atlas (1998),
Rand McNally.
Benton, B., Comparing school population densities. In NCSS Publications.
(1997). Tora no maki II: Lessons for teaching about contemporary Japan.
(pp. 1719). National Council for Social Studies.
Entire List of Curriculum Activities
