Lesson 2: Where We Live

Grades 5–8

Words To Know

Strand: Map Literacy

Skills and Objectives

  • bullet Explain the factors that influence population
       density on the U.S. Virgin Islands, including
       geography and economic activity
  • bullet Research factors that could influence future
       population growth and density on the
       U.S. Virgin Islands
  • bullet Forecast future population growth and
       distribution on the islands

Materials: Where We Live Student Worksheet 2, U.S. Virgin Islands wall map , pen, computer (optional)

Time Required: 45 minutes

    Getting Started

  1. Using the information included on the U.S. Virgin Islands wall map lead a student discussion on the factors that drive the economic growth of the U.S. Virgin Islands. What are the goods and services that drive the economy of the U.S. Virgin Islands? How are they related to the geographic location of the islands? Why are they important to the future of the three districts?
  2. Explain that several issues may have a future impact on the population and economic activity of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Discuss two of these issues:

    • The U.S. Virgin Islands government has announced plans to further develop Water Island. Development would increase the amount of residential housing to deal with chronic housing shortages on St. Thomas.
    • Development of resorts and tourist facilities in other parts of the world have increased competition in the tourism industry, on which the U.S. Virgin Islands depends. The new destinations could affect the number of guests on cruise ships and in hotels, as well as the amount of money spent in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  3. Individually or in pairs, have students use the Internet and other resources to research the facts or data of these issues. They may want to start with the following Web sites: the CIA World Factbook for the U.S. Virgin Islands at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/vq.html and VINow.com (Virgin Islands Geography) at www.vinow.com/general_usvi/geography . Using these and other sites students may find, ask them to focus their research on the terrain of the islands, the land-to-water ratio of the area, the region’s natural disasters, and current economic and environmental issues. Using the information students find, have them forecast how and where the population of the islands might shift based on potential changes in economic activity.
  4. Using the Student Worksheet

  5. Based on their research, have students use the map on Where We Live Student Worksheet 2 to mark up their forecasts of how the population might change in the future. Have them include the maps in an oral presentation of their forecasts.
  6. Wrap-up

  7. Following the presentations, lead a student discussion on the forecasts they’ve heard about the future growth and distribution of the population of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Which are most credible? If the forecasts come about, how might they be reflected in the 2010 or 2020 U.S. Virgin Islands maps?

Teaching Options

Younger or less skilled students can focus on the facts outlined on the Census at a Glance reference page. Pair students and challenge them to ask and answer questions about the 2010 Census USVI based on the printed information and what they’ve learned in class. Have them share their questions and answers. Ask them to share Census at a Glance at home.

Older or more skilled students can build upon the following historical details to write a factual essay about why there was a rise in population in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The first census in the U.S. Virgin Islands was taken in 1835 when the islands were territories of Denmark and called the Danish West Indies. Approximately 43,200 people were counted. Denmark continued to conduct the census until 1911. The United States purchased the U.S. Virgin Islands for $25 million in 1917. The U.S. Census Bureau conducted a special census that year and the U.S. Virgin Islands has been included in the U.S. decennial census since 1930.

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