Lesson 4: Comparing Data

Grades 5–8

Words to Know

Strand: Managing Data

Skills and Objectives

  • bullet Learn to use the U.S. Census Bureau’s
       online American FactFinder tool to locate
       census statistics
  • bullet Compare census statistics among districts
       in the U.S. Virgin Islands and draw conclusions
       about its population

Materials: Count and Compare Student Worksheet 4, computer with online access, pen

Time Required: 45 minutes

    Getting Started

  1. The U.S. Census Bureau’s American FactFinder is an online tool that allows anyone to access data from the most recent census. You can find the site at http://factfinder.census.gov. Before guiding students as they use this online database, you will want to spend some time acquainting yourself with the site.
  2. To access information about the U.S. Virgin Islands, go to http://factfinder.census.gov and follow these steps:

    1. Under the heading “Getting Detailed Data" click the option Get Data under “Decennial Census."
    2. Scroll down to the option U.S. Virgin Islands Summary File. Click that option and select Custom Table. Your students will use this tool to create a custom table that includes specific statistics from different subdistricts in the USVI.

  3. Introduce students to American FactFinder. Explain that its purpose is to provide census statistics to the public, and tell students they will use it to draw some conclusions from those statistics. In a computer lab or on a common computer linked to an overhead screen, allow time for the class to explore the site along with you, particularly the U.S. Virgin Islands Summary File where they will access information.
  4. Guide students in the process of creating a Custom Table. Once students select that option, have them select a "geographic type" from the pull-down menu. For the classroom activity, students will choose "County Subdivision." Choose one of the islands from the "Select a County" pull-down menu. Then select a subdistrict from the geographic areas list. Click Add. They will see the subdistrict reflected in the box below the list. Click Next.
  5. Now the tool will allow the user to choose an element of data from the U.S. Virgin Islands' last census. Among the choices are statistics about the population by age, sex, and ethnic origin; statistics about living arrangements, income, and transportation options; and even statistics about school enrollment and employment status. Select one of the tables and click Go. You may add more than one for a custom table. In the field below, click the check boxes to select one or more data elements. Click Add, then click Next and Show Result. Now students can see the information they've requested for one subdistrict.
  6. Using the Student Worksheets

  7. Distribute Count and Compare Student Worksheet 4. Explain to students that they will use the online American FactFinder tool to compare the number of children under 18 for more than one subdistrict on your island.
  8. Have students create a custom table that compares more than one subdistrict using the data element of Own Children Under 18 Years by Family Type by Age. Once students have entered the statistics onto the chart on Student Worksheet 4, they will draw two conclusions that they might reach as a result of the data.
  9. Wrap-Up

  10. Ask: Did everybody reach the same conclusions? Why or why not?

Teaching Options

Younger or less skilled students, or those without classroom computer access, can use information that the teacher has chosen to make simple bar or pie graphs.

Older or more skilled students may conduct further research on their own using American FactFinder and display their findings on a thematic map.

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