Lesson 3: What's the Point?

Grades 9–12

Strand: About the Census

Skills and Objectives

  • bullet Identify who uses census data and how
  • bullet Trace the impact of census data from Census 2000
  • bullet Present findings in a graphic format

Materials: The Census Makes a Difference Student Worksheet 3

Time Required: One 40-minute class period

    Getting Started

  1. Tell students that, now that they have learned about the origins and development of the census, they are going to discuss a very basic question: What is the point of the census? Explain that in this lesson they will learn about who uses census data, how the data are used, and the important effects of those uses.
  2. Start the discussion by making a three-column chart on the chalkboard/whiteboard. Title the three columns as follows:
    • Distribution of Public Funds
    • Business/Industry Use
    • Government Planning
  3. Explain to students that these are three ways that census data are used. Lead a class discussion about each category and guide students to provide examples of each. Write their responses in the chart. Ask: What are some examples of programs that are paid for with public money? (Possible answers: unemployment benefits, school lunch programs, road repair) Ask: How do you think business owners might use census data? (Possible answers: to decide whether to open a gourmet coffee shop in a particular neighborhood, to decide where to build an assisted-living facility, to determine the average salary in a comparable business so that they know how much to pay their employees) Ask: How might the government use census data to plan for the future? (Possible answer: governments can see where an area’s population has increased and plan to build a school or post office there.)
  4. Discuss with students what kinds of data would be used in the examples listed on the chart. For example, if someone wants to open a new coffee shop they might want to see how many people live in the neighborhood to ensure that they will have plenty of potential customers.
  5. Summarize the major points of the discussion and tell students that census data are important in all the examples they have looked at. Explain that, with this background, they will now study how data from Census 2000 can be used, and the effects of that use.
  6. Using Student Worksheet 3

  7. Divide students into pairs. Then distribute The Census Makes a Difference Student Worksheet 3.
  8. Read the instructions aloud as students follow along. Tell them that they will have the rest of the class period as well as homework time to complete their research and create a poster or other graphic.
  9. Wrap-up

  10. During the next class ask students to share their findings with the rest of the class. These findings should be presented in the form of a poster or other graphic. After each pair has presented, ask students to write a short summary of what they have learned in this lesson.

    Answers to Student Worksheet 3

    Answers will vary for all questions.

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