Lesson 10: Getting Active in the Census

Grades 9–12

Strand: Community Participation

Skills and Objectives

  • bullet Identify ways to participate in the 2010 Census
  • bullet Make an action plan to participate in the 2010 Census
  • bullet Understand the need for citizen action and the risk of undercounts
  • bullet Participate in the 2010 Census and evaluate the experience
  • bullet Identify the skills and abilities used in these activities

Materials: Getting Active in the Census Student Worksheet 10

Time Required: One 40-minute class period

    Getting Started

  1. This lesson builds on what students have learned in previous lessons about why the census is important, how it is administered, and the different roles people play in making the census a reality. With this knowledge in hand, students can start to think about what they can do to ensure the success of the 2010 Census.
  2. Review with the class what they have learned so far by posing these questions during an in-class discussion:

    What makes the census important?

    Why is it important for people to complete and return their census forms?

    In what ways do individuals and groups contribute to making the census a success?

  3. Following the class discussion, explain to students that, in recent years, a major challenge for the census has been the issue of undercounts. Define undercount as the difference between the number of people counted during the census and the number of people that the Census Bureau determines, in a post-census analysis, should have been counted. Undercounts can affect the distribution of federal funds and result in political misrepresentation. For more information about undercounts, visit: www.census.gov/dmd/www/techdoc1.html.
  4. Tell students that the easiest way they can participate in the 2010 Census is to encourage their families to complete their census form. Then ask students what else they can imagine themselves doing to participate in the 2010 Census. As they state ideas, write them down on paper or on the board. Possible answers include: applying for a part-time job as a census worker (for those students who are old enough); getting the word out in the community so people complete their census forms and send them back; encouraging local businesses and other organizations to partner with the Census Bureau; joining the efforts of a partner group already in the community; getting the local government to donate space for training census workers; writing letters to the editors of local newspapers urging people to complete their census forms; holding an event to publicize the census and getting the local media to cover the event; getting the local cable company to donate time for public service announcements that students make.
  5. Direct students to the Census Bureau Web site to get more ideas and find promotional materials that might be useful for their projects. Share the following links with students:
    For participation ideas: 2010.census.gov/2010census/more_information/007657.html.
    For promotional materials, go to: 2010.census.gov/2010census, then click on Materials
  6. Using Student Worksheet 10

  7. Distribute Getting Active in the Census Student Worksheet 10. Explain to students that the worksheet will guide them through the process of becoming participants in the 2010 Census.
  8. Wrap-up

  9. Encourage student participation throughout the school year. Have your class follow the results of their fellow students’ projects. For example, if some students make a public service announcement (PSA), track when the PSA is shown on cable channels or is posted on the school or town’s Web site.

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