Fun with the U.S. Census

Students are more likely to engage in the lesson when you make it relevant to them, whether that's through personal interests, relating topics to real world events, or even delivering concepts with the help of pop culture. A great way to introduce your students to statistical analysis and data comparison, is to simulate your own classroom 'census'. The U.S. Census Bureau offers a down loadable questionnaire that you can print off for data collection. Students need not fill out names or phone numbers, only the information that will be used in the activity. Once the forms have been filled out, tally the numbers including the total number of people along with a total for each sub-category (e.g. age, sex, race, and relationship).

Next comes the analysis of these totals. Tom DeRosa, middle school teacher and contributor to Lesson Planet, suggests the following:

Age Data:
- Compute the mean, median, and mode
- Visually represent the data using a histogram, stem-and-leaf plot, etc.
- Divide data into ranges (e.g. 0 to 12 years, 13 to 17 years, etc.) and graph

Sex, Race, & Relationship Data:
- Convert into percentages and illustrate using a pie graph
- Estimate current population totals using proportions

For extension questions and a more detailed explanation, read the rest of DeRosa's article at Lesson Planet!

Real Life Math Using the U.S. Census -