First, download the 2010 Census Questionaire from the U.S. Census Bureau website. While you can certainly collect and analyze this information without the form, having them use a copy of the real thing makes this a more authentic activity (and might remind them to tell their parents to fill it out at home). The form really doesn't take long to fill out--even if you have a lot of people living with you--and of course students can only fill out as much as they know any way.
Start by dividing students into groups and having them fill out the forms together. They can skip the phone number and last names for the other people in their house, but they should be able to check off and fill out everything else. In their groups, students should tally totals of the number of people living in all homes as well as the number of people by age, sex, race, and relationship. Then, have the groups share their totals with each other, so that everyone should have a complete set of data.
Now it's time to analyze the data. There are a lot of options for what to do from here, but I have a few suggestions:
- Find the mean, median, mode and range for age.
- Construct a stem-and-leaf plot, box-and-whisker plot or simple histogram to represent the age data.
- Convert the raw data for sex, race and relationship into percentages. Ideally they would construct pie graphs to illustrate the data.
- Find and graph totals for these age groups 0-12, 13-17, 18-25, 26-34, 35-44, 45-55, 55 and up. The data could be graphed by totals or percentages.
- Using the most current population estimate for your community, use proportions to extrapolate numbers of people by age, sex and race for your entire town or city.
- Compare your data to the 2000 Census or other recent surveys on the American FactFinder website.
After the activity, I would ask a series of questions to help them draw conclusions about the data--a vital skill for standardized tests (among other things). For example:
- According to the data, what is the largest age group in our community? What is the smallest?
- Is this data we collected an accurate sample of our community? Why or why not?