Teachers have just come out of a tough year teaching in virtual or hybrid-learning settings because of the pandemic. Even though COVID-19 vaccines are more widely available for ages 12 and older, educators have used their summer break to prep for both a return to classrooms in the fall and continued remote teaching.
“One of the goals of our program is to help students understand the importance of the Census Bureau and the data it collects.”
— Victoria Glasier, branch chief in the Statistics in Schools Branch, Census Bureau
And the Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools (SIS) program is here to help with a variety of new, free activities designed to improve students’ statistical literacy.
Among SIS’s many new resources: its 5-Minute Challenge warm-up activity on apportionment. Apportionment is the process of determining each state’s share of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives based on recently released Census 2020 population counts.
The SIS program strives to be relevant and in step with the issues of the day by providing classroom activities that teach students the purpose and importance of Census Bureau data like those used for apportionment.
“One of the goals of our program is to help students understand the importance of the Census Bureau and the data it collects,” says Victoria Glasier, branch chief in the Statistics in Schools Branch at the Census Bureau. “We would like them to make the connection that their local communities depend on information from the Census Bureau to decide where schools, hospitals and other important services are needed.”
For example, the apportionment activity page below divides classroom activities by grade for elementary, middle and high school students. This high school history activity provides an even richer understanding of the apportionment process through the decades.
These grade appropriate activities were designed specifically to teach students about congressional apportionment. They will learn what apportionment is, how it works, why it's important and how it relates to the decennial census. Each has a teaching guide to help instruct the activity.
Teachers can also use the Census Bureau’s interactive apportionment and population map to spark classroom discussions. The easy-to-use map shows the population of every state for every decade since 1910. Pick a decade, select apportionment or population and hover over the states to get the counts for that state.
“SIS loves being able to show students census data in cool ways, and our warm-up activities do just that,” Glasier says. “They are built around graphs and maps that help students visually analyze census data, and the open-ended questions in each activity help to reinforce critical thinking.”
The Monthly Highlights section of the SIS website also includes timely and relevant activities that are updated monthly. For example, this month we are showcasing teaching materials for Family Fun, National Rollercoaster Day, Back to School and more.
Aside from these new monthly observances and activities, there is the SIS Video Library that provide snapshots of interesting data and resources, including one on apportionment
“We recently added a video on how to navigate through the Statistics in Schools website,” Glasier says. “It’s a quick, how-to video that gives a basic overview to educators on where to access and download all of our free materials.”
The Census Bureau and the Statistics in Schools Program want to continue to be a valuable and free resource for educators to help teach students the real-life applications of statistics and boost their statistical literacy.
Teachers who want to become a SIS Ambassador can visit our site to learn about partnering with us or joining the teacher ambassador program.
Adam Grundy is a supervisory statistician in the Census Bureau’s Economic Management Division.
Kimberley Glascoe is a supervisory marketing specialist in the Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools Branch.