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What Role Does Geography Play in the Census?

Activity Description


Students will learn about and review key geography and census terms, discover how the U.S. Census Bureau organizes space geographically, and understand why census data are collected in this way.

Suggested Grade Level


Approximate Time Required

45-60 minutes

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to define and analyze different types of census geographic entities, and determine how data from different census geographic entities might be useful.

Materials Required

  • The student version of this activity, 8 pages
  • A printed version of the definitions in the teacher version of the activity

Activity Items

The following items are part of this activity. Items, their sources, and any relevant instructions for viewing them online appear at the end of this teacher version.

  • Excerpt From Chapter 1 of the Geographic Areas Reference Manual
  • Standard Hierarchy of Census Geographic Entities
  • Examples of Census Tracts, Census Block Groups, and Census Blocks

Teacher Notes

Blooms Taxonomy

Blooms Taxonomy

Students will analyze the differences between various census geographic entities.


High School Geography


  • Boundaries
  • Geographic entities
  • Spatial thinking

Skills Taught

  • Analyzing data
  • Drawing conclusions
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