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Using Interactive Maps to Interpret U.S. Territorial Expansion

Activity Description


Students will explore an interactive data visualization of state-by-state population growth as measured by the decennial censuses of 1790 through 2010. Students will also analyze and make inferences about the causes of more recent shifts in U.S. population.

Suggested Grade Level


Approximate Time Required

45-60 minutes

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to read and interpret an interactive data visualization of U.S. population growth.
  • Students will be able to identify trends in population growth and relate them to westward expansion and Manifest Destiny.
  • Students will be able to identify more recent population shifts and make inferences about what caused them.

Materials Required

  • The student version of this activity, 5 pages; it contains an image that should be printed in color.
  • A computer with Internet access for each student or group of students
  • Teacher computer with Internet access and a projector to display web sites

Activity Items

The following item is part of this activity and appears at the end of this teacher version.

  • Map of Territorial Acquisitions in the United States

This activity also uses the following online tools:

Teacher Notes

Blooms Taxonomy

Blooms Taxonomy

Students will understand trends in population growth from 1790 through 2010.


High School History


  • Data visualizations
  • Manifest Destiny
  • Population change

Skills Taught

  • Analyzing data
  • Gathering information from an interactive data source
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