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Linear Models - Population Growth in Five States

Students will look at decennial census data — in table and graph form — showing population growth trends in five states from 1950 to 2010. Students will also estimate and interpret lines of best fit.

Suggested Grade Level


Approximate Time Required

45-60 minutes

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to examine a linear model to estimate the slope and y-intercept.
  • Students will be able to interpret the slope and y-intercept.
  • Students will be able to understand how bivariate data can be simplified to make a linear model.

Materials Required

  • The student version of this activity, 16 pages; it contains images that should be printed in color.
  • Rulers

Calculators are optional.

Activity Items

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

  • Five States’ Growing Populations by the Numbers: 1950–2010
  • Five States’ Growing Populations in a Graph: 1950–2010

Teacher Notes

Blooms Taxonomy

Blooms Taxonomy

Students will apply their understanding of scatter plots and linear models to analyze the features of lines of best fit.


Middle School Math


  • Bivariate data
  • Linear equations
  • Linear models
  • Population
  • Rounding
  • Scatter plots
  • Slope
  • y-intercept

Skills Taught

  • Calculating slope
  • Calculating the y-intercept
  • Interpreting slope and y-intercept
  • Working with bivariate data
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