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Earth Matters: Population Dynamics

Secondary

Description

This classroom resource examines population growth patterns, human demographics and the concept of carrying capacity.  Through a series of lessons and activities students explore the past, present and future impacts of human population growth. 

Students will:

  •  calculate the rate of natural increase and doubling times for several countries as well as the time it has taken for the world to replace people lost in historic disasters.
  • observe the exponential growth of yeast cultures through experimentation and graph the growth  in order to draw parallels between yeast growth and human population growth.
  • construct and interpret population pyramids (age-sex histograms) and discuss differences in population growth rates among several countries.

Population Dynamics is one of 16 units in the Earth Matters program available in DVD format.  Each unit features a background reading, case study, several student activities, a glossary, as well as suggestions for further exploration. Since each unit outline includes links to lessons and activities found in the other units, this resource provides numerous ways to create thematic lesson plans that address sustainable development.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

Analyzing population statistics to determine demographic trends. Graphing skills are also developed.

Strengths

  • The CD ROM is very well organized and easy to use
  • The yeast experiment to represent human growth is very engaging
  • There is plenty of background information for teachers and students
  • There is an accompanying web site for support
  • Effective use of interdisciplinary learning
  • Effectively addresses the social, economic and environmental dimensions of human population

Weaknesses

  • Limited local focus 
  • Does not include a well-defined action project

Relevant Curriculum Units

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Themes Addressed

  • Citizenship (1)

    • Ecological Footprint
  • Ecosystems (1)

    • Carrying Capacity
  • Human Health & Environment (1)

    • Human Population Dynamics

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Good

 Different view points are present to address the issue.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good

The unit effectively explores social, economic and biological dimensions of the problem.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good

 The complexity of problem is well represented. An experiment exploring the exponentiel growth of yeast is carried out as a comparative model to human population growth.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

There are activities that provide authentic experiences but there is no component within the resource through which students can make positive changes in their community.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

Students are given a meaning opportunity to articulate their own views in the "Power of the Pyramids" activity.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Good

Attention is paid to the plight of the women of Iran.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Poor/Not considered

This is not a feature of the unit. Others units within the Earth Matters compilation address this criterion.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Poor/Not considered

This is no direct attempt to relate to the lives of the learners.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Good

There is certainly plenty of discussion about how many humans there are now and how many there will be on the planet in the future.  Population history is addressed in the recommended DVD. 

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

There are no right answers.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Very Good

Yes this unit effectively combines outcomes from math, biology, environmental science and social studies.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use, & make their own decisions on how to find answers.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Very Good

Yes the activities address a range of learning styles.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

The activity is a simulation.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Students can work in groups or by themselves.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good

Some of the activities include assessment tools such as relective questions and an extension activity allows to do another similar case study.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

Only 'incidental' peer teaching occurs.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

Real case studies re used from other countries.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

There is no opportunity provided for students to choose program content except in the extension activities. Extension activities could provide opportunities for students to choose their program content.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.