Global human population size and understanding how it has changed and will change in the future are important concepts for students. Here I describe exercises that use online databases provided by the U.S. Census Bureau to show students how both population size and the rate of change vary over time. In the first exercise, the U.S. population clock is used to calculate daily birth, death, and migrant and death rates, and how the world population clock is used to calculate the rate of change. These rates can be used to predict what the population size would be if the rates remained unchanged for a predetermined time interval. In the second exercise, historical data are used to determine the years with the most change in U.S. and world population size, then calculate how much larger the current population would be if those historical rates of change remained constant. These exercises have improved quantitative literacy while showing students current and historical trends in human population.
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Vol. 79 • No. 7