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U.S. Population Hits 300 Million



  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Health
  • Social Studies
    --Current Events
    ----U.S. History


Grades 2-up

News Content

The U.S. population hit 300 million people in October.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, ask students the following questions. Record their responses so you can check back after reading the article to see if their responses change.
  • How many people, do you think, live in the United States today?
  • Are there any countries that have more people than the United States has? If so, which countries do you think have larger populations than the U.S.?
  • How often do you think a baby is born in the United States? [If you teach young students, you might offer some options, such as a) every seven seconds, b) every 70 seconds, c) every 7 minutes, or d) every 7 hours.]

News Words

Introduce to students the words in the News Word Box on the students printable page: Census Bureau, population, resources, estimate, million, heavily, and increase. Explain to students that the Census Bureau is an agency of the U.S. government that keeps track of the population of the country and many other statistics. Ask students to use one of the other words to complete each of these statements:
  • Pablos mother had to _____ how much food to buy for the birthday party. (estimate)
  • The _____ of our school grew when new houses were built nearby. (population)
  • Pollution problem weighs _____ on our presidents mind. (heavily)
  • My father is making more money since the boss gave him a pay _____. (increase)
  • Our school library has books, computers, and many other information _____. (resources)
  • I wonder what Earth was really like more than a _____ years ago. (million)

Read the News

Click for a printable version of this week's news story U.S. Population Hits 300 Million.

Reading the News

You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

* Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

* Students might first read the news story to themselves; then call on individual students to read the news aloud for the class.

* Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write a note in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

More Facts to Share

You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the nations population reached the historic 300 million milestone on October 17 at about 7:46 a.m. (EDT).
  • On average, one person is added to the U.S. population every 11 seconds. Included in that statistic are the facts that
    --- one person dies every 13 seconds;
    --- one baby is born every 7 seconds; and
    --- one person migrates to the United States from another country every 31 seconds.
  • Americas population reached 100 million people in 1915. It reached 200 million 52 years later, in 1967. The Census Bureau says the 400 millionth person is likely to arrive in 2043.
  • Some places in the U.S. have grown faster than others. Growth has happened most quickly in parts of the South and West.
  • Some experts say the country's fast population growth is having a negative impact on the environment. Land is being developed at twice the rate of population growth, they say. And some of the nation's fastest-growing regions are in the Western dry areas, which affects water resources. A growing population can make the air pollution situation worse too; the U.S. population adds more carbon dioxide to the air than any other country.
  • The United States consumes nearly 25 percent of the world's energy, although it has only 5 percent of the world's population, according to the Center for Environment and Population. In addition,
    --- Americans consume more oil per person than the citizens of any other country;
    --- each American produces about five pounds of trash every day, up from about three pounds in 1960 and five times the rate in many other countries; and
    --- each American uses three times as much water as the world average.
  • From 1995 to 2005, the U.S. population grew by 10.6 percent, or 29 million people. During that same time period, the population of Europe grew by 504,000 people, or less than 1 percent.
  • The United States, with its 226 million motor vehicles, has paved some 4 million miles of roads, enough to circle the Earth at the equator 157 times, according to the Earth Policy Institute.

Comprehension Check

What did students learn about meteors from reading this weeks News for Kids story? Add new information they learned to the chart you created during the Anticipation part of this lesson.

Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson; ask students to respond again to the questions in it. Compare their thoughts before reading the article to the facts they learned by reading it.

Recalling Detail

You might follow-up that activity by asking some of these questions:

  • On what date do Census officials believe the U.S. population reached 300 million? (October 17)
  • In what year did the U.S. population reach 200 million people? (1967)
  • What kinds of natural resources does a growing population need more of? (water, land)
  • When do Census officials expect the U.S. population to reach 400 million? (in the year 2043)

Think About the News

Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. You might use the think-pair-share strategy with students to discuss this question. If you use this strategy

  • First, arrange students into pairs to discuss and list responses to the question.
  • Then merge two pairs of students together to create groups of four students. Have them discuss and add to the ideas they generated in their pairs.
  • Next, merge two groups of four students to form groups of eight students. Have students create a new combined list of ideas.
  • Finally, bring all students together for a class discussion about the impact of a growing population.

Follow-Up Activities

Root words. Have students say and spell the root word of each of these words from this weeks New for Kids article: places, crowded, increased, moved, largest, growing, faster, worried, getting, resources, heavily, and populated.

Math word problems. Population statistics offer a great opportunity for students to practice solving math word problems. Here are a few you might pose to math students in grades 4-up. Make up other word problems based on real population data for your town, the U.S. or specific states, or any other place in the world.

  • In the last 40 years, the population of Phoenix, Arizona, has grown from 440,000 to 1,500,000 residents. By how many people has it grown? (1,060,000 people)
  • In that same time period, the population of the state of Florida grew from 6.2 million to 17.8 million people. By how many people has Floridas population grown? (11.6 million people)
  • In 1967, there were 9.7 million foreign-born people in the United States. By 2004, that number had ballooned to 34.3 million. By how many people has the foreign-born population increased? (24.6 million people) [Interesting note: Did you realize that the percent of foreign-born people was much higher between 1860 and 1920 than it is today?]
  • Forty years ago there were 19.1 million people aged 65 and older. Today there are 36.8 million people aged 65 or more. How many more 65-plus people live in the U.S. today? (17.7 million people)
  • In 1915, the average life expectancy was 54.5 years. In 2006 it was 77.8 years. By how many years has the life expectancy increased in that time? (23.3 years)
  • In 1967, there were 98.9 million cars on Americas roads. Today, there are 237.2 million cars in the U.S. How many more cars are there today? (138.3 million cars)
  • The Hispanic population is projected by the Census Bureau to rise from 22.5 million in 1990 to about 90 million by 2050. How big an increase is projected> (67.5 million people)
  • From 1995 to 2005, the U.S. population grew by 29 million people. During that same time period, the population of Europe grew by 504,000 people. By how many more people did the U.S. population grow? (28,496,000 people)

More population math. Share the World Population Clocks on the U.S. Census Bureau Web site. Check the clocks at the same time each day to determine by how many people the U.S. and world have grown. Track the population over a period of weeks if students express an interest in doing that.


Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

National Standards

NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

MATHEMATICS: Number and Operations
GRADES Pre-K - 2
NM-NUM.PK-2.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
GRADES 3 - 5
NM-NUM.3-5.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
GRADES 6 - 8
NM-NUM.6-8.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates
GRADES 9 - 12
NM-NUM.9-12.3 Compute Fluently and Make Reasonable Estimates

MATHEMATICS: Data Analysis and Probability
GRADES 3 - 5
NM-DATA.3-5.2 Select and Use Appropriate Statistical Methods to Analyze Data
GRADES 6 - 8
NM-DATA.6-8.2 Select and Use Appropriate Statistical Methods to Analyze Data
GRADES 9 - 12
NM-DATA.9-12.2 Select and Use Appropriate Statistical Methods to Analyze Data

MATHEMATICS: Problem Solving
GRADES Pre-K - 12
NM-PROB.PK-12.1 Build New Mathematical Knowledge Through Problem Solving
NM-PROB.PK-12.2 Solve Problems That Arise in Mathematics and in Other Contexts
NM-PROB.PK-12.3 Apply and Adapt a Variety of Appropriate Strategies to Solve Problems

GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.7 Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)
NSS-USH.5-12.8 Era 8: The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)
NSS-USH.5-12.9 Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
NSS-USH.5-12.10 Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 to the Present)

See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2006 Education World