Teach Your History Students How to Explore Changes in Their State with New Census Data

Did you know that 83% of the District of Columbia’s population is age 18 and over? Utah has the largest population (29%) under the age of 18. Find out how your state has changed over the past 10 years by diving into the latest data from the 2020 Census and exploring activity ideas you can use with your K-12 students!

Activities for Middle and High School Students

Middle and high school students can discover more data nuggets like the ones above on our new state profile pages. These pages showcase all the key population characteristics of your state and county in one place. Through interactive maps for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, each page provides students a snapshot of change over the past decade, alongside key highlights on population, race and ethnicity, the under 18 and adult population, and more.

  • My state then and now: Middle school students can learn about their state from the state profile page and create two columns to compare numbers from the 2020 Census and 2010 Census to see changes over the past decade. They can also do research on things like the prices of gas, milk, a loaf of bread, etc., and compare those numbers as well. As an extension, students could create a third column and use that to write predictions on how they think their state will change in the next census.
  • Illustrated historic timeline poster: Using the state profile pages, State Facts for Students, and their own research, middle-grade students can learn about key events in their state throughout history to create a timeline. The timeline will allow students to organize state events in chronological order. They can research questions like: Was their state one of the original 13 colonies? When did it become a state? What battles were fought in their state? Once they have at least five key events, they can illustrate their poster with key turning points in the state’s history.
  • Traveling back in time: High school students can research historic census numbers (1910–2020) from their state here and write a newspaper article announcing their state’s census results from a census year of their choice. As an extension, they can add in their prediction for what the population numbers will be like 250 years from the census year they selected.
  • Diversity in my state: Using the state profile pages, older students can research diversity data from the 2010 and 2020 Censuses to identify changes in race and ethnic populations for their state and county. With the data they collect, they can discuss why they think these population changes occurred and how they impact community needs.

Activities for Elementary Students

Elementary students can learn about their state with our online data access tool, State Facts for Students. This fan-favorite has been updated with the latest available census data, and it helps students discover information about their state’s population from 1910–2020, geography, businesses, and history. They will be able to examine and compare data about children their own age and other fun facts about their state such as the capital city, the number of ice cream makers, or amusement parks. There are also seven updated activities for elementary students that use this resource!

  • How does my state compare?: Using the State Facts for Students data tool mentioned above, students can explore their state’s historic population changes over time from 1910–2020. After analyzing the kid-friendly data, students will select a second or neighboring state and compare the data between the two states, citing their differences in how things like population, business establishments, and kids their age have changed over time.
  • State art project: After researching population changes in their state over the last 10 years, and reading the data nuggets from the “I Never Knew That” section in our State Facts for Students tool, students can create their own state art project with a paper plate. Students will draw their state in the middle and then include historic facts they’ve gathered about their state around the plate. Examples include the population count in 1910, the latest population count in 2020, capital city, state nickname, state bird, and state flower.

Teaching with census data can give your students a deeper understanding of historic events like the Missouri Compromise, and other social studies topics like voting trends in America. Explore more free K-12 history/social studies resources to use in your classroom by visiting the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistics in Schools website!

The Statistics in Schools (SIS) program shows teachers the wide range of information and data available to supplement what they are teaching in history/social studies. Our K-12 activities and resources use real-life data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and corresponding teachers' guides are available for each activity.

Teachers who are interested in learning more about our Teacher Ambassador Program can visit our Web site to learn more about becoming an SIS Ambassador.

Kimberley Glascoe, at the U.S. Census Bureau Statistics in Schools, can be reached at kimberley.m.glascoe@census.gov