Introduce this activity to the class by letting
students know that they will compare
information gathered from a U.S. population
cartogram with information gathered from a
standard U.S. map. They will use information
gleaned from both maps to draw conclusions
about state population density.
Invite students to share their prior knowledge
of the census. Then discuss the idea that the U.S.
Census Bureau’s primary obligation, as directed
by the Constitution, is to provide population
totals, by state, every ten years. Data from the
census are used to apportion seats in the House
of Representatives and to redraw voting districts
within states. The data are useful for a variety of
other purposes, such as mapmaking. For
example, the mapmaker who created the car-
togram used census population data to calculate
each state’s size. In fact, both the cartogram and
the We Count! wall map represent information
that would not be available without the census.
Using the Activity Worksheets:
Distribute copies of worksheet pages 4 and 5
to students. Introduce both the We Count! wall
map (including the inset map) and the maps on
page 5. Have a volunteer read the text on page
4 aloud. Discuss the fact that both the We
Count! wall maps and the cartogram show pop-
ulation and population density information. The
type of information shown differs, however. The
We Count! maps show numerical population
data. The cartogram does not. Instead, it shows
a state’s population in relation to other states.
The states on the cartogram are drawn in math-
ematical proportion to their populations.
Ask students whether the We Count!
Population Density inset map or the cartogram
would better answer this question: Which state
is more densely populated, Georgia or South
Dakota?(The We Count!
Population Density inset
map should be used to
answer this question correct-
ly. However, by using both
the cartogram and the
Population Density map, the
answer could also be found.)
Have students answer these questions: How
does Florida look on the cartogram? Is it bigger
or smaller than on the regular map? Is it bigger
or smaller than other states?(Florida is larger
relative to the other states on the cartogram
than it is on the standard map.)Then, have stu-
dents answer the questions on worksheet page 4.
Review student answers to questions 1-5 and
8 on the handout.
Ask students which states they identified as
densely populated or sparsely populated in
questions 6-7. Have them explain the reasoning
behind their choices.
Discuss situations in which a cartogram might
be useful, and situations in which a cartogram
would be less useful than a standard map.
Have students review
updated population data from the U.S. Census
Bureau Web site (www.census.gov). Under the
box labeled “People” choose “Estimates,” and
then select “State Population Estimates.” Based
on this data: Which states might now appear
larger on the cartogram? Which might now
Page 4: 1.California. 2.Pennsylvania;
because it’s larger on the cartogram.
3.New York, Illinois, Kansas, South
Dakota. 4.Answers will vary. 5.Answers
will vary. 6.Possible answers: Massachusetts,
Connecticut, New Jersey. 7.Answers will
vary. 8.California, New York, Texas.
Skills and Objectives:
Students will learn how to read and use a cartogram.
Students will synthesize information from more than one map.
Students will draw conclusions about population density.
in map form.
in relation to some-
apportion:to make a