2 0 6 N A T I O N A L E D U C A T I O N A L T E C H N O L O G Y S T A N D A R D S F O R S T U D E N T S
Population Growth and Urban Planning
Social Studies
Secondary Grades 9–12
2 0 6
World population growth is a major global issue, particularly in large cities where populations increase
exponentially. What are the results of rapid population growth in cities? What changes must occur to
accommodate growing populations? What are the major causes and effects of this growth?
This Internet-based learning activity challenges the student to find sources online and elsewhere that describe
real-world population dilemmas. Online resources can include free sites as well as subscription sites for
newspapers and magazines. The activity can be altered to address different cities and regions worldwide. In
preparation for the lesson, the teacher should identify local experts and Internet sites. It is not necessary to
complete all of the activities for the lesson to be successful. Many activities can be altered to become grade-level
 In class, students discuss the following terms and their definitions: zero
population growth, population density, demographics, urban sprawl, census,
immigration, migration, infrastructure, population booms (list causes),
megacities, birthrate, death rate, fertility rate (FR), growth rate, natural
increase, and net increase. Each student starts a glossary, which they can add
to and use as a reference.
 In small groups, discuss problems that may occur as a result of a city being
heavily populated. One student records the answers on the board to be
transcribed later using word-processing software. Each student chooses a
different problem to research and formulates solutions. Discuss the ways in
which technology affects population growth. In what ways might technology
help solve problems that already exist?
Search the Internet for newspaper and magazine articles that address
the issue of rising population density. One example can be found in the
Associated Press article “Tokyo to Use Underground Technology” (July 6,
1998). What is Tokyo’s solution to the problem of lack of space? What are
the benefits to this solution? What problems are developers experiencing
as they implement this solution? Is this a case in which population growth
has been changed by technology? After reading several pertinent articles,
students discuss different ways that population problems are solved.

In small groups, students explain the situation in Tokyo using the terms
listed in the first activity. Students can use an almanac, the Internet, or other
resources to find statistics to support their positions. Students find the same
statistics for 10, 20, and 50 years ago and compare them to more recent
figures. What do students notice? They record their answers. Small group
discussions between students are appropriate.
II, III, VIII 1, 3
VII, IX 2, 7, 8
II, III, VI, X 8
S E C T I O N 3 • C U R R I C U L UM I N T E G R A T I O N • S O C I A L S T U D I E SNETS
Students identify the most heavily populated cities in America. How do these
populations compare with Tokyo’s? What are some problems these cities are
experiencing as a result of their large populations?
Students trace development and population changes in the last 100 years in
their own town or city. How has the population changed? How has the town
or city changed to accommodate it? Students use maps, newspaper articles,
the historical society, and local museums for their research. Ask someone
who has lived in the town for many years to describe the changes he or she
has seen. Contact a historian, obstetrician, demographer, or other population
expert to comment on changes he or she has seen. Identify the reasons for
changes in population (Is it birthrate? Death rate? Migration? etc.) Use as
many terms from the glossaries as possible.
 This activity can be completed in small groups with assigned roles or
individually. Using city simulation software such as SimCity 3000, students
create a city and track its growth over 10, 100, and 1,000 years. What
attracts individuals to cities? Students act as urban planners and produce a
page layout document or poster of regulations for big city land developers
to follow as they dig 330 feet into the ground.
 Using word-processing software, students write a one-act play, poem, or
short story about the quality of life in Tokyo in the year 2050. Based on
current growth trends, what is the population? What is the standard of
living? How is the population being accommodated? If possible, students
include statistics in a spreadsheet to document their findings.
 Students prepare an on-screen computer presentation with a multimedia
program, or a Web page, based on the problem they researched in the
second activity. Include visual aids such as graphs, drawings, photographs
from magazines, and so on. Students should include the solution they have
come up with. Discuss with the class the viability of their solutions.
Have students imagine they are urban planners for a town in the year 2050.
They describe the way their town looks right now, then develop a plan for
modifying the infrastructure and social services to suit the population in
the year 2100. Students create drawings of what the city looks like now
and what it looked like before, and what it might look like in 50 years.
They justify the placement of resources, living spaces, and recreational areas
in 2050.
Students brainstorm what new careers might exist in the future. What
career areas will need the most employees? Which ones might disappear
altogether? Students develop career profiles for areas that will have heavy
needs in the next 20 years. Students identify these areas and devise a career
path to prepare themselves for one of these careers.
N A T I O N A L E D U C A T I O N A L T E C H N O L O G Y S T A N D A R D S F O R S T U D E N T S 2 07
II, VIII 7, 8
II 7, 8
II, III 7, 8, 9
II 7, 8
II, X 10
II, III, X 8, 9, 10
II, VIII 12 0 8 N A T I O N A L E D U C A T I O N A L T E C H N O L O G Y S T A N D A R D S F O R S T U D E N T S
Tools and Resources
 Web page creation, word-processing, spreadsheet, database, desktop-publishing
WE B S I T E S :
MIT Digital Communities—Urban Planning and Design in Cyberspace:
CLRnet (The Centre for Landscape Research InterNetwork):
MAXIS Corp. Simulation Home Page:
Occupational Outlook Handbook:
Census Bureau:
 Paid subscription services:
UMI Proquest Direct:
Electric Library:
O T H E R :
 Almanac, historical society, museums, demographer, historian, U.S. Census Bureau
S E C T I O N 3 • C U R R I C U L UM I N T E G R A T I O N • S O C I A L S T U D I E SN A T I O N A L E D U C A T I O N A L T E C H N O L O G Y S T A N D A R D S F O R S T U D E N T S 2 0 9
Each of the activities can be assessed based on individual rubrics. Many of the activities lend
themselves to rubrics that can be collaboratively authored by students and teachers.
An excellent tool for assessing general research skills on the Internet can be found at
www.isd77.k12.mn.us/resources/dougwri/Rubint.htm. This was developed by Doug Johnson,
District Media Supervisor, Mankato Public Schools, Mankato, Minnesota (palsdaj@vax1.mankato.
For Web page design assessment, the Lansing School District of Lansing, Michigan, offers the
following instrument: http://scnc.lsd.k12.mi.us/~bmorrow/rubric.htm.
A good tool for assessing multimedia has been developed by The Learning Space. This can
be found at www.learningspace.org/. The instrument can be found at www.learningspace.org/
This lesson is an adaptation of a lesson called “Population Growth.” The original lesson can be
found on Newsbank’s InfoWeb (see Tools and Resources).
Roland Garcia, Technology Coordinator, Grossmont High School Didtrict, El Cajon, California
While working at O’Farrell Community School, my students successfully designed and developed
cities. This was before the Internet had reached its present level of sophistication. My students
created cities and then tracked the success of their cities with spreadsheet software and written
logs of expenditures, population growth statistics, and urban planning.
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