ML2_GOW_Warm_Places_040414_TE

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Data Literacy Project
Do most people live in warm places?
Background: It has been a cold winter in the northeastern U.S.! Have you wondered about
moving somewhere warmer? Do you think most people in the world tend to live in warm places
or cold places?
The graph below shows a map of the world, and laid on top of it is a histogram that shows how
many people live at the various latitudes—at the various distances from the equator toward the
North Pole or the South Pole. Maine is about halfway between the Equator and the North Pole,
near 45° latitude. Before answering the questions below, find the Equator and the approximate
location of Maine to orient yourself.
Data Source: http://infographics.idlelist.com/2012/11/03/the-worlds-population-in-2000-by-latitudeand-longitude/
1. Describe what the graph shows about how the world’s population is distributed.
(Purpose here is to elicit description of what the graph shows. Sample response: Generally, most of the world’s
population lives near 30o N – the histogram is humped up in the middle, where those latitudes are. The tails are
small, meaning not many people live at the extreme southern or northern latitudes. Also, the northern hemisphere
is more populated than the southern hemisphere.)
2. I interpret the graph to mean…. (Purpose here is to elicit an explanation (e.g. of the pattern or variability)
or interpretation of the meaning in terms of the context of the question. Sample response: Most people do, in fact,
live closer to the northern tropics than to the poles. There is some variability, though, with a spike in the Northern
Hemisphere near where New England/New York and parts of Europe would fall, and in the southern hemisphere
near Indonesia and Singapore, and running through Brazil.)
Note: While the prompts may elicit a conversation about warm and cold climates, what about
landmass? (If it helps, look at the source of this graph and look at the ‘Population by Longitude’
graph, below the ‘Population by Latitude’ graph) Listen for evidence that students understand
that the total population at any latitude is both due to population density and to the amount of
landmass at that latitude. If your students bring up the idea of landmass then challenge them
to think about how they could make graphs to sort out population density and landmass,
separately. What would be the independent and dependent variables?
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