Population Density Activities for High School

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

If your class is learning about population, consider having your students study population density. Use these activities to help students understand and calculate population density and identify its impact on resources.

I Need Some Space

Have you ever been to a crowded store during the Christmas season? It can feel like the whole population of your town or city is crammed into a tiny area. For a lot of people in the world, however, this is what they experience every day. Depending on their location, students experience a variety of different population densities. When students learn about population density, they can understand how population affects an environment and the resources available.

Let's look at some activities to help students understand population density. Consider completing the activity School Population Density first, so students can understand and model population density in their immediate setting.

School Population Density

Use this kinesthetic activity to help students understand population density in their own school.


  • Meter sticks
  • Trundle wheels (optional)
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Clipboards

Teacher Directions


  1. Find out how many students, teachers, administrators, etc., inhabit the school building on a normal day.
  2. Determine if you will have the students use trundle wheels to measure and calculate the area of the school building. If time or materials don't allow for this, then obtain the measurement of the area of the school building.


  1. Define population density for the students and discuss how to calculate it.
  2. Divide the class into teams, and provide each team with a meter stick, paper, pencils, and clipboards.
  3. Have the teams measure the length and width of the classroom and calculate the area. Then, have the teams count the number of people in the classroom and figure out the population density for the classroom.
  4. If available, provide the teams with trundle wheels. Teams should use the trundle wheels to measure the outside of the school building and calculate the area. If you will not be using the trundle wheels, then provide the students with the measurement of the school's area.
  5. Provide the teams with the population of the school on a normal school day. Have the teams calculate the population density of the school.
  6. Discuss with the teams the meaning of the population calculations in terms of how many square meters are allotted for each person.

Discussion Questions

  • Were you surprised at the amount of space per person? What would happen if the population of students increased?
  • How do you think school officials use population density measurements when determining where students attend school or when building new facilities?

Figure It Out

Have students create visual displays to compare population densities for their community, their state, and a foreign country.


  • Map of United States population density
  • Map of world population density
  • Poster board
  • Art supplies (pencils, markers, colored pencils)
  • Access to print/online resources

Teacher Directions

  1. Show students maps of the population density for the United States and the world. Discuss how the data used for calculating population density is collected. Consider showing the class examples of the population data available on the websites for the United States Census Bureau and the United Nations Population Division.
  2. Divide the class into pairs, and provide each pair with poster board and art supplies.
  3. Have each pair research the population density of their town, state, and another country of their choice. Encourage students to use resources like the Census Bureau and UN Population Division to obtain accurate information.
  4. Have students create a poster to display the population densities of the three locations they researched. Additionally, students should list similarities and differences between the three locations.
  5. When the pairs are finished, have them share their posters with the class.

Discussion Questions

  • How were the population densities of our town, state, and the foreign country similar and different?
  • How do you think the population density of our town or state affects our daily lives?

Population Impact

Students will create a presentation as they explore the impact of high population densities on the environment and resources of cities across the globe.


  • Map of world population density
  • Potted plant
  • Tape
  • Access to print/online resources
  • Access to multimedia tools (video, computer, etc.)
  • Poster board or paper (optional)
  • Colored pencils and markers (optional)

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