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CNN Student News Learning Activity: Overpopulation

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(CNN Student News) -- Students will learn about the potential environmental, economic and social problems associated with overpopulation.

Inform students that during the last 100 years, the world's population has increased 400 percent, from 1.6 billion to 6.1 billion people, and that the world's population is continuing to grow at a rate of approximately 90 million people a year.

Next, show students the CNN Student News video on overpopulation. Then, ask students:

• To what extent do you think that rates of longevity and advances in medicine and food production impact the growth of the world's population?

• Why do you think that population growth might be a source of concern?

• What potential environmental, economic and social problems are associated with overpopulation?

After the discussion, divide your class into small groups and assign each group one of the following countries: China, India, United States, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Brazil, Russia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Japan, Nigeria, Mexico, Germany, Philippines, Vietnam or Egypt.

Instruct each group to research the population and demographics of its assigned country and the current status of the country's natural resources. These resources might include fresh water, forests, clean air, wetlands and oceans. Ask each group to identify how the country's people benefit from the natural resources and the extent to which the resources are being threatened by human consumption. Assign students to deliver formal presentations of their findings.

Following the presentations, discuss the following questions:

1. What correlations, if any, can be drawn between overpopulation and poverty?

2. What do you think might happen to our planet and its inhabitants if the Earth's natural resources were completely used up?

3. In your opinion, will the world's natural resources be able to handle the Earth's growing population? Why or why not? If not, what can be done to address this problem?

4. What do you think the world will look like in 50 years? In what ways might the world your children and grandchildren live in resemble anything you have known?

5. In your view, what challenges are associated with stabilizing the world's population?

Curriculum Connections

Science: Grades 9-12

CONTENT STANDARD D: Earth and Space Science

As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop an understanding of:

* Energy in the Earth system

* Origin and evolution of the Earth system

CONTENT STANDARD F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives

As a result of activities in grades 9-12, all students should develop an understanding of:

* Population growth

* Natural resources

* Environmental quality

* Science and technology in local, national and global challenges

The National Science Education Standards are published by the National Academies Press.

Social Studies

Standard III. People, Places and Environments: Students will make informed and critical decisions about the relationship between human beings and their environment.

The Curriculum Standards for Social Studies are published by the National Council for Social Studies.


Standard 4: Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving & Decision Making

• B. Students will plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project.

• C. Students will collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.

The National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for Students are published by the International Society for Technology in Education.


Population growth, natural resources, consumption, food, water, poverty, disease, longevity E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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