Census Activities

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Explore the U.S. Census data and create your own!

So your class will understand the importance of the U.S. Census, ask them to research how the federal government uses census data and, specifically, how census data might impact your state, city, town or neighborhood. The Census Bureau Web site offers a great deal of information and free classroom materials.

Tell students they are about to become census takers for your class, grade level or school. Obtain a sample of the 2010 Census form or design your own 2010 form using the sample questions. Either way, students should use the categories established for the 2010 Census to record data. You may want to divide the class into a few groups and assign a school "neighborhood" for each group to survey. Allot a reasonable amount of time for the class to complete the census. They may want to visit The Field Division site to locate state census offices that can help students gather local population data.

After the surveys are complete, discuss the results with the class. Does the school's racial and ethnic composition reflect the diversity of the community outside its walls? Why might that be?

Did your students like the form? Did they encounter individuals who had difficulty selecting a racial or ethnicity category? If so, why? What changes, if any, does your class suggest to make the census more accurate in its categorizations?

If you were to design a census form for your classroom or your school, what ethnic and racial categories would you include? Brainstorm possible reasons why some peoplemay oppose the option of selecting more than one race for each person.

If any students have strong opinions about the census process, encourage them to write a letter expressing their views and send it to: Bureau of the Census, Federal Building 3, Washington, DC 20233.