Population Dynamics

Lesson Plan


State Standards:

6.1 Explain how birth, death, immigration, and emigration influence population size.

6.2 Analyze changes in population size and biodiversity (speciation and extinction) that result from the following: natural causes, changes in climate, human activity, and the introduction of invasive, non-native species.

Essential Question:

How do population dynamics work?

Lesson Questions:


Population dynamics are the way that the numbers and structure of an animal population vary over time, and the factors which cause variations. Factors may include immigration, emigration, birth and death rates.
Population pyramids show how a population is growing (or not) and to determine the age distribution, which indicated reproduction ability, of the population in the form of a bar graph. The bar graph has the population on the x-axis and age on the y-axis (with males on the left side and females on the right).


PIck two countries (one a developing nation and the other an industrial nation). Determine how their populations will change over the next 50 years by creating population pyramids and comparing your models to an online simulation.

Lesson Experiences:

World in the Balance preview image

  1. Watch a preview of The People Paradox [NOVA: World in the Balance].
  2. Your teacher will project a population pyramid example on the board: X-axis is the population; Y-axis is the age ranges, and divider separates male and females. Choose one population profile and explain what it means and how it can be used to project future populations.
  3. Pair with another student. Together, pick two countries, one from the “developing nation” and one from the “industrial nation.” Once a country has been picked by a pair it can no longer be used by other groups in the class.
  4. Fill out the Age Structure Pyramid Worksheet for each country:

Age Structure Pyramid Worksheet.

  1. Using Pt (population at time t) = Po( initial population) over t (growth rate x time) calculate what the population growth of your countries will be in 50 years.
  2. Look up your countries using the computer simulation program Intlpop and determine what they predict the population of your countries will be in 50 years.
  3. Using the percent error equation, determine the error between your projection and that in Intlpop.




After this lesson you should be able to discuss the different ways populations grow and create a population pyramid. In addition you should be able to predict, mathematically, the population at time t.

For example, project the world population in 2060 given that the 1997 population of 5.85 billion and a growth rate of 1.36% per year.

Then try this: Spain's growth rate is 0.072%. What will its population be in 50 years if its population today is 40,525,002?

What do these examples, and the examples you researched, tell us about worldwide population dynamics?





Create a Glogster poster summarizing your research. Be sure to include a population pyramid and the population projection 50 years from now.
Your Glogster must have the following components:

  1. At least 1 media clip; it can be either a movie or music (sound) clip. [This can be from the Internet or homemade.]
  2. Wallpaper
  3. At least 3 related images
  4. At least 6 text boxes
  5. At least 1 link.

Assessment Rubric


5 points


10 Points


15 Points


20 Points

Oral Presentation Quality of Information

Bare minimums have been accomplished. Little understanding about the population dynamics delivered in oral presentation. Does not display further understanding.

Minimums plus slight extras added such as birth rate, economic status

All information present and complete. Some problems with flow and delivery. Shows more or less some understanding of knowledge - has minor flaws.

Information is well thought out, flows well, all information is completed, Appears to have been practiced, knowledge shown.

Information on worksheet

Incorrect calculations

At least 1 correct answer with verified data

Mostly correct data

Data is correctly calculated

Organization of work

Random information is presented. Did not provide accurate data

Disorganized at times. Missing key elements and vocabulary words.

Organized but missing essential components

Organized effectively with easy understanding.

Overall Glogster


Not Completed
Missing Key Component Questions
no graphics

Spelling errors present presentation has some flow but unclear data

Easily understood by all. Includes pyramid and data tables of information retrieved.

Neatly done, organized, proper spelling, all parts included, above and beyond effort.
Information that is presented is pleasing to the eye.





Nova “World in the Balance”

Breslaw's 1691 Age Pyramid according to Edmund Halley 1692

Image credits: