Education Technology

Optimizing Resources Using Census Data

Activity Overview

In this activity, students investigate how to optimize resources to maximize support for people in danger from flooding.


Students will be able to:

  • Understand and ways in which the US census is used.
  • Identify strategies for analyzing multivariate relationships
  • Recognize the role of assumptions in making a decision
  • Clarify probability statements such as “once in a hundred years”

About the Lesson

The activity is based on the real situation involving Hurricane Sandy that hit the eastern part of the United States on October 2, 2012 and caused 70 billion dollars damage and was responsible for the deaths of at least 75 Americans. Students investigate data from Staten Island New York, one of the hardest hit areas: elevation above sea level and information from the census including the population and the number of older people. The lesson has three parts. The first analyzes data using spreadsheets; the second explores the relationship between two variables using scatterplots, and the third uses a program that colors areas on a map according to varying conditions.