Cartograms are visual ways of displaying statistical geographic information. They are a hybrid-cross between a graph and a map. Because of their visual nature these charts are easier for students to absorb and remember statistical geographical data.
This activity connects statistical information with a geographic location. It can be used to connect the theme of location to movement, place, region, and/or human environmental interaction, depending on the statistics used. These relationships become readily apparent to the viewer with "ah ha" clarity.
colored pens, pencils, scissors, an Almanac, grid paper (graph paper, hundreds chart, etc.) and an appropriate map
Lesson Plan Procedure:
To make a cartogram of the United States by population:
(You may use any data you like.)
1. Cartograms are chart maps that present statistical information. On a cartogram, sizes of geographic areas are changed to show the statistical information. For example, on a cartogram about rainfall, an area that gets more rain would be bigger than one that gets less rain.
2. Obtain a listing of the data to be displayed.
Can use data from 1980 census for an example:
By state rounded to the nearer 500,000
Population in millions:
AL 4 GA 5.5 MD 4 NJ 7.5 SC 3
AK .5 HI 1 MA 6 NM 1.5 SD .5
AZ 3 ID 1 MI 10 NY 18 TN 4.5
AR 2.5 IL 11.5 MN 4 NC 6 TX 14
CA 23.5 IN 5.5 MS 2.5 ND .5 UT 1.5
CO 3 IA 3 MO 5 OH 11 VT .5
CT 3 KS 2.5 MT 1 OK 3 VA 5.5
DE .5 KY 3.5 NE .5 OR 2.5 WA 4
DC .5 LA 4 NV 1 PA 12 WV 2
FL 9.5 ME 1 NH 1 RI 1 WI 4.5
Source: "1989 World Almanac"
3. Determine a scale. In the example above one can use one square unit of area per million population.
4. Cut out state areas from grid paper. (Graph paper, a hundreds chart, etc. work well for this purpose.)
5. Keep states in their approximate locations, making a map showing the data graphically. The distortions will demonstrate the data. (Each individual state's shape can be cut and pasted in its relative location to reflect its identity more clearly while altering its area. Different colors can help represent each state.)
Example: California will be cut from 23.5 square units
Nevada will be cut from 1 square unit.
6. When more than one map is made of the same location, using various data, relationships between the various maps show relationships between the data. (eg. maps showing arable land and agricultural production correlate nicely.)
7. After making a variety of cartogram, students can use a variety of higher level thinking skills to analyze the relationships they see in comparing the various charts.