Directions for teachers:

This quick activity asks students to think about the possible effects of population growth, as reported by the United Nations and covered in the Science News article “The world population has now reached 8 billion.” Students will then choose different industries and think about how population growth would impact the industry and how the industry might impact future population growth. They will consider changes at the national or international level that might support the growing population.

Consider coordinating with other science teachers to teach this interdisciplinary lesson, which lends itself to combining students from biology, earth science and environmental science classes. You could even collaborate with teachers outside of the sciences, such as in economics or history.

Thinking across disciplines

1. Brainstorm a list of ways that a growing human population can affect society and the planet. Think about both positive and negative effects. Which groups of people and industries (for example, agriculture or medicine) do you think will be most affected by population growth and why?

Student answers will vary.

2. Choose one industry to focus on and write a few sentences to summarize how population growth will affect the industry. Could the choices made within the industry also impact population growth? Explain.

Student answers will vary.

Collaborating across industries

1. Working with a classmate who focused on a different industry in the previous question, come up with a change that might be implemented on a national or international level that might help the industries support the needs of the growing population. Explain how your recommendations would impact each industry and people more broadly.

Student answers will vary.