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IN YOUR CLASSROOM

Welcome to In Your Classroom, which invites teachers (and parents too) to look at Discovering Mexico from a geographer’s point of view—and to share that viewpoint with students and children.

In Your Classroom presents several geographic ideas, accompanied by questions, activities, and supporting references. Every screen can be printed to use in a classroom or at home.

This month’s activities are geared toward students in grades K–4, 5–8, and 9–12. In Your Classroom you can explore . . .

 
 

Population: A Growing Problem


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Fresh fruits and vegetables attract a throng to a Mexico City market. 
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The numbers are difficult to grasp: in 1950, the megalopolis of Mexico City had a population of 3.1 million. Today, 15.6 million live there. That’s a growth of 12.5 million in under 50 years, about a quarter of a million people a year. Mexico’s population has more than tripled since 1950. It was about 94 million people in 1995 and the projection for 2000 is more than 102 million. Where do all of these people live? Where do they get food and water? And where do they work?

 

Geographic Ideas

Demography is central to geography. If you can understand the number and spatial distribution of people, you can explain the demands for road development and the siting of additional landfills. If you can understand the number and gender of people under the age of 14, you can explain the future needs for schools and hospitals, parks and jobs.
 

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Geographers look at the spatial patterns and processes of the world in the light of demographic indicators such as birth and death rates, infant mortality and fertility rates, and demographic projections.

 

Geographic Questions

 
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A hazy sky overarches Mexico City’s urban sprawl. 
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We can identify fundamental questions about geography and demography:
     1. What are spatial patterns of human population?
     2. What are ecological consequences of those patterns?

In Mexico, we can examine rural-urban migration, especially to Mexico City, and trans-national migration to the United States, for example. We can look at the consequences of dense masses of people in cities, or of traffic congestion and groundwater depletion.

 

Classroom Ideas      

 

           K-4: Big Numbers
Doing Geography
 
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5-8: Population Pyramids
9-12: Population Projections

In addition to teaching about population, consider devoting a full week to Mexico. You’ll find a wealth of National Geographic resources to enliven your curriculum, including the August 1996 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine, a special issue on Mexico. See The Geography Library for other helpful references.

Compass Rose by Charlie Regan

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© 1996 National Geographic Society