All Lesson Plans

Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the United States: 2010 Census and 2020 Census

Overview and Objective

In this lesson, students will research and graph the change in racial and ethnic diversity from the 2010 census to the 2020 census for a state of their choosing. Students will use the Chart tools in Polypad to represent the data and then write a summary about they notice and wonder from their chart. Click here to learn more about using the Charts in Polypad.

Warm Up

In small-groups, ask students to share with each other what they know about the census in the United States and what they may recall about the 2020 census. Allow them a few minutes to discuss and then have some students report out to the class. You may want to share the two-minute video and other ideas found at this link.

The video contains a variety of mathematical ideas, some of which would be appropriate to explore further with older students. This lesson focuses on the changes in racial and ethnic diversity in states from 2010 to 2020, but you may want to design additional lessons on some of the ideas in the video.

Main Activity

Project this Polypad and ask students what the notice and wonder about the graph. Alternatively, project this Polypad and follow the Slow Reveal Graphs instructional routine. This quick video shows how an example of "slowly revealing" parts of the graph.

After discussing what students notice and wonder about the changing demographics in Nevada, ask student to think of a state they would like to research. Share this Polypad and this link students and invite them to being working on their chosen state. Students can hover over a state on the map to see the data and toggle between 2010 and 2020 on the right. Click here to learn how to share Polypads with students and how to view their work.

Depending on your preference, consider allowing students to select any state they like and being comfortable that some duplicates will occur, or structure state selection so there are no duplicate states. One benefit of allowing duplicates is that some students may choose different graphical representations of the same data and that will allow for good class conversation.

As students are working, remind them to also respond to the three prompts on the Polypad:

  • I selected this chart type because...
  • I notice...
  • I wonder...

Additional Options

Below are some additional ways to explore the census data. Consider these alternatives for students who are interested in exploring the data further, or as alternative ways to structure this lesson:

  • Rather than focusing on specific states, students can chart the changes over regions in the US. This approach may be well suited for students working in groups with each group being responsible for one region. Students will have to compile the data for each state in the region, so collaboration will be helpful here.
  • Rather than tracking the change in a state or region, students may be interested in exploring the changes in one demographic for a variety of states. Students could pick 5-10 states and one of the demographic categories and chart that data.


There are a variety of ways to close this lesson:

  • Students can present their graphs in small groups and share what they noticed and wondered with each other and then follow-up with a whole class discussion.
  • Share some examples of students who used different chart types (either for the same data or not) and discuss the pros and cons of each chart.
  • Ask students to add a 2030 row to the table and invite them to make predictions for 10 years from now. You may want to have students duplicate their Polypad first so they do not lose their original work. After a few minutes of work time, share some with the class and ask those students to explain their prediction.

Polypad For This Lesson

Nevada – Polypad
N- Slow Reveal – Polypad
State Data Template – Polypad