Cover Image
close this bookHow the Population Changes (FAO)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAims/objectives
View the documentActivity no. 1 - More or less
View the documentActivity no. 2 - Let's take a census of our group
View the documentActivity no. 2 - Let's take a census of our group
View the documentActivity no. 3 - Population investigative reporter

Activity no. 2 - Let's take a census of our group

Let's take a census of our group

An exercise to enable group members to understand how population can grow.



· The group leader draws a square on the ground to represent a village and explains that the group members are going to fill the square with stones (or leaves) each of which will represent one person.

· The leader explains that the first group member will put one stone, the next two stones, the next four, then eight and so on, continuing with each group member (more than once if necessary) until the square is full.

· When the square is full, the group leader leads a discussion on population growth using the questions on page 18 and any others he or she would like to add.


So that the participants will be able to:

· Understand how population grows.
· Understand that over-population can happen very quickly if resources are limited.



· The background information and questions on the following pages.
· Participation and interest of the group members.

Some background information for the group leader

During most of human history, the population grew very slowly. It took many thousand years for the total population to reach 1 billion {one thousand million). This happened around the year 1800. Then population growth started to get faster mainly because of improvements in medicine and nutrition so that people lived longer and fewer babies died.

Only about 130 years later, the population had doubled to 2 billion (in the year 1930) and just 44 years later it had doubled again to 4 billion (1974). It is expected that by the year 2000 there will be around 6 billion people in the world - and 80 percent of these people will be in the less developed countries where population growth is much faster (in most developed countries the population has completely stopped growing).

Doubling a population in a small area such as a family unit - or a village - may not seem very important. However, if every village doubles its population, and doubles again like in the exercise with the stones, how long will it be before all the land, water, trees and other resources are used up?

Total world population since the year 1800

Agricultural production can be increased in many areas, savings can be made in harvested food and new ways can be found to use our natural resources more efficiently. It is possible that the earth could support a population two or three times its present size. But it will not be possible to double food production, education, medical facilities, etc., as quickly as the population can be doubled.

Some questions to start off the discussion

1. Did you think it would take so few turns to fill the square?

2. How does this exercise relate to population growth?

3. Do you think there will be enough food, land and houses for twice the population in your village?

4. Could you doubled number of people in your house and still have enough of everything?

5. Could you double it again?

6. If every family had only two children, would the population still keep growing?