We look at world population over the past 60+ years and ask whether the earth’s population is growing faster or slower today. Is it out of control and something we should all worry about or are we getting it under control? This is another problem directly related to climate change and one that students can argue with each other about. We use this opportunity to ask students about which kind of graph or chart would best convey the issue to other people. The type of graph or chart to be used to convey data is of great importance in business and industry today and one that requires students to creatively ask What if… about.
Spreadsheets offer us a nearly unlimited ability to develop and learn from case studies using real world data. We will focus mainly on climate change which is an area rich in possibilities and of great interest to students. In this case study we look at the production of carbon dioxide per person in the United States over the past 200 years. We take this opportunity to introduce students to the difference between quantity and growth, between the amount of CO2 produced and the year-to-year growth in production. We challenge students to consider whether this growth is an increasing problem.