Jump to Content or Main Navigation

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Population and Agriculture

Math Extension

Asia, China
Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8

Students will use information from Peace Corps Volunteer Amy Throndsen's slide show about her experience in China, as a springboard for investigating numerical relationships between population and agriculture.

Begin by viewing Amy Throndsen's slide show, A Taste of Tongren, and discussing the central concepts using the accompanying lesson plan, What Can Food Tell Us About a Place? The slide show mentions that China is home to 20% of the world's population, but has only 10% of the world's arable land. Students will use this information as a springboard for investigating numerical relationships between population and agriculture.


Students will

  • collect, represent, and analyze real-world data
  • perform operations to produce figures for comparison
  • apply the concept of ratios to human populations and natural resources 


  1. Find the current population of China, the total land area of China, and the percentage of China's land that is arable. Useful links:
  2. Calculate the number of square kilometers of arable land per person in China.
  3. Use the same process to calculate the amount of arable land per person in the U.S. and in several other countries of your choice. Create a graph to represent this comparative information.
  4. Discuss:
    • How might these figures change with increased population growth and urbanization?
    • How do we (or how should we) make up for global resource inequities?

Frameworks & Standards

Enduring Understandings

  • Population and land use changes have the potential to affect global food production and supply.
  • Data can help us recognize trends and discrepancies in the real world.
Essential Questions
  • What can data tell us about real-world situations?
  • How should we adapt to inequitable distribution of resources?

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
    • Use the four operations with whole numbers to solve problems.
  • Numbers and Operations in Base Ten
    • Perform operations with multi-digit whole numbers.
  • Ratios and Proportional Relationships
    • Understand ratio concepts and use ratio reasoning to solve problems.
    • Analyze proportional relationships and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems. 
Browse More Lesson Plans