Bringing Life to Data

3. Demographic Diversity

Suggested Learning Intentions

  • I can design a question to investigate that can be answered using statistics
  • I can collect, analyse, and interpret data to address a real-world problem
  • I can describe data using statistics

Sample Success Criteria

  • I can design a question to investigate that can be answered using statistics
  • I can collect, analyse, and interpret data to address a real-world problem
  • I can describe data using statistics
  • I can model data using a variety of manipulatives and use this to analyse the data

In this stage students will analyse and interpret Australian demographic data to draw some conclusions and ‘tell a story’ about the Australian community. Topics could include population distribution, family composition, country of birth, education, and religion. The focus is on data interpretation. 

Begin by displaying the line graph below and facilitate a data talk using prompts such as ‘What do you think this graph is about? Why?’

Using a ‘see, think, wonder’ routine will assist students to notice and describe the various features and form conjectures about the graph. Prompt students to notice the various features of the graph. Does this graph represent the data effectively? Would other graphs be equally useful? Why/why not? 

Encourage students to ask and answer literal, inferential and evaluative questions about the graph.

a) A literal question or reading the data requires students to answer specific questions such as ‘What was the population of Sydney in 1970?’.

b) Inferential questions or reading between the data requires students to find relationships in the data. For example, ‘Why is there such a large spread of data?’ or ‘Why do you think the population growth between Melbourne and Darwin are so different?’

c) Evaluative questions or reading beyond the data requires student to make predictions or inferences. For example, ‘What do these data tell you about the population growth in Australia?’, ‘How could you find out more about your hypotheses?’ and ‘Do you think these trends will change beyond 2020? Why?’

Explain that a line graph is useful for showing changes over time. For example, line graphs might be used for tracking a student’s reading improvement from Foundation to Year 5 or monitoring temperature changes over a week. You may choose to show your students this informative ClickView video: ‘Learning to Draw Line Graphs’. Sign into ClickView using your department credentials.

Use the Claim, support, question thinking routine to prompt deeper student responses:

1) Make a claim (state your suggested title for the graph). 

2) Identify support for your claim. What do you see or know that supports your idea?

3) Ask a question related to your claim. What’s left hanging? What isn’t explained?

Enable students requiring further support by drawing their attention to the horizontal and vertical scales. What labels could we give these? Alternatively, offer a labelled graph and ask students to make some claims about what the graph is trying to convey. 

The graph displays data from ‘Population of Australian Capital Cities’ but any meaningful variation on this title is acceptable.

Next, guide students to explore the graph in detail and list their interpretations of the data on the board. Ask questions to prompt detailed analysis, for example:

  • Which is the biggest city?
  • Which two cities are growing the fastest?
  • If this trend continues, what might be the population of Sydney in 2030?

Extend students by asking, ‘What other questions might this graph prompt you to ask?’

It is important that teachers look at the Choose Your Own Statistics website before the lesson, in order to be prepared for student questions. Some of the data is easier to interpret, and you may wish to allocate specific topics to students. Some of the ‘Youth in the Justice System’ and ‘Respectful Relationships’ statistics may be confronting for students at this age. 

It is recommended that students work in pairs for this task, and each pair will need access to a computer or other digital device.

In this stage, students will use Australian Bureau of Statistics data to investigate the question: ‘How does data help us to understand the demographics of people in Australia?’

Prompt discussion to find out what your students know about demography. Do they know what ‘demographics’ means? Why might people study demographics? Have they heard of the census or the Australian Bureau of Statistics (A.B.S.)? A census is defined as a survey that collects information about the whole of a population. A population can be simply defined as a group of people or animals living in a certain place. 

Show the video Behind the News: Census Stats to demonstrate how data is collected about the Australian population. Explain that there is a nationwide census in Australia every five years – the last one was held in 2021. Explain that the data from the census is usually available about 12-18 months after the census is taken, once the information has been analysed. 

Use a large screen to display the Choose Your Own Statistics website. Explain that the website contains lots of statistics collected from the 2016 census, which helps us learn about important issues in the Australian community. We can investigate where Australian families have come from, how long we are likely to live, how much we earn, and much more.

Display the ‘Demographics’ infographic and lead a class discussion about the visual representations of the data. Which are most eye-catching? Which are the easiest to read and interpret? Why have particular images been chosen to represent the data?

Describe the task. Students will work in pairs to:

a) Choose a topic of personal interest from the categories available on the website. 

b) Become the experts on this topic by reading and interpreting the data.

c) Represent the data in graphs and infographics.

d) Present findings to the class audience.

Access the ‘Choose your own statistics’ student task in the Materials and texts section. 

Enable students by guiding their choice of topic and completing the activity as a group. Support them to interpret the visual information and scaffold vocabulary as needed. Read this article introducing the Australian census as a shared text to build students' understanding.

Extend students by encouraging them to investigate relevant statistics from historical census data. The State Library of Victoria and Australian Bureau of Statistics have earlier Australian census records available which students can use to compare to recent census data. 

Areas for further exploration

Extend student understanding of demographic data by:

  • inviting students to create their own census questions and survey classmates
  • examining disparities that are evident in the census data between different cohorts
  • further exploring Australia’s population statistics at live population count or Behind the News: Australia’s Population History

As groups of students present their findings, ask questions to prompt deeper thinking, for example:

  • What might not be included in this data? What might be missing?
  • Would the results be different if… (change of sample population or setting)?
  • How does the data compare to our class? What might be the reason for this?
  • Do you think the data might have changed since 2016, and why?

Ask students to reflect on what they learned from the data using the I used to think… Now I think… thinking routine in their Data Journals.  

Formative assessment of student learning at this stage of the sequence could include monitoring evidence of student learning in work samples, responses to questions, and data journals and consider the following: 

  • To what extent do students present and describe the data in meaningful ways?
  • Do students ask literal, inferential and evaluative questions based on the data? 
  • Can students answer each other’s questions?
  • Can students make inferences about the Australian population based on the data?

9 Story Media Group, 2013. If the World Were a Village - Promo. [Online]
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ABC News, 2017. Census 2016: This is Australia as 100 people. [Online]
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Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 2020. World Factbook: Australia. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Gapminder, 2020. Play with the Data. [Online]
Available at:$chart-type=bubbles
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Global Change Data Lab, 2020. Our World in Data: World Population Growth. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Good Magazine, 2016. Good Data: If the World were 100 People. [Online]
Available at: 14
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2019. Project Zero: Connect, Extend, Challenge. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Kahoot, 2013. Kahoot. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 11 May 2020].

Plickers Inc, 2019. Plickers. [Online]
Available at: 2019
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Smith, D. J., 2020. If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World's People. 2 ed. Toronto: Kids Can Press Ltd..

Toby Ng Design, 2020. The World of 100. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

University of Cambridge, n.d. NRICH: If the World Were a Village. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

Walle, V. d., Bay-Williams, J., Lovin, L. & Karp, K., 2018. Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics. Developmentally appropriate instruction for grades 6-8. 3 ed. New York: Pearson Education.

Worldometer, 2020. World Population Clock. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 15 March 2022].

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