As someone who remembers messing around with those huge Statistical Abstracts volumes and later the PDFs available by our Census Bureau, I am blown away with the easy data display possibilities presented by the New York Times’ research tool, Mapping America!
Students and teachers can now access and manipulate local Census data, based on samples from 2005 to 2009. (The Times notes that the data is based on samples and subject to a margin of error, particularly in places with lower populations.)
Maps are available for race and ethnicity, income, housing and families, and education. Within each category, researchers may filter by a variety of related subcategories. Data are searchable by address, zip code and city. Maps are scalable and a simple shift of the mouse allows you to examine patterns and differences among and within communities.
I can see immediate applications for student use in history, civics, and business classes. I can also see Central Office eagerly making use of this demographic data for planning purposes.
Here’s a peek at our district’s racial/ethnic distribution.