Human Population

I. Course description:

War, famine, disease, segregation, reproduction controversies, deforestation, depletion of the ozone layer, water pollution, soil pollution, air pollution, extinction, unequal distribution of wealth, racism, and crime. What is the one underlying cause to all of these problems? Could it be the size of the human population? This class will look at these issues from a human population standpoint. Would these problems exist today if the world human population were a fraction of its size? Can we continue to have as many children as we like and still live a comfortable lifestyle? Can our technology overcome both social and environmental problems due to human overpopulation? Students will recommend solutions to these complicated problems.

II. Instructor’s educational preparation and current employment:

Bachelors of Science in Education from the University of Missouri – Columbia, 1997.

Master’s of Science in Education from the University of Missouri – Columbia, 2001.

Teacher of Chemistry and 7th grade science at Blair Oaks School in Jefferson City, MO from 1997 to present.

III. Rationale for inclusion in a program for gifted students:

This course is appropriate for academically gifted high school juniors in several ways. It provides socially relevant issues for the students, challenging problem solving opportunities, it gives students the opportunity to act in their community, it provides motivating learning opportunities as well as giving them a chance to expand their knowledge on socially relevant science issues.

These students will soon be of voting age. They will soon have the capability to help steer the decisions of our country, either through the careers that they choose or the votes that they cast.

They are living in an increasingly populated world. They will need to make decisions both on a personal and on a public level of how to use resources, how to give opportunities to others and how they will plan their families. Complex issues related to society and the environment will continue to surface. These classes will help prepare students to make educated decisions when faced with these complex issues.

This course will give academically gifted high school juniors the chance to learn new things, to interact in a socially relevant way and to solve complex problems. This issue is going to need gifted decision makers in the near future, and this class can help pave the way for successful and thoughtful decision making.

IV: Major topics covered:

Society. How do the size of populations affect such issues as war, poverty, education and socio-economic status? Can we solve these problems? Strategy: Discussion, research, activism and simulation.

Environment. How do the size of populations affect the cleanliness of our environment? How do the size of population’s affect how we use resources? Strategy: Discussion, research, activism and simulation.
What is a weed? Could humanity be on the same scale as dandelions and cockroaches? What kinds of similarities and differences are there between highly adaptable and highly successful species? Strategy: Discussion, debate.

V. Pre-requisite knowledge:


VI. Learning objectives:

By the end of the three weeks, the scholar should be able to conduct an intellectual discussion and use problem solving skills to develop solutions to complex problems.

VII. Primary source materials:

“Living within Limits”, by Garrett Hardin.

VIII. Supplementary source materials:

Facing the Future classroom materials. “Mathematics and Resources,” video by Dr. Bartlett, University of Colorado.

IX. Computing and the Internet (if applicable):

Some Internet research.

X. Typical classroom strategies:

Discussion, research, debate, group problem solving, analysis.