Students will generate two pie charts as to their estimation of the composition of the United States by racial groups. The first pie chart will be their own estimation (as a class), the second will be a pie chart generated using the actual numbers.


  • Students will work with the concept of diversity.
  • Students will learn how to work with a spreadsheet.
  • Students will increase their comfort level of reading data from a chart.


  • Define the word diversity.
  • Be able to identify the five major ethic groups in America.
  • Be able to input data on a spreadsheet.
  • Be able to talk about the composition of the American population.


  • Conduct a class discussion on Diversity. Decide within the class whether or not the United States is a diverse country.
  • Discuss how similar to, or different from, the rest of the country your classroom is.
  • Brainstorm the number of categories into which the United States can be divided into. (the chart I use has 5: European, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, American Indians) Also Brainstorm the total population of the United States (250 million) This can lead into a discussion of population distribution within the United States if you are so inclined.
  • Have each student divide the population of the United States into the five racial categories depending on their own ideas of the composition of the country. Either by percent or by millions--making sure that EVERYONE uses the same method.

On the computer

  • Using ClarisWorks open a spreadsheet document.
  • Title Cells
  • A1 European
    B1 African-American
    C1 Hispanic
    D1 Asian
    E1 American Indians
    It will be necessary to widen the columns for several of these.
  • Have the first student come to the computer and input their guesses as to population under the proper headings.
  • After all the students have inputted their “data”, use the =sum function to add up the rows of numbers.
  • Generate a Pie Chart using the students data.
  • Tell the students what the actual figures are and input them into a separate line on your spreadsheet.
  • Generate a Pie Chart using the actual figures.
  • Compare the two Pie Charts and discuss what they tell us. (comparing reality with perception)


  • Discuss the differences in the charts.
  • Have the students as a homework assignment ask their parents to answer the same questions.

Related resources

  • Civics Textbook.