Gapminder… An Amazing Website For All Curricula Promoting Inquiry And Divergent Thinking… A 21st Century Gem!


Welcome to a special post devoted to a rich resource that can be applied across the curriculum including math, science, social studies, and language arts. Not only is this amazing resource an engaging website, it is a place where you can supplement lessons with information and problem solving, plus  promote real student inquiry. I am excited to share with you some amazing lesson plans, outstanding videos, and interesting facts and figures. Before exploring this great resource  please take a moment to subscribe to my blog by RSS or email. It means a lot to me to network with new readers. You can also follow me on twitter at mjgormans and find even more resources at my 21stcenturyedtech Wiki.  Enjoy this new post and resource… and have a great week! – Mike

It has been a plan of mine to cover educational sites that not only provide convergent thought processes, but also promote divergent thinking. You see, students must be given the opportunity to inquire as they learn. It is important that students learn how to reflectively use answers to promote new questions. After visiting Gapminder I am sure you will agree that this website just may fill that important niche. Best of all, Gapminder can be used across the multiple curricula and grade levels. It also creates an awareness of the world and possible gaps between countries and people.  First, a little history.

Gapminder is a non-profit venture,  a modern “museum”, on the Internet. Its intent is to promote sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. It achieves this by:

  • Keeping a set of tools and up-to-date  statistical content  of the world in an interface that allows for time progression.
  • Producing videos, Flash presentations and PDF charts displaying major global development trends with animated statistics in colorfulpictures and graphics.
At first look, you will note that Gapminder is user friendly and has close to 500 data sets to explore and incorporate into your lessons. You may wish to start at Gapminder World. Here you will find  a that graph shows how long people live and how much money they earn throughout the world. Click on the play button to see how countries have developed since 1800. Imagine the multitude of divergent lessons focused on inquiry that can be based upon this one graph. Be sure to note all of the possible ways to display the data. Next, explore a page dedicated to how 200 years changed the world.  By viewing this animated graph and video your students will discover that 200 years ago all countries were poor and life expectancy was less than 40 years.  Can your students answer the question, “Why has health only improved in a few countries since the 1800’s, yet today no country has a life expectancy of less than 40 years?”  As you continue your exploration, discover how to provide relevance and inquiry. You will find this concept while exploring a page dedicated to the Rise of Asia and possibly even predict when India and China might catch up with the USA in income per person?
Especially useful is a section of the site dedicated to providing educators methods for using Gapminder in classrooms around the world. This informative education page  features quality examples and resources. Some of the featured resources on this page include Gapminder’s Main Interactive Graph.  Be sure to go to the Download guide (pdf) to get a great start. You can even use Gapminder World without the Internet. Install Gapminder Desktop on your computer. This can be especially useful for slow or no internet connection!  The desktop application automatically updates against the online graph and you or your students can easily create your own favorite graphs and save them as bookmarks. Be sure to watch the video supplied on the desktop page to assist you as you begin. There is even more as you will discover below.
This teacher guide explains how you can use Gapminder World to lecture about global development from 1800 through today.
Life expectancy is a very important measure when we compare the health of different countries. Teach your students what it measures.
Global Quiz
A teacher’s guide to a quiz about global development. The quiz uses Gapminder World. All you’ll need is the Internet, a computer and a projector.
A thematic package of animations for your lecture. Click and choose which of the 9 sections you will use. (Available in many languages.)
This card sorting game challenges students’ perceptions about the contemporary world.

Take a moment and discover more classroom ideas from Digital Geography. The Geographical Association also provides some wonderful ideas for using Gapminder in the classroom. The NYC iSchool has some awesome resources to spark problem solving and inquiry. In fact, at NYC iSchool  high school students discover whether statistics reveal or distort reality!  These  students  learn world history from the Industrial Revolution to the present day by using the Trendalyzer software found in Gapmaker that converts international statistics into moving, interactive graphics.   As part of the course students will analyze Trendalyzer data, devise a research question, conduct original research, then draft and present a statistics driven history paper. A small sample of  questions that the students in this program will explore include:

1. Does the increase of economy effect the growth in population between Spain and Vietnam?
2. What happened in Kuwait in 1938 that caused such a jump in GDP?
3. How does the literate females to males ratio affect the economic growth in China?
4. How did oil production affect the GDP and life expectancy in the United Arab Emarates?
5. How did WW2 affect the economies of Germany, Russia, and Japan?

Be sure to take a look at the video located on the education page. It is an excellent example of students  expanding convergent thinking as they explore in a divergent style. If this all isn’t enough, I am sure that you will be able to find and inspire students with some outstanding videos… including some from TED. Another must visit includes the Gapminder Labs. Here you can develop lessons with an emphasis on US History, China, and world agriculture. I hope you can see that while Gapminder may show some gaps between countries… it will leave no gap in allowing your students to inquire and develop their divergent thinking skills.

Please continue to join me as I expound on other ways you can promote divergent thinking and 21st century skills.  But that’s not all… future posts will also contain resources on Digital Curriculum,  evaluating web resources, Project Based Learning, STEM, Web 2.0, and so much more on 21st Century Learning. Please take a moment to subscribe by RSS or email! Your subscription means a lot to me and I thank you in advance. In fact, you can also give this article a retweet if you scroll to the bottom! It’s a great way to spread the word and I appreciate your support. Remember to follow me on Twitter at mjgormans. Thanks, until next time… diverge your students’ thinking with inquiry using Gapmaker.  Have a great week! – Mike

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Gapminder… An Amazing Website For All Curricula Promoting Inquiry And Divergent Thinking… A 21st Century Gem!

  1. You can even use Gapminder World without the Internet. Install Free CRMon your computer

  2. Pingback: EDU 626 Class Blog » Gapminder

  3. Lindsey Wright

    Hello,
    I contacted you last week, but I havent heard back from you yet so I thought that I would send another comment just to make sure you recieved my request. My name is Lindsey and I am a writer. Do you accept guests posts? I ‘d very much like to contribute a piece discussing how technology is changing the way that we learn. Please feel free to email me. Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you!

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