Assigned: 18 Feb. 2021 NAME: ____________________________________
Due: 25 Feb. midnight (11:59 PM)
Purpose: This is the first in a series of activities designed to take you through the “cartographic process” (see figure below). In this lab you will select a state (or two states if very small) retrieve raw data (see highlighted portion below) to focus on for your Final class project. You are moving away from your home-town to a larger geographic area primarily because this will allow the class to more consistently find data and compare results. Your objective is to explore demographic data by county for your state (US Census for example) with the purpose of determining changes in demographic variables for several 10-year periods from 1790 to 2010 and the latest year estimate.
Special instructions: Starting with this GS activity, you will start keeping a digital log (journal) of your work, including procedures, sources, problems and solutions. NOTE: not all counties and states existed for all decennial census years, and that is okay. Please follow the guidelines in the procedure to produce a report on your findings and upload your Word Document to the Blackboard weekly folder submission link by the due date.
1) Online databases (US Census Bureau, and others).
2) Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets or other spreadsheet for compiling and saving your database
Mappable data means is that you have something as well as its location. A water tower is at a particular latitude/longitude, there are 1000 people in that county, etc.
The WWW is a great source for existing digital mappable data too, some free of charge and some for a fee. In this exercise, you will select a U.S. state(s) but also restricted to a few criteria (see next page). You will then locate mappable data that can be used in your lab project.
Your primary (but not only) task is to locate three different formats of population data, by county, in your selected state, for decennial census data by county from 1790 to 2010 (every 10 years) + the latest year. The US Census is the original source of this information, but the data is available in many other places.
You will be describing your search for data, population change information, and sites on the web. Your objective is to find at least three (3) WWW sources containing county-based data for your state and download or copy the data. Make note of the URL of the data. You will need to pick two counties in your state and graph the population vs. time in years using a spreadsheet. Also, you will find five additional web sites describing information on population in your state.
Pick a state or states: Select a state in the contiguous US that you want to learn more about that is within. You do not need to be familiar with the state.
• You may need to pick more than one adjacent states to make comparisons.
• Because of limited historical data, you are advised not to select Hawaii or Alaska.
• Whichever state or states you select, they must fall within one (no more) of the nine US Census sub-regions shown on the next page: WEST (Pacific and Mountain), MIDWEST (West North Central and East N. Central), NORTHEAST (Middle Atlantic and New England), and SOUTH (West South Central, East S. Central and South Atlantic).
• The instructor will guide the students in selecting states, to ensure that at least two states total (by one or more students) are selected within each census sub-region.
• Meet briefly with other students (2 to 3) that have picked states within your sub-region (West, Midwest, Northeast or South).
We can do this with Breakout rooms in Zoom.
Steps to completing your assignment:
1) Create a space to save data and your files: On your OneDrive at BSU create the following additional sub-folders under a folder called GEOG 115 (5 pts.)
a. Mapping Project
2) Open an MS Word document, and save it as “yourlastnameLabLog.docx”
3) Finding mappable data for your states
You need to find, for your state or states, first try population data, by county for 1790 to 2010 (every 10 years) + latest years since 2010, as collected by the US Census. Please find three sources of this data in three different formats (spreadsheet, text file, HTML, PDF, etc.). This way, we are mostly assured that at least one of the three data forms will work for the project. Again, depending on the state, there will be missing data the further back in time you go, but collect as much as you can find. You may need to build your own table in Google Sheets or Excel. Please include the name of the counties and Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) code for each county in your table. Instructor will demonstrate during zoom meeting but you may try this on your own.
There are a few basic ways of searching on the Internet:
(10 pts): Try a key word search on Google (https://www.google.com/ ) and Bing (https://www.bing.com/ ) or similar search engine. Google ranks the sites it returns to you in terms of the popularity of the sites, how many ‘hits’ the sites get. Bing is somewhat similar, but has a different look and may create different results. Hence, these engines tend to be able to find what you are looking for quickly if you use the right search terms. Bing does sort of the same but returns fewer (hopefully) more relevant sites. Try both.
a. Type in some keywords that correspond to the kind of data you are looking for
United States Census, historical population data, 1790 to present
b. You may have to try different keywords before you find what you need. Consider the source if you have found your data: it is always good to go back to the original data provider if possible.
Type ½ to 1 page: Please write a few paragraphs about what you find and problems you encounter in your lab log: be critical! Think about yourself in a real-world job, having to find this data for your boss. Which search engine worked the best and why do you think so? How easy is it to find free, relevant data on the WWW using keyword searches?
Method C (5 pts): Spook-free search (really, no adds!?) using DuckDuckGo (https://duckduckgo.com/)
Search again for population data. Note https://duckduckgo.com/privacy statement.
Type ¼ to ½ page: Document your search, and tap out a few thoughts on the issue.
4) Documenting your Data Sources and other Information: creating metadata (10 pts)
When you find your Census population data please note the following reference information in your lab log for each of your three sources (no matter what search you used):
a. The Title of the Document
b. The location of the Document (http://whatever.thatsit.org/it.html)
c. The format of the data (spreadsheet.xls or .csv, text file .txt, HTML, PDF, direct copy from table to Excel, etc.)
IMPORTANT, the bottom line: Check that you have the total population for each of your counties for each US Census since 1790 (if available) every 10 years (decennial) up through the last count in 2010 and also try to find the latest year estimates after 2010.
Please search around each site and see if you can find any information on copyright issues with the data. Document what you find in your lab log.
5) Downloading the Data (5 pts)
Save each of your data sources in your Data folder on your OneDrive (do Backup on a USB thumb drive if you want). I suggest creating a folder for the data source with an informative name (like MassachusettsPopData1790_20XX.TXT or .XLS). Make sure to keep any file extensions (filename.extension) on the original data intact.
NOTE: you may need to allow for pop-ups to download some datasets.
Which form of your data is best? You may find text (.txt) or .pdf or a Word document of your data. Which is the best format? Depends on what you are doing with it! We will eventually be using Excel or Google Sheets to process the data. Google it and find out which of the data formats you found should work best in Excel or Google Sheets (if you do not know already). Note what you find in a paragraph (also a screenshot) of your log maybe ¼ to ½ page.
6) Pick two counties in your state and make a bar (column) graph in Google Sheets or Excel showing population trend on the Y-axis vs. year on the X-axis (10 pts)
Instructor will demonstrate this during our zoom session.
7) Locate information relevant to your State (or region) and Information on Population Change.
a. (10 pts) Using the searching strategies you learned above, locate at least five (5) web sites that provide information on your state that may be relevant to this project. Do spend a little time exploring around and make sure you get some decent sites (don’t just use the first few you find). Save the locations of these sites (http:// …etc.) in your lab log. At least two sites should explain/depict issues of population change in your state or the US. Again, document what you find, and the URLs, in your lab log, maybe ½ page.
8) Back up your files in the Data folder.
That is it! Not too difficult, right?! Don’t panic if you can’t find the data after a long an arduous search. The instructor or a fellow student can pass along the actual secret location of the data and you can download it then.
To summarize to 50 pts total, your report/log should include:
• Your name and name of your state(s)
• (15 pts) several paragraphs about your search strategy for your population change data and results
• (10 pts) documentation of the data you found (title, location, format)
• (5 pts) download of actual data we can use for the project (save to your folder) and show instructor. You might provide a sample screenshot of the data in your log.
• (10 pts) Bar graph for two counties showing population change on Y-axis vs. Year.
• (10 pts) 5 WWW sites with information relevant to your state (history, population, demographics, etc.)
Again, please upload your file to the Blackboard course learning site by midnight the night before the next lab session. This lab should include at about three to five pages total.
Some good links (you may have found these in your search, but if not, try these, you will eventually find the population data you need):
USDA by county population(1990 and 2010 to 2019): https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/county-level-data-sets/download-data/ (see population estimates Excel file) OR try https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/county-level-data-sets/ (click on Population and select your state and you can click on the disk icon to download in Excel, pdf, or csv format.)
IPUMS NHGIS (1790-2010): Get the entire decennial dataset for the US states and counties from: Steven Manson, Jonathan Schroeder, David Van Riper, Tracy Kugler, and Steven Ruggles. IPUMS National Historical Geographic Information System: Version 15.0 [dataset]. Minneapolis, MN: IPUMS. 2020 : https://www.nhgis.org/
US Census and estimated annual population by county for a state (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019): https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/popest/2010s-counties-detail.html