The following is an audio transcript of the video lesson plan Peopling of Our Planet.

Hi, I’m Pam and today I’m going to introduce you to the activity, “The Peopling of Our Planet,” This is a web-based activity, using the website,

This activity explores the drivers of world population growth beginning in the Industrial Revolution. So, we’re going to focus on advances in science and technology, specifically in medicine, food and agriculture, public health and sanitation.

It’s a great activity for high school world history classes, geography and environmental science, and also the AP courses for Environmental Science, World History, and Human Geography.

The objectives for this activity are:

  1. Describe the trajectory of human population history.
  2. Explain how the changes in the global death rate impact population growth.
  3. Identify advances in medicine, food and agriculture, and public health and sanitation that contributed to population growth during the Industrial Revolution.

And all of the materials you need for this activity are included in the lesson plan pdf.

The first part of this activity is actually having students watch a short video on the website. It’s a 6- minute animation of the past 2,000 years of world population growth. There are some discussion questions to go with that.

Then you transition into Part 2 which is an interactive story.

You’re going to go through a timeline exploration with the students, using the timeline showing historical markers from You’re going to give 12 students cards that have information about important historical markers in those areas of medicine, agriculture, and public health and sanitation, and how they affected population growth.

As students are reading their word cards, you project the website at the front of the room, type in the date for that marker in the top corner and then show students the pop-up with more information about that historical marker.

So let me give you an example. One of the markers is about the smallpox vaccine. So, this student card reads, “Important medical discoveries followed the invention of the microscope. In 1796, Edward Jenner discovered a cure for smallpox. The idea that many diseases are caused by micro-organisms was later scientifically proven by French chemist Louis Pasteur and called germ theory.”

So, there are really two markers here – one about Edward Jenner and one about Louis Pasteur. On the interactive timeline, you can click on both to give students a greater context. The lesson plan provides suggested discussion questions. For these markers, that includes: How do vaccines work? What is pasteurization? How has pasteurization changed the food industry? How have vaccines and pasteurization impacted human health?

As I mentioned, there are 12 of these cards in all. Some of them deal with medical advances like vaccines and antibiotics. Some deal with the invention of farm equipment and fertilizers, the increased crop yields and nutrition, and some deal with public health, like understanding water-borne diseases, and how to rid society of deadly diseases like cholera and typhoid.

On the final card, the student will read about world population changes over the past 200 years and you’ll direct students back to the interactive map on the website and the video they watched at the beginning. From 1804 when world population was at 1 billion, the global population has doubled three times to its current 8 billion people.

There are other lessons that look at this concept of world population history, like the interactive activity “Oh, How We’ve Grown”.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to “The Peopling of Our Planet.” For more classroom activities, check out and

Thank you.