5 Creative Ways to Teach Population Growth Without Lecturing

Akanksha Saxena

Rapid population growth of human beings is becoming a concerning issue with profound implications for nature and the environment. The way population growth builds pressure on resources, creating food security challenges and increased demand for infrastructure which ultimately strains the natural capacity of the planet Earth is an emergency-like situation.

The phenomenon of unchecked population growth can only be explained to students when they are clear with the basic idea of population, population growth, carrying capacities of a system, etc. When we directly hop on to the interlinking of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and climate change with population growth, it sometimes lacks substance and rationality for new learners.

For this reason, we have compiled 5 creative ways that can be helpful for you to explain the idea of population growth with a rationale to your students.

1. Use Interactive Models and Simulations

There are ample interactive resources available at the current time to enhance student learning and engagement in complex Ecology topics like population growth. By incorporating technically robust interactive models, you can provide students with a hands-on learning experience that will deepen their understanding of population dynamics.

Labster provides a Population Growth Simulation where students can engage with experienced ecologists and brainstorm a conservation plan to protect an alien species population on Astakos IV (a newly discovered exoplanet). As students engage in this virtual activity, their basic concepts about population structure, factors affecting population growth, collection of ecological data, prediction of conservation strategies, etc can be thoroughly revisited.

2. Learning with Games and Activities

If we plan to simplify the idea of population growth and its related concepts like differences between “fecundity and mortality”, “immigration and emigration”, “exponential, linear and logistic growth”, “J-shaped and S-shaped curves”, etc, we need to excite students through games and interactive activities.

Some examples of how you can do this are: 

  • Design games that simulate reproduction and mortality processes within a population. Labster offers such a Mathematics Model Game where students can predict patterns of population growth.
  • Plan interactive activities to demonstrate how immigration and fecundity shape population dynamics.
  • Role-playing games where students can assume the role of individuals migrating between different population groups. These activities help students comprehend the effects of immigration and emigration on population size, genetic diversity, and demographic composition.

3. Infusing Technology into Study Plans

Population growth is a topic that requires learners to critically think and analyze a wide range of concepts like “ecological hypotheses”, “spatial distribution”, “demographic trends”, “abundance”, “per capita growth rate”, “carrying capacity” and “limiting resources”. Technology can come in handy to educators in the form of virtual reality labs, artificial intelligence tools, collaborative platforms, virtual field trips, and gamified elements to provide learners with a scientifically coherent learning experience. 

Not only will these help students to gain a clearer understanding of the ideas but will also equip them to analyze and address real-world challenges in their future endeavors. 

Preview of POG Goslin life cycle simulation.
Discover Labster's Population Growth virtual lab today!

4. Inspiring Learners by Connecting to Career Prospects

As an educator, you can play a crucial role in shaping students’ understanding of population studies by highlighting the practical and real-world implications of the core ideas of the topic. 

  • Invite a demographer who works for a government agency and can expose students to the practical applications of population studies in policy-making and urban planning.  
  • Organize a talk by an immigration agency professional that can shed light on the significance of immigration and emigration patterns in shaping societies. 
  • Demonstrate technologies like geographic information systems (GIS) that are used to analyze population data, examine spatial patterns, and identify ecological relationships.  

5. Connecting the Topic to Real-World Applications

We believe that education shouldn’t be confined to the 4 walls of a classroom; it extends far beyond textbooks and lectures. If we truly aim to make a difference, educators should engage students by connecting the topics of population growth to their real-world applications. By demonstrating how these topics manifest in everyday life, educators can spark curiosity among learners. You can plan to incorporate case studies discussing population explosion in major developing countries. You can also conduct a discussion on the effect of immigration in developed economies where people from all countries are moving for better education, jobs, and infrastructure. 

Final thoughts

Population growth is a complex and multifaceted topic that requires engaging teaching strategies. If we plan on preparing next-generation scientists to address global challenges responsibly, we have to incorporate more efficient teaching tools in our classroom strategies.

Try our free 30-day All Access Educator's Pass today and teach with the Population Growth simulation alongside 300+ other virtual labs!


  1. Coale, A. J., & Hoover, E. M. (2015). Population growth and economic development (Vol. 2319). Princeton University Press.
  2. Blacker, C. P. (1947). Stages in population growth. The Eugenics Review, 39(3), 88. 
  3. Simon, J. L. (2019). The economics of population growth. Princeton university press.

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