Energy and Population

The NEED Project

Activity Source: 

The NEED Project. Adapted with permission.

Just as your GPS helps you make sure you’re getting from point “a” to point “b” correctly, maps help scientists draw important conclusions and visualize important concepts they study. The right map can help a petroleum engineer find the best drilling site, or help a meteorologist make the best prediction.

This interactive mapping activity will help you understand the relationship between the population of a given state and the amount of energy consumed there. This activity is one of many offered by The NEED Project that make use of interactive maps. Visit to see 25 interactive maps, instructions for their use, and more mapping activities.


  • Computer with Internet access
  • Paper and pen or pencil


  1. Go to online. Click on the first bullet, “Population by State.”
  1. The alphabetical list of states at the bottom of the screen can be sorted by population. Click on the column heading “Population” in the lower left corner.
  1. On a piece of paper, list the top 10 states in order of population size, starting with the most populous.
  1. Discuss: Why do you think these states are more populated than others? Where are these states located? Why are people drawn to live in these states?
  1. Go back to Using the online map for “Total Energy Consumption by State” map, list the top 10 states in order of most energy consumption, starting with the state that uses the greatest amount.
  1. Discuss: What factors do you think cause these states to consume the most energy? What is their location in the country? Climate? Number of people living there? Are they rural or urban? Is there historically a lot of industry there?
  1. Write down a few sentences summarizing the correlation between states with the highest populations and their energy consumption.