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Simple teaching idea: Using Gapminder to structure research [@gapminder]


At the moment I’m teaching development to Year 9.  I’m without the kit required to produce the RSA Style Animations but still wanted to allow students to explore a country in depth, specifically working out reasons for it’s position in the LDC-MEDC continuum.  So, armed with access to an ICT suite (something I haven’t had to worry about for five years) I decided to use Gapminder to start the process.  Follow these steps:

  1. Students select a country to look at. Tick the Box.
  2. Take the country back to 1800, ensure that the ‘Trails’ box is ticked and press ‘Play.’
  3. Watch the pattern.
  4. Grab the screen and import into PowerPoint.
  5. Annotate the trail, picking up key changes in the GDP and Life Expectancy.

I found that this provides a really useful guide to targeting the research – so some quick work on valid search terms allowed the classes to quickly find useful information and data.  Furthermore, time spent on pointless research because of a poor country choice is minimised. For example, the USA doesn’t really have that interesting a track.  I also like Greece’s track below, with the recent decline in GDP:



  1. Thanks nice idea. Hitherto I've only used gap minder as a whole class ' look see' this is a much better way of getting kids to really think.

  2. Thanks Tim - it works really well. Good to print out the graph too at A3 and laminate


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