# Density by dfgh4bnmu

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• pg 1
Livable Communities for Virginia

Density
SOLs: G4 4.8 The student will estimate and find the quotient of two whole numbers.
G5 5.5 The student, given a dividend and a divisor, will find the quotient and
remainder.
5.11 The student will choose an appropriate measuring device and unit of measure
to solve problems.
G6 6.2 The student will describe data using ratios.
6.9 The student will compare and convert units of measure.

Activity A: Defining density

1. Share the Introduction page with your students. (You can do this by projecting it with a
computer and an LCD projector, making copies for your students, or printing it out on
transparency film and using an overhead projector.) Solicit answers to the two questions
at the top of the page, but don’t comment on them yet.

2. Share or distribute the Vocabulary page and review it with your class. Then revisit the In-
troduction page. Have your students respond to the two questions again, this time using
what they learned from the Vocabulary page.

3. Distribute the Calculating Density page and have your students work through the prob-
lems. (Depending on the grade level and math knowledge of your students, you may need
to work some example problems in addition to the one provided on the page.)

Activity B: Density and livable communities

1. Explain to students that while some people think that a “high density neighborhood”
means that a neighborhood is “too crowded”, this is not really the case. There are many
high density communities that are enjoyable places to live.

2. Ask your class if they think that communities with higher housing densities are more liv-
able or less livable. There is no absolute answer to this question, as different people will
have different housing needs and desires. However, there are many advantages to higher
housing densities. See if your class can brainstorm (as a class or in small groups) ways in
which a higher housing densities could contribute to a community’s livability. They can
use the AIA Ten Principles for Livable Communities as a guide as they brainstorm.

•	 a	higher	density	can	mean	that	shops,	services,	and	jobs	are	closer	to	where	people	live,
resulting in communities that are on a “human scale”
•	 fosters	mixed-use	development

Density: Lesson Plan (p.1)
Livable Communities for Virginia

•	 can	help	revitalize	urban	centers	and	limit	sprawl
•	 when	people	are	less	spread	out,	it	makes	public	transportation	more	feasible
•	 helps	conserve	landscapes	by	preserving	a	distinction	between	residential	areas	and
open spaces

Activity C: Density and your community

1. See if your class can identify the areas in your community that have particularly high or
low housing densities.

2. You can also turn this into an estimation exercise. Use photographs of different areas of
your community to estimate the housing density. This can be done by (1) estimating the
number of housing units in the photo (2) estimating the area shown in the photo (3)
dividing the estimated number of housing units by the estimated area.

Students	may	have	difficulty	estimating	the	size	of	area	in	acres.	These	guidelines	might
help:

•	 1	square	mile	is	640	acres.
•	 one	city	block	is	typically	about	5-7	acres.

Note that accurately calculating housing density is fairly complicated. (The complications
arise from questions about counting all the land in a community or just the land that is
devoted to residential housing.) The estimates from this activity will be fairly rough ones.

Density: Lesson Plan (p.2)
Livable Communities for Virginia

Vocabulary

Acre	–	a	unit	of	area	equal	to	4,840	square	yards.

•		One	acre	is	about	90%	of	a	football	field.

Dwelling unit – a home.

•	 A	home	can	be	a	house,	an	apartment,	or	a	group	of	rooms	–	anything	that	is	used	as	a
separate living quarters.

Housing density – the number of homes per unit land.

•		Housing	density	is	measured	in	dwelling	units	per	acre.

•		A	higher	density	represents	more	people	per	acre.

Density: Vocabulary
Livable Communities for Virginia

Calculating Density

To find the housing density of a neighborhood, divide the number of housing units by the
area of the neighborhood in acres.

Example:		 A	residential	neighborhood	has	40	houses	on	5	acres	of	land.	What	is	its	housing
density?

density = # of dwelling units ÷ area in acres
density = 40 dwelling units ÷ 5 acres
density = 8 units/acre

Practice:     Find the housing densities.

1.	 250	dwelling	units	built	on	10	acres.           2.	 200	dwelling	units	built	on	4	acres.

3.	 A	12-acre	downtown	area	with	720	               4.	 A	residential	neighborhood	with	150
dwelling units.                                     dwelling units on 5 acres.

5. A 45-unit apartment building that takes          6.	 100	acres	of	land	with	400	dwelling	units.
up	0.5	acres.

7.	 80	single-family	homes	in	a	20-acre	            8.	 20	acres	of	land	with	4	apartment	build-
subdivision.                                        ings.	Each	building	has	40	apartments.

Challenge:	 A	developer	has	50	acres	of	land	to	build	on.	She	wants	to	create	a	housing	den-
sity	of	30	units	per	acre.	How	many	dwelling	units	does	she	need	to	build?

Density: Calculating Density
Livable Communities for Virginia

A run-down neighborhood is being redeveloped. Below are three diagrams showing three
different options for the redevelopment.

•		How	are	the	three	options	different?
•		What	do	you	think	the	numbers	“30”,	“40”,	and	“50”	represent?

A

B

C

Density: Introduction Page
Livable Communities for Virginia

A Sense of Place: Community Identity

SOLs: G4 4.7 The student will write effective narratives, poems, and explanations.
G5 5.8 The student will write for a variety of purposes: to describe, to inform, to
entertain, and to explain.
G6 6.6 The student will write narratives, descriptions, and explanations.

Activity A: Individual identity charts

1. An identity chart is a diagram that describes what is unique about an individual. Share the
example identity chart with your class.

2. Have your students create their own identity charts. Their charts could include age, gen-
der, cultural background, personality traits, interests – anything that they consider part of
their own identity.

3. Give students an opportunity to share their charts with others. (You could have students
exchange charts with a partner and/or ask for volunteers to share their charts with the
entire class.) After seeing their classmates’ charts, students may want to revise their own
charts to include new information or categories.

Activity B: Community Identity Chart

1. Explain to your class that, like an individual, a community also has its own identity. A com-
munity’s identity comes from both its physical features and its residents.

2. Have students work in small groups to create an identity chart for their community. If
students are having trouble with the concept of “community identity”, ask them to think
about the things that make their community different from others.

3. Have the small groups share their charts. Use their work as the starting point as you work
as a class to create one identity chart for your community. Some aspects to consider:

•	unique	natural	landmarks	(mountains,	rivers,	etc.)
•	size	and	nature	of	community	(urban,	suburban,	rural,	or	some	combination	of	the	three)
•	unique,	important,	or	historical	buildings
•	vibrant	public	places		(parks,	libraries,	public	squares,	etc.)
•	architectural	style	of	buildings
•	public	events	(from	ongoing	events	like	markets	to	special	occasions	like	yearly	festivals)
•	cultural,	ethnic,	and	religious	backgrounds	of	community	residents

Community Identity: Lesson Plan (p.1)
Livable Communities for Virginia

Activity C: Writing

The individual and community identity charts, while valuable in their own right, also function
as	pre-organizers	for	writing.	Some	possibilities:

1. Have your class create a guide book to your community. Each student/group can write
one part of the guide, focusing on one particular aspect of the community’s identity.
Students can also use photos alongside their writing. Students’ work and photos can be
combined and printed as a single book using a word processing application.

An alternate way to proceed with this assignment is to have students take or bring in a
photo that they think communicates some part of their community’s identity. Students
then write a short explanation of how their photo represents their community. These
photos and descriptions can be combined as a sort of photo essay on community identity.
You could also use a free photo-sharing website (like flickr – www.flickr.com) to publish
students’ photos and words.

2. Have students compare their individual identity charts with the identity chart for their
community. Ask students to write about one (or all) of these questions:

•	How	has	the	community	I	grew	up	in	shaped	my	identity?
•	How	might	I	be	a	different	person	today	if	I	had	grown	up	in	a	different	community?
•	In	the	future,	how	can	I	contribute	to	my	community’s	identity?

Community Identity: Lesson Plan (p.2)
Livable Communities for Virginia
Sample Identity Chart
Community Identity: Sample Identity Chart
Livable Communities for Virginia

Cars and Cities in the Twentieth Century
SOLs: VS.9A Describe the economic and social transition from a rural, agricultural society to
a more urban, industrialized society
USII.5A Demonstrate knowledge of the social, economic, and technological changes of
the early twentieth century by explaining how developments in transportation
(including the use of the automobile) changed American life

1. Distribute the “Automobile Adoption” page to students. Start the lesson by having stu-
dents answer and discuss the first question. (The question gets them thinking about the
idea behind the lesson; they aren’t expected to answer it correctly at this point.)

2. Share the “Automobile Adoption Timeline” with your class. This timeline shows the major
events that influenced the American adoption of the car as a transportation device.

Note that this adoption can be thought as occurring in two phases. The first phase (shown
in blue) involved the transition of the car from a high-end luxury item to something more
affordable and practical for ordinary Americans. The second phase (shown in red) saw a
slowdown in car adoption during the Great Depression and World War II that was then fol-
lowed by a tremendous adoption boom in the post-WWII period.

3. Review the timeline with your class. Help them understand the connection between the
history of the automobile and the major political and economic events of the twentieth
century.

4. Ask students to predict what the major technological change will be in the twenty-first
century. How will that technology change American life? Do they think this change will
occur instantly, or will it take time for the new technology to be adopted?

Activity B: Changing cities

1. Distribute “Changing Cities” to your class. Start the lesson by having students answer and
discuss the first question.

2. Have students read “Changing Cities” (either individually or out loud as a class).

3. Now that students have more background, have them revisit the first question as a class.
Do they think that automobiles made cities more livable, less livable, or some combination
of the two?

Cars and Cities: Lesson Plan
Livable Communities for Virginia
The U.S. fights in World War II.
The Jazz Age.                               - employment is high again
- strong economic growth                    - materials needed to make cars are
Ford Motor Company is founded.                                                                        being used in the war
- more people can afford cars
- cars are viewed as a luxury toy for the                                                           - cities build lots of transit systems
wealthy                                                                                             (trains, subways, buses) to help
workers get to their jobs
The Great Depression.
unemployment
First American gas-
powered car is built.                                                                        - few people can buy cars
- many car companies go bankrupt
Changes at Ford.
- price of cars is lowered
- Ford raises his workers’ pay                                                              Post-WWII period.
- now car isn’t just for the wealthy
Cars and Cities: Timeline
Livable Communities for Virginia

The first American car was invented in 1893.

Do you think that most families bought cars
soon after that? Why or why not?

_______________________________________

_______________________________________

_______________________________________

_______________________________________                  Design of an early American car.

The “Automobile Adoption Timeline” shows the events that influenced how the automobile
was adopted by the American people. (In this context, adopted refers to the process of people
accepting and starting to use a new invention or technology.)

Read the timeline to see how the popularity of the automobile changed over time.

As you can see from the timeline, it took some time before cars to become widely used.

The fastest growth in car adoption took place after World War II. This was due to many factors:
•	 Many	families	had	saved	money	during	the	war	years.
•	 People	longed	for	the	freedom	of	mobility	after	relying	on	mass	transit	during	the	war.
•	 The	population	was	growing,	and	many	people	were	becoming	first-time	home	buyers.
These homes were located in places that required them to have cars.
•	 Television	advertising	was	becoming	more	prominent,	making	it	easier	for	advertisers	to
sell the public on car ownership.

In summary: the invention and adoption of the automobile was a major event of the twen-
tieth century. However, the car did not instantly change everyone’s life the moment it was
invented.	Political	and	economic	events	affected	the	time	it	took	for	the	car	to	be	adopted	by
the American public.

Livable Communities for Virginia

Changing Cities

It’s not hard to imagine how the invention of the car changed most people’s lives – they
had more mobility and more freedom to travel when and where they wanted. But cars also
changed the communities where people live.

How do you think communities and cities changed as cars become more popular?

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________

Changing cities – before cars

The size and structure of cities has always been shaped by transportation technology. When
transportation	was	limited	to	walking	and	horse-drawn	vehicles,	cities	were	small	and	built
around a central downtown location. Due to the limitations of wagon travel, any farm or com-
munity	more	than	fifteen	miles	from	a	city	was	isolated	from	urban	life.	People	either	lived
and worked in a city, or they lived in the country and worked on a farm.

All this changed with the invention of the railroad. By the middle of the nineteenth century,
many wealthy families started moving to rural areas outside the city limits. The businessmen
in these families were the first commuters, traveling by rail to their jobs in the city center.
Cities expanded outward as they added more public transit. Rail lines started downtown and
spread out to the city limits. This meant that cities started to look more like stars and less like
circles – but the center of the city was still downtown.

So before the car was even invented, cities were changing. They were changing shape and
growing larger, and their residents were starting to move outwards away from the city center.
However, the success and popularity of the automobile, particularly after World War II, radi-
cally accelerated these trends.

Urban sprawl

In	the	1800s,	only	the	affluent	had	been	able	to	afford	living	outside	a	city	and	commuting	to
their	jobs	downtown.	In	the	period	after	1945,	many	middle-	and	working-class	families	were
able	to	afford	cars.	This	meant	that	they	too	could	move	away	from	the	city	center.	Many	did
so, settling in new housing developments that were built in areas on the outskirts of cities.
These areas were called suburbs.

Cars and Cities: Changing Cities (p.1)
Livable Communities for Virginia

The population growth of the suburbs was rapid and massive. By 1950 more Americans lived
in suburbs than anywhere else. This growth was partly due to the fact that many people pre-
ferred living in the suburbs, but it was also caused by an increase in the overall population.

The creation of the suburbs changed
the size and nature of cities. Cities grew
larger, but the distinction between the
city and the country was blurred. In-
stead of a city surrounded by rural land,
there was a city center with suburbs
sprawling out from the center. Com-
pletely rural areas became more scarce
as the suburbs continued to spread
outwards and outwards over time.
This outward growth of cities through
suburbs came to be known as urban
sprawl.

A suburb built in the early 1950s.
Decentralization

The automobile also changed the structure of cities. Instead of a series of rail lines radiating
from	the	city	center,	residents	relied	on	a	network	of	roads.	This	had	the	effect	of	reducing	the
important, central role of downtown areas.

Downtown	areas	also	suffered	from	urban	sprawl.	Citizens	weren’t	the	only	ones	who	relocat-
ed to the suburbs. Industries also migrated there, drawn by cheaper land and more available
space for buildings.

This	created	a	problem	for	city	workers	who	weren’t	able	to	afford	living	in	the	suburbs:
they	now	had	to	commute	from	the	city	to	their	job	in	the	suburbs.	Many	of	these	workers
were	unable	to	afford	cars.	Because	the	suburbs	were	built	around	people	having	cars,	there
weren’t many public transportation options connecting them to the city. This made getting to
work costly if not impossible for these less advantaged workers.

Without nearby jobs, downtown became a less desirable place to live. Without the tax rev-
enue from companies and affluent individuals, cities had less money to spend on upkeep and
social services. Cities were also faced with the problem of what to do with the abandoned fac-
tories and industrial sites left when companies moved their operations to the suburbs. These
sites, sometimes called “brownfields”, were hard to redevelop because they had been polluted
by industrial waste for years.

All this created a cycle of deterioration that made downtown less populated and more impov-
erished.

Cars and Cities: Changing Cities (p.2)
Livable Communities for Virginia

Design
SOLs: G4 4.18 The student will analyze works of art based on visual properties.
G5 5.18 The student will compare contemporary and historical art and architecture.
G6 6.11 The student will describe and discuss various types of collaborative art careers
(e.g. architect).

Activity A: Good design

1. Ask students to come up with a list of things that they think exhibit good design. These
things could be buildings, works of art, tools, or technology.

You could also have each student bring in one object (or a photo of an object) that they
think shows good design. They can then explain (orally or in writing) their reasoning.

2. Tell students that when discussing buildings, the word architecture refers to the style in
which a building is designed and constructed. Point out that for buildings, “good design”
goes hand-in-hand with livability. A well-designed building enhances the character,
identity, and aesthetic value of the community.

3. Have students visit the AIA website “America’s Favorite Architecture” (http://www.
favoritearchitecture.org/afa150.php). Students can view the 150 buildings voted as
America’s favorites, as well as vote on their own personal favorites.

4. After students have had some time to explore the website on their own, send them on an
“Architectural Scavenger Hunt.” Here are some things you can have them focus on:

•	 Are	there	any	buildings	from	your	state	on	the	list?	What	are	they?
•	 What	is	the	oldest	building	on	the	list?
•	 What	is	the	newest	building	on	the	list?
•	 In	general,	how	do	the	older	buildings	compare	to	the	newer	ones?	Are	there
similarities?	Differences?
•	 Are	most	of	the	buildings	private	residences,	or	are	they	part	of	vibrant	public	spaces?
•	 What	was	your	favorite	building?	Why?
•	 What	kinds	of	characteristics	does	a	building	need	to	have	to	be	on	the	list?

Design: Lesson Plan (p.1)
Livable Communities for Virginia

1. As a class (or in small groups), identify the buildings in your own community that are
favorites based on their design, their history, or their importance in the community. Take
photos of the buildings and have students write descriptions for them similar to the ones
that appear on the “America’s Favorite Architecture” website. (Explain what the building is
and, if known, the year it was designed and the architect who designed it.)

The photos and descriptions can be displayed together as a “Favorite Architecture” gallery
in your classroom. Or you can use an online photo-sharing website (like flickr – www.flickr.
com) to publish the gallery online.

2. Have students design a building that they think would be an asset to their community.
They should make a drawing of their building and write a short description of its purpose,
why they think their design is a good one, and how the building would contribute to the
livability of their community.

Activity C: Architecture as a career

1. Arrange for an architect to visit your class to discuss architecture as a career. Your local AIA