Use All of Your Census

Always seeking out new ways to integrate web tools into my classroom instruction, I have to share a fantastic one that I just came across. While data from the decennial U.S. Census has always been available from the official government website, the GIS-style interface and cumbersome vocabulary put up roadblocks to its use in my classroom. That has changed with the beta release of Zipskinny.

The magic of Zipskinny is that visitors only have to know the ZIP (postal) code for the geographic area that they wish to investigate or compare, such as their own neighborhood. AT its simplest, the website allows students to instantly view colorful, easy-to-read graphs of demographic data comparing one area to the rest of the state and to the entire country. There is even a comparison to neighboring ZIP codes.

At its most powerful, however, students can compare vastly different localities by entering up to ten different ZIP codes for comparison. Try 90006 (Pico Union, one of the poorest neighborhoods in L.A.) and the infamous 90210 (Beverly Hills). My only complaint is the lack of visual representations of the data when comparing two or more ZIPs.