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MATE 1 – ABS Population Clock

You can download this activity as a rich text file (RTF) using the links at the bottom of the page.

    Subject Area



    This is an enrichment activity for students who enjoy using their mathematical skills for problem solving. It involves verifying the rate of population increase shown on the population clock located on the home page of the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.


    • Access to the internet is desirable.
    • Access to calculators and Excel as possible tools for solving the problem.
    • Copy of student worksheet.


    • Ask students to find the population clock.
    • Click on the clock to find out how the population count is adjusted.
    • Give students a copy of the worksheet.
    • A solution to this problem is attached.
    The Australian Bureau of Statistics Population Clock

    Australian Population Clock: 23,094,920

    On the ABS website home page the time clock tells us that the Australian population grows by one person every 1 minute and 34 seconds.

    This projection is based on the estimated resident population at 30 September 2011 and when we click on 'How does this work?' we see that this growth rate is based on:

    one birth every 1 minute and 47 seconds,
    one death every 3 minutes and 35 seconds,
    a net gain of one international migrant every 2 minute and 47 seconds leading to
    an overall total population increase of one person every 1 minute and 34 seconds.

    1. Is this time (1 minute and 10 seconds) exact or has it been rounded up or down?

    2. How many different ways can you solve the question ‘How often does our population grow by one?’

    3. The population found using this model is a ‘projection’. What does this mean?

    4. Record the population shown on the current on line population clock. Use your results to estimate the date that the time clock shown on the top of this page appeared on the ABS website.

    5. Visit the ABS website to see if you can find other data related to our current population.
    Write down the value(s) you find and on what source(s) it was based.


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    Student Worksheet

Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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