of our high school students think about having their own small business;
however, most have not considered the practicality of doing so. In this unit,
students will use data found online to create charts and graphs in a spreadsheet
to support starting a fictional small business in a community of their choice.
They will be able to see if their choices of business and community make sense
and, if not, change one of them. In Canada, this can be done in English or
French with the use of the Statistics Canada site.
Math, Social Studies, Career/Technology
Learning Levels: Grades 10-12Author(s): Donna Brunton
a great idea for a small business? Want to know where it makes sense to locate
it? Don't just pick a business and locate it in cyberspace. This unit will
direct the student to find the data to back up her choice of business and a
community where it is likely to be successful.
Charts & Tables
Using & Interpreting Graphs
the Internet to collect data.
a spreadsheet to display data in a chart/graph.
the demographic needs of a business.
This unit requires access to the Internet in a computer lab or in a classroom, as well as a word processor, a spreadsheet and possibly Power Point. (The graphs can also be done on graph paper). It is useful to have covered the use of the spreadsheet to create graphs/charts before starting this unit.
can do this exercise individually or in pairs depending on computer access and
your numbers. The whole unit takes 4 to 6 hours with the use of a computer lab
and one student per computer. It could take longer with shared computers,
depending on the detail you want and how much time you spend on the discussion
in task# 1.
whole class, simultaneous access is not available, you might alternate the
computer reliant tasks with
Before I start this unit, I have the students think about a type of small
business that would be of interest to them, and to select a community where they
might like to have this business. Since I use this activity as a lead-in to
creating a web page, I ask them to consider clip art and other resources we have
looked at that they might be able to use without copyright infringement.
Begin with a class discussion to identify the types of information one might
need to consider before starting a business in a community. For example:
ask for suggestions of businesses to create and have the students brainstorm to
come up with factors to consider when creating the business. I find student are
usually inventive. These factors are written on the board or on chart paper for
ongoing reference. Remember (and remind the class) that each type of business
could have a different set of requirements.
Next I direct students to sources of business and community data on the
Internet. I use the Statistics Canada site
www.statcan.ca and show them several of the options there.
I pick a community and “walk” them through an example of finding information
about that community in the various parts of the StatsCan site. I also print out
all the graphs I make in this process and put them up in the room to remind the
students of the types of information they can find and the kinds of formatting
After that, the students are sent to find the data they need to prove that their
location and business are viable. Some students will choose a business and find
a suitable location. Others will pick the location and think up a business that
fits there. Some students may need some help to come up with a reasonable
business. I have them use small businesses so that more communities will be
reasonable locations. (I do this in Nova Scotia, Canada and we do not have many
Their next task is to search the data and create at least 2 graphs/charts using
a spreadsheet of that data which supports their choices (This could be done on
paper). I also encourage students to find a map to show the location of the
chosen community and to support the identification of community factors, which
will help to ensure business success.
These graphs and the map are to be saved in the spreadsheet for further use in a
word document and as jpgs for a Power Point presentation or web page. My
rationale for this exercise is to begin the process of teaching how to create a
web page. Each student creates a web page for a fictional business. One page of
their web page uses the graphs and map.
This activity involves whole class presentation as well as individual work or working in pairs. A pathway through the data site or specific URLs needs to be provided for the students. A pathway could be placed on the board or URLs made available electronically.
the following in assessing the finished product:
the students able to search the data after seeing you do it?
the graphs illustrate aspects of starting the chosen business?
the graphs formatted properly?
Reasonable intervals on axes
Colour used where/if appropriate
to computers with Internet connection
with graph/chart capability
unit could also be done in French since the Statistics Canada site (www.statcan.ca)
has both and an English and a French branch.
The StatCan site (see address below) has many places to find useful information for this assignment. From the site’s introductory page choose Learning Resources and then Students.
are 3 places where you can go from here.
Profiles: Type in the community name and pick the province. There are
choices of Population, Education and Income & Work
Statistics: Options here are Population, Education etc under The People
If you want to see population pyramids for Canada, see these pages:
Statistics: Power from Data! http://www.statscan.ca/english/edu/power/toc/contents.htm