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Cookies, Please!

It can be hard to visualize really big numbers like population and global wealth! In this activity, use cookies to visualize how global wealth is distributed among the world’s population.

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Plan

  • How will you divide your group up among the continents? 
  • What continent do you live in? 
  • What type of cookies will you use? Don’t forget to consider food allergies when choosing your cookies.  
  • Do you think that wealth is distributed equally among the world’s population? 

Do

  • In this activity you will represent the population of the world and the cookies will represent global wealth.  
  • There are seven continents on Earth, but people only live on 6 of them! Split up into six groups. 60% of the people should be in Asia, 7.9% in North America, 5.7% in South America, 15.5% in Africa, 10.4% in Europe, and 0.5% in Australia. These percentages represent the percent of the global population that live in each continent. You can use a calculator to figure out how many people from your group should be in each continent. Ask an adult for help if you need it! You can also create signs or posters so you can remember which continent is which. 
  • Next you should divide up your cookies. You need to have the same amount of cookies as you have people in the activity. The cookies will be divided so that 26% go to Asia, 28% to North America, 5.8% to South America, 3.6% to Africa, 34% to Europe, and 2.5% to Oceania. These percentages represent the percent of global wealth in each continent. You can break some cookies in half so that the distribution is more accurate.  
  • Once each group has their cookies, discuss whether you think this distribution of wealth is fair. Why do you think some continents have small populations and a large percentage of the global wealth? 

Review

  • Do you think that the global distribution of wealth is fair?  
  • Why do you think some continents have more or less wealth than others? 
  • How could we make this distribution more fair? 

Materials

  • Paper and pencils  
  • One cookie per person  
  • A calculator  

Keep it Simple

By using small toys to represent people and using smaller treats (like Smarties) instead of cookies, you can set up the activity on a large map. Start with 30 small toys and place 18 toys in Asia, 2 in North America, 2 in South America, 5 in Africa, 3 in Europe, and 0 in Oceania. Then divide the treats so you have 7.5 in Asia, 8.5 in North America, 2 in South America, 1 in Africa, 10 in Europe, and 1 in Oceania. Place the toys and treats on their continents on the map. In this version of the activity, you do not need to do any calculations and you can visualize where each continent is on the map.  

Take it Further

To take it further, do research to find out how wealth is distributed within Canada. Do you think that wealth in Canada is distributed fairly?