A Hunt for New Stats

Blogging a day early as I won't be around the office tomorrow.

I have been leading classes at the museum for more years than I wish to admit (I started working here in the last millennium). And once you write a program you get a script in your head and don't always update or change the program as often as you maybe should.

But as every teacher (and historian and researcher and politician and…) knows, every so often you need to go back and see how the facts and figures have changed. So over the last month I’ve been purposely checking the facts that I give out during some of our programs so that I'm always up to date with the newest stats.

And in that research I’ve found some things that have surprised me. Thought I’d share some of them. Some of these may surprise you, too. Or you may just roll your eyes and say, of course, everyone knew that (but I won’t really believe you).

Population density is higher in Alberta than British Columbia. BC has 4.84 people per square kilometer. Alberta has 5.76. Saskatchewan sits at 1.75 people per square kilometer.

There are as many people in Calgary as in the entire province of Saskatchewan. I already knew this one but it still amazes me. I use this one with students when we’re talking about natural resources and the development of Alberta and Saskatchewan. At present there are about 3.7 times more Albertans than Saskatchewonians (sure that’s not the right word). However, in 1905, when the two provinces were created, there were more people in Saskatchewan than Alberta. A lot can change in 100 years.

During the wrap-up in our history of coal class, the class (grade 4s) discusses whether or not there’s still coal under Lethbridge. We mined coal in the Lethbridge area for 90 years (from 1874 to 1965) and in the 1960s the last large mine closed. Why? Did we run out of coal or for some other reason? There’s still LOTS of coal under Lethbridge. The most recent estimate is that in this area between 90% and 95% of the coal is still under the ground.

The next question: do we still use coal in Alberta? Here the class is not so sure. What’s your guess? Do we use coal in Alberta? At present approximately 49% of our electricity is generated through coal. This is one of the stats I had to change for my program. It wasn’t that long ago that it was 75% of our electricity came from coal.

I was talking about this stat yesterday with some visitors (adult, not students) and they asked with, all of the hours of sunlight in southern Alberta, why we don't use more solar energy. And me, who usually has an answer for everything, couldn't some up with a good answer for them. Why don't we use more solar energy in southern Alberta??? Another stat, another question that I'm going to have to go and research.