(click above image for full size; link to static poster)
Students select the information they want to view by assigning the vertical and horizontal axes on the graph. The colours of the data bubbles correspond to countries on the map (upper left). Mousing over a bubble highlights the country on the map and its x and y coordinates. There is a slider beneath the graph one can use to choose the year (1800 - 2000+) to be illustrated. Clicking on 'Play' reveals the changes in the graph over time.
Using this kind of software to relieve the students of the time/labour intensive work of data mining and graphing will give them more time to speculate about underlying causes and possible future outcomes of making (or neglecting) changes. If you're looking for ideas about how to exploit this great resource, there is a teachers' page to explore.
Final note: the Teq people are offering a free webinar on June 30 (4pm ET) on using Google Earth, Skype, Gapminder Desktop, and other free resources on you SMART Board. Perhaps I'll see you there.