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Almost four in ten high-school students have reported sleeping for fewer than eight hours at night – less than the nine to 10 hours generally recommended for 13 to 18-year-olds.

The snapshot comes from the first 6000 respondents to the online educational project CensusAtSchool, which aims to bring statistics to life in Year 5 to Year 13 classrooms. This year, more than 1200 teachers from 559 schools all over New Zealand are administering CAS, with students answering 32 questions about their lives and opinions. The results are then released to schools so students can become ‘data detectives’ in class.

This year’s questionnaire asked students what time they had fallen asleep the night before they took part in CensusAtSchool (rather than what time they got into bed) and what time they woke on the day.

Among high-school students (Year 9 to 13), the majority (56%) said they slept for eight to 10 hours. However, 37% of the group, or almost four in ten students, reported sleeping for eight hours or fewer. The most common time high-school students reported going to sleep was 10.30pm.

Peter Holmstead, a teacher at Wellington’s Houghton Valley School who ran CensusAtSchool in his Year 6 classroom, says the snapshot is interesting “because we all have an opinion on how much sleep children need to be able to learn effectively. The high-school students were asleep earlier than I had imagined. As the father of a 15-year-old boy who is never in bed before 11, it was useful to be able to tell him this!”

He adds, “But seriously, in my observation, students who haven’t had enough sleep can find it difficult to focus on their learning.”

At intermediate level (Year 7 and 8), just over half (54%) of intermediate pupils reported that they slept for between eight and 12 hours. A total of 32% said they slept for eight to 10 hours. The most common time intermediate students reported going to sleep was 9.30pm.

At primary level (Year 5 and 6) just over half (54%) of primary school pupils said they slept for between 10 and 12 hours. A total of 33% reported eight to 10 hours of sleep. The most common time this age-group reported going to sleep was 8.30pm.

CensusAtSchool, now in its sixth edition, is a collaborative project involving teachers, the University of Auckland’s Department of Statistics, Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Education. It is part of an international effort to boost statistical capability among young people, and is carried out in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the US, Japan and South Africa. The countries share some questions so comparisons can be made, but the majority reflect New Zealand students’ interests.

Dairy is the most common food allergy among New Zealand school children, according to early results of the nationwide CensusAtSchool project.

CensusAtSchool, which started on Monday and runs until June 15, is an online educational project that brings statistics to life in the classroom. Supervised by teachers, students answer 32 questions about their lives, many of them involving practical activities such as weighing and measuring, then analyse the results in class. This year, more than 1120 teachers from 539 schools all over New Zealand are running CAS in their classrooms.

Early results, from the first 2800 respondents, show that 8.5% of students aged 10 to 18 (Year 5 to Year 13) taking part to date report having one or more food allergies. Dairy is top of the list (3.5% of all respondents), followed by peanuts (2.5%) and eggs (2.0%), then wheat, tree nuts, shellfish, fish and soy (each under 1.9%). The consequences of a food allergy can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening.

CensusAtSchool co-director Rachel Cunliffe says a question about food allergies was added to this year’s questionnaire for the first time to reflect the lack of data on the issue. “There appears to be plenty of anecdotal evidence that this generation of children is more allergy-prone than earlier generations,” she says, “and we were keen to see what food allergies students reported and their prevalence.”

She adds, “While these are self-reported allergy figures, which may have a range of meanings and differ in their severity, the figures provide an interesting snapshot of what food allergies students have to manage.”

CensusAtSchool, now in its sixth edition, is a biennial collaborative project involving teachers, the University of Auckland’s Department of Statistics, Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Education. It is part of an international effort to boost statistical capability among young people, and is carried out in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the US, Japan and South Africa. The countries share some questions so comparisons can be made, but the majority reflect New Zealand students’ interests

What are Kiwi kids’ most common food allergies? What time do they go to sleep at night? How long can they stand on their left leg with their eyes closed?

Thousands of students aged between 10 and 18 (Year 5 to Year 13) are due to start answering these questions – and a host of others about their lives – when the online CensusAtSchool 2013 begins on Monday, May 6, the first day of the new term.

So far, 466 schools have registered to take part. Co-director Rachel Cunliffe says that teachers will administer the census in class between May 6 and June 14. The 32-question survey, available in English and Māori, aims to raise students’ interest in statistics and provide a fascinating picture of what they are thinking, feeling and doing.

“A good way to engage students in mathematics and statistics is to start from a place that’s familiar to them – their own lives and the lives of their friends,” says Cunliffe, a University of Auckland-trained statistician and owner of several internet enterprises. “Students love taking part in the activities and then, in class with their teachers, becoming “data detectives” to see what stories are in the results – and not just in their own classroom, but across the country.”

Students are being asked for the first time about food allergies to reflect the lack of data on the issue, says Cunliffe. “Students will be able to explore the dataset to compare the prevalence of self-reported allergies for different ages, ethnicities and sexes.”

CensusAtSchool, now in its sixth edition, is a biennual collaborative project involving teachers, the University of Auckland’s Department of Statistics, Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Education. It is part of an international effort to boost statistical capability among young people, and is carried out in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the US, Japan and South Africa.

Andrew Tideswell, manager of the Statistics New Zealand Education Team, says our statistics curriculum is world-leading, and CensusAtSchool helps teachers and students get the most out of it. “By engaging in CensusAtSchool, students have an experience that mirrors the structure of the national census, and it encourages them to think about the need for information and ways we might use it to solve problems,” he says. “Students develop the statistical literacy they need if New Zealand is to be an effective democracy where citizens can use statistics to make informed decisions.”

Westlake Girls High School maths teacher Dru Rose is planning for about 800 Year 9 and 10 students to take part. She’s keen to see the data that will emerge from questions about how many hours of homework students did the night before and how many hours sleep they had. “It’s real-life stuff,” she says. “We’ll be able to examine the data and see if there are any links.”

Statistics is more than just a technology for data analysis. Statistics help shape the very world in which we live:

Auckland, November 1, 2012: More than 500 teachers are expected to flock to a national road tour this month that aims to support their teaching of a new statistics curriculum to Year 13 students.

The road tour starts in Auckland on November 22 and travels to Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington, offering presentations and real-life resources to help teachers make the most of the curriculum from the start of the 2013 school year. More than 15,000 New Zealand students studied Year 13 statistics in 2011, the last year for which figures are available. Continue reading »

Twenty-four thousand young people have disconcerting news for the All Blacks – they predict the team will make the Rugby World Cup final, but won’t take the trophy.

The sobering assessment – of which we couldn’t possibly use the word ‘choke’ – has emerged from the online educational survey CensusAtSchool, which ran from May 2-June 10 in schools from Kaitaia to Invercargill, involving students aged 8 to 17.

A total of 83% of the students predicted the All Blacks would make the final on October 23, but just 41% thought they would win.

This is in stark contrast to their parents, who are decidedly more optimistic. A New Zealand Herald/Digipoll survey in January found that 70% of a general sample of adults thought the All Blacks would triumph. A UMR poll in April, which surveyed confirmed adult rugby fans, found 77% confident the All Blacks would win.

“The students’ results were a bit of a surprise,” says CensusAtSchool co-director Rachel Cunliffe, a University of Auckland-trained statistician.

“We had expected that as children and young people are often such ardent rugby fans, they’d be talking the All Blacks right up.” The students’ verdict was also remarkably consistent across geographical areas, age and sex, says Cunliffe.

Of the 83% who think the All Blacks will make the final, 35% are picking South Africa to be the opponent and 30% Australia.

Of the 41% predicting an All Black win, 25% thought there would be a winning margin of under 5 points.

CensusAtSchool is hosted by the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland in association with Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Education. This is the fifth time New Zealand has held CensusAtSchool, which is also run in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. The countries share some questions so comparisons can be made, but the rest reflect New Zealand students’ interests.

Students were supervised by their teachers in class as they answered 31 online questions about themselves in English or Māori. Some questions required some practical weighing and measuring skills such as their arm-span measurement and the weight of their schoolbags. Others sought opinions, like their favourite subject and television programme.

“CensusAtSchool is about showing in a practical and real-life way the value of statistics in everyday life,” says Cunliffe. “The data is now being analysed, and will be sent back to schools so students and teachers can analyse it together, which provides more learning opportunities”.

“CensusAtSchool allows students to get a unique view of themselves – and we all get insights into New Zealand childhoods that we couldn’t get in any other way.”

Further CensusAtSchool insights will be released in coming weeks as data is analysed, says Cunliffe.

Facebook is Kiwi teens’ favourite social networking tool by a big margin, according to early results of the national online survey CensusAtSchool.

A total of 84% of the first 1800 teenagers surveyed said they have a Facebook page, compared to 33% in the last CensusAtSchool, in 2009.

The early results of the biannual educational project, which runs from May 2 – June 10, also show how fast once-popular social networking sites can crash from favour. Just 27% of the 13 to 18-year-old students surveyed have a Bebo page (down from 63% in 2009) and 7% a MySpace page (down from 17% in 2009).

“The numbers show how quickly social networking sites can go from hero to zero among teenagers,” says CensusAtSchool co-director Rachel Cunliffe, a University of Auckland-trained statistician and owner of several internet enterprises. “Young people are early adopters and they’re also fickle – they’ll go where their friends are going. And, of course, that means that although Facebook has the top spot among New Zealand teenagers at the moment, there’s no certainty that it will stay there.”

Cunliffe was surprised to see that hype about the rapid spread of the Twitter short-messaging system isn’t matched by usage – just 20% of the teenagers had a Twitter account.

Supervised by more than 700 teachers, thousands of students aged between 7 and 18 (Year 5 to Year 13) are answering 31 online questions about themselves, from their arm-span measurement to how they travel to school, and even how many hours’ sleep they had the night before.

This year’s CensusAtSchool also asks whether students think the All Blacks will make the Rugby World Cup final – and if so, against which team. The 15-minute survey is available in English and Māori.

CensusAtSchool is hosted by the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland in association with Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Education. This is the fifth time New Zealand has held CensusAtSchool, which is also run in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“CensusAtSchool is about showing pupils the value of statistics in everyday life,” says Cunliffe. “Students and teachers will get data back that they will analyse together in the classroom, and that will provide even more learning opportunities.

“Students will also end with a unique view of themselves – and we’ll all have an insight into New Zealand life for young people that we couldn’t get in any other way.”

For more information on schools participating and any other inquiries, please contact Rachel Cunliffe (CensusAtSchool co-director) on 027 3833 746 or visit http://www.censusatschool.org.nz

New Zealand pupils returning to school next Monday will be taking part in an international children’s census.

The Year 5-10 students will be taking all sorts of measurements – from the length of their hair and fingers to the weight of their school bags – for CensusAtSchool, an educational project hosted by the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland in association with Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Education. This is the fifth time CensusAtSchool has been held in New Zealand, and it is also run in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, South Africa, UK and USA says the project’s co-director Rachel Cunliffe.

Although the Statistics New Zealand’s national 2011 Census which had been planned for March 8 was not held in the wake of Christchurch’s February 22 earthquake, the online CensusAtSchool, a separate initiative, has been able to continue says Cunliffe.

“CensusAtSchool is about teaching pupils the value of statistics in everyday life. The data will be analysed together in the classroom, and they’ll end up with a unique view of themselves – and we’ll all have an insight into New Zealand life for young people that we couldn’t get in any other way.”

Cunliffe says the CensusAtSchool, to be run by over 700 teachers will also test the pupils’ memory and reaction skills through two simple games. They will also be asked to predict which two teams will come out on top in this year’s Rugby World Cup and the teams’ scores.

Cunliffe says pupils will also be quizzed on their favourite school subject and that of their mothers. When the data is returned to them to use in the classroom, they’ll be able to explore whether there’s any connections between the two sets of preferences.

About one in five students is carting a school bag weighing 5kg or more — the same as a bag of potatoes.

The insight comes from the first 1000 students to complete the online CensusAtSchool 2009, which opened on Tuesday March 3 and runs all term. The figures would seem to back recent chiropractor concern that some young people carry heavy bags all day, risking chronic shoulder, neck and back pain.

An estimated 50,000 students aged between 10 and 18 (Year 5 to Year 13) are due to answer 35 questions about their lives in CensusAtSchool 2009. Teachers administer the 15-minute survey, available in English and Māori, in class. “The project aims to raise students’ interest in statistics as well as provide a snapshot of what they are thinking, feeling and doing,” says co-director Rachel Cunliffe, a statistics lecturer in the University of Auckland’s Department of Statistics.

In other sneak-peek results, 65% of participants said they had played online games in the week before they completed the census. Half downloaded or listened to music on line, and half downloaded or watched online videos such as YouTube, TV shows and movies. Other activities on the internet included keeping in touch with friends (58%) and school work (56%).

Young people proved themselves at ease in the online world, but it seems that the love affair with social networking site Bebo might be waning — among the first 1000 respondents, 35% had their own Bebo page, down from 48% in the last CensusAtSchool in 2007. Personal Skype access at home tallied 30%, a Facebook page 13% and a MySpace page 11%.

And if they could have super powers, girls would choose telepathy (28%) and boys the ability to travel in time (37%).

CensusAtSchool is a collaborative project involving teachers, the University of Auckland’s Department of Statistics, Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Education. It is part of an international effort to boost statistical capability among young people, and is carried out in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and South Africa.

What are Kiwi kids’ favourite subjects? How much do their laden schoolbags weigh? And which super-powers, such as invisibility and telepathy, would they choose if they could?

An estimated 50,000 students aged between 10 and 18 (Year 5 to Year 13) are due to start answering these questions – and a host of others about their lives – as the online CensusAtSchool 2009 begins.

Their teachers will be administering the 15-minute census in class between next Tuesday, March 3, and the last day of term one, Thursday April 9. The 35-question survey, available in English and Māori, aims to raise students’ interest in mathematics and statistics as well as provide a fascinating sketch of what they are thinking, feeling and doing.

“It’s about making numbers practical, fun and relevant to young people,” says co-director Rachel Cunliffe, a statistics lecturer at the University of Auckland’s Department of Statistics. “We are encouraging them to be data detectives and explore the uses of numbers.”

One question asks students to measure their popliteal length – that’s the measurement from the back of the knee, when seated, to the floor. Another invites them to click on a button to measure their reaction time. Students submitted four of the survey’s questions, with one of those asking about favourite online activities.

CensusAtSchool proved enormously popular with teachers and students in 2003, 2005 and 2007, says Rachel Cunliffe. “Students tell us over and over that they love the results. They love to know about other students.”

CensusAtSchool is a collaborative project involving teachers, the University of Auckland’s Department of Statistics, Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Education. It is part of an international effort to boost statistical capability among young people, and is carried out in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and South Africa.
“CensusAtSchool is about real-world learning in a way that is compelling and exciting for students,” says Mary Chamberlain, the Ministry of Education’s Group Manager, Curriculum Teaching and Learning. “It not only teaches them how to measure the world around them and why statistics are important, it offers interesting snapshots of their lives.”

ends

Notes to media:

– Further information and a list of schools taking part in CensusAtSchool New Zealand 2009 is available at http://www.censusatschool.org.nz/

– Rachel Cunliffe, CensusAtSchool co-director and spokesperson, is available on 373
7599 ext 89622. This number transfers to Rachel’s mobile phone if she is not in the office. Her email is rachel@stat.auckland.ac.nz

About CensusAtSchool co-director Rachel Cunliffe

Rachel Cunliffe, a statistics lecturer at the University of Auckland, also lectures and speaks about online communications and youth culture. Rachel and her husband Regan are behind the popular New Zealand TV-watchers’ website Throng. Rachel has been researching the use of instant messaging in educational settings.

A copyright-free portrait of Rachel Cunliffe for media use is available here.