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Shane Cortese to launch CensusAtSchool

Actor Shane Cortese, best known for his performances on Dancing with the Stars and Shortland Street, is getting in behind CensusAtSchool at a televised launch event on Tuesday 16 August.

Shane Cortese with students and Bronwyn Weston
Shane Cortese sitting with students

One question asked in CensusAtSchool concerns who children admire. Last time the most popular response for girls, after family members, was celebrities and for boys sports stars. A celebrity who regularly supports causes that benefit children, Shane knows the importance of investigative and data handling skills for understanding our world. Through Dancing with the Stars Shane has had recent first hand experience of how data collected from people can impact and inform us about the world we live in.

Starting 15 August, tens of thousands of children from all around New Zealand will stand up and be counted in CensusAtSchool – their own on-line children’s census sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Statistics New Zealand and the Department of Statistics of the University of Auckland.

When do Kiwi children go to bed? What do they do in their spare time? What do they eat and drink? How much are they spending on their cell phones? What do they want for Christmas? These questions and more are posed in the popular CensusAtSchool, and the results promise a unique insight into what New Zealand’s 10 to 15 year olds are thinking, feeling and doing.

“CensusAtSchool is about children for children”, says Malcolm Hyland of the Ministry of Education. “It is a launching pad for emerging educational efforts aimed at turning generations of students into data detectives – equipped with the tools and inclinations that will enable them to continue to make exciting and useful discoveries about their world throughout their lives and careers.”

Project spokesperson and co-director Rachel Cunliffe of the University of Auckland says: “This will be the most comprehensive snapshot to date of how New Zealand students are living their lives. The CensusAtSchool database will enable children to learn about data collection, information technology and how to make sense of data in a playground where they will continually make exciting discoveries about themselves.”

Adds Lesley Hooper, Education Manager of Statistics New Zealand: “Students are often given data that is not really relevant to them which makes it hard for them to engage in learning. Having data that is embedded in their own lives will get them enthused and wanting to learn.”

The experience, says Mrs Hooper, will help prepare the children and their families for the 2006 New Zealand Census.

CensusAtSchool is part of an international effort to boost statistical capability among young people, and is also conducted in the UK, Australia, Canada and South Africa. CensusAtSchool starts in Maths Week and runs from 15 August until 16 September. Almost 1,000 New Zealand schools have already registered to take part and many more schools are expected to register through the survey period, says Ms Cunliffe.

For more information about the launch and project contact:

Rachel Cunliffe
Phone: (09) 373 7599 extn 85237