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Kiwi students hold their own census

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.