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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.

More than 10,000 Year 5-13 students from all over New Zealand have taken part so far in this year’s educational and fun CensusAtSchool online survey.

The project gives students access to a rich and comprehensive snapshot of their generation which they can explore and make exciting discoveries about in the classroom. CensusAtSchool has previously been run in 2003 and 2005 and this latest snapshot will also enable children to compare themselves with data from the last two surveys.

A sneak peek at a few of the results so far show that 48% of students taking part have a Bebo page and 46% have a TV in their bedroom.

The Top 10 favourite websites so far for boys taking part are:

1. Bebo
2. YouTube
3. Google
4. Miniclip
5. RuneScape
6. TradeMe
7. AddictingGames
8. WWE
9. PokemonCrater
10. ClubPenguin

The Top 10 favourite websites so far for girls taking part are:

1. Bebo
2. Google
3. YouTube
4. Miniclip
5. Stardoll
6. Neopets
7. ClubPenguin
8. Disney
9. TradeMe
10. MSN

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 started in Maths Week and runs from 13 August until 30 September. The project is sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Statistics New Zealand and the Department of Statistics of the University of Auckland. Over 1,700 teachers have registered their classes to take part.

Further results and classroom resources are made available through this website.

What do Kiwi children think is the best thing about living in New Zealand? What would they do to make it a better place to live? What do they do online? How much are they spending on their cell phones? What do they eat for breakfast? What time do they go to bed? These questions and more are posed in the popular CensusAtSchool, and the results promise a unique insight into what New Zealand’s 10 to 18 year olds are thinking, feeling and doing.

Starting 13 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.

“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.”

CensusAtSchool has previously been run in 2003 and 2005 and this latest snapshot will enable children to compare themselves with data from the last two surveys.

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 13 August until 30 September.

More than 1,150 teachers have already registers their classes to take part with more signing up daily.

Meet Jessica, Jessica is fictional, but according to the most frequent responses from the 2005 CensusAtSchool survey Jessica starts the day with toast and a glass of milk for breakfast. She lives in Auckland and shares the house with three other people. Surprisingly, it takes Jessica less than 10 minutes to get to school by car. Jessica knows what she wants for Christmas, even more than money or an Ipod, she wants to upgrade her cell phone. She is 13 years old and currently in Year 9 at school. She brings her lunch from home and plays netball. There is much more of interest about Jessica, but telling you now would spoil all the surprises.
About CensusAtSchool:

CensusAtSchool is an online survey for Year 5 to Year 10 students that provides real, relevant data to enhance statistical enquiry across the curriculum. CensusAtSchool NZ is hosted by the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland in association with Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry of Education. It is a non-profit, educationally motivated project.

Schools take part voluntarily, with students completing the survey during lesson time, and then submitting their data to contribute to an international database, which includes information on children from Australia, England, Canada and South Africa. Some questions are in common with the other countries, to provide comparisons between countries, while the remainder of the questions are tailored to reflect the interests of New Zealand children. Data and classroom resources are now available for schools. More resources are currently being developed by a team of maths teachers.
A selection of CensusAtSchool survey results:
Respondents

33,000 students took the opportunity to stand up and be counted in this years online survey, an increase of more than 15,000 from CensusAtSchool 2003. Over 2,000 teachers registered their classes nationwide.

Tables summarising participation follow:

Age No. of Respondents
6 11
7 17
8 98
9 2379
10 4525
11 4928
12 5511
13 6744
14 6675
15 2201
16 81
17 35
Region No. of Respondents
Northland Region 828
Auckland Region 13889
Waikato Region 3463
Bay of Plenty Region 1326
Manawatu-Wanganui Region 1682
Taranaki Region 501
Gisborne Region 294
Hawkes Bay Region 719
Wellington Region 4018
Nelson-Marlborough Region 734
West Coast Region 215
Canterbury Region 3027
Otago Region 1917
Southland Region 592

Technology

In the last two years cell phone ownership has increased dramatically more than doubling for 9 -10 year-olds. By age 14, a massive 84% of the children surveyed have their own cell phones

Phone ownership by age

Age 2003 2005 Percent Increase
9 10% 22% 120%
10 13% 29% 123%
11 23% 44% 91%
12 33% 59% 79%
13 51% 76% 49%
14 59% 84% 42%

RSI by 15?

70% of respondents who owned a cell phone sent text messages the previous day, with almost a quarter of them sending over 50. The median monthly expenditure was $20 with 1 in 5 spending over $50. Almost half the children have their own TV and just over a quarter have their own MP3 player. Levels of access to the internet however do not appear to have changed over the past 2 years.

Lifestyle

Students were asked about many aspects of their daily life, and many interesting facts came to light.

There are big changes in lunch time activity levels as children advance through the school system. At Year 5, 80% report their main lunchtime activity as running around and playing. This drops to around 60% at intermediate school age and plunges to a little over 20% in high school. By Year 10 the main “activity” is either sitting or standing around. Overall, 40% of students are driven to school by car while only 1 in 4 walked. A further quarter took public transport.

Despite widespread worries about dietary changes feeding an obesity epidemic some traditional patterns still seem to be maintained. For example, the vast majority of the children still bring their lunches from home 88% at Year 5 dropping to 69% by Year 10. Bought lunches increase from 9% at Year 5 to 20% by Year 10. Whereas only 1% of the Year 5 children have no lunch, by the second year of high school 7% did not have a lunch.

Parents wondering when to send their children to bed will not get much guidance from the practices of their peers. There is a wide range of bedtimes which change only slowly with age.

The most common bedtimes are:
8pm – 9pm for 9 and 10 year olds
9pm – 10pm for 11 and 12 year olds
10pm – 11pm for 13 -15 year olds

The 10 most popular Christmas present requests were:

Girls:

1. Cell phone
2. Ipod
3. Money
4. Clothes
5. Dog
6. Car
7. Laptop
8. Horse
9. MP3 player
10. Book

Boys:

1. Money
2. Cell phone
3. Motorbike or quad-bike
4. Car
5. Playstation portable
6. Computer
7. Ipod
8. Bike
9. Playstation 2 console
10. Computer game for PS2

With the next population census only six months away, more than 950 New Zealand schools are taking the lead with their own census project.

CensusAtSchool New Zealand is a joint undertaking by Statistics New Zealand, the University of Auckland and the Ministry of Education. The month-long project, which kicks off at the start of Maths Week on 15 August, will involve more than 1,500 teachers around New Zealand working with students in Years 5 to 10.

Now in its third year, CensusAtSchool is part of an international initiative involving students from Canada, Australia, South Africa and Great Britain in collecting data that is relevant to their lives.

The data collected by New Zealand students will be added to an international database, providing opportunities for students to compare themselves with other students in New Zealand and in participating countries overseas. By using real information about themselves, students are more likely to engage with statistics enthusiastically. They will also be primed for the 2006 Census of Population and Dwellings.

Government Statistician Brian Pink said, “This is a great undertaking by New Zealand students, and we are delighted to support a project that generates enthusiasm and learning about the value of good statistics in the lead-up to our national census in March 2006.” .Auckland schools are currently the leading participants in the project, with more than 40 percent of all schools in the Auckland region enrolled.

The New Zealand project organisers are looking to extend the project for a further year by developing teaching resources based on the data the students have collected. For more information or to enrol in CensusAtSchool, visit www.stats.govt.nz.

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

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
Email: r.cunliffe@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: (09) 373 7599 extn 85237
Website: http://www.censusatschool.org.nz

Who do Kiwi children admire? 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.

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.

“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 tuning 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. Two weeks before the launch, more than 800 New Zealand schools have already registered to take part and more schools are signing up daily, says Ms Cunliffe.

For more information contact:
Rachel Cunliffe
Email: r.cunliffe@auckland.ac.nz
Phone: (09) 373 7599 extn 85237
Website: http://www.censusatschool.org.nz