Catching up with the kids: CensusAtSchool 2019

How much time do New Zealand kids spend with digital devices? How much time do they spend doing scheduled activities outside school hours?

Rachel Cunliffe and Chris Wild

The biennial CensusAtSchool New Zealand project - TataurangaKiTeKura Aotearoa - launches once again next month, providing a fascinating glimpse into the everyday lives of Kiwi kids by surveying an expected 30,000 children.  

Supervised by teachers, students from Years 5-13 anonymously answer questions in English or te reo Māori on digital devices. The survey also includes questions on a range of social and personal issues but also involves practical activities such as measuring the length of their right foot and weighing their laden schoolbag.

This is the ninth edition of CensusAtSchool and co directors Professor Chris Wild from the University of Auckland’s Department of Statistics and former lecturer in Statistics Rachel Cunliffe say that it is shaping up to be the biggest yet, with more than 1,100 teachers from 600 schools already registered to take part.

“The students experience the whole statistical cycle – they fill in the survey, and then they use statistical methods to explore the data and tell the stories in it,” Professor Wild says. “It helps students see the benefits of statistics in society – and they love finding out what other kids their own age are thinking and doing.”

Rachel Cunliffe, who now runs a digital design company, says teachers are always looking for cross-curricular activities and CensusAtSchool is a rich resource with its reach across statistics and maths, health, social studies, geography, media studies, technology and science.
CensusAtSchool New Zealand is a non-profit, online educational project for both English and Māori-medium classrooms and is run by the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Statistics New Zealand.

The project is part of an international effort to boost statistical capability among young people, and is carried out in Australia, Canada, the US, Japan and South Africa. The countries share some questions so comparisons can be made.

See if your local school is taking part at CensusAtSchool New Zealand. The census runs from March 4 until July 5.

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