1330.0 - Education News, February 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/02/2010   
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Education News - February, 2010

This newsletter highlights the latest curriculum related teaching resources, student activities and statistical tools that have been developed by ABS Education Services as well as other ABS resources that are useful for schools.


  1. CensusAtSchool News
  2. An Idea for the Classroom - Young Peoples' participation in sport
  3. Getting to school, getting to work
  4. We want your views
  5. Environmental Studies: Protecting the Great Barrier Reef
  6. Recently Released Publications
  7. Contact details

1. CensusAtSchool News

CensusAtSchool LogoCensusAtSchool 2010 is open NOW!
The CensusAtSchool questionnaire is now available from the ABS web site, for your students. This amazing resource is a great way to teach statistical concepts using data that is rich, real and relevant. The questionnaire asks about behaviours and attitudes as well as physical measurements so the data can be used well beyond the mathematics classroom.

For example; are Grade 6 students the most water conscious? Results from 2008 showed that Grade 6 students had the highest rate of personal water conservation over all other year levels. 92% of students turned the tap off while cleaning their teeth, 30% put the plug in the sink when washing their hands and 75% were taking shorter showers. The year level that displayed the lowest incidence of these actions was Year 10, where 87% turned the tap off while cleaning teeth, 17% used a plug when washing hands and 56% took shorter showers.

        'Students have quickly engaged in the hands-on aspect of collecting
        statistics, especially as they relate to them personally'

        (Michael McKay and Paul Tabart, Kingston High School, Tasmania)

There are many ways to use the CensusAtSchool data to introduce topics such as water use and conservation. Because CensusAtSchool is about students and their peers, they are likely to engage on a deeper level with the data and hence improve their comprehension of both the content and the numbers.

The CensusAtSchool web pages include numerous other suggestions about using the data in the classroom - from Grade 5 (pie charts of eye colour) to Year 12 (binomial distributions and linear regression). There are also a number of teacher submitted activities with examples of student work to assist you successfully use CensusAtSchool.

        'After completing the Census at School questionnaire,students
        felt a degree of ownership of the data and found them more relevant
        (Glenda Paton, Illawarra Primary School, Tasmania)

CensusAtSchool is absolutely free and easily accessed from the ABS website. You will need to register and generate student access numbers for your students before they complete the questionnaire. This is a very quick process that is completed on line. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us (see the details at the end of this newsletter).
How to get involved: Please visit How To Get Involved for more details about how you can get on board in 2010! Please contact the CensusAtSchool Team if you have a query or if you would like to provide some feedback. We'd love to hear from you.

2. An Idea for the Classroom - Young people's participation in sport.
picture of girl shooting a netball Has children's participation rate in organised sporting and cultural activities changed over time? What are the differences between girls and boys in the organised activities in which they participate?
Dataset S14 shows the participation rate of girls and boys aged 5 to 14 years for 2003, 2006 and 2009. You could use this data to compare changes over time or differences between girls and boys, for all activities or for specific ones.
graph of participation in at least one organised activity or sport
Figure 1: Participation in at least one organised activity and/or sport, by year by sex.

Figure 1 shows the participation rates for boys and girls for the three years. Ask your students to describe what they can see in this graph. What are the differences between boys and girls? Which of the differences over time could be real changes and which could be random fluctuation?
Boys and girls participation rates in organised sport are shown separately in figures 2 and 3. You could ask your students to examine these graphs and then choose one particular sport to examine in more detail. What are the difference across time and between boys and girls? What might explain these differences? What further information would help explain the results?
Dataset S14 also includes information on organised cultural activities (singing, dancing, drama, for example), that your students may prefer to examine.

graph of boys participation in sport, 2006
Figure 2: Boys participation rate in organised sport

graph of girls participation rate in sport, 2006
Figure 3: Girls participation rate in organised sport

You could also use the data from CensusAtSchool (see figure 4. This data comes from the Data Summary page, but you could also extract your own random sample). What are the similarities and differences between the CensusAtSchool and the dataset data? This exercise can be a great opportunity to help your students understand the importance of the metadata (the information behind the numbers). For example, the two sets of data were not collected in the same way, they did not have the same definitions, the age ranges are not the same. Helping your students question data appropriately is one of the best skills you can give them.
graph of participation in sport by grade 4 to year 8 students
Figure 4: Participation in sport by sex (CensusAtSchool 2008 data)

Do you have a classroom idea that uses ABS data or ABS Education products? Let us know at education@abs.gov.au and we can share it with schools around Australia.

3. Getting to School; Getting to Work
small picture of motor bikeHow do your students get to school? Is this typical of students their age? In their locality? In Australia generally? What may affect students' choices about getting to school? As the new school year begins this can be a useful topic to begin a discussion about your school community.
The Classroom Activity, GEO 12: Journey to School, uses CensusAtSchool data to map students' trips to school. Students are introduced to mapping concepts such as longitude and latitude, other geographical ideas such as scale, distance and distribution and statistical ideas such as mean and median, all using data that they find engaging and relevant because it is about them and their world.
(Data from CensusAtSchool 2006 and 2008 are available from the ABS Education Services web pages now. Data is currently being collected for 2010 and will be available in July, 2010. If your students are not yet involved, register now - this is done easily, on line - so that they can use data that includes them, later in the year. CensusAtSchool is absolutely free).
If time permits, students could compare their journey to school data with the journey to work data from Census 2006 (a summary table is included with GEO 12).
This activity can form part of a series looking at sustainability, civics, planning, the local community and more.

4. We want your views.
ABS Education Services is a small section and we value your feedback. As well as contacting us (see details at the end of the newsletter), you can also complete our 'Feedback form' on the website. The survey should take less than 5 minutes to complete, but gives us valuable information to improve our services for you.
You will find links to the Feedback form on the Education home page as well as the For Teachers and For Students pages.

hypersnap of Education Services web page, highlighting the feedback form

5. Environmental Studies: Protecting the Great Barrier Reef
Picture of fishAre you looking for real data for your Environmental Studies classes? 'Land Management Practices in the Great Barrier Reef Catchments', (cat. no. 4619.0) provides benchmark data on the catchment area of one of the worlds' most significant natural assets, Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Map showing catchments draining into the Great Barrier Reef
Figure 5: Catchments draining into the Great Barrier Reef

This survey in the Great Barrier Reef catchment, an area that stretches from the Sunshine Coast to the Daintree and many hundreds of kilometres inland (see figure 5 above), found that farmers were adopting land management practices that protect creeks and rivers flowing into the reef area. For example, almost three quarters (73%) of farmers employ practices to directly manage surface water run-off and almost all (97%) undertook at least one management practice to limit fertiliser use. A total of 60% of farms reported using mechanical controls (such as mulching) and 48% used other non-chemical controls such as biological controls or break cropping.

Map showing beef grazing across Great Barrier Reef catchment area
Figure 6: Beef cattle grazing in the Great Barrier Reef catchment

The survey did find major differences across the region in the take up of land management practices. These differences can reflect rainfall patterns, the shape of the land and river locations as well as social and economic factors.

6. Recently Released Publications

Remember, all ABS publications are free to download from the ABS website.

Perspectives on Sport, December 2009 (cat. no. 4156.0.55.001)

Issues and debates relating to sport and sporting programs are commonplace within the Australian political and media landscape. The National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics (NCCRS), through the 'Perspectives on Sport' series attempts to provide informed commentary to assist those interested in these major issues.

Job Search Experience, Australia, July 2009 (cat. no. 6222.0)
This publication presents information about the experiences of unemployed people in seeking work, in terms of the steps they have taken to find work and the difficulties they have encountered in finding work. It also presents information about employed people who started their current job in the previous 12 months. For this group, data on the steps taken to attain work and current job details are provided. In addition, demographic information is provided for both of these groups.

Household Use of Information Technology Australia, 2008-09
(cat. no. 8146.0)
This release presents results from household use of information technology (HUIT) data collected from the Multipurpose Household Survey (MPHS) for 2008–09 and the 2009 Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities (CPCLA) survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, November 2009 (cat. no. 3401.0)
This publication contains statistics of persons arriving in, and departing from, Australia, together with the major characteristics of travellers.

Prisoners in Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 4517.0)
This publication presents information about prisoners held in custody in Australian prisons at 30 June 2009. A range of information is presented on the demographic and legal characteristics of prisoners such as age, sex, country of birth, Indigenous status, legal status, most serious offence/charge and length of sentence being served.

Environment and Energy News, December 2009 (cat. no. 4653.0)
Environment and Energy News is the newsletter of the ABS Centre of Environment and Energy Statistics (CEES). Published twice a year, it highlights developments in environment and energy statistics, particularly at the ABS.

Tourism Region Maps and Correspondence File, Australia, 2009 (cat. no. 9503.0.55.001)
This product provides maps and a correspondence file (previously known as concordance file) for Tourism Regions for each state and the Northern Territory.

You can view the full range of previously released publications from the ABS under Previous Releases.

8. Contact details
        How to contact ABS Education Services

        Free Call: 1800 623 273
        email: education@abs.gov.au

        Mail: GPO Box 2796
        Melbourne, 3001


        Education News is a totally free resource that aims to assist teachers use ABS data in their classroom. When you subscribe you will be notified of each new edition as it is published.