Episode 3: Preparing the class for the survey

NOTE: These videos were prepared when the Census at School Project was managed by Statistics Canada. Most of the information is still relevant.

Duration: 6:30  min.

This episode will guide you through two preparations you need to do with your students before they complete the Census at School survey.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Angela McCanny and I’m a resource teacher with Statistics Canada. I’d like to help you get started with using the Census at School project in your classroom.

There are two preparations you need to do with your students before you can send them into the lab to start the online survey. These include taking five body measurements with the students and taking a few minutes to talk with them about what a census is.

So, let’s begin with the five body measurements. These include height, arm span, foot length, length of the forearm and wrist circumference. Usually I set up measurement stations around the classroom to make this job a little easier. If I have a class of more than 10 students, I’ll usually set up 2 measurement stations for each of height and arm span. The students can rotate through the stations quite quickly, and I find that it rarely takes more than 15 minutes to complete the whole class.

Before I explain how to take the measurements, I’d like to show you a few documents that we have on the Census at School website to make this job a little easier: Firstly, there are printable signs that can be included at the measurement stations to show the students how to take the measurements. We also have mini-measuring strips for taking some of the measurements, as well as measurement worksheets where the students can record their answers.

To find these tools, go to the Census at School website: www.censusatschool.ca.

In the left menu bar, click on Survey questions.
All of the instructions for taking measurements are available under Guide to taking measurements. There are measurement instruction signs that can be printed and posted at the measurement stations as guides for the students. Under Guide to taking measurements, click on measurement instruction signs and choose one of the two formats available for printing.
The mini-measurement strips are also found under Survey Questions. This time, click Printable measuring tools. Under Measuring tapes, click mini-measuring strips – PDF format. They print five to a page.
If you click the back button, you will find the measurement worksheets and these can be printed in your choice of format. They come with eight individual worksheets to a page, so you will need to print only three or four sheets for an average class.
All right, now back to taking measurements. The first four measurements—height, arm span, foot length and length of forearm—need to be taken in centimetres, and accurate to the nearest half centimetre. That means the students’ measurements will end in .0 or .5. Encourage your students to work with a partner, as it’s really difficult to take accurate measurements on your own.

Working from the measurement worksheets, let’s take each of the measurements in order.

First measurement: Height

Firstly, the height – I usually tape two measuring tapes together to obtain a measuring tape that’s long enough and hang that vertically on the wall. Your Math department may have a supply of measuring tapes, or perhaps you can check with the Phys. Ed department. Another choice would be to check the dollar store and they usually have them available quite cheaply. The height needs to be taken with no shoes; so, once the measuring tape is hung on the wall, have the student line up with their back to the measuring tape and another student checking to read the number for the height. The measurement will be in centimetres; so my height, for example, would be about 172.5 cm.

Second measurement: Arm span

Secondly, the arm span – that’s the length from fingertip to fingertip when the student is stretched out like a small letter “t”. Again, you will need two measuring tapes taped together to get a tape that’s long enough. Hang this tape horizontally at the student’s shoulder level. Have the student stand with their back against the measuring tape and place the tip of their longest finger at zero. Have them stretch out as wide as they can and their partner will take the measurement at the tip of the longest finger on their other arm. This measurement needs to be taken to the nearest .0 or .5 cm, so my arm span would be 175.0 cm.

Third measurement: Right foot

The third measurement is the length of the right foot with no shoes on. You’ll need a measuring tape taped to the floor or one of the mini-measuring strips, taped down. Have the student place their heel at the zero and take the measurement to the tip of the longest toe. This measurement also needs to be taken to the nearest .0 or .5 cm.

Fourth measurement: Length of right forearm

Fourthly, the length of the right forearm – For this measurement, use a measuring tape or one of the mini-measuring strips, and measure from the tip of the elbow to the wrist bone. This measurement is also taken to the nearest .0 or .5 cm.

Fifth measurement: Wrist circumference

Finally, the wrist circumference – This is a good chance to review with your students the meaning of the word “circumference”: the distance around. This is also the only measurement taken in millimetres. So having each student work with a partner, have them measure around the wrist to the nearest millimetre. On most measuring tapes, centimetres will be the most obvious unit, so have the students multiply by 10 to get the correct number of millimetres, and then add on the little millimetre markings. Their final wrist measurement should be in the hundreds.

Once you have taken the measurements, spend a few minutes talking with the students about what they are about to take part in – about how they will be taking part in a class census taken at school. Ask them what they know about a census and about what the difference is between a census and a sample.

Tell them they are going to be participating in a census of this class. That means everyone in the class is going to participate by filling in the online survey questionnaire.

Help them to start thinking about what kind of questions they might encounter on this survey, by asking them what questions they would ask on a survey for students their own age.

If you would like background information about censuses and surveys to share with your students, you can find information on the Census at School website, by clicking on Census of Canada in the left menu bar.

The students now have everything they need to start the survey. Make sure they take their measurements with them, and have the class ID and class password ready. Enjoy the survey.

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