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Student 'Screen Time' Adds Up to a Distraction From Schoolwork, According to the Raytheon U.S. Middle School Students Math Habits Study

Report also reveals that young students lose most interest in math between sixth and eighth grades

WALTHAM, Mass., Dec. 16, 2009 /PRNewswire/ -- Seventy-two percent of U.S. middle school students spend more than three hours each day outside of school in front of a TV, mobile phone or computer screen rather than doing homework or other academic-related activities.

This was one finding among many in the "Raytheon U.S. Middle School Students Math Habits Study," a new study commissioned by Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN).

The study found that students spend an alarmingly large amount of time in front of a screen doing one or more of the following activities: watching TV, playing video games, sending text messages or using the computer (for non-school related tasks). By contrast, just 10 percent of students spend the same amount of time on their homework each day with 67 percent spending less than one hour on their math homework. With growing concerns over the country's technical proficiency and talent pool to fuel future innovations, Raytheon commissioned the study to uncover the attitudes and behaviors of today's U.S. middle school students toward math.

Other key findings from the survey measure children's attitudes and abilities around math and indicate a decline in interest as children get older:

  • Approximately one in 10 sixth graders report "hating" math, but this number jumps to one in five among eighth graders.
  • Math is the subject most students (28 percent) want to skip, while 34 percent indicate that gym class is the subject they would least like to skip.
  • Sixty-one percent of respondents would rather take out the trash than do math homework; 70 percent would rather read a book, and 54 percent would rather practice a musical instrument.
  • Twenty-eight percent of students say they don't like math because it's too hard, while 24 percent say it's boring.
  • While 78 percent of respondents reported getting A's and B's in math, this perception did not carry through to performance on a basic math quiz given during the survey that included the question, "How many sides does an equilateral triangle have?" (Answer: three). Less than 50 percent received a grade of an A or B while 31 percent got a D or an F.

The survey also reveals that while most middle school students believe that math is important to their futures, they fail to understand the connection between the subject and potential careers. The problem is especially dire for girls who are overwhelmingly attracted to careers that don't rely heavily on math skills.

  • Thirty-nine percent of students say math is the most important subject for their future careers, yet only 28 percent of students could name an interesting career that uses math.
  • When asked to name their "dream job," girls were attracted to careers as singers-musicians (23 percent) and actresses (22 percent) compared with careers such as doctors (13 percent), teachers (10 percent) and video game creators (seven percent).
  • Boys were more attracted to careers that actively use math skills but still had non-math-related careers high on the list. Top selections included: video game creators (33 percent), professional athletes (26 percent), computer-Internet programmers (13 percent) and singers-musicians (11 percent).

"The survey results show a clear need for innovative approaches to truly motivate our young students about the power of math," said Kristin Hilf, vice president, Public Affairs, Raytheon Company. "It's clear to us that students need to become involved through real-life engagement and interactive experiences. We hope that programs such as Raytheon's will create a lasting memory and serve as inspiration for young students, showing them that math can lead to fun, exciting and rewarding careers."

Raytheon Company, with 2008 sales of $23.2 billion, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, homeland security and other government markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 87 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as a broad range of mission support services. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 73,000 people worldwide.

Note to Editors:

Conducted in August 2009 by independent panel research firm Toluna, the survey is based on 1,076 middle school students ages 10-15 who completed grades six, seven or eight in the spring-summer of 2009. It bears a confidence level of +/- 2.99 percent for the total sample at the 95 percent confidence level. For more information and to view the full executive report, visit http://www.raytheon.com/responsibility

    Tim Inthirakoth
    InkHouse for Raytheon

SOURCE: Raytheon Company

Web site: http://www.raytheon.com/

Company News On-Call: http://www.prnewswire.com/comp/149999.html

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