Databases are useful forms of storage information and retrieval, predominantly used for administration purposes. They are also useful tools to use in the classroom as they encourage students to think critically, gather and evaluate information, and manipulate that information for problem solving. Database activities are simple, and most can be adjusted for any subject.
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What Planet Are The Campers On?
What Planet are the Campers on? is a fun database activity that engages students in problem solving and information retrieval. Students are given a database of facts on the solar system in Microsoft Access. Letters are distributed to them from fictional characters who are writing home. Each letter contains clues as to which planet they are staying on and students must identify these and query the database accordingly to gain the information they need.
Students create and maintain a database that will track their progress through the school year. In the first month of classes, students create their own database that identifies their courses, teachers and types of assignments that they will receive. In the second month enough data will have been collected for the students to maintain the database and keep it running for the whole year. This activity enables students to identify their strengths and weaknesses within their own education and see the evidence for themselves.
Casualties of Historical Wars
Casualties of Historical Wars is an activity that is based on social studies but can be applied to other subjects and topic areas. Students gather their own data on the numbers of people wounded and the numbers of casualties in historical wars, through research on the Internet. Using the data sheet they compile, students establish a database from which the following can easily be found: Which 50 year time period was the most deadly? Which terrain saw the most casualties? Which continent had the most casualties? Which battle caused the most casualties? This activity can also stem a debate with the students as to the reliability and validity of their database and the research that it was built on.
Space Presents a Problem
Space Presents a Problem focuses on the theme of space and the solar system but students are immersed in the process of problem solving, information analysis, communicating ideas and data gathering. Students build their own database using their own research and use it to complete tasks or problems such as "If the Earth was no longer able to support life, which planet would you suggest as an alternative and why?" See Resources for more information.
Greenfield Road is a history-based database activity that is available online. It requires students to devise strategies in querying the database to retrieve relevant information to the task given. Tasks can either be created for each class or there is a complementary teacher's resource that contains pre-written tasks. This activity can be expanded by comparing the data in the Greenfield Road database to the data of your own area. See Resources for more information.
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