|1) Why do we build databases?
We gather data together in databases in order to explore questions.
We may be looking for a relationship.
2) Who needs databases?
Leaders need data to see what works and how things are going.
Groups need data to plan spending and programs.
Private citizens need data to make smart decisions.
Collecting data about people in California or Mississippi is like taking the state's temperature.
3) What do databases look like?
They are something like a bead tray . . .
Datasets are collections of numbers in columns (up and down)
and rows (across).
The table below is a dataset. It is a collection of numbers in rows and columns.
We can place the dataset information in a database if we want to sort and sift it. Later we may move it to a spreadsheet to do calculations.
When we add field names and record names to a dataset, we change it into a database. In the example below, the words across the top row are the fields. The words listed down the side (states) are the individual records.
Take time to note how a database file is set up. It is different from a spreadsheet. A database file is comprised of "records" - each one of which is an entry with several "fields" telling about the record.
In this case, each record is an American state. The fields contain important numbers about each state. Each field tells us some aspect of child well being. It may be the drop out rate or the infant mortality rate, for example.
Later, when you work with the database program you will be able to sort the information. Each time the name of the state moves, all the other information associated with that state moves with it.
In a spreadsheet, moving information in one column may not move the rest.
Open your word processor. Write brief explanations for each of the following:
What can we learn about the lives of children in the three states from the information listed above? In your word processor list 3-4 statements you can make about children based on the numbers. Be prepared to defend and explain your findings.
When you are done, please call your workshop leader over to see your ideas.
Please do not move ahead to the next activity until asked to do so by your workshop leader.
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© 2000, Jamie McKenzie. All rights reserved.