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How do we create
a database to explore
our curriculum questions?


What are the important questions in your curriculum? Can you identify several which involve numbers and data?

Some subject areas like social studies and science are perfect for databases.

In social studies we can use databases to test predictions about people or countries or social programs, for example.

Social Studies Questions Predictions and Hypotheses
What is the impact of home ownership of computers on school performance of students? Students who have computers at home are more likely to . . .
What difference does graduation from high school make? People with a high school education are more apt to . . .
How does past voting influence future voting? Citizens who voted Republican in the last election are likely to . . .
How does full employment shape the quality of life in a country? Countries with plenty of jobs for their people are . . .
What are the consequences of funding good education programs? Countries which invest in good education for all citizens are also likely to have . . .
What social problems can be reduced with adequate funding of job training programs? A commitment to job training can pay off in major reductions of . . .
How important is oxygen to the health of a lake? If we interfere with the natural oxygen supply to a lake, then we can predict that . . .
How is the speed of an object influenced by the angle of the incline, the coefficient of friction and the mass of the object? When a round object is rolled down an incline at a 17% angle and the coeficient of friction is . . .
When does the amount of nitrate added to the soil begin to interfere with the growth of tomatoes? Fertilizer can start to reduce production when . . .
How little sun light is necessary for a plant to survive? Most plants stop growing when they receive less than . . .
How does altitude change the boiling point for water? For each thousand feet higher you travel above sea level, the time to boil water increases by . . .


1) Decide what question you will study.

2) Make a list of the key variables and a cluster diagram which would be related to this topic.

3) Pose several hypotheses about the relationships you expect to find between the variables. These might take the form of "If . . . then . . ." statements.

4) What are the fields you should include in your database? These would be variables from above.

Your workshop leader will demonstrate the process now.

5) Open your database program and create your own file.

  • In Works, Access and ClarisWorks, you create a new database file by going to the FILE menu and selecting NEW.
  • Next you select database.
  • The program will ask you to enter field names to match your list from above.
  • Each time you enter a field name, you must decide what type of field it is. (general, number, date, text, time, etc.)
  • Continue entering fields until you have entered all of your variables.

6) How should data be entered in each field? Does it make sense to have a key for data entry? For example, rather than typing "Republican" hundreds of times, perhaps a simple "R" will suffice?

7) Where would you look to find the data for your database? Can it be gathered by survey? from a book? from a CD-ROM? from the Web?

Please do not move ahead to the next activity until asked to do so by your workshop leader.

Return to list of activities

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© 2000, Jamie McKenzie. All rights reserved.