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Primary Dive into a project on sea creatures and reach new depths in collecting and sorting data

Primary Dive into a project on sea creatures and reach new depths in collecting and sorting data

What the lesson is about

It introduces databases through a project on sea creatures and is aimed at Year 3 pupils, but can be adapted for other ages.

Aims: pupils will:

- understand that collecting and sorting information in an organised way helps us to find specific information;

- know that information on record cards is divided into fields and that a set of record cards is called a field;

- understand that information can be held as numbers, words or fixed choices, sometimes known as key words;

- sort a database to find information;

- add a record to a file in a computer database;

- search a computer database to answer simple questions;

- use a computer database to generate bar charts and interpret the data produced.

You will need

Telephone directories, Argos catalogues and non-fiction books about sea creatures.

Getting started

Introduce the idea of a database. What is a database? Discuss telephone directories, Argos catalogues and internet databases. Explain that they are used to search for information and answer questions. Ask children to compare the Argos catalogue with What are the advantages and disadvantages of both?

Explain that a database is made up of record cards. Show an example of a record card and point out that information on it is divided into fields such as name, type, colour. Explain that record cards in a database use the same fields. For example, a record card of a cormorant can use the same fields as one for a whale shark.

Explain that information can be recorded in different ways - fixed choice, a number or word. For example, a record card for a shark will have "Yes" alongside the field for teeth. A record card for a sea turtle will have "4" alongside the number of limbs, and "jellyfish" alongside the field for food. Explain that a set of record cards is called a file. Ask pupils to use record cards to answer a series of questions on sea creatures, such as: What colour is a whale shark? How long is a sea turtle?

Taking it further

Show pupils a description of a sea creature. How would they turn that information into a record card? Ask pupils to use the books on sea creatures to create their own record cards, listing the creature's name, type, number of limbs, food, colour and length, and whether it has teeth and fins. Get pupils to use the cards to create a computer database.

Ask children to use the database to create a series of bar charts. How many creatures have teeth? How many are mammals? How many eat fish? Get them to interpret the data. What conclusions can they draw about these sea creatures?

Where to find it

The lesson plan, plus a PowerPoint showing examples of record cards, was uploaded by Olivia_B and can be found at

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