Databases: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

In today's world, information is very important. Being able to get information you need easily and quickly can be done with databases. Read on to find out what databases are and how they're helpful.

Good-bye Cards!

Have you ever looked for a book in a library and used a card catalog to find the specific book you want? Most libraries used to have their card catalogs in huge cabinets with dozens of drawers full of cards. Each card contained information about one book. Because people might look for a book by its title, its author, or by subject, there needed to be three cards for each book! Think of all the books in your school library. That's a lot of cards to look through!

Card Catalog

Nowadays, most libraries have their catalogs available on computers. Instead of having to look through cards, you can simply type in the title, author, or subject and a list of books will come up for you! That's definitely faster and easier, isn't it? You might not realize it, but if you've looked up books this way, you've used a database.

Information to Go!

Databases are collections of information that are organized so that it's easy to find the information you need. The card catalog was a database that made it easier to find a specific book in a library. A phone book is a database that makes it easy to find a phone number that you need. These were some of the first kinds of databases that people used.

Today, we mostly use electronic databases; in other words, those that are on computers. Some electronic databases are available online so that you can access them from a distance. For example, you could check to see whether the local library has a book you need by checking its online electronic database from home! Databases can make it easier for us to find information we need.

Making Your Own Database

You can make your own database if you have the right program for your computer. Let's say you want to make a database of your friends' addresses. The first thing you need to do is to set up the database file by figuring out what information you want to record. Each category or type of information goes into one field on the database.

A Simple Database

Let's look more closely at this sample database. It has seven different fields, including the person's first name, last name, street address, city, and zip code. This database also 15 records in it. In the picture, we can only see records 7 through 15. Each record gives the information about one of the items, in this case people, in the database.

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