- Make Your Own Database - a tutorial
by Cindy O'Hora
Other DB activities
Database and You
The more I work with databases the more uses I see for them. Most beginners know about the address book that is usually provided in your software package. But you might be amazed at the number of other things a database could organize.
Gardeners can make one that records the plants they buy along with purchase date, place of purchase, cost, plant attributes, flowering season. Now you can sort or find to see which season needs more color in your garden. Very handy in January when the catalogs pour into your mail box.
Music lovers can organize their collection including date of purchase, cost, & rating. When someone suggests you've spent thousands this year on music cds - you can go to the database, find by date and defend yourself.
Software - Our elementary school had many titles of software across several formats. One reason it was not being used was that no one knew what was there. I created a software database. A team of parents entered the data. Fields: Title, primary/intermediate, description, curriculum subject, number of copies, format mac, pc, or mac/pc for hybrids. In addition to facilitating the software's use it helped us identify weak areas which the parents fund raised to fill. Put the database in a shared folder on the network. Now every teacher can access it from their classroom's computer. BTW We kept the cd's in the library and treated them like signing out a book. (Only teachers could sign out cds)
I have friends who collect figurines. Their collection numbered close to 80. It had become difficult to recall exactly which ones they had. We made a database and printed it in a spreadsheet like List view. They take that to sales and purchase with confidence. We even added two summary fields so they could track what they paid and the value of their treasures.
Quotes - you may have noticed that I include a quote at the bottom of many of my online activities. I have a database of over 800. I have collected them from the web, books, posters and more. When I use one in the site, I click a check box. I can easily sort to find the used or not used to avoid repetition. I can find for a vaguely a remembered quote or for a specific person's brilliant words. I have a value list with humor, inspirational, education and other as choices. It helps me direct my searches by themes.
Recipes can be collected and organized into a database. A cookbook is basically a paper-based database sorted by some criteria that the author selected.
I love to read books. Our local library is quite small. I buy many books. On occasion I have been known to accidentally buy a second copy of a book. A database is a great way to track your collection. If you loan your books, you can use it to track where they are. (I stopped loaning after several of my books were never returned.) I donate computer books regularly to the high school library. I track these donations so that I only repeat on purpose and so I can easily calculate the annual amount for tax purposes.
I recently got a DVD player. Our dvd collection is growing by leaps and bounds. Happily, my daughter has volunteered to make a database of the collection. I'm hoping to also get her to do one of my music CDs.
Our MAC user group had an extensive collection of software and other resources for club members including videos, shareware and freeware cds. It was managed in a database by the club's librarian.
I helped a guidance counselor organize a career day by putting each student's requests in a database. We used sort and find to create group lists. It was an Ah Ha!
I harnessed a database to sort out who volunteered for each activity and committee in our PTO. The president confided to me it had taken her an entire weekend and her living room floor to sort it out the year before. It took me only a couple hours to enter the data and print out lists for the committee chairmen.
Do you watch birds? Here is another super database. I used to write when I saw the bird in the margin of my field guide. A database could help me track it.
Local governments should provide their ordinances online in a database. One more way to say ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law.
I helped our school district get started posting their policy book online for the community, students, parents and employees. The site's search engine can retrieve them via keyword / date. Search engines are databases with enormous amounts of data.
I chaired a fund raising auction for our elementary school. I made a database of the donors. From it I easily created: a list of items for the auctioneer, all the donation thank you letters, master lists acknowledging the donations which were posted in the school, a program for the auction attendees, a thank you advertisement for the newspaper, tags for each item used during the pre auction displaying and more.
In charge of the talent show? I created a database with each child's name, class, the date, and their act's name. I made individual custom certificates for each child using mail merge. The program for teh event was a breeze.
I have written hundreds of computer how to's over the years. I wanted to organize things so I could see what areas I had not touched on and which were in need of updating. It was easily accomplished with a database.
Here is a list of things teachers can do with a database that grows student and teacher skills.
"Always use the word impossible with the greatest caution." - Werner Von Braun
Database Activity - vocabulary
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