Computer Skills Curriculum
Database Lesson Plan

Title: Track Meet Activity

Grade: 3
Competency 2.5: Describe the difference between a print database and a computer database.

Measure 2.4.2: After a demonstration and discussion of print and computer databases, identify the advantages of each.

Materials Needed: Pre-activity: typical class objects. Activity: both a print and computer database version of a dictionary, encyclopedia, automated card catalog, or special topic (Examples: books on dinosaurs and a database on dinosaurs; materials on NC history and a database of NC history). Copies of the Database Track Meet Activity for each group; Database Track Meet display (bulletin board, poster or felt board, overhead transparency).

Time: One class session.

Terms: Database, Print Database, Computer Database




With the Students

  • 1. Discuss the concept of a database as a collection of items and review examples from the lesson for Measure 2.4.1. (Examples: the class is a collection of students, the classroom is a collection of desks and chairs, the class file cabinet or bookcase is a collection of papers or books, the teacherís gradebook is a collection of student names and grades. Items such as a dictionary, encyclopedia, newspaper, and card catalog can be both print and computer databases.)
  • 2. Initiate a discussion of whether print or computer databases are "better." Direct the discussion to the idea that there are advantages to both types.

With the Media Professional

  • 1. Review the pre-activities for the students.
  • 2. Discuss the activity to be conducted in the media center for the students to explore the advantages of both print and computer databases.
  • 3. Practice the Database Track Meet Activity.


  • 1. (In the media center with the Media Professional) With both a print and a computer database format of a collection such as a dictionary, encyclopedia, card catalog or special topic on a table in the media center, review the concept that each is a collection of items.
  • 2. Show the students how to look up, in each resource, a topic they select. Have two students practice finding a second topic in each resource. For example: Use both a print and a CD-ROM encyclopedia to look up the topics: snakes, Columbus, hurricanes.
  • 3. Ask the students what they think was "best" about the print database and about the computer database. Discuss their ideas.
  • 4. Introduce the students to the Database Track Meet Activity: the track meet consists of different events in which the winner is the contestant with the most advantages. The contestants are the print database and the computer database of one of the resources in your media center or classroom.
    • a. Divide the students into two groups. One group to be the scorer for the print database and the other group the scorer for the computer database. Have the groups select two students per group as group leaders.
    • b. Distribute an activity sheet, similar to the one below, to the group leaders. Instruct the groups to complete 2 of the track meet events (or more if time allows).
                          Database Track Meet Activity
                             Topic:  North Carolina
      	Javelin Throw Event:  Number of pictures or sketches
      	High Jump Event:  Number of references to other articles or terms
      	Long Jump Event:  Number of lines of text
      	100-yard Dash Event:  Number of words with pronunciation or 
    • c. On the Database Track Meet display (bulletin board, poster or felt board, overhead transparency), record the scores from the two groups for the selected events. Discuss the "winners" (those with the highest number for the event) in terms of the most advantages for particular assignments; i.e., that students might use one of the databases instead of the other depending on the assignment.


Hold a "final" Track Meet event in which the teacher, using either the print encyclopedia or the CD-ROM encyclopedia and the media professional using the other format, look up one topic and record the following: number of pictures, number of other references given, number of words with pronunciation given, time it takes to find the topic. Have the students write a short paragraph on the outcome of the "final" event in terms of which source had the most advantages and what the advantages were.