EDTECH 541: Spreadsheets and Databases

Spreadsheets and databases are a natural component to science courses. If they are not already a part of your science class, then you are doing something wrong. There are various labs students do that allows them to collect data. Data is easily organized in a spreadsheet. I gave a few examples in my Weebly discussion of 4 examples, http://getzedtech.weebly.com/spreadsheets-and-databases.html. Any time a student collects data over a period of time, a spreadsheet is useful.

I am fortunate to teach in a field that naturally lends itself to having databases. One of the most powerful ones is the NCBI database that allows access to genetic sequences of anything that has DNA, or in some cases, RNA. Lawrence Berkeley Labs maintains list of databases for its scientists to easily locate. I should not be surprised, but there is even a wiki that lists databases, and if accessing them is free or not. Even the US government has a website committed to science. They even have a section of the website dedicated to science education resources.

In case it is not obvious, real scientists use databases in their research and work environment continuously. Part of doing research is to find “new” information. When we get something new, it is unique until we can find something to connect it to. That is where the databases come in to play. We use our data and search databases to see if someone else figured out something similar to what we did. Genetic sequences are easily compared in the NCBI database (like I mentioned before).

One of my favorite databases is of photographic images. I love how all the images can be used for free from government websites, unless it is somehow a proprietary website. I even made a webpage of government image databases in EDTECH 502. I don’t know if my links still work, but the ones on the right side navigation bar at the DOE website seem to work. It looks like the government put their images up at Flickr so you will have to link from the DOE landing page to the Flickr spot.

In researching this topic, I am delighted to see that there are so many resources available for free online. Students need to learn how to use spreadsheets to organize their data, and similarly, how to use databases to verify if what they figured out fits in with the rest of what other people are doing.  Collectively scientists and researchers allow us to have the information we have about how our world works. Life did not come with an instruction manual. For example, everything in the chemistry textbook had to be figured out by humans at some point in time.


Basic Local Alignment Search Tool. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://blast.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Blast.cgi

Energy.gov. (2013, November 01). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://energy.gov/management/office-management/employee-services/photography

Explore Selected Science Websites by Topic. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.science.gov/

Getz, M. B. (2012). Why read this page? Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://edtech2.boisestate.edu/melissagetz/502/concept.htm

List of academic databases and search engines. (2015, February 12). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_academic_databases_and_search_engines

Science Databases and Other Electronic Resources listed by Subject. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from https://commons.lbl.gov/display/rst/Science+Databases+and+Other+Electronic+Resources+listed+by+Subject

Science.gov topic Science Education for user category All categories. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.science.gov/browse/w_133.htm

About Melissa

I am a former high school science teacher and recently completed a MET degree at Boise State

Posted on February 19, 2015, in 1.1 Instructional Systems Design, 1.1.1 Analying, 1.1.2 Designing stuff, 1.1.3 Develloping products, 1.1.4 Implementing what was created, 1.1.5 Evaluating, assessment, 1.3 Instructional Strategies, 1.4 Learner characteristics, 2.3 Computer-Based Technologies, EDTECH 541, Standard 1: DESIGN and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Wow, Melissa, you have some great information here. Thanks for all the links. It is amazing to think about all the information that students have access to now. As I think about all my trips to the library searching for materials. I lived in a small Southern town and our resources were good but limited. The lessons you provided information about on your site are such exciting lessons. I would love to be in your class. Great job!

  2. Melissa,

    Great resources! I am definitely bookmarking these for the future. I love mining the government websites for data–I’m particularly fond of NASA and the Smithsonian sites. The internet is so great because even though I am outside of the U.S., I still have access to all of these great resources. My colleagues are often impressed with the educational resources and innovations coming out of the States.

    For STEM subjects, learning spreadsheets is absolutely an advantage for students in the field and lab. I couldn’t agree with your practical points more.

    Nice work!

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