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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, 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.


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