Top Trump, a childhood favourite, are a great way of introducing children to databases. A pack of top trumps is a database, they contain records/files and the data is organised into fields, each card has the same set of fields which enables the data to be compared.
I started the unit off by showing children how to create a database using 2investigate by Purple Mash. Each group was given a set of top trumps card and had to input the data from the cards into a collaborative database. When this was finished, the children got to play top trumps for a few minutes before I posed a question about how we could use the database to work out which field had the best chance of winning. I modelled to the children how to search individual fields and how to use greater than and less than searches. The information returned showed them how many cards were better than theirs for that particularly field. They were then able to make a mathematical choice about which field offered them the greatest chance of winning.
At home several children created their own databases from their own trop trumps card, two even created databases by using Wolfram Alpha (a class favourite) to research statistical data about football stadia.
Once the pupils had mastered the skills of designing, creating and searching databases, we moved on to applying the skills in a cross curricular context. In our topic work we had been studying natural disasters, so the children were asked to create a database about volcanoes. Using the idea of top trumps helped them to think about which fields to include: the pupils visualised the data on a top trump card. They then researched and created a database before querying it to answer questions devised by other children.
The children were clearly enthused by this unit of work and using top trumps gave them an easy way to understanding the vocabulary and purpose of databases.
Ben Davies @b3ndavi3s