Class Activities

Introduction to Database vs. Spreadsheets

In my Information Systems course, students learned about bad database design by running three grocery stores selling Hershey’s candy. Students played the roles of managers, employees, and customers. People got promoted, hired, fired, changed jobs, and got married. They also bought and sold lots of candy with Monopoly money! Students had to record data on inventory, sales transactions, customer information, and HR changes. During the exercise, students realized how tedious and error-prone it was to maintain data records by hand, especially when lots of people were involved in updating a common data table (a template is available here). We discussed the legal and financial implications of having bad records, and bad processes for maintaining and tracking data. We also discussed the need for commercial database management systems and professional database design. Students enjoyed running around, making a mess, building a database and eating it, too!

Instructor’s manual is available as a PPT here

A related Excel formula assignment is available here (for solutions please contact Dr. Chung directly)

Graphics Design Credit: Christina Solazzo