Data handling

Graphical representation and interpretation have always been part of the curriculum, but data handling is now a separate strand.

Infant classes collect personal information and represent it on a pictogram; older children create and interpret bar charts and pie charts. Interpreting and understanding visual representation is essential, as the child needs to be enabled to interpret data in an increasingly technological world, and it is hoped that, where available, information technology will be used by children in data-handling exercises.

We manipulate data in the formulation of simple bar charts and pictograms at quite an early age. Databases allow us to extend this knowledge to the real world by handling larger amounts of information. However, children must understand how important it is to enter relevant data and ask clear questions if the information we extract from the database is to be of any use. In collecting information on, for example birds, the children will have to decide under which headings they will collect the information: name of bird, habitat, number of eggs per clutch, wing span and main food source. There can be much discussion on what they wish to discover: for example, do all fish-eating birds live near the sea? Do birds with a large wing span lay more eggs?

By the time they have collected the information, constructed the headings, entered the data and considered some questions they will already have gained an understanding of how a database works. Using the database to find the answers then becomes a technical activity, merely a tool for the manipulation of a large amount of information.