DetectiveOn the database trail...

"Wow! Now that I know what the Internet is and how to get from one Web page to another, I feel pretty good about starting to find my information," said Shelby.  "Hey Eric! I am choosing to use a database to find my information about Harry Truman. I'm ready to start!"

With that announcement, Shelby clicks on the Internet Explorer icon on the computer desktop. When the browser opens she types in 'Harry Truman' and gets almost 9 million hits!  Confusion
Shelby remembers what a database is from the clues that Eric gave her and she knows that they would be a great place to find her information. "How do I find one on the computer?" she thought to herself. "I don't see an icon for one on my desktop."

"Eric! I got onto the Internet and just realized that
I know how to get to Web sites but I have no idea how to get to a database!" cried Shelby. "Is there an icon for a database? From my sleuthing I know there are different ones out there somewhere that have information I can use. How do I find one? Especially one that will have information about Harry S. Truman?"

Eric was happy to share some advice with Shelby. "You are right. It can be overwhelming to see all of those sites come up on your computer screen! I remember the first time I had to find information on the computer (my project was to get information about the endangered red wolf!). I was just as confused as you are as where to start. There are so many sites that can come up in your search and some will have great information and some will not have good information. In fact, some sites have false information!" said Eric.

Stop"Before you go any further, I want you to look at some sites that teach you about Internet safety. I know you are a smart girl, but it is always a good idea to be as safe online as you are offline. Even when you are going to be using databases instead of surfing the Internet," said Eric. He continued, "You can learn how to create strong passwords, keep viruses from getting on your computer, and how to be smart about sharing your personal information and smart about accessing files. This will be your next clue in your Internet adventure. Once you are comfortable with being safe online, then you can start searching. I would suggest that you think about choosing a search engine that gives you reliable sources all the time. My teacher has us use a search engine called Infotopia because the safe search is always on. She says that the sites are trusted because the Web sites are selected by teachers and librarians."

"Your teacher is so smart," said Shelby. "I'm glad you are sharing this with me. I don't want to share something personal while I'm searching that might let a virus on our computer!"


After going through Eric's Internet safety sites, Shelby understands what he means about being aware of keeping safe on the Internet. It is such a great tool for finding information, for doing homework, for visiting far away places like museums, or for communicating with people all over the world. You just have to be aware of your surroundings and make sure to keep your personal information to yourself. "I can do that," thought Shelby to herself.

After taking a break and eating her favorite cheesy snack crackers, Shelby sits back at the computer to continue solving her Internet mystery. "Hey Eric!" she yells, "can you help me again?"

"What's up Shelby?" he asks.

"I remember you saying that some Web sites have false information. How will I know if the sites I go to are like that?" asked Shelby. Question

"Glad you asked," said Eric. "My teacher calls it evaluating Web sites. We use a site at school called RADCAB to help us decide if a Web site we want to use is good for our projects. Go to the site and click on the word spelled from each letter in the word RADCAB. It will give you lots of great information. There is even a rubric that you can use to help you decide if you are doing a good job when evaluating Web sites. The databases that you go to will have quality information chosen for you already so you won't have to evaluate them. I still want you to go through this information though," said Eric. "You will be using Web sites at other times and these are good skills to know."

"From the research you did with the first mystery, you found out that some databases are free and that they can be accessed on the Internet. I'll show you some that I've used before. If you were at school, you'd be able to see the ones that our school district subscribes to. They have some that are just for students. I like those best because it is easy to understand the articles and they have icons that make them easy to get around from page to page. I'm going to show you something that you'll really like! Remember how you said that mom took you to the library this morning to look for books?"

Library"Of course," replied Shelby. "It's one of my most favorite places in the whole world to visit!"

"You might not know it, but you can go to the public library 24 hours a day," said Eric.

"No I can't," said Shelby. "Mom says they open at 9:00 am and close by 5:00 pm on Saturdays. And they aren't open at all on Sundays."


"The building that the library is in has those hours," says Eric. "But the library has a Web site that you can go to to browse through the books they have... even at other branches. You can also reserve books, download audio books, manage your account, get homework help, watch ebooks, log your summer reading program minutes, and look through their databases. It's called a virtual library and it is always open! Now that I think of it... our school library has gone virtual and we can access those databases from home too. I'll show you that next time. Right now, go grab your library card. You will need your library card number to log into their Web site and you can do all of those things. I'll sit here by you and help you get logged onto the public library site. We can bookmark it so you can find it easily the next time you want to go to it. I'll show you some great databases and you can choose one to find your information about Truman."

ComputerEric continued, "You need to think about one more thing as you start looking at your information, Shelby."

"What is that Eric?" replied Shelby.

"My teacher says while we are searching through databases we need decide if we are getting the information from a primary or secondary source. You should decide what kind of source you are using too."

"I have never heard of that, Eric," said a puzzled Shelby. "I think you need to explain that to me too."

"I had a feeling you would say that," replied Eric. "Of course I'll help you. It's just another clue for you to investigate!"

SearchMystery #2

It is your job to follow the clues to help Shelby solve the mystery. Should she share her personal information to on Web sites to get facts? Should she trust every Web site that comes up in her results list? Should she choose to use primary sources or secondary sources for her Harry S. Truman information?

Magnifying GlassRead through the following Web sites (clues) to learn how to be savvy when choosing safe and reliable sites on the Internet as well as what primary and secondary sources are. Use the information you find on the Web sites to answer the questions on your second research guide.

When you have finished your second research guide decide if Shelby should choose to use primary sources or secondary sources for the Harry S. Truman information that she will share at school on Monday. Then click on your choice at the bottom of the page.

Web Sites (and video tutorial)

  • How to search in a library catalog for a Primary Source video tutorial

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