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Video Transcript:

Imagine you own a snack bar and your business depends on having enough hot dogs, burgers and wraps for an upcoming holiday weekend.

In the past, you kept track of inventory manually, which made calculations messy and complicated. Recently, you discovered spreadsheets - a better way to organize and calculate data.

A spreadsheet is a digital document that has columns and rows that are used to organize information. Here, we have columns across the top for "years", and rows for “food” at our snack bar.
At the intersection of columns and rows are cells that contain information related to those columns and rows. For example, we can see two years ago, you sold 550 hot dogs, three years ago you sold 610 burgers and last year, 496 wraps, and so on.  The data in these cells is our starting point.

Now, each cell in a spreadsheet also has a specific location. Each row has a number and each column has a letter. The location of hot dog sales two years ago is cell C (the column) and 2 (the row). So, we have a cell with both a location and data.

The magic of a spreadsheet comes from using cell locations to calculate the data. Here’s what I mean. Here we see sales data in a column for last year. The data is in cells D2, D3 and D4.

To calculate the total sales for that year, we tell the spreadsheet program to add the data in locations D2 through D4 and place the total in D6. The program will add any data it finds in those locations.

For instance, we can change the data in cell D4 and the spreadsheet will automatically adjust the sum to account for the change. The locations work together.

Now we can use this total sales number to predict the future. Let’s say we believe sales will rise 5% in the next year. We can have the spreadsheet multiply total sales in D6 by an increase of 5% in D7, to estimate sales for next year in D8.  And everything is still connected.

If you change a sales number, the spreadsheet automatically recalculates everything for you because it’s using the locations. This simple example applies to snack bars and also big companies.

For example, the salary and benefits data for hundreds or thousands of employees can be organized and calculated with a spreadsheet. The totals of these numbers could be used to calculate how much the company spent on salary and benefits last year.

But that’s just a single spreadsheet. These numbers can also be connected to other spreadsheets. For example, the total salary number, via its location, can be combined with others on a completely new worksheet that’s the company budget.

And it all goes back to the data in cells. Change one and the spreadsheet changes everything for you.

Spreadsheets matter because data matters. By using computers and software to manage data for us, we can be more accurate and efficient than ever before.


What it teaches:

Because data is becoming a pervasive part of everyday life, spreadsheets are a key skill for the 21st century. Unfortunately, spreadsheets can feel a bit overwhelming and difficult to understand for the novice. This video explains the basics and why spreadsheets are useful in organizing and calculating data.

This video uses an example of a snack bar to show how a spreadsheet can help the snack bar owner organize his sales numbers and plan for the future. It teaches:

  • Why spreadsheets are organized into rows, columns, cells, and locations
  • How to tell the difference between data, cell, and location
  • How spreadsheets are used to organize and calculate data
  • How spreadsheets automatically recalculate data when numbers changes
  • How spreadsheets can be used in large organizations with large data sets

Video Info:

  • Duration:  03m 40s
  • Captions Available:  YES
  • Lesson Plan:  YES
  • Category:  Money, Technology
  • ISTE Standard:  Empowered Learner, Indicator 1d
  • ACRL Info Literacy Frame: Information Creation as a Process

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