1.4. Exercises: SQL, Part 1

In order to practice SQL commands, you must first set up a new database (model) in MySQL Workbench. In the program, each new model is called a schema.

  1. Open MySQL Workbench and open a connection. You may be prompted once or twice for passwords, depending on how you set up your root.

    MySQL Workbench home screen.
  2. Click on the Create New Schema button and give the database a distinctive name.

    Create new schema button.
  3. Click Apply, and accept all of the default options when prompted. You should see the new database when you click the Schemas tab.

    New practice database in the file tree.
  4. Your new database is almost ready to use. The last step is to set the model as the default option for SQL commands. Do this by double-clicking its name in the file tree.

Good. You are set up for this lesson’s practice. Complete the following exercises in the Query tab of MySQL Workbench. If no query tab is currently open in the editor, select File –> New Query Tab.


If you have questions about how to use MySQL Workbench, do not hesitate to reference the documentation.

1.4.1. Table Setup

Imagine that you want to apply your new SQL skills to bring some order to your garden. For these exercises, you will use a seeds table to store some information. The table will have 4 columns:

  1. seed_id: This is a unique number assigned to each row in the seeds table.
  2. crop: Identifies what the seeds grow (e.g. yellow bell peppers).
  3. encourages: Identifies the benefits of planting the crop (e.g. nitrogen fixation, attracts bees, etc.)
  4. use_by: The year the seeds expire.

The crop and encourages columns will hold VARCHAR data types, and each must include a parameter that specifies the maximum number of characters. seed_id and use_by will be integers.

Put the following script into the query tab.

   crop VARCHAR(40),
   encourages VARCHAR(80),
   use_by INTEGER

Line 2 establishes seed_id as the unique identifier—the PRIMARY KEY—for each record in the table. AUTO_INCREMENT assigns every new entry a different integer value.

MySQL Workbench allows you to run one SQL command, a set of commands, or all of the commands listed in the editor pane. Hover over each lightning bolt icon in the panel to see these options.

Execute icons in MySQL Workbench.

Execute icons in MySQL Workbench.

Execute the CREATE_TABLE command using the simple lightning icon. Next, verify that the table was created by inspecting your schema:

Schema information panel showing the seeds table.

Schema information panel showing the seeds table.

Or, you may also see the seeds table listed under the schema in the file tree.

File tree showing the seeds table.

File tree showing the seeds table.


Some users may need to refresh the Schemas tab to update the file tree view.

1.4.2. Create

Open up a new query tab for the SQL commands you code in this section.

  1. Use the following SQL command to add a new entry to the seeds table.

    INSERT INTO seeds (crop, encourages, use_by)
    VALUES ("Agastache", "bees & hummingbirds", 2020);

    Notice that you do NOT need to provide a value for seed_id, since it is set up to auto-increment every time a new record is created.


    At any time, you can confirm that a table contains data by clicking on the table icon next to its name.

    View table contents button.
  2. Add another new entry to the seeds table, choosing your own values for the columns.

  3. To add values to only some of the columns of the table, simply omit those column names and values from the SQL command.

    INSERT INTO seeds (crop, use_by)
    VALUES ("Sun Gold Tomato", 2022);
  4. Add 3 - 5 more records to the seeds table. At least one of these entries should include values for all of the columns.

Note that null gets stored in a column whenever a value for that field is not supplied.

Check your solution

1.4.3. Read

Open up a new query tab for the SQL commands you code in this section.

  1. Use SELECT ... FROM ... to list all of the data for all of the columns in the seeds table.

    Check your solution

  2. List ONLY the crop data from the table.

  3. List the crop and use_by data, and use ORDER BY to organize the information in DECREASING order by year.

    1. Bonus: For entries with matching use_by values, order first by year and then alphabetically by crop name.

    Check your solution

  4. List a single entry based on its seed_id value. You will need to include a WHERE in your SQL command.

1.4.4. Update

Open up a new query tab for the SQL commands you code in this section.


The general syntax for a SQL update is:

UPDATE table_name
SET column1 = newValue1, column2 = newValue2, ...
WHERE condition;

If you leave out the WHERE clause, then ALL records in the table will be updated!

  1. Update a single record based on its seed_id.

    1. The first entry we added in the Create section has seed_id = 1. Use UPDATE ... SET ... WHERE to change the use_by date for this entry to 2024.
    2. Use a single UPDATE statement to change two columns for the entry with seed_id = 4.

    Check your solution

  2. Use ALTER TABLE to add a new column, called expired, to the table. Set the data type to boolean.

  3. With a single UPDATE command, set the expired value to true for all entries that have a use_by of this year or earlier.

    Check your solution

Be sure to list the seeds table to confirm your changes.

1.4.5. Delete

Open up a new query tab for the SQL commands you code in this section.


If you leave out the WHERE clause in the DELETE FROM command, then ALL records in the table will be lost!

There is no undo option after running DELETE.

  1. Delete a single record from the table. Be sure to use its seed_id rather than any other column value in the WHERE clause.

    Check your solution

  2. Use a single DELETE command to remove any seeds from the table that have expired.

1.4.6. Bonus Exercises

Whew! You made it through all the exercises. Nice work!

Take a quick break and, if you wish, try these additional tasks that go above and beyond the basic SQL commands.

  1. Use logical operators (AND, OR, NOT) in WHERE statements.
  2. List the complete records for the seeds, but only if the encourages column IS NOT null.
  3. Do you have several entries with the same crop value? If so, you can display a list that avoids repeats by using the SELECT DISTINCT keywords.
  4. Experiment with changing the data type of a column.
  5. Research the difference between DROP DATABASE table_name vs. DELETE FROM table_name.