What is Wolfram Alpha? It is a supercomputing brain. It provides calculates and provides comprehensive answers to most any science or math question. Unlike other search sources, you and your students can ask questions in plain language or various forms of abbreviated notation.
Contrary to popular belief, Wolfram Alpha is not a search engine. Unlike popular search engines, which simply retrieve documents based on keyword searches, Wolfram computes answers based on known models of human knowledge. It provides answers which are complete with data and algorithms, representing real-world knowledge.
Teaching Strategies: Researching Facts and Information
Science and math teaching strategies with Wolfram begin with allowing students to search for information about specific facts and information. The following examples provide support for stimulating critical thinking using a digital lens.
One example – physical property:
Another example – comparing a Grizzly Bear, Black Bear, and Polar Bear:
One example – cylinder:
Another example – Quadratic Equation:
Interactive Activities: K-12 Science and Math Resources
The Wolfram Demonstrations Project (Education Portal) is a resource of thousands of ready-to-use models for your classroom. These demonstrations use dynamic computation to bring to life concepts in mathematics and science. They are designed to let your students visualize concepts. These models can be projected and run using a screen or interactive whiteboard. For students to interact with the models, the free Mathematica Player program needs to be downloaded on the computer they are using.
The following images provide a view of science and math resources by grade level.
Using Widgets: Mini-Apps for Specific Queries
One useful feature of Wolfram Alpha is their widgets. These widgets can be added to your teaching blog, class wiki, or interactive lesson when using an interactive white board. You can build your own or use pre-made widgets for both science and math. The following is an example widget – Earthquakes Today (GMT) which shows the location of all earth quakes during the last 24 hours based on a selectable magnitude range.
There is great potential for Wolfram Alpha in science and math classes. This online technological tool adds a new dimension to researching for information and not just finding information on the web. This search tool is that it is also available for the iPod Touch through iTunes.