Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wolfram Alpha -- Cool Website Spotlight

There's no better example of a  21st Century Math Project than an awesome site, the mathematically famous Wolfram Alpha. Yes, sure Wolfram Alpha will do your class’s homework for them, but the reality is that that only emphasizes the need for higher order thinking. Computers can solve linear equations, but as of today they still struggle with word problem and application. One day. One day.

Until then the human brain has value!
On its way to growing a real brain!

Well okay, not really. When I decide to create a new middle or high school project, Wolfram Alpha is one of my first stops. In particular when I’m attempting to use global data, I’m able to compare countries very quickly. This is particularly helpful when trying to find interesting mathematical problems and it turns into my own personal inquiry project. For instance if I’m trying to build an assign around GDP and exponential functions, if I choose two countries that do not intersect, it makes for a less mathematically interesting exercise. Of course using one problem built around this case, is worthwhile, but if I built the entire assignment where nothing intersects, it’s weird and useless.

Using Wolfram Alpha in cooperation with one of many Online Regression calculators helps rounds ideas into more precise problems.

There is a pay subscription that would make using this tool infinitely more useful, but I have yet to use it. For anyone with a familiar with vector graphics (like the open source Inkscape; more on this in another post) there is a way to get vector exports of graphs on Wolfram Alpha. In order to make it more usuable in an assignment, you may need to tweak the graphic so using a vector program works well.

Nonetheless, Wolfram Alpha is super duper at helping with answer keys!

If you aren’t using Wolfram Alpha, check it out! 

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