Wolfram Alpha

Has anyone here used Wolfram Alpha in the classroom?  It really looks like a fantastic tool and I am very interested to learn more about it or to hear how any of you have used it.

Here is a link to a portion of the site for educators.

http://www.wolframalpha.com/educators/

Tags: Alpha, Wolfram

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I have tried it... at the risk of sounding a little thick... I don't really get it.

I mean, what can it do that google can't?

If I want to know some math fact, cant I type it into google and get instant results? I can even do math calculations on google now. Type in 3^6 in google and you will get the answer.

Graphing. Wolframalpha will graph any function you ask it to. But from what I can tell, you have no control over window, scaleing or any other feature. I would do better using any other of a number of applets (mentioned in this forum).

I'm sure I'm missing something. The hype on this by almost every legitamate source I know is overflowing... but, ashamedly.... I still dont get it.
I'm just starting to look around and have found a few things that I could use. If you put in the date of your birthday it calculates age in a variety of ways; as a number of years rounded to the hundredth, as weeks and days, and as days. After one example you could have students calculate their own in these ways and quickly check the answers. It also quickly graphs things like population of a country so you can talk about greatest rate of change or something similar.

I think it could be useful as a homework check for students who don't have a graphing calculator to take home. Everything is put in one place (answer, graph, roots) for ease of access. (For example if multiplying two binomials, it gives you graph, the trinomial, and the roots, which is a nice connection to have in the same place.)

I see they don't have but a few lessons, but some of the demonstrations look useful and I hope that those will continue to grow as more people know this engine is out there.

I'm also sure someone out there uses it much better and I just need to find that person or their blog to understand more.
Did you happen to type in any stock names and see what comes up?
Some quick and relevant information to start a small discussion with your students, etc.
Hey Sean,

I've posted your message on the ap statistics college board forum and have only received one reply that stated that they would have students add it to the top of their browsers... like the google search bar... and students can use it to check answers or look up facts.

I guess my initial understanding for the site was mistaken. Wolframalpha doesn't explain how to do things, it just gives answers... in particular, answers to computational problems. It's kind of like a very smart kid in class who knows all of the answers, but doesn't care to explain how they got it to others. So when classmates ask them how to do a problem... they simply give them the answers.

This can be useful. For me it is the time of the semester when we are studying quadratics in algebra 1. I plan on teaching a lesson on finding roots in the next couple of weeks. All of the questions in the worksheet can be checked using wolframalpha... if students know what to ask and what to look for. I plan on closing my class with a short explanation of how to check answers with wolframalpha and I'll recommend that students put it in the tool bar of their browsers.
I spent some time playing with this the other day as well. I think it's a great tool that should be added to the searching repertoire of students and teachers. It's important for students and teachers to know that there are a variety of search options available. Part of being web literate is being able to select the appropriate tool for a given job. In this case, if you are looking for quantitative data or quick solutions, Alpha is a great tool. Most of what I find with it I can find with other search engines, but I might have to sift through the results to find the particular piece of information or data that I'm looking for.

I also like the idea of students searching for a particular topic and seeing the numbers/data that go with it. It's seeing math and numbers connected to the real world in ways that maybe they haven't thought of before. Searching for a country, person, company, event etc etc and seeing several forms of quantitative data related to that topic is a new and fun way to see math in the real world and potentially collect data for new problems or explorations.

Wolfram Alpha launches new education portal. http://www.eschoolnews.com/2012/01/21/wolfram-alpha-launches-free-p...

I haven't played with it yet, but the idea seems interesting (and free).

I also found some more information for anyone looking to use the site in the classroom.

http://emergentmath.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/update-to-previous-pos...

I posted this on my blog last month.http://fawnnguyen.com/search.aspx?q=wolfram&sc=t&dt=3m&...

My students will use this to check their answers all the time.  It's the next best thing when middle school kids do not have graphing calculators.