Wolfram Alpha, A 'New' Search Engine

For starters, I'm one of those who believes that Google is a great search engine for students all the way down to elementary school levels. Why pay large bucks for a private engine that eliminates tons of valid sites because there are many more tons of garbage that exists online? Young kids learn which channels on TV they can/should watch at home. They need to be taught, from a young age, how to validate and use information gleaned from Google searches.

So I rarely look deep into other search engines.  However, I've been reading about the growth of Wolfram Alpha for a while now and am starting to give it a look. It's called a Computational Knowledge Engine. Search 'Rosa Parks' and you will just get minimal vital statistics. Search the word 'apple' and you will get substantial corporate data on Apple Computer including many charts, graphs, and historical stock data.

As a computational engine, it has a huge collection of formulas and algorithms it can use.  Type your birthday and you will find out how many days old you are along with other historically important relationships with that date.  I realized that I'm almost 17,000 days old. I typed my birthday "+17000" and found that I turn 17,000 days old next September!   Wow, starting to feel old now.

I searched "Austin, Texas" and found some nice data. But with ISTE coming up soon, I searched "austin, texas to denver colorado" and learned that it was 767 miles away, and some statistical comparative data. That seemed wrong to me, remembering that Texas was almost 900 miles wide. So I spent some time with Google Maps and found:

Wolfram Alpha Google Maps
Austin - Denver 767.3 miles 931 miles
Orange, Tx - El Paso, Tx 760.3 miles 858 miles

Just about 3 minutes into this, I had a great Science/Math inquiry-based problem at hand. "Explain the difference in data received from the two search engines."

I think I'm buying into the new value for Wolfram in the educational setting. I would love to see what high school classrooms could do with this engine! If you see this being used (anywhere), I'd love to hear about it.

Learn more about Wolfram Alpha: Their About Page  Wikipedia's Article  and for grins, a Google Search!
2 Responses
  1. Red Says:

    Do you think the difference in mileage between the two search engines might be that Google calculates the mileage based on the map and roads one must take to reach a destination and Wolfram Alpha maybe calculates based on a straight line between the destinations without regard to roads? Just a thought...

  2. MrMartinsClass Says:

    Red, yes I'm sure of it. I think this tool would be great in helping students make connections like that on their own.

    Thanks for dropping by.

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