Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Four Things about Wolfram|Alpha You May Not Know

Four Things about Wolfram|Alpha You May Not Know

What is the 56th digit of π? (Nine.) How fast is a wolf’s heartbeat? (It’s 80–110 beats per minute.) What is the estimated average airspeed velocity of an unladen European swallow? (Wait a sec….)

Where did these answers come from? Wolfram|Alpha. This knowledge engine has been around since 2009 and is often associated with mathematics, given its computational abilities. That said, there’s more to it than just math. It connects to knowledgebases that extend beyond STEM, and depending on how you use it, it can be a wellspring for creativity.

Read on for four things you might not know about this powerful bit of edtech.

You Can Find Free Educator Resources for Wolfram|Alpha Online

Not sure how to use Wolfram|Alpha in your classroom? On the Wolfram|Alpha site, you’ll find links to several educator resources. Although Wolfram|Alpha is often used as a standalone tool by students, teachers can incorporate it into lessons. There are problem sets, example topics and more.

Educator resources

Some of the resources, such as Wolfram Problem Generator, are free. Others, like the step-by-step solution add-on, require a subscription. It’s worth exploring what’s available to see what best suits your needs, whether it’s for a single project or an integrated curriculum.

You Can Use Wolfram|Alpha for History Class—or Any Research, Really

Students can use Wolfram|Alpha to explore history from time-based perspectives, performing calculations and pulling up raw data. That said, history is more than just dates! This topic page gives ideas on how to use Wolfram|Alpha for history class.

Historical US Money research page

What if students compared two eras to brainstorm ideas for a research paper? Could they calculate the spans of time between two big events, then figure out why they took place on drastically different time scales? What about incorporating math into your history class with discussions of historical money or numbers?

You Can Connect Web Apps to Wolfram|Alpha

This feature isn’t free, but it is powerful. On the Web Apps page, you’ll find a list of some of the apps, including a personal finance assistant and sun exposure assistant, that can be connected with Wolfram|Alpha’s search and calculation capabilities. There are apps for education, work and personal use.

Sun exposure calculator

You can see a teaser of each app by clicking its link from the Web Apps page. This will allow you to explore possible uses without a subscription. For example, here is the Calculus Course Assistant.

You Can Input Queries into Wolfram|Alpha Both in Natural Language and through Math

Math inputs keyboard

Take a look beneath the Wolfram|Alpha search bar and you’ll find not only an option for “Natural Language,” but for “Math Input” as well. This somewhat new feature allows you and your students to input queries through figures and formulas. This can capture complexity that would otherwise be lost when asking something math-y.

By default, the search will load with Natural Language enabled. You can switch back and forth as needed. If you have access to a Pro subscription, there’s even an option to input images and data!

Sign up for Wolfram|Alpha Pro to access customizable settings, step-by-step solutions, increased computation time and more.


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