Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Special Blog Post #1


Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha is a computational knowledge engine designed to allow anyone to enter the information that want computed or just to know about, and it will give the output. A simple example search would be as follows:
What is the population of India? Answer: 1.21 billion
What is the population of the United States? Answer: 309 million
What is the population of China? Answer: 1.35 billion

Because I am going to be a high school math teacher, hopefully of precal and/or calculus, then I did some more example searches related to what I might use in my own classroom.
Search: “What is the derivative of e^x?” Answer: “d/dx (e^x) = e^x.” If you have taken calculus then you understand that this answer is true and extremely helpful in case you forget while doing practice problems. Not to mention that there is also a full page of definitions of the derivative and integral and graphs of your question.

Another search: “How do you find the surface area of a cylinder?” Answer: “2πa (axh).” Under the answer to this question Wolfram Alpha gives pictures that show the 3-D cylinders and explain how the answer came about and ways to help you remember it. It also lists variations of the formula and examples of using it.

This website is such a great resource for students who haven’t quite memorized all their formulas, trig, processes, etc. It gives pictures and examples of every question you ask it to help the students visualize the problem and make connection between the numbers and the figures. My college Calculus II professor recommends this site to our class for homework help. It works great for the simplest of math problems and the most difficult.

Although Wolfram Alpha is a wonderful tool for Math, it is also great for all other subjects. I did some additional searches such as, “Who was the 16th president?”, “Who wrote Lord of the Flies?”, and “What element is Fe?” These questions, stretching from History to Literature to Science, all have correct answers that appear and give extra detail about each. Students could use this website in every subject to help them recall information and store it in their brains!

Gray Hayes Social Media Chart

Gray Hayes Social Media Chart has changing charts that update a couple times a second. There are 4 categories: 1) Social: Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Apps, Pinterest, Instagram, Netflix, etc. 2) Mobile: smart phones activated, mobile games played, sms messages sent, iPhones sold, etc. 3) Games: Zynga, World of Warcraft, games sold, game unit sold, etc. 4) Heritage: money made at post office, newspapers read, music download, DVDs sold, physical books sold, concerts, etc. Then each of these categories have 5 pages: Now, +1 day, +1 week, +1 month, and +1 year. These pages show the amount of the progress going on in that instant.

The thought of how fast everything is all changing is crazy. I think about how when I was young, everyone was still using cassettes and VHS tapes. Then everyone began using CDs and DVDs. Now everyone is using iPods and live streaming movies such as Netflix. All this progress and I’m only 21!! In the next 40 years there will be probably more than 10 times this much advancement. My students surely will know way more than I will. This means for me, as a professional teacher, that I will need to stay ahead of the students and learn as they learn and keep my head in with the craziness of the changing of technology.

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