Wolfram|Alpha promotes K-12 student-led research
October 11, 2009, 7:58 pm
Filed under: curriculum, learning, pedagogy, Uncategorized

In the move away from teaching that puts a premium on rote memorization, question-spotting and plug-in-type problem solving, WolframAlpha turns any classroom with internet access into a thriving lab of research-minded students, no matter the grade level. Gone are the days where students are required to lift dusty census books that seem heavier than they are. Everyday, in fact, Wolfram|Alpha goes one step further in its mission to collect all known information about the world; it’s an initiative that will save a trip to the library, allowing students to get to the most exciting aspects of learning more efficiently.

Say a student takes an interest in the city of Padang in Indonesia, which made news headlines recently due to a major earthquake. Within seconds, even elementary students become players in the world of real scholarship, navigating through primary sources that are custom delivered to satisfy a particular curiosity or question. It is the perfect counter-weight to a student’s reliance on magazine articles and books. Here are some results about Padang based on a range of queries that a k-12 student might ask, depending on what the assignment objectives are:

It is ultimately up to the teacher to ensure that accessible knowledge is being used for a greater purpose. On October 21st, Wolfram|Alpha has organized a live event called Homework Day which they will broadcast on the internet to expose how educators and students are incorporating Wolfram|Alpha into their learning routines. Go to the Homework Day website if you are interested in getting involved.