Friday, 7 December 2012

Creating a Number Line with Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha is a pretty extraordinary tool (or set of tools) that is easy to forget about unless you teach math every day. I come back to it every couple of months and I always plan to dig deeper and explore all of the amazing things it can do. Thanks to a few useful posts on MakeUseOf, I have started to get into the habit of using it more often and there certainly are a lot of fun things you can learn.

For example, I typed in 'dimples golf ball' and it gave me the number of dimples on a Calloway HX golf ball and some others (332) but then produced a handy drop-down menu where I could select from a number of other well-known brands to see how many they have (Nike One Tour golf ball, 378, Srixon AD333, 333.)

I typed 'CN Tower' and it gave me a photo, a couple of maps, the height (553m), number of floors (147), completion date (1976) a series of comparison rankings (national, 1st, worldwide, 2nd), other tall buildings nearby (First Bank Tower, 0.8km away, 298m tall, city rank, 2nd) and the number of recent wikipedia hits.


This morning, I was watching Mr. Needham's 7th grade math class and they were plotting numbers on a number line and looking for patterns. That's something that Wolfram Alpha does with ease. You just enter a series of comma-separated values and let it do the rest.

Have a look at this MakeUseOf post, Become a Wolfram Alpha Expert With These Useful Search Techniques. It includes links to some other resources as well so there's plenty there to get you started