Tuesday, May 23, 2023

A Good Way for Students to Visually Compare the Sizes of Countries and States

My students here in Maine always think of our state as being a big place and it is big in relation to the rest of New England. Compared to our friends in the west, Maine is a small place. Similarly, they sometimes have trouble understanding the size of the lower 48 states compared to Canada. The following tool can help students understand the size of their countries and states in relation to others.

The True Size Of... is a free web tool that lets you quickly compare the size of two countries or two states within the United States. To compare two countries simply enter one into the search box then enter a second one into the search box. Both countries will be highlighted for you. You can then drag and drop one onto the other. The same can be done with states of the United States as is demonstrated in my screenshot below.

Search Options When Your District Blocks Google Search

Late last week I got the following email from a reader:
Recently our district blocked Google Search. My teachers are frantic as to what to use for kid research etc....What are some of your go to search/research websites that do not link to Google?

My first sarcastic thought was to Google some suggestions :) But I didn't need to do that because alternatives to Google search is a topic that I've covered in many posts over the years. If you find yourself looking for alternatives to Google search, here are some options to try. 

Bing is probably the most obvious alternative to Google search. In a side-by-side comparison you'll probably notice a lot of similarities in the ranking of websites by Bing and Google.

The latest version of Bing includes a chat function that is powered by ChatGPT. With this function enabled you can search and get results in the traditional manner or you can view results in a manner that is conversational. As you can see in my demo that is embedded below, using the chat-enabled search function in Bing might get you the information you want a little faster than just clicking through links on a search results page. Watch this video for a demonstration of how to use Bing with ChatGPT.

Duck Duck Go is an alternative to Google search and Bing search. The company claims to not track search activity. Again, in a side-by-side comparison with Google you'd probably find a lot of similarities in the ranking of websites. There are some search refinement tools in Duck Duck Go. An overview of Duck Duck Go search refinement tools is included in this video.

Wolfram Alpha
Wolfram Alpha is a computational search engine. That means it is not a search engine designed to rank websites like Bing, Google, and DuckDuckGo. It's probably best known for helping students solve math problems. There's much more to it than solving math problems. Wolfram Alpha can be used to generate fact sheets, make comparisons, and much more. My brief overview of using Wolfram Alpha for social studies lessons is included in this video.

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