Monday, September 30, 2013

Quickly Compare Two or More Things in Wolfram Alpha

In their 15th anniversary blog post last week, Google mentioned that you can now compare things by simply typing "compare" between the things that you want to compare. Google used the example of comparing butter with olive oil. I tried the new function and it wasn't terribly effective beyond the basic examples that Google provided.

Wolfram Alpha has had a comparison function for years and it works very well. To compare biographical information about two or more people, just type their names into the Wolfram Alpha search field (use commas between names). To compare other things just type them into the search field (again, use commas to separate them) and Wolfram Alpha will provide data for comparison. You can even compare apples, oranges, and bananas (Wolfram Alpha will provide nutritional information for the fruits).

Applications for Education
One of the aspects of Wolfram Alpha's comparison function that can be of use to students researching the lives of famous people is the timeline comparison. The timeline will show students where the lives of two or more people overlap. In social studies classes the comparison function is useful for creating a quick guide to the party affiliations of a set of politicians. In a health class the comparison function is great for helping students quickly see the differences in the nutritional qualities of various foods.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Shape of Life - Dozens of Biology Videos and Other Lesson Materials

The Shape of Life was an eight part television series developed by the Sea Studios Foundation, National Geographic, and PBS. The Shape of Life website contains dozens of segments from the series. The video segments are arranged according to eight animal phyla. The segments can be downloaded or viewed online. Lesson plans and or worksheets are available along with the video segments.


Using Google Image Search to Solve a Flea Market Mystery

Image credit: Becky White.
This afternoon my friend Becky White posted on Facebook some pictures of the tea set that she found at a flea market. She was curious about the meaning of the lettering on the bottom of the cups. My suggestion was to take a close-up picture of the lettering and upload it to Google Image search to try to find some matches that could lead to an answer to her question. I tried it myself by using a screenshot of Becky's picture and it didn't get me too far (I couldn't zoom-in enough on the lettering) until I combined the use of the image with some text in the search field. Then I was able to find that the lettering meant "long life."

Watch the short video below to learn how to combine image upload with text to improve your Google Images search results.

America's Credit History and a Credit Card Debt Story

Earlier this week I was having a conversation with a friend of mine when somehow our conversation turned to the topic of credit cards. She wondered when credit cards became so prevalent in the U.S. I knew that I had seen a video about the history of credit cards at one point. This morning I found it. Here's America's Credit History produced by CBS News.


Earlier this month I shared a couple of videos to educate students about credit card debt. Here is another one to share with high school and college students.


Applications for Education
America's Credit History could be a good resource to use as part of lesson on the U.S. economy.
The student's credit card debt story is a good cautionary tale for students. One of the first challenges that new college students encounter is the temptation to register for credit cards offered to students. Unfortunately, a lot of students don't understand just how quickly they can rack-up huge debts with these credit cards. Education can be the best prevention when it comes to debt.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Week In Review - Apple Picking

Good morning from Maine where we have reached the prime apple-picking season. I going to pick some myself and perhaps make a pie (yes Mom, I can cook) today. Wherever you are this weekend, I hope that you get all of the fun and relaxation that you deserve. Before I head out with my dogs to enjoy a gorgeous autumn day, I have this week's list of the most popular posts of the week to share.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Two Online Forensic Science Games
2. A Snappy Visual Dictionary and Thesaurus
3. On YouTube You Can Now Find Music to Legally Download and Re-use
4. 27 Topographic Maps Lessons
5. Collaborative School Project Idea - Create a Book Review Site
6. 5 Warm-up Activities for Brainstorming Sessions
7. A Short Guide to Creating and Sharing Google Calendars

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