## Overview

Wolfram Alpha is a **computational search engine** that differs from the likes of Google,Â in that it provides **direct answers to factual queries** rather than returning lists of links andÂ sites. These direct answersÂ mean that Wolfram Alpha becomes an extremely powerful toolÂ in providing solutions for quantifiable facts and mathematical problems.

**Name**: Wolfram AlphaÂ –Â www.wolframalpha.com

**Pricing**: Free / $5.49 per month (pro)

**Compatibility**: Web / Tablet / Phone

**Access**: No signup required

**Privacy**: PrivateÂ (privacy policy)

## A QuickÂ Look

Wolfram Alpha can be an excellent tool to helpÂ students find answersÂ to Math problems and assist them inÂ understanding the steps involved in reaching aÂ correct solution. While no replacement for face-to-face instruction, it can be a useful resource to compliment class work orÂ for students whoÂ like to work through problems themselvesÂ or those whoÂ may beÂ reluctant to ask for help.

**** Note: For a cheaper alternative to subscribing to a monthly paidÂ Pro account, consider purchasing the mobile appÂ for a one off cost.*

## In Practice

### 1.Â Visualizing elementary math

While Wolfram Alpha can be used for some pretty advanced mathematics it is also a really neat way to **explain elementary math** to younger students. Typing in some simple arithmetic (66 + 88) will not only give students the answer (it’s 154 btw), it will also present the solution as a **number line** andÂ **blockÂ illustration**.

### 2. Plotting and graphing

Understanding the translation ofÂ Xs and Ys into a smooth line on a graph can be a big mental leap for many students. Try using Wolfram Alpha to **plot and graph equations**Â to show results inÂ real time and highlight how small changes in an equation can have a large impact on the graph.

### 3. Algebra and calculus

A real benefit of using Wolfram Alpha is the ability to plug in values and **get resultsÂ ****immediately**. This can help students struggling with difficult concepts such as algebra and calculus as they can quickly and easily find solutions to problems and start to **recognize patterns and similarities**.

### 4. Famous math problems

Wolfram Alpha is not just limited to numbers and equations. Try giving your students a list of famous **mathematical theorems or proofs** and let them discover the definitions for themselves.

### 5. Applications of math

Because Wolfram Alpha is so much **more than a search engine or calculator**, many questionsÂ can spin off into whole areas of study unto themselves. This is of great value when trying to highlight the real world applications and uses for math. Try exploring fractals or some of the Physics, Statistics or Computer ScienceÂ applications using the tool.

## Links and Next Steps

- Wolfram Alpha Mathematics Examples – Example math problemsÂ to try
- Further Wolfram Alpha Examples – Physics, Culture, Chemistry and more
- Teaching kids real math with computers – TED talk fromÂ Conrad Wolfram
- Wolfram Alpha mobile – Cost effective option for students
- MathÂ Course Assistant Apps – Curriculum specific apps from Wolfram Alpha
- Wolfram Problem GeneratorÂ – Overview of generator feature
- Using Wolfram Alpha in the Classroom – Resources from Wolfram Alpha
- Why Wolfram Alpha is a Potential Pitfall for Math Students
- Symbolab – Free alternative for step-by-step math solutions

*Feature image courtesy of Flickr,Â adactio.*