The Super Bowl… STEM… and Using a Computational Search Engine in Education… Add it Up!


Welcome to a little break before the third in a series of PBL Mania Posts.  I have been celebrating Project Based Learning and while this post could contribute to an activity in PBL, today I want to connect the Super Bowl… STEM… and a Computational Search Engine (Wolfram Alpha). I am sure it will add up! Before reading  please take a moment to subscribe to this 21centuryedtech Blog by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter at mjgormans.  You will not want to miss this series or future posts involving STEM, Flipping the Classroom, Technology Integration, Common Core, and 21st Century Skills,  So Sign Up Now! As always… thanks and have a great week.  - Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

Quick Notes - You may be interested in learning more about PBL World in Napa, CA presented by BIE this June. It should be exciting and registration is now open. In the last post I informed you about a webinar involving STEM and mobile applications presented by Hall Davidson at the Siemens STEM Academy. You may want to take a look at the archive and his list of awesome resources. Last, as you all probably know, February 1 was National Digital Learning Day. I invite you to visit us online here in the state of Indiana as we celebrate the whole month. Feel free to visit the 29 Day Web 2.0 Challenge (A new Web 2.o Tool every day) and the start of Indiana’s Digital Learning Stories on YouTube. Are you celebrating all month long? Feel free to leave a web link and note so that we can all learn about it!

The Superbowl… STEM… and using a Computational Search Engine in Education… Add it Up!

It is Super Bowl Sunday (at least as I am writing this) … so how about a little Superbowl fun with a computational search engine. That’s right… a search engine that is built on the foundation of data and statistics. You see, Google is best termed an informational search engine… its strength is looking for facts and information. But by now you may know that I am referring to Wolfram Alpha.  This search engine claims, “to bring broad, deep, expert knowledge to everyone… anytime, anywhere!”. They further state, “We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.”
I am a believer in this powerful search engine and include it in many of my professional development talks and workshops across the country. It is especially wonderful in those STEM related studies but I am learning that it is powerful in many other areas as well.  Today, I began to wonder about the claim of curating all objective data. With the Super Bowl on my mind I decided to put Wolfram Alpha to the test.

When using Wolfram, you must first decide how to use search phrases. Learn more about this on the Wolfram Alpha Example Page. I will warn you that this page can be addicting and could possibly cause you to lose track of time. After all… you do not want to miss the big game (Perhaps if you have a DVR you might wish to program it now). I decided to visit the main WolframAlpha Search Page and then I tried a few NFL Super Bowl related inquiries. Below you will find some of my searches and if you click on results you will find how Wolfram Alpha answered. I couldn’t help but make a few comments!

  • giants vs patriots stats – results (Fun to compare although the best stats will be after the game)
  • super bowl attendance history – results (From this result I clicked on the highest attendance figure of 103, 985 and I learned the approximate heat production and weight of this many people) Wow some STEM…Cool!
  • eli manning versus tom brady – results (Hope you like what you see)
  • new england patriots – results  (Make sure you look for the drop down menus that give you even more statistics)
  • new york giants – results  (Have to be fair!)
  • afc vs nfc – results  (You will see all the teams and the combined wins vs losses for entire division… who won?)
  • giants super bowl – results (Learn about their very first appearance to the last with combined stats)
  • patriots super bowl – results (Once again… being fair)
  • “tom brady” vs giants – results  ( Learn how Tom Brady has fared historically against the Giants)
  • “eli manning” vs patriots - results (And of course the other way around… to be fair)
  • eli manning vs peyton manning vs archie manning – results (Click on any name to learn more within the search results)
  • Wes Welker vs Hakeem Nicks – results  (How do the leading receivers stack up?)
  • Ahmad Bradshaw vs BenJarvus Green-Ellis – results (How about those rushers?)
  • super bowl 1 – results (Or try another super bowl)
  • lucas oil stadium – results (Check out the picture, some stats, and make sure you zoom in using Satellite Image Link)

This is just a quick look at Wolfram Alpha and the Super Bowl.  Take a look at all of the NFL possibilities at WolframAlpha. Here you will find different search techniques and may be able to think of ways you can bring some of this data into a math/science or STEM lesson while engaging your students. Remember there will be new data after the game. There is so much more than the Super Bowl and NFL at WolframAlpha. Check out all these other sport possibilities. You may even begin a unit on statistics and the Olympics, or perhaps a study involving engineering and economics of certain stadiums. Note that basketball is being investigated as a future topic. Most of all, be sure to visit the entire topic area including all subject areas with an emphasis on STEM. Take the opportunity to book mark and visit the WolframAlpha Search Engine while introducing your students to the power of a data based statistical search engine.

Thanks for joining me and for learning about Wolfram Alpha and how it can connect to even the Super Bowl. Join me in future weeks as together we continue a series on PBL Mania. After that, discover more posts devoted to 21st century education including such topics as Flipped Classrooms, Project Based Learning, Assessing 21st century skills, technology integration, web resources, and digital literacy.  I enjoy learning from all of you. Also, remember to subscribe to this 21centuryedtech  Blog by RSS or email and follow me on twitter at mjgormans. I also appreciate your sharing of this post and any retweets.  I hope you enjoy your journey by visiting some many amazing  PBL communities on the web. Have a great week! – Mike Gorman (21centuryedtech)

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