Teacher Review for Wolfram Alpha

Great for Creating Custom Widgets!

Kimette W.
Classroom teacher
Hartsville High School
Hartsville, United States
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My Subjects Science
My Rating
My Students Liked It Yes
My Students Learned Yes
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time More than 15 minutes
Great for Homework
Student-driven work
Great with General
How I Use It
I created a widget for my physical science and beginning chemistry classes. They can search for an element and will be given just the right amount of information for our classes. Younger students can often be overwhelmed and confused by the amount of information that they get from other sites, so it's been great to be able to talior the results for any element on the periodic table. I can give classwork and homework assignments with confidence and the students love knowing exactly where to find the information that they need.
My Take
One of the more overlooked uses of this great website is the ability to create custom widgets to use on your own class webpage. Simply conduct any kind of search in Wolfram Alpha and when the results page comes up scroll to the bottom and click on "Resources & Tools". When that page comes up, scroll down and click "Wolfram|Alpha Widgets". You can view the Widget Gallery or click on "Create a new widget" near the bottom of the page. Creating a widget will open the "Widget Builder". You will be asked to fill in a Wolfram|Alpha query. When the results page comes up, examine it to ensure that it reflects the content that you want. Don't worry if there is more or less than you require, you can adjust that later. If everything appears correct, scroll down and click "Use It". The next page wants you to highlight your search term and click "+ New Variable". Now things get weird, but don't panic, there's a help button that will explain what the strange boxes mean, or you can simply click the "Next" button at the bottom of the page to see what your widget will look like. This page is called "Lay out your widget" and it is where you adjust the overall settings for your widget like give it a title and pick a color, will will show up immediately in the "Canvas" section of the page, which shows your widget. You can also adjust the active portions of the widget (called the "Components"). If you are still unhappy, just go back a page and explore some of the weird boxes that were on the previous page using the "Help" button and some trial and error. When you think that you've got your widget the way you want, click "Next" and go to "Choose the output to display" where you can choose what parts of the results that you want to include in your custom searches. The next, and last, page asks you to choose one of three styles for how the results are presented (popup, etc.). The "Next" button will give you the codes for embedding your widget in your webpage!