Sites of the Week [Week 7]

7 10 2011

7.1 A Google a Day

So how are you at asking the question, that is, the question that will get you closer to the question? Let me explain. There is no doubt that we live in an information rich world with facts at our fingertips. However, that information is of no use if we can’t ask the right questions to get at the right answers. Presenting A Google a Day. Each day, you are presented with a challenge question and a chance to find the answer. But hurry, the timer is running. How fast can you find the answer? Give this a try… Here are links to several challenges from the past week. Check back each day for a new challenge and see how fast you can get to the heart of the question and produce the correct answer.

Here is one to get you started:
In the 18th century, women’s fashion transitioned from bulky bodices and petticoats to sleeker silhouettes. Regency gowns didn’t provide room for pockets. What is the name of the handbag with a drawstring in which they carried their necessary items? [Submit Answer Here]

A Few More:

Happy Searching!

7.2 Twurdy

Twurdy is a search engine that produces results ranked according to readability. Enter a search term and Twurdy (Too Wordy) will search, analyze, and present the results along with a readability level for each site. The reality is that university professors are searching the same web that young children are searching. Twurdy helps both focus their efforts on material matching their reading levels. So give Twurdy a try and see if it helps you find material most suited for your needs and those of your students. Here are a few search terms to get the ball rolling. After results display, click the bottom of the reading scale found on the right to show approximate ages for the scale.

  • “endangered species”
  • “tide pools”
  • “Arab Spring”
  • “planet Mars”

7.3 Wolfram Alpha: Computational Knowledge Engine

You know Google. You may have played with Bing, the decision engine. But have you tried Wolfram Alpha, the computational knowledge engine? This is a very interesting site and very different from other search engines. This site is less about finding “stuff” and more about the information behind “stuff”. You will find links to image galleries and Wikipedia pages here. Instead, you will receive various forms of data and calculations related to your search. To see the difference, try some of the following:

Compare Google, Bing and Wolfram Alpha

Open each of these search engines on a separate tab and perform a simple search with the terms:

Empire State Building

Compare the results between the different searches. Depending on why you were searching, one of these tools may have been better for getting to your information than the other. If you simply wanted location and data about the building, Wolfram Alpha is your best bet. If you wanted narrative context and image collections, then either of the other two will do better.

Now, where does Wolfram Alpha shine? Try one of the following searches to see Wolfram Alpha do its magic.

  • linear fit {1.3, 2.2},{2.1, 5.8},{3.7, 10.2},{4.2, 11.8}
  • Jurassic Period
  • Russia demographics
  • Russia demographics compared to U.S demographics
  • F#
  • 640 Hz
  • 7 day weather forecast (returns local weather)
  • Weather October 5, 2010 (returns local weather on any specific day where weather records exist)
  • Harvard University
  • Texas A&M University
  • area of circle with radius of 27.3 meters
  • sin x + cos x = 1

So, while not your usual search engine, Wolfram Alpha has some very interesting uses and possibilities. How can you see this used in class? Check out for more examples and ideas for how you can use Wolfram Alpha. You can also take a tour of Wolfram Alpha at

7.4 Batlyrics

Have you ever learned a popular song by listening to it on the radio and singing along only to find out years later that the lyrics are very different than you thought? Or, are you a fan of Karaoke? Well, this site is for you.  This lyric search tool allows you to enter a song, artist, lyrics or album and it pulls up the matching video and displays it with the lyrics. It is just that simple. Oh…You entered a song and you get a message that the lyrics have not been found/submitted? No problem. This is where you can help grow the library. Just make sure you enter the right lyrics. You can also have some fun and translate the lyrics to other languages. Of course, this might require some discussion in your language classes as kids debate the proper translation. The best part here is that if you decide that there was a better way to translate a line, you can then correct the lyrics and help improve the ability of the site to translate to over 40 languages.

Crazy Train- Ozzy Osbourne: For those who wondered what Ozzy was singing about in Crazy Train or would simply like to sing along.

Pumped Up Kicks- Foster The People: If you have teens in the house, you have heard this catchy jingle. But are you singing the right lyrics as you sing along? I know I wasn’t.

Carry On My Wayward Son: Step back in time with the 1976 hit by Kansas (a favorite of mine). Join me in this grand sing along.

La Bamba– Los Lobos: Here is a great sing along from the past.

It Had to Be You- Harry Connick Jr: Time to slow it down a little

There are many more so have fun and happy singing. Here is to hearing music in the halls…

7.5 Memry

Today we test your memory. Do you recall the memory games where you are a grid with pairs of pictures turned upside-down? The object was to turn over two images at a time, remember what and where they were in the grid then turn them back over again. When you successfully turned over two identical images, you kept them showing and go again. The goal is to complete the grid in the fewest moves. Of course, the better your memory the faster you could solve the puzzle. Now, with Memry, you can work on your memory as you pull images from Flickr (a photo sharing site) based on the “tag” (topic word) you enter. You can keep is simple with a 4×4 grid or increase the fun with a 6×6 grid. So, how is your memory? Can you develop search/memory strategies that improve your performance? What happens when you try this at different times of day? Is hunger a factor in your memory? What about environment, do you find sounds and visual stimulation a factor when it comes to memory performances? Have fun and test your memory with Memry.




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