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Richard Clark

Announcing the Wolfram|Alpha in the Classroom Winner

November 14, 2012 —
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Recently we asked educators who use Wolfram|Alpha to participate in our contest and tell us their story. After spending the last few weeks sifting through entries, our Education Outreach team has finally chosen a winner. A very sincere congratulations to Christopher Benshoof in Fairbanks, Alaska, a teacher at Lathrop High School!

Christopher BenshoofChristopher has taught mathematics for five years now, and says, “While I fully appreciate the value of understanding calculation and being able to crunch numbers by hand, tools like Wolfram|Alpha have made it possible for me to get students past the rote memorization of computational algorithms.” Encouraging his students on a regular basis to check their homework using Wolfram|Alpha, he says it’s the “go-to resource for getting a stronger grasp on the problem.” This, in part, allows him and his students to have “a more meaningful conversation about the relationship between mathematical phenomenon.”

What wows Christopher’s students is how Wolfram|Alpha allows them to get useful information on a wide range of academic disciplines. “They like finding out what certain words are worth in Scrabble, or what their phone numbers would need to be in order to spell various seven-letter words. They like that they can look up their names or important dates in their lives to see how they fit in the world, and they like that they can compare where they live (Fairbanks, Alaska) to other places in the world using available demographic data.” Christopher also teaches extra-curricular AP Environmental Science and AP Human Geography, and advises that students in those courses have a great time “seeing what Wolfram|Alpha has to offer.” In particular, his students are taken by “how intuitive the input interface is… whether working with matrices or multivariable systems, the learning curve is easy for students of all ages to pick up.”

When he isn’t teaching, Christopher is studying for a graduate degree in Resource and Applied Economics, with Wolfram|Alpha and Mathematica as his “go-to resources.”

For his insightful and inspiring Wolfram|Alpha story, Christopher received an iPad loaded with Wolfram|Alpha apps and a free one-year subscription to Wolfram|Alpha Pro. Congratulations again, Christopher! We wish you and your students the best.

We would like to take a moment to briefly thank the following individuals for their outstanding entries. We will discuss their stories in more detail in a future blog post.

  • Quinton Marcum, Teacher at Centralia High School, Social Studies, Grades 9–12
  • Oliver Alfred Guidetti, Tutor at Ace Tutoring, Mathematics and Science, Grades 7–12
  • Paul Michniewicz, Homeschooling Parent and Tutor, All Subjects, Various Grades
  • Adam Caudell, Teacher at Minarets High School, Mathematics and Physics, Grades 9–12

Congratulations to all our winners, and thank you for all of you who participated!