Sunday, June 26, 2011

Curriculum Resource: A Google A Day

I've written on this blog before about the importance of knowing how to use Google to find the information we need on the Internet.  I've just recently stumbled upon another way of learning how to use Google effectively; take advantage of the search engine's daily puzzle, A Google a Day.

What this website does is pose, basically, a trivia question.  However, it is a trivia question that usually has several different bits of information that you need to combine in order to answer the question. Here is an example:
After everyday exposure to this element with 82 protons and 126 neutrons, the Huns were the least of the Roman Empire’s problems. This cumulative poison was used as a preservative in what drink?
As this demonstrates, the questions makes students isolate what information they do have and figure out how to use that to get the information the question is seeking.  So this is a great resource because it is teaching the thinking component of the search process, not just giving technical instructions.  However, sometimes they do ask questions that require some advanced searching techniques, such as the ones I mentioned in this post.

Once you answer the question (or give up), the website suggests the items on which to search, or the search techniques to use, in order to get the right answer.  So it can be a stand-alone teaching device for searching techniques.

I don't use this every day, but every so often, I will send one to my son to help develop his searching skills. So, for example, since he is a cephalopod lover, I gave him this one:
All cephalopod mollusks with three hearts are carnivorous, but only one type living in temperate waters is deadly to humans. What does this deadly cephalopod normally feed on?
...which actually turned out not to be a great problem for him, since he already knew the only deadly cephalopod living in temperate waters, and thus didn't have to do a two-level search.  But you get the idea.

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