Using Google as a Graphing Calculator
Did you know there is a graphing calculator hiding inside the Google search engine? What’s more, Google can also do calculations from known physical quantities without having to enter their numeric values. And Google converts units as needed!
A little-known tool
Directly in the Google search bar, simply type the equation of the curve to display.
Google’s graphing calculator
It is possible to map several functions at the same time; it suffices to separate the equations by a comma. You can zoom in or out on one axis or both at the same time.
Even though I use Google several times a day, I was unaware of this tool until I came across an article in the Physics Teacher journal.
Calculations based on physical constants
Science teachers will want to note that the Google calculator is able to execute calculations from known physical constants that are written in words or with their usual symbols.
The (non relativistic) calculation of the kinetic energy of an electron moving at 0.4 times the speed of light, written in 2 ways.
Google even handles unit conversions!
I’ve requested the result of the kinetic energy calculation to be displayed in electronvolts rather than joules.
Why pay for a graphing calculator?
Google is ubiquitous, but other websites offer even more powerful computational tools:
- GeoGebra, presented in Profweb’s Tools section
- WolframAlpha, on which Profweb has published a Featured Report
Some students still reach CEGEP equipped with a graphing calculator, but there is really no more reason for them to need to spend money on such a tool. And you, did you know of Google’s calculator? Do you use it with your students?