In my attempt to differentiate between Search and Research (a topic that I return to around this time in the semester) I found a current event with a point of focus: ‘Chasing an asteroid!’
As luck would have it, NASA just launched a mission, Osiris Rex, that is basically a space explorer that will be chasing an asteroid for two years, before it grabs a piece of it and hustles back to earth. Students love events like this, and quickly dig deep into finding information around it.
And as luck would also have it, there’s a new Search engine called Omnity that promises to do better, providing ‘constellations of meaning.’ Smarter than Google, even! I wish it was true, and plan to find out shortly.
Sometimes ‘research’ involves going down that rabbit hole and unearthing nuggets of information that seldom shows up on a simple search query. Students will find out that although the mission will take 7 years the return trip will take longer than getting there. Why? What determines the timeline? Google sometimes lulls us into being content with unspectacular answers. It makes us unwilling to do probe deeper.
After all, it’s not enough to teach today’s students how to use Google and Bing, or even Wolfram Alpha, but emerging tools, as we go chasing after asteroids in class.