Tuesday, May 10, 2016

20 Instant Google Searches your Students Need to Know

Google strives to make their search as useful as possible, bringing back the most appropriate results for the terms you entered. Sometimes though Google goes above and beyond the normal list of search results by providing instant search cards at the top of the page.

These cards contain the information you searched for, but often also include interactive controls to let you dig deeper, branch off, or experience the information in a more engaging manner. As students learn to become better at searching and researching, many of the instant search cards can be useful to them in a variety of their school subjects.

See below for 20 examples of instant searches students can do, the interactive results they get, and ideas for how these could be used to improve learning in school.

1) Flip a Coin
Type - “Flip a Coin”
Description - Randomly flips a coin to reveal heads or tails.
Uses - Study probability for math

2) Roll a die
Type - “Roll a die”
Description - Randomly rolls a 6-sided die and shows the result
Uses - Study probability for math

3) Definitions
Type - “Define [word]”
Description - Gives the definition of the word, along with origin, use over time, synonyms, antonyms, and more.
Uses - Improve vocabulary, explore origins of words, add diversity to writing

4) Time
Type - “What time is it in [place]”
Description - Gives the time, day, and date of the location.
Uses - Learn about other countries, practice math by finding differences in times

5) Timers
Type - “Timer”, “10 second timer”, “stopwatch”
Description - sets and runs a countdown timer, or runs a stopwatch
Uses - Set time limit for experiment, group work, assessment, etc.

6) Calculator
Type - “Calculator”, or enter the math problem such as “2 times 3”
Description - Opens a functioning calculator
Uses - Calculate data for math problems, science experiments, and more

7) Unit Conversions
Type - “How any [unit1] in a [unit2]” like “How many ounces in a pound” or a search like “5 feet is how many inches”
Description - Opens an interactive conversion tool for area, length, mass, speed, time, and much more.
Uses - Perform or check unit conversions in any subject area, look for patterns in conversions to determine unit relationships

8) Currency Conversions
Type - “currency conversion” or a search like “how many euros in a dollar”
Description - Provides drop down menus to choose the two currencies to convert as well as boxes to type in the amount to convert. Gives the amount in the new currency and displays a graph of historical conversion rates for those currencies.
Uses - Learn about currencies for different countries, explore topics in economics, explore math problems involving money.

9) Area
Type - “Area of a [shape]”
Description - Enter values and find the area of shapes including triangles, rectangles, circles, and more.
Uses - Check math problems, look for patterns to determine relationships between area and side lengths

10) Volume
Type - “Volume of a [solid]”
Description - Enter values and find the volume of solids including cubes, rectangular prisms, cones, pyramids, cylinders, spheres, and more.
Uses - Check math problems, look for patterns to determine relationships between volume and side lengths.

11) Graphing Equations
Type - “y=[linear equation]” such as “y=2x-3” or “graph for x^2”
Description - Enter an equation to get a graph of the equation.
Uses - Graph equations, explore the effect of the equation constants of slope and y-intercept, model real-world problems.

12) Animal Sounds
Type - “what does the [animal] say”
Description - Gives a picture of the animal and plays the sound it makes. Animals include dog, cow, zebra, horse, cat, and more.
Uses - Let young children explore animals.

13) Calories
Type - “how many calories in a [food]”
Description - Gives the calories for a food item, and allows you to switch to other similar foods and a variety of service sizes.
Uses - study nutrition for health, track and calculate calories for math

14) Images
Type - “pictures of [item]” or “pictures of public domain [item]”
Description - Shows thumbnail images of the item searched for, with the option to get more images.
Uses - Students can search for images for various projects, presentations, etc.

15) Translation
Type - “translate” or “what is [word] in [language]”
Description - Gives a box to enter the original word and a menu to choose the new language, then provides a translation and pronunciation. Additionally you can click the microphone to speak the original word.
Uses - Practice vocabulary for a foreign language, or practice fluency by speaking in a foreign language.

16) Public Data
Type - “[metric] of [location]” such as “population of ohio”
Description - Provides public data and interactive graphs for a range of metrics including population, GDP, unemployment, minimum wage, and more.
Uses - Explore, compare, and contrast data from countries for Social Studies, Economics, and Math.

17) Weather
Type - “weather in [location]”
Description - Gives current temperature, precipitation, humidity, and wind for the location, as well as a forecast for the next week.
Uses - Learn about the weather in different countries, study science concepts related to weather.

18) Metronome
Type - “metronome”
Description - Gives an interactive metronome where you can control the beats per minute.
Uses - Learn about beat for music classes, explore multiples in math

19) Stock Prices
Type - “[stock symbol]” such as “goog”
Description - Give the current stock value as well as graphs for historical stock prices for that company.
Uses - Explore stocks and companies for economics, analyze graphs for math.

20) Medical Conditions
Type - “[medical condition]” such as “arthritis”
Description - Gives details on the medical condition including description, symptoms, treatment, and more.
Uses - Learn more about diseases and medical conditions for biology.

Just for Fun
If you want to take a break, feel free to try out some of these special searches. I will leave it up to you to find out what they do.
Type - “do a barrel roll”
Type - “pacman”
Type - “zerg rush”


With instant search cards, Google moves beyond simple search result links to interactive, engaging tools. These don't just provide an answer, but encourage the student to dig deeper and explore more.

Are there other search tools you or your students use to impact teaching and learning? Feel free to share your ideas and resources in the comments below.

Post by Eric Curts. Connect with Eric on Twitter at twitter.com/ericcurts and on Google+ at plus.google.com/+EricCurts1


  1. Forget the kids ... this is my favorite! :-)

    "[airport] to [airport]" i.e., cak to lga. You can also type the city if you don't know the airport code!

  2. Awesome resource! Thanks for sharing!