One of the connections I strive to help students make is the connection between data and decision making. While there is no shortage of people who make decisions based on their intuition, tea leaves or magic 8 balls, I would much rather see choices made after a rational conversation based on data. In this iPad apptivity we will be using the computational engine Wolfram Alpha and spreadsheet application Numbers for iPad to help answer a question and communicate the results.

We’ll start with the scenario: You are helping to determine the best location for a new wind energy farm. Your commercial real estate broker has identified possible locations near Chicago, Illinois, Dodge City, Kansas and San Antonio, Texas.

Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha

1.  Use Wolfram Alpha (1.99 iPod touch, 1.99 iPad) to compare the wind speeds.   This will help us determine which location will likely yield the most wind energy.   Below is a sample computational query to generate this data.

wind san antonio, tx; dodge city, ks; chicago, il 2010

Make note of the wind speeds for each city.  If you are working with a partner, one person can stay on the Wolfram Alpha app and the other can proceed to the next step.

2.  Create a new Numbers (9.99 iPad) spreadsheet  with a table.

Numbers for iPad

Numbers for iPad

  • You’ll need a header column and a header row.   Your table should have 3 rows for data.
  • Label the columns “Wind mph” and “Electric ¢ per kw/h”
  • Label the rows with each city’s name

3.  Add the wind data from Wolfram Alpha to your Numbers table.

4.  Use Wolfram Alpha to compare utility costs (electricity) in each state.  This will help us determine which market might yield us the highest price for the energy we provide.

“compare utility costs tx, ks, and illinois”

5.  Go back to the data table in Numbers and add the average utility costs for each state.

6.  Create a graph to represent each column.

7.  Based on what you see in the graphs, where would you put the wind farm?   Add a text box to your Numbers document (Tap the Picture icon and choose “T” under Shapes) and explain your answer.


Add the graphic of wind speed variation from Wolfram Alpha onto your document.

Add a map that shows the location of all three (Add a photo of the united states to the document and place a star shape over the selected site and X’s to show the locations of the sites that were rejected)