Denise Garcia knows that her students sometimes cheat, but the situation she unearthed in February seemed different. A math teacher in West Hartford, Connecticut, Garcia had accidentally included an advanced equation in a problem set for her AP Calculus class. Yet somehow a handful of students in the 15-person class solved it correctly. Those students had also shown their work, defeating the traditional litmus test for sussing out cheating in STEM classrooms.
Garcia was perplexed, until she remembered a conversation from a few years earlier. Some former students had told her about an online tool called Wolfram|Alpha that could complete complicated calculations in seconds. It provided both the answers and the steps for reaching them, making it virtually undetectable when copied as homework.