The Scout Report -- Volume 17, Number 28

July 15, 2011

A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sponsored by University of Wisconsin - Madison Libraries.

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

In The News

Research and Education

EDSITEment! [pdf]

The National Endowment for the Humanities has crafted this remarkable library of humanities lesson plans that can be used by educators, students, or the general public. The lesson plans are divided into topical headings such as "Art & Culture", "Foreign Language", "History & Social Studies", and "Literature & Language Arts". After clicking on one of these topical headings, visitors can search the plans by grade level and lesson plan titles. In the "Foreign Language" area, visitors will find offerings that include "French Connections" and "Charles Baudelaire: Pote Maudit". History teachers will enjoy the "History & Social Studies" area, as it contains a special set of resources for teaching AP history, complete with worksheets and other materials. Finally, there is also a place for lesson plan writers to learn about opportunities for creating materials for the site. [KMG]

Loci: Modeling the Mirascope Using Dynamic Technology

The Loci section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) website always provides fascinating articles and short notes on current research in mathematics and educational resources. This recent addition to their website is a piece by Lingguo Bu of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale about the physical and mathematical properties of the mirascope. For those who may have forgotten, a mirascope is a type of parabolic reflector that effectively gives the illusion that a certain object is in another place. They also have practical applications, such as their use in increasing wireless signal strength. Bu's piece includes sections on how these devices work, their applications, and how these devices are created. The piece is rounded out by a number of dynamic features that address topics such as "How we see things in a plane mirror" and "Initial setup for the mirascope". [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

Advanced Lab Teaching Resources: Physics & Astronomy

Teaching physics is challenging work, and Professor Suzanne Amador Kane of Haverford College has created this excellent set of teaching resources related to this discipline. The site includes materials created in the course of teaching the classes "Laboratory in Electronics, Waves & Optics" and "Quantum Physics Lab". Interested parties can click on the different topics covered in each course to discover a brief overview of areas such as "Semiconductors & Diodes" and "Ultrasound Imaging". Additionally, the site also contains links to course notes and lab exercises for the courses "Advanced Electronics and Computer Instrumentation" and "Advanced Physics Lab". Also, visitors shouldn't miss the link to a nanoscience lab manual created by physicists at the University of Wisconsin, which can also be found on the site. [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

The University of Iowa: Center for Teaching [pdf]

Like many large universities, the University of Iowa has a center for teaching designed to help instructors learn the best techniques for sharing their wisdom and knowledge in a host of different classroom settings. On this website, visitors can learn about some of the resources they have created to help educators, and a good first place to stop is the "Resources" area. Here visitors will find headings that include "Teaching Materials", "Large Lecture Classes", and "Teaching Technology". A quick look through the "Teaching Materials" area reveals helpful fact sheets on leading classroom discussion, incorporating low-stakes writing exercises into class meetings, and the ideas behind a concept maps. The site also includes links to their in-house publication, "TALK", which contains both material specific to the University of Iowa teaching environment and some nuts and bolts tips that can be used by anyone. [KMG]

National Center for Blind Youth in Science

The National Center for Blind Youth in Science (NCBYS) was started by the National Federation of the Blind - Jernigan Institute to increase the opportunities and resources available to blind youth in STEM subjects and related careers. The website emphasizes the importance of participation and education of teachers and parents in increasing opportunities. Under the "For Students" tab near the top of the page, the welcome letter is a great guide on how to get involved in the acquisition of town science education. The "For Teachers and Parents" tab also has a welcome letter that, among other encouraging words, provides a link to Braille-ready files for MATHCOUNTS! (a math competition), as well as a link to a library of instructional videos "which...highlight proper tips and techniques for empowering blind students in the classroom." Finally, parents are guided to resources that offer low-tech and high-tech solutions in the "Resources" section of the website. [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

STEM Career

There are many groups and organizations in the United States working to encourage young people to enter STEM-related careers, and this website represents one of those endeavors. The STEM Career website was created by Professor Rich Feller of Colorado State University to help encourage young people to select just such a career path. The website contains updates on STEM career possibilities, and basic answers to questions like "Why STEM?" and "Why STEM Centric Career Development?" Visitors should also scan through the "STEM Disciplines" area on the homepage, as it contains resources about the job outlook for related STEM disciplines, such as biochemical engineering and engineering managers. Moving on, the site also features news updates from Professor Feller and his colleagues on subjects that include the ways in which corporations are promoting STEM education and women in STEM. [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

EurekAlert! - Multimedia Gallery

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) operates EurekAlert! to provide a website where "universities, medical centers, journals, government agencies, corporations and other organizations engaged in research can bring their news to the media" and to the public. The "Multimedia Gallery" link on the website has audio, video and still images. Typing in "video" in the search box yields 900 results, including an excerpt of a video on climate change produced by the Kenyan Masai community. The video features a Masai woman relating how the drought has killed off most of her herd of goats and cattle, some of which are shown dead in dusty fields. A more hopeful video shows visitors how video game playing helps teenagers with cerebral palsy improve hand functions. The one-minute video shows the baseline functioning of a teen, and his progress 10 months after the study, which shows dramatic improvement. Overall this is a fantastic site for science news, resources, and events. [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

Financial Education in the Math Classroom

The Math Forum at Drexel University has a website that focuses solely on teaching financial education in the math classroom. This wonderful resource provides curricula, weekly problems, and forums for teachers using the sites myriad resources. Visitors will see that the site has two main topics or categories: "Finance Topics" and "Math Topics". In the "Finance Topics" area visitors will find such areas as "Interest Rates", "Mortgages" and "Spending". Visitors should look at the exercise which teaches students that "interest never sleeps" in the "How Long Will it Take to Pay Off My Credit Card?" area. Under the Math Topics link, visitors will find such essentials as "Fractions, Decimals & Percents", "Ratios & Proportions", and "Polynomials". "Bartering for Bananas" is an exercise that teaches students that when "thinking about financial choices, we often consider trade-offs and ratios and proportions offer a great way to model those trade-offs exactly." [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

General Interest

Virtual Museum of Textile Arts

This website from an Italian lace making firm isn't just a mere company website. The "Virtual Museum" contains more than a dozen peopled scenes from the 1400s to the 1900s, and it highlights the lace-centric textiles in each scene. The textiles are listed below the scene, and when visitors click on the listed textiles, they are taken to the textile in the scene, where a few details are given about it. Each scene can be navigated with three sets of arrows for 360-degree views. There is also an excellent explanatory paragraph or two accompanying each scene that gives context to the scene, including relevant historical and political details. Visitors will notice the lack of faces on the people in the scenes, and the rationale for it is not given. Those visitors interested in seeing a brief demonstration of how needle lace and bobbin lace is made by hand should definitely check out the "Technique" link, for the two short videos. Also, paragraphs accompany each video, explaining the history and use of each type of lace. [KMG]

Latin American Business History: Resources and Research

Starting in December 2007, a team of researchers at the Harvard Business School began interviewing 21 leading business practitioners from Argentina and Chile for their Latin American business history initiative. The hope is that these oral histories will serve as a valuable resource for research on the business history of these two countries since the 1960s. On this site, visitors can listen to the interviews (in Spanish) and also read transcripts in English. Each profile contains a brief biography of each businessperson, along with material on their service to their respective industry. Moving on, visitors can also look through the rest of the Baker Library Historical Collections, which include collection of Brazilian railroad company records and the photographic records of the United Fruit Company. [KMG]

When Things Get Small

What happens when things get small? And better yet, what does a bowl of peanuts the size of a sports stadium have in common with a shrinking elephant? You'll have to watch this engaging film created by the University of California at San Diego's (UCSD) "TV" project. The project brings together short films on all manner of subjects, and this fun and insightful look into nanoscience and its uses is hosted by Adam Smith and "wacky physicist" Ivan Schuller. The 27-minute film is a great introduction to the world of nanoscience and the "real-life quest to create the smallest magnet ever known." That's not all, as there are dozens of other videos here on the website that investigate nanotechnology and science in the "More Nanoscience" area on the right-hand side of the page. [KMG]

The Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography

Published from time to time from 1914 to 1967, The Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography was the product of the Lewis Publishing Company. These massive tomes profiled a range of persons who had risen to prominence in the Keystone State. Recently, the Pennsylvania State University Libraries digitized the first volumes published before 1923 and placed them online here. Visitors can search through all of the volumes, and they are also encouraged to type in keywords like "Drexel", "Franklin", and "Furness" to get started. The site also includes the "Who's Who in Pennsylvania" books from 1904 and 1908. These works feature notable personages from the early 20th century, and they can also be read as historical documents that offer a portrait of the movers and shakers of their era. [KMG]

Brain: The Inside Story

The brain is quite flexible and resilient, and this online exhibit from the American Museum of Natural History explores both of these traits, along with looking at current research into how the brain works. This website offers a nice complement to the in situ exhibit, and visitors can make their way through five sections, including "Your Sensing Brain", "Your Emotional Brain", and "Your 21st Century Brain". Each of these sections includes short answers to crucial questions about the brain's functions and activities, such as "Why do memories exist?" In the "Videos" area, found on the right hand side of any page, visitors can check out six different clips that document the creation of the physical exhibit as well as topics that include "Thinking in Symbols". Finally, the site is rounded out by a section of materials for educators that include lesson plans and bulletins with titles like "Inside the Teenage Brain". [KMG]

To find this resource and more high-quality online resources in math and science visit Scout's sister site - AMSER, the Applied Math and Science Educational Repository at

National Gallery of Art - NGAkids

The National Gallery of Art has a fantastic website for kids, and the site is all about interactive art. Many of the eighteen activities can be made easier or more difficult to accommodate the age of the child doing the activity. Visitors interested in American folk art will enjoy the opportunity to create digital portraits and landscapes using pictorial elements inspired by the National Gallery's Folk Art collection, in the activity called "Faces & Places". Traditional folk music even accompanies the compositions, making it a multimedia piece of artwork. The "Flow" activity allows kids to make an interactive motion painting, by using the provided shapes and characters, or drawing their own. Visitors interested in Dutch life in the 17th century will enjoy "Dutch Dollhouse", which encourages the manipulation of work by such artists as Johannes Vermeer and Jan Steen, to create the inhabitants of a Dutch house. [KMG]

Network Tools


Are you running out of space on your computer for your many photos? If so, it may be worth checking out Photry for a potential solution to this problem. Photry gives users the ability to place their photo in their "cloud" and effectively free up space on their own home computer. Visitors just need to sign up for a free account, and they can go ahead and get started creating their own photo albums and such. This version is compatible with computers running all operating systems. [KMG]


In an interconnected world, more and more employers are checking out on potential job candidates' online profiles. Some of this data may include references to former employers via press releases, blog posts, and so on. MyWebCareer is a free service that allows individuals to gather data on these materials in order to help their career prospects and to better understand their own online presence. Visitors can sign up here to get started and they will be able to uncover their online footprint and also explore their own existing connections with other people, companies, and themes. This version of MyWebCareer is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

As the Shuttle Atlantis orbits Earth for the last time, questions arise about the future of space exploration

The Last Space Shuttle Launches Safely Into Orbit

Our Place In Space After the Shuttle Program Wraps

End of space shuttle program launches major challenges for NASA

NASA Chooses Space Shuttles Retirement Homes

Dismantling the Space Shuttle Program

Private Spaceflight Ready to Take Off in 2011

Tracking the Space Shuttle in Google Earth

The Space Shuttle Atlantis blasted into space with a beautiful and flawless launch last Friday morning. The moment was bittersweet for many, as this is the last launch for NASAs Space Shuttle program. During this last mission the shuttle crew will be wrapping up construction of the International Space Station, delivering supplies, and performing a multitude of experiments while in space. The ending of the space shuttle program has led to many discussions, including those trying to evaluate the whether the benefits of the space program outweigh the costs, as each launch of the space shuttle costs about $1.5 billion. NASAs Space Shuttles wont be launching into orbit again, but this hardly signals and end to the space program and human spaceflight. It is impossible to say what exactly comes next, but there are already private alternatives brewing including Virgin Galactic and others. The end of an era can be painful, but it can also foster a new and exciting chapter as well. Perhaps Chris Ferguson, commander of the Atlantis mission, put it best, The shuttles always going to be a reflection of what a great nation can do when it commits to be bold and follow throughWere completing a chapter of a journey that will never end. Lets light this fire one more time, and witness this great nation at its best. [CMH]

The first link will take users to a piece from Wired Science about the last space shuttle launch. The second link leads to an interesting piece from NPR about the USs place in space after the shuttle program ends. The third link leads to a roundtable conducted by the Washington Post with four expert contributors discussing the challenges facing NASA now that the shuttle program is ending. Moving along, the fourth link leads to an article from the New York Times discussing the retirement homes of the shuttles, and the fifth link leads to a great pictorial of the Discovery as it's inspected, disassembled, and prepared for its new life as a public exhibit. The sixth link will take visitors to a article discussing the next steps for private spaceflight. The last and final link will take users to the Google Earth blog, which discusses how to track the Atlantis shuttles final voyage via Google Earth and NASA.

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