The Scout Report -- Volume 17, Number 32

August 12, 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

Sing About Science

Sing a song of chordates? Hum a ditty about algebra? These are just a few of the possibilities on the Sing About Science website. A team of scientists interested in studying the "usefulness of music in science and math education," created this musical archive with funds provided by the National Science Foundation. First-time visitors should start by clicking on the "Featured Videos" area. Here they will find a few sample songs from topics that include biology, math, and engineering. Moving on, visitors can use the "Find/Add Songs" section to look for songs by keyword, song title, or performer. Visitors may want to start by listening to songs such as "Biochemistry, Biochemistry" (sung to the tune of "O Christmas tree") or "Protein biosynthesis" (sung to the tune of "My Bonny lies over the ocean"). Educators shouldn't miss the "Educating with Music" area, as it contains examples of how best to use these informative and melodious numbers in the classroom. [KMG]

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

Virtual Nerd

Created by a team of experts and educators, the Virtual Nerd website offers a cornucopia of over 1200 videos designed to offer students help in math and science. All of the resources here are free for educators (others have to pay a fee to use the materials), and once they are registered they can get access to all of Virtual Nerds step-by-step video tutorials which use their interactive whiteboard technology. First-time visitors can get started by clicking on the "Can I show you?" area to get an introduction to the Virtual Nerd website. Currently, the site covers pre-algebra, algebra, and introductory physics, with other topics to follow. The materials on the site are free for educators after completing a brief form. Finally, visitors can also check out their blog and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. [KMG]

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

National Institute for Science Education College Level One

The University of Wisconsin Madison based National Institute for Science Education (NISE) has a mission that consists of three primary goals. The first goal is to improve critical thinking skills by "fostering innovation in introductory STEM education at the college level"; the second is "to eliminate culture and gender barriers to allow a more diverse population to study STEM subjects"; and the last goal is "to prepare students for their future STEM careers, and increase STEM literacy in general." A good place to see how they go about fulfilling these admirable goals is via the "Resources" area. Here visitors can look over three helpful resources, including "Collaborative Learning" and "Learning Through Technology". In the "Collaborative Learning" area, visitors can learn more about incorporating group work into the classroom and even read stories from other experienced teachers about this process. The "Learning Through Technology" area contains information for educators such as in-depth case studies of technology in use, assessment tools for the classroom, and a glossary. [KMG]

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

Problem Based Learning & Case Base Learning [pdf]

For those who are interested in the world of problem-based case learning (PBCL) this site is quite a gem. PBCL is an educational approach that enables "educators to design scenario-based learning situations based on real-time, real-world" problems and this approach helps instructors "minimize the barriers that typically separate the classroom from the real world." Created by a team of experts at Nashville State Community College and the WGBH Educational Foundation, the PBCL site features an impressive set of instructional videos featuring actual instructors, students, and business people in classroom situations. New users can start by looking over the "What is PBCL?" section, which includes a nice explanation of the PBCL cycle, a short video on why it works, and a brief description of PBCL basics. Moving on, the "PBCL in the Classroom" area contains several short videos on using PBCL in the classroom and developing business partnerships. The "Training & Community" section provides additional support for instructors, professional development and coaching programs, and a FAQ section. Here visitors will also find the "Resources & Tools" area, which contains a set of links to additional websites that will be helpful to those educators who seek to explore or implement PBCL. Additionally, the "Glossary" contains a listing of related terms with explanations, such as "contextual learning", "case-based learning", and "inquiry-based approach". [KMG]

Annual Writers Conferences: The University of North Dakota

Since 1970, the University of North Dakota (UND) has hosted an annual writers conference, complete with plenary sessions, panel discussions, and seminars. A number of important writers have been in attendance, including Harlan Ellison and Allen Ginsburg. Currently, the Chester Fritz Library Department of Special Collections at UND is digitizing all of these sessions, and there are some real treats here. While the site remains a work in progress, visitors can view all the sessions from 2003, 2004, and 1974 at their leisure. The 1974 Conference is most excellent, and it includes readings from Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Rexroth, and Gary Snyder. The video on the homepage rotates through all of the sessions, and one of the recently profiled videos was a delightful talk by Oliver Sacks titled "Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood". [KMG]


The Public Library of Science (PLoS) ONE is a peer-reviewed, open-access and online publication that publishes articles from all the branches of science and medicine. Their progressive decision not to limit papers based on subject matter "facilitates the discovery of the connections between papers whether within or between disciplines" and allows for a richer site. Visitors will find that one of the unique features of the site is the ability to rate the quality of the articles published. Any registered user can rate the articles, and anybody can become a registered user. The "For Readers" tab near the top of the homepage has a link to "Guidelines for Rating", which provides visitors with the three rating categories, and their scales, one to five. The categories are "Insight", "Reliability" and "Style", and comments are also allowed to accompany the article. Visitors should not miss the link to "Collections", under the "Browse Articles" tab. Some of the collections include "The Paleontology Collection", "Prokaryotic Genome Collection", and "Biodiversity of Saba Bank". [KMG]

Teaching Every Student

This website is about Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which "frames a systematic approach to setting goals, choosing or creating flexible materials and media, and assessing students accurately." UDL draws upon new information regarding "how the brain works and new technologies and media now available for teaching and learning." Visitors unfamiliar with UDL should first check out the links "The Basics", "Activities" and "Case Stories". The "Activities" link includes an activity on "How The Learning Brain Works: Your Three Brain Networks". Visitors ready to use UDL in the classroom will appreciate the Model UDL Lessons section that covers elementary, middle, and high school. Some of the more compelling lessons here include "Data Analysis and Probability", "Poetry and Art Anthology Project", and "Understanding Characterization". Additionally, several of the high school lessons include writing mechanics and reading comprehension. [KMG]

General Interest

HIV and AIDS: 30 Years Ago

In June of 1981, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that several otherwise healthy young men were dying of diseases usually seen only in elderly or immune-depressed patients. Soon the CDC realized they were dealing with what become known as HIV, which is the virus that produces AIDS by effectively impairing the human immune system. This compelling website was created as part of the "Science in American Life" initiative at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Through oral histories, interviews, primary documents, and other materials, the site tells the story of the cultural, social, and public health implications of HIV/AIDS. The materials are divided into ten different areas, including "Scientific Mystery", "HIV and AIDS 1981-1997", and "AIDS Quilt". Visitors can explore each area, and they should also look over their blog. In the blog, they will find posts such as "Teaching AIDS awareness through trading cards" and "A brief history of AZT". Finally, visitors shouldn't miss the "Links" area, which includes links to original reports from the CDC on HIV/AIDS from the early 1980s and more. [KMG]

Tax History Project

The Tax Analysts group, a non-profit organization that has been providing tax news and analysis for over 40 years, has dedicated part of their website to the "Tax History Project", which includes a "Tax History Museum", archives of "Presidential Tax Returns", and a "1040 Archive" that covers the years 1913 to 2006. The Project was established in 1995 to "provide scholars, policymakers, students, the media, and citizens with information about the history of American taxation". Visitors will find the full text of nine of the Federalist Papers, which discuss federal revenue and taxing powers, in the "Taxing Federalism" link. There is also an excellent explanation of what the authors of the Federalist Papers (Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay) meant to accomplish by publishing the series of 85 essays. Those persons interested in political cartoons and posters about taxes and war bonds from World War II will surely enjoy the "Images in Tax History" link. Finally, visitors who want to keep abreast of tax history items can subscribe to the free Tax History Bulletin via the "Free Newsletter" link. [KMG]

GeoHazards International

Created in 1991, GeoHazards International's (GHI) mission is to "reduce loss of life and suffering around the world in communities most vulnerable to geologic hazards." To attain this goal, GHI works "to create a world that devotes as many resources to preparing for and preventing the consequences of natural disasters as it devotes to responding to and recovering from them." A good place to start for visitors is the "Our Priorities" tab and the "Vulnerable Communities" link. Here they will find several graphs depicting the earthquake risk to people living in cities in developing countries. Although the earthquake risk for people in cities in industrialized nations has decreased due to better construction methods and emergency responsiveness, visitors will see by the graphs that the earthquake risk for developing countries has stayed the same. The "Our Projects" link, under the "Our Work" tab, shows visitors almost two dozen past and current projects that aim, or aimed, to increase community or country preparedness for earthquakes, seismic activity and tsunamis, in places such as Gujarat, rural Peru, Sumatra, and the Caucasus region. Under the "Resources" tab, visitors will find GHIs latest news, copies of their annual newsletter, as well as additional GHI publications and resources. For those visitors who wish to stay informed of GHIs activities, they can sign up for email updates under the "Get Involved" tab. [KMG]

POV: Steam of Life

Among many hallmarks of Finnish life is the world of the sauna and its informal rituals. It is a place for men to explore their feelings, emotions, and their hopes and dreams. It is also the subject of this fascinating film presented as part of the POV series on PBS. Created by filmmakers Joonas Berghll and Mika Hotakainen, this 60-minute film looks into this rather fascinating aspect of Finnish culture. Visitors can watch the entire program here, and there are a host of additional features that round out the site. On the left-hand side, visitors will find additional photo galleries, a background essay, and a helpful "Are You Pronouncing Sauna Correctly?" primer. In the "Take Action" area, visitors can learn how to plan an event around this film and download a discussion guide. Teachers shouldn't miss the "For Educators" area, which includes a lesson plan and a reading list. [KMG]

Oral Histories: Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust from the Wisconsin Historical Society

After the conclusion of World War II, over 140,000 Holocaust survivors came to settle in the United States. Over 1,000 of them ended up in Wisconsin, and their stories survive online courtesy of the work of archivists at the Wisconsin Historical Society. Between 1974 and 1981, these archivists interviewed 22 survivors and two American witnesses. They collected 156 hours of audio and 3,400 transcribed pages, and this website offers all of these materials, in their entirety, for the first time. The subjects covered within these interviews are extensive, and they include conversations about the conditions in the concentration camps, the fates of their families, emigrating to the United States, and Wisconsin's Jewish communities in the mid- and late-20th century. Visitors can choose from any of the 24 testimonies, listen to brief excerpts, and also check out the lesson plans and activities here. [KMG]

Driven: True Stories of Inspiration

With a rotating series of quotes from Jack Kerouac, Victor Hugo, and Khalil Gibran, the homepage for "Driven: True Stories of Inspiration" is quite visually enticing. Created by the Exploratorium in San Francisco, this website provides interviews and conversations with creative types from all over. These vignettes seek to answer and explore questions like "How are creative investigations sparked?" and "What does a state of inspiration feel like?" Included here are profiles of San Francisco-based musician Thao Nguyen and Gerd Mairandres, who works as the head of the wig and make-up department at the San Francisco Opera. Most of the profiles are about five minutes long, and visitors can click on the "Upcoming" tab to learn about those that will be released onto the website shortly. [KMG]


When you see words like pruinose, puerility, gnosis, and cloud architect floating down a computer screen what's going on? You are on the Wordnik website, and you are taking in a bit of a free-form display of thousands of different words. When visitors click on a word, they are taking to its definition. The definitions here are taken from a variety of sources, including historic dictionaries and the like. On the right-hand side of the page, visitors will see examples of the word used in context from quotes taken from newspapers, books, and scientific journals. The capacities of the Wordnik website are quite impressive, as visitors can comment on each word, "love" a word, create lists, and share words with friends. For fun, visitors can also click on the "Random Word" link for, well, a random word. [KMG]

Network Tools

Skitch Lite

The Skitch application is a great way to capture screen shots, crop them, resize them, and even add your own text to the image. Visitors can share these shots with others via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. It's a fun way to customize different images, and it can be used as a basic design tool for those interested in the field. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.4 and newer. [KMG]


New search engines are released all the time, and occasionally a new one is worth checking out. Blekko is a new customizable search engine that helps users stay away from spam, content farms, and malware. Blekko draws on the power of the slashtag in order to organize websites and search results around specific topics. The slashtag is a tool designed to filter search results, and it helps visitors only search high quality sites that are vetted by a team of experts. This version of Blekko is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

Statue of Liberty to close for a year after celebrating 125th birthday

Statue of Liberty Interior Will Close for a Year

Engineering Miss Liberty's Rescue

Statue of Liberty: Deconstructed

Statue of Liberty Pictures: Rare Views, Inside and Out

Pearl S. Buck: "On Discovering America"

National Park Service: Ellis Island Curriculum Materials

Just a day after her 125th birthday party, the Statue of Liberty will undergo a safety makeover. Lady Liberty's interior will be closed to visitors starting October 29th, 2011 and the plan is for the interior to reopen after a year. After the September 11 attacks, the Statue of Liberty monument was closed because rescuers could not get them out in an emergency. After almost $7 million in renovations to fire and security systems the base, pedestal, and observation deck were reopened. This time, the renovations will cost just over $27 million, and will include safety upgrades to the monument's stairs, elevators, and electrical and mechanical systems. Tourists will still be able to visit Liberty Island and views of the statue will remain "relatively unobstructed" during the renovation. According to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, all of these new improvements to the Statue of Liberty will bring "a 19th century icon into the 21st century." Once the renovations are complete, the 3.5 million people who visit the Statue every year will most likely agree.

The first link will take interested users to a piece from the New York Times about the upcoming Statue of Liberty closure. The second link leads to a story from the June 1986 issue of Popular Science that describes in great detail the huge restoration of the Statue completed between 1984 and 1986. The third link leads to a short video from the History Channel, deconstructing the Statue of Liberty. Next, the fourth link leads to an extraordinary set of photos from National Geographic of some rare views of the Statue. The fifth link will take visitors to a lesson plan from the National Endowment for the Humanities EDSITEment! website. The lesson helps teach students about American attitudes toward immigrants. Finally, the last link leads to a fine set of curriculum materials from the National Park Service about Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

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