The Scout Report -- Volume 17, Number 35

September 2, 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

National Science Teachers Association: Lab Out Loud

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) initiated this biweekly podcast to provide a fun and engaging resource on "science teaching, science news, and anything else with 'science' in it." The Lab Out Loud podcast series, which started in 2008, is hosted by Appleton, Wisconsin science teachers Dale Basler and Brian Bartel. Each episode includes a set of links and notes that flesh out each topic, and shows frequently have guest appearances. Recent topics include paleontology, evolution education, and electronics innovation projects. Currently, there are over 60 podcasts here, and visitors can also sign up to receive new episodes via RSS feed, iTunes, or email. [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

Teaching Medical Physics

The National STEM Centre in the United Kingdom has been working on assembling useful resources across the various science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines for a number of years. One of their most successful projects has been their online database of resources, which draws on high-quality teaching materials from different universities, organizations, and institutions around the world. This particular section of this database includes resources on teaching medical physics. Users can search the collection by publication year or age group, and sign up for a free account to save the resources for later use. The materials include full textbooks on medical physics, teachers' presentations, lecture notes on medical physics and radioactivity, and a learning exercise on the medical uses of ultrasound. There are dozens of other resources, and the site will warrant several return visits. [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

Technology Challenge Grants

How does a school system increase academic achievement when almost 30% of its students are English Language Learners, and half of that number happen to be economically disadvantaged? San Diego City Schools partnered with public and private organizations, as well as with two Education Technology Professors from San Diego State University to develop "inquiry-oriented, standards-based curriculum units." Visitors should definitely check out the "webquests" link at the top of the page to see how teachers integrated technology into the curriculum. There are four criteria into which the projects are divided - Featured Projects, Grade-Level Projects, Literature-Based Projects and Ocean-Themed Projects. Each is further divided by grade level. The Featured Projects section has a wonderful array of quests for visitors to browse, including projects for high school students in designing and marketing a genetics product and aiding revolutionaries in their quest for democracy based on an examination of the political systems of other countries. [KMG]

Center for Non-Verbal Studies

The Center for Non-Verbal Studies in Spokane, Washington, scientifically studies all modes of non-verbal communication including body movement, gesture, facial expression, and adornment to name a few. Visitors to the site should definitely take a look at the "Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs, and Body Language Cues" link, which intriguingly covers everything from the "Adam's-Apple-Jump" to the "Zygomatic Smile." Some of the other entries include Fingertip Cue, Flashbulb Eyes, and Table-Slap. The topics on the left hand menu go more in-depth than the dictionary entries. The "Nonverbal Brain" link begins with a quote by Hippocrates: "Men ought to know that from the brain, and from the brain only, arise our pleasures, joys, laughter and jests, as well as our sorrows, pains, griefs and tears." Finally, visitors can also learn about the literature, evolution, and media approaches to the nonverbal brain. [KMG]

Transgender Law and Policy Institute

The Transgender Law and Policy Institute aims to advance transgender equality through advocating for non-discrimination laws and policy change. The number of transgender people in the United States population ranges from two to five percent and a smaller number are transsexual. Visitors will find that one of the many features on this very thorough site is under the "Non-discrimination Laws" link, which consists of lists, maps, and charts of which states and municipalities have non-discrimination laws that include gender identity and expression. Some of these laws include prohibiting discrimination in public employment and policies regarding restrooms and other gender-based facilities. Visitors interested in reading about such transgender related litigation in criminal, immigration, medical, tax, discrimination, or tort law will appreciate the "Litigation: Case Law" link. [KMG]

National Institute of Standards and Technology: Manufacturing Portal

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has a long history in the U.S. Government, funded in 1901 as the first federal physical science research laboratory. One of their emphases is on manufacturing. The areas covered on their website include green manufacturing, lean manufacturing (more efficient manufacturing), process improvement, and systems integration. Once visitors choose a subject area, they will have the choice to check out even more specific topics to investigate. There is also a "News and Events" section, and one news item that will thrill visitors is the "New Video Showcases NIST-Hosted Robotics Competitions in China," which highlights the best of the Mobile Microrobotics and Virtual Manufacturing Automation Competitions. There is also a "Latest Publications" section, some with only an abstract and some with full-text articles. The publication entitled "Co-X Panel Discussion" reveals that Co-X stands for robots with which humans will co-exist, and that is cocktail party fodder for sure. [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

STEM Transitions

Under the direction of the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD), the STEM Transitions initiative has worked with 40 community college faculty to create integrated curriculum projects for use in math, science, and technical courses in the six STEM-related clusters. Much of this work has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Vocational and Adult Education. First-time visitors can get an overview in the "Using This Site" area and then visit the "Integrated Projects" area. After signing up for a free account, they can take advantage of over 60 lesson plans and activities such as "The Secret Ingredient: Nutrient Analysis of Selected Food Items" and "Good Dirty, Bad Dirty: Soil Types and Erosion Potential." The site also provides information about upcoming webinars and workshops sponsored by the STEM Transitions, along with information about their faculty affiliates. [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

Discovering African-American History in Rural Ohio

This fine project is part of the Knox County Ohio Black History Digital Archives, and it was made possible in part by funding from the Ohio Humanities Council and Kenyon College. The intent of the project is to inform the public about the experiences of African Americans in this portion of rural Ohio. Drawing on materials donated by local individuals, businesses, and institutions, the collaborators at the project have created an engaging portrait of African American life in the area. Visitors can click on any of the images here to get started, or they may also wish to click on one of the six topical headings on the top of the page. "Social Life" is a good place to start as visitors can learn about some of the early organizations that served the African American community. The timeline here also gives a bit of an overview of African American life in Knox County, and it's a helpful introduction to the history of the community. [KMG]

General Interest

Tse-Tsung Chow Collection of Chinese Scrolls and Fan Paintings

Chinese scrolls and fan paintings are quite detailed and elaborate works, and taking in their detail can be a fantastic experience. This particular collection is a donation from the late University of Wisconsin - Madison Professor Tse-Tsung Chow who, with his wife, donated over 120 calligraphic and painted Chinese scrolls and fans from the 18th through the 20th century. Recently, the entire collection was digitized by the Special Collections Department of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, and it is available here. The collection offers primary examples of Chinese culture spanning over two hundred years, and educators in art history, geography, foreign languages, and international studies courses will find it particularly useful. Visitors can use the viewing device here to scroll through the images, pausing to zoom into the details of each work of art. Also, users can learn more about each item via a thorough bibliographic entry. [KMG]

Proverbs, Maxims and Phrases of All Ages

The lyrical poet Horace once said that "The road of death must be travelled by all." He said many other things, and some of his sayings may be found within this classic volume. Originally published in 1887, the volume "Proverbs, Maxims and Phrases of All Ages" was compiled by Robert Christy. The intent of this volume was to serve as a reference volume for libraries and personal use. The people at have made it available here in its entirety, and it may serve as a source of inspiration to budding writers, philosophers, and orators. Visitors can search the work by categories like "Advice," "Fortune," and "Honor." Also, the formal Preface is quite an elaborate bit of writing, and sets an appropriate tone for the work. [KMG]

National Portrait Gallery: Asian American Portraits of Encounter

The National Portrait Gallery has been expanding their horizons lately, and this rather groundbreaking exhibit is part of the trend. This exhibition takes a look into the diversity of contemporary Asian American identity through the innovative work of seven visual artists. This website is designed to complement an in situ exhibit, and the portraits explore themes like diaspora, migration, and transnationalism. Visitors can click on each of the seven artists' names to read a brief biographical statement and view some of their work. Each portrait is worth a look, and visitors may wish to start with those created by Tam Tran. Tran moved to Memphis when she was two from South Vietnam and her photos investigate identity and gender. [KMG]

The Search for Cleopatra

Noted scholar Harold Bloom once noted that Cleopatra was the "world's first celebrity." She has been celebrated in song, business names, perfumes, slot machines, and even an asteroid, the 216 Kleopatra. This site includes an engaging article on Cleopatra by Chip Brown, which originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine. The article is a jaunty and fascinating look into determining the real location of Cleopatra's grave and this alone would be reason to visit this site. There are some excellent extras here, including a gallery of images, an interactive map of Cleopatra's Alexandria, and a fun quiz that tests visitors' knowledge of Cleopatra in pop culture. [KMG]

Burgert Brothers Collection of Tampa Photographs

Photo studios are often great repositories of information about local history, and the Burgert Brothers firm is no exception. Founded in 1918 by brothers Al and Jean Burgert, their studio focused primarily on photographing the Tampa Bay area, including Ybor City, Port Tampa, Temple Terrace, and Ballast Point. The University of South Florida has the archives of the Burgert Brothers firm, and interested parties can look through over 850 of their prints here. The collection is quite impressive, and it contains images of cigar rollers in Ybor City, Italian street festivals, and the Moorish majesty that was (and is) the Tampa Bay Hotel. Finally, the archive also contains excellent images from the city's famed Gasparilla celebration. [KMG]

Sheepherders of Northern Nevada

When people think of Nevada, they might automatically think of silver mining, or more likely gambling and glitzy casinos. They might not think of the vast amount of sheepherding that takes place in the state. This digital exhibit from the University of Nevada, Reno looks at the role that sheep and sheepherders have played in the Silver State's past. Sheep were first brought to the state to feed and clothe miners, and the huge amount of public lands in Nevada always kept grazing costs low for future generations. The story would not be complete without focusing on the role of the Basque people in it, and this site reveals their legacy and their arborglyphs. Basque sheepherders created the arborglyphs (carvings on trees) during their long and solitary days and nights, and they serve as a record of their experiences and thoughts. The documentary materials here are divided into sections, including Sheepherding, Sheep Industry, and Peavine. Visitors shouldn't miss this last section as it contains information about and images of these amazing arborglyphs from the Peavine Mountain range. [KMG]

Seattle Art Museum: Reclaimed and Beauty & Bounty

These two related interactives from the Seattle Art Museum show how the ways in which artists - and the rest of us - regard nature have changed over time. Reclaimed consists of five 20th century works that visitors can access through the Explore the Art link at the bottom of the page and navigate through using the buttons in the lower right. Included are fairly straight portraits of nature, such as Garfield County, Colorado by noted landscape photographer Robert Adams, as well as Bovine by Whiting Tennis, a construction made of wood and other found objects. There are also a couple images of people in nature - Lyle, North Puyallup, by Glenn Rudolph, and Erin Rieman along the Siuslaw River, Oregon, by Eirik Johnson. Beauty & Bounty returns us to an earlier time, pointing out the important role of art during America's westward expansion in the 19th and very early 20th centuries, to "fire the collective imagination of a nation and draw emigrants westward." A good example is the 1906 photograph by Darius Kinsey, Three loggers felling a fire tree, in which one logger lounges in the cut they're making into the tree to demonstrate just how big that tree is. [DS]

Since 2000, the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) has brought together the numerous government agencies needed to advance research and development in the field of nanotechnology that " is taking place in academic, government, and industry laboratories across the United States." Visitors new to nanotechnology will find the tabs on the far right of the website to help explain the basics, including an overview of nanotechnology, its benefits, and how the NNI is supporting the field. It is worth noting that a nanometer is one billionth of a meter, and that they are being used in medicine, solar panel manufacture, drinking water purification, and environmental cleanup. To put the size of a nanometer in some perspective, the thickness of a sheet of paper is 100,000 nanometers. Visitors interested in learning more should check out the tabs "Nanotechnology 101" and "Nanotechnology and You." Teachers visiting the site should take a look at the "Education" link that caters to K-12 students, containing everything from workbooks to online games. This area has a section dedicated to "higher education programs" that lists nanotechnology bachelor, masters, and Ph.D. degree programs available across the country. [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

Network Tools

Caffeine 1.1.1

You don't want to spill coffee on your computer, but perhaps it could use a bit of this "caffeine." The Caffeine application prevents one's computer from automatically going to sleep, starting screensavers, or dimming the screen. Once installed, the application icon can be found on the right side of the menu bar, and it just requires a simple click to operate. This version is compatible with computers running Mac OS X 10.6 or later. [KMG]

IObit Toolbox 1.2

While IObit Toolbox is described as being for "computer geeks," even casual computer users will find this toolbox quite useful. The application is web-based and does not need to be downloaded. Visitors should note that the application includes 20 different tools, including a file shredder, a registry defrag, and a startup manager. The program is compatible with computers running Windows 7, Vista, XP, and 2000. [KMG]

In The News

What's the best way to avoid mental fatigue? A walk in the park, perhaps?

Coffee Break? Walk in the Park? Why Unwinding Is Hard

Why You Can't Make a Good Decision at 5:00PM

Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue? [Free registration may be required]

Fatigue: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

Video: Need to relax? Take a Break for Meditation

Sleep Tips: 7 Steps to Better Sleep

During high-pressure times, it may be tempting to take a break or step outside for a stroll to think things over. Is this the best idea? Should we perhaps just power through until we've completed the task at hand? The brain certainly does get fatigued after working long periods of time. Researchers are currently looking into which types of breaks and circumstances may best adequately refresh and revitalize the brain's functioning. In this Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, journalist Shirley S. Wang reports on the current research into this area of scientific inquiry. She reports that a team of researchers at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto is currently studying whether interacting with nature can be therapeutic for people with disorders including depression and anxiety. Their work is building on findings done by another team of researchers at the University of Michigan that showed performance on memory and attention tests improved by 20% after study subjects paused for a walk through an arboretum. The same team noted that these cognitive benefits did not occur when subjects walked along a busy city street for the same amount of time. The researchers have noted that nature images engage humans' involuntary attention, which is activated when our minds are drawn to something interesting but doesn't really require intense focus. With a busy city street, humans must rely on directed attention, as there may be aggressive dogs around or intense vehicular traffic to think about. It's rather interesting work, and currently researchers at the University of Bristol are also looking into how the traditional "coffee break" may or may not help with mental fatigue. [KMG]

The first link will take visitors to the previously mentioned Wall Street Journal article from August 30th. The second link will lead users along to a blog post by John M. Grohol, the founder and editor-in-chief of PsychCentral. In this post he talks about the nature of decision fatigue and why making important decisions late in the day can be very difficult. Moving along, the third link will whisk visitors away to a recent piece by John Tierney that appeared in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. In this rather interesting piece, Tierney looks into the science of decision fatigue. The fourth link leads to a most helpful set of resources on the physiological nature of fatigue and its treatment from the Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia. The final two links are from the Mayo Clinic and the first of those reveals how to take a break with a bit of meditation. The second leads users to a helpful piece with seven steps to getting better sleep. [KMG]

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