The Scout Report -- Volume 18, Number 10

March 9, 2012

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

Introduction to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science I

MIT's OpenCourseWare program has been a hit over the past few years, and people from around the globe have written in to praise the high-quality and free educational materials offered on the site. One of the more recent offerings is this introductory course on electrical engineering and computer science. After conversations with colleagues and OpenCourseWare users, MIT decided to create a course for beginners. The materials here include lecture videos from the spring 2011 iteration of the course, recitation videos, course notes, software and design labs, and homework assignments. The topics covered include software engineering, circuits, and signals and systems. Visitors are encouraged to download the course materials and to offer feedback to the OpenCourseWare team. [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

K-Gray Engineering Pathway Digital Library

Created as part of a unique partnership between the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) and the National Science Foundation, the Engineering Pathway Digital Library is "a portal to high-quality teaching and learning resources in engineering, applied science and math, computer science/information technology, and engineering technology." Visitors can start their tour through the search engine on the homepage, or they can use the Browse Resources link to wander by discipline, topic, or grade level. The First Time Users FAQ answers questions like "What kinds of materials can I find at Engineering Pathway?" and "Where do the entries in Engineering Pathway come from?" If users find themselves overwhelmed, they should click on one of the Highlighted Resources. Here they will find materials selected by the editors, the most popular resources, and a set of usage statistics for those with a quantitative bent. Also, the site has a Today in History feature, which provides details about important engineering and scientific endeavors that occurred that day. [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

Astronomical Society of the Pacific: Educational Resources

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) has created this website to share key educational resources in the field of astronomy with educators, students, and members of the general public. First-time visitors should take a look at "The Universe in the Classroom," the ASP's newsletter for teachers. Visitors can peruse their archive of past editions, and they will find titles such as "A Silent Cry for Dark Skies" and "A Flag for Mars." Moving along, the Selected Resource Guides area features background reading from a number of annotated astronomical bibliographies. The subjects covered here include the moon, Galileo, and black holes. The site also includes a catalog of helpful astronomy apps for smartphones and tablets, along with some fine suggestions for teaching introductory astronomy to college non-science majors. [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

Math Interactives

Math Interactives is part of a larger site, called, which is "designed and developed to assist kindergarten to Grade 12 teachers in Alberta locate and utilize digital learning and teaching resources. The design of the site is reflective of how teachers think and work in an online environment." Visitors interested in multiple ways to learn math will love the print and video math activities available on the site. There are four categories from which visitors can choose, on the left hand side of the homepage: Number, Pattern and Relations, Shape and Space and Statistics and Probability. Each section contains a video and an interactive that encourages students to explore the concept in question. For example, students may learn about linear equations through a video about the costs of feeding animals at the Calgary Zoo, and later come up with their own linear equations to predict the costs, accounting for price of food, amount needed, and delivery fees. [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

Journal of Young Investigators

The student-run Journal of Young Investigators is a unique academic journal that is published and written by undergraduates. It touches on most of the STEM subjects, and it covers science, mathematics and engineering in-depth. Students involved in the journal are given the rare opportunity to peer-review the articles submitted for publication by other students. Visitors keen on seeing all the topics this journal has covered can go to the Browse tab near the top of any page and browse by category and subcategory, as well as by article title. Some of the articles include "Searching for Extraterrestrials: An Undergraduate's Tale," "Seaweed Could Make Junk Food Healthier," and "No Time for Laundry? Consider Self-Cleaning Clothes." The SCC tab links to the Science Career Center, and offers help to visitors that want to check out various science career paths available, such as those in academia, government, industry, teaching and science communication. [KMG]

Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art

Based in Chicago, the Intuit organization aims to promote understanding and awareness of intuitive and outsider art.╩But what exactly constitutes intuitive and outsider art? According to the Mission link on the website's About section, it is the "work of artists who demonstrate little influence from the mainstream art world and who instead are motivated by their unique personal visions." It is also called art brut, non-traditional folk art, and self-taught art. Visitors will find the Collections link offers a unique installation called the Henry Darger Room, as well as Permanent Collection, Recent Gifts, and Artists. The Darger Room is a window into what artist Darger's working and living space in Chicago was like, and how that manifested itself in his art. The items in the room are actually the spaces where Darger lived and worked. Visitors should click on the second picture of the room to navigate and zoom in on the contents of his room. [KMG] Free Education

The tag line of the Saylor website is "Harnessing Technology to Make Education Free." The site is the brainchild of MIT graduate and founder of MicroStrategy, Michael Saylor. Visitors will find that this online education resource is a little different than some other websites that offer free online courses. Although does not grant degrees, students can download a certificate of completion for successfully passing the exam at the end of each course. The setup of the courses offers a more structured approach for those lifelong learners out there, and can even provide a feel for the content of an undergraduate course to students considering or curious about college. There are thirteen areas of study that visitors can choose to explore, including STEM subjects such as Computer Science, Chemistry, and Mechanical Engineering. Each course is peer-reviewed, and visitors can find a list of the faculty from universities and colleges around the world that author the courses can be found in the About Us section, under the Our Trustee & Team link. [KMG]

HERA: Humanities in the European Research Area

In 2002, funding from the Netherlands, Denmark, and Ireland spurred the creation of the Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA. By 2005, the organization had defined its mission as a "network of national funding agencies and the European Science Foundation...committed to leading and developing funding opportunities for humanities researchers in Europe...and sharing management practices and outcomes." Visitors can find a list of the member countries under the Network of Funders tab. Visitors interested in learning what topics of humanities research have been aided by HERA should check out the News tab on the menu near the top of any page. There visitors will find Research Policy News, Research News, and Newsfeeds. Some newsfeeds of note here include International Conference on Translating E-Literature, Radio Show on Vienna Housing, and Memory Work and Civil Society. [KMG]

General Interest

Alice Weston: Great Houses of Cincinnati

In the 1990s, environmental artist Alice Weston photographed dozens of grand old homes in Cincinnati for the book "Great Houses of the Queen City: Two Hundred Years of Historic and Contemporary Architecture and Interiors in Cincinnati." This digital collection, presented by the University of Cincinnati, brings together 1,400 images taken by Weston, including hundreds of images not included in the book. Clicking on the Explore tab allows users to look through the images by date of building construction, architect, or street address. First-time visitors may wish to start by exploring the photos of the Clarence M. Davidson House or the elaborate Hauck House, which is now a museum. The Hauck House was originally built by one John Hauck, a German immigrant who was one of the Queen City's celebrated brewers. Overall, the site is a great way to learn about Cincinnati's growth and development in the 19th and 20th centuries, and it's quite fun to learn about the architecture and design of these remarkable homes. [KMG]

Bureau of Land Management: Public Land Statistics [pdf]

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages over 264 million acres of public land, most of which is located in the western United States. The BLM works diligently to get information on these lands out to a variety of stakeholders, including other government agencies, private landowners, and other organizations. This website brings together the BLM's formal land statistics and reports. Visitors can view the complete reports dating from the present year all the way back to 1996, and they are also encouraged to look over the site's other sections. As these reports are quite lengthy, the other sections may be a bit more useful as they break out the reports' statistics into themes like Healthy Lands, Commercial Uses, Recreation, and Natural and Cultural. These separate themes contain tables like "Estimated Recreational Use of Public Lands Administered by the BLM" and "National Historic and Scenic Trails." [KMG]

Historic Iowa Children's Diaries

What were children in Iowa concerned with in the 1870s? This nice digital collection from the University of Iowa Libraries starts to answer that question by bringing together 11 different diaries from young Iowans writing from 1862 to 1907. The diaries were provided by the Iowa Women's Archives, the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Old Capitol Museum. Visitors can click on the Highlights of Collection to get started. One rather fascinating highlight here is the geography homework done by Lucy Van Voorhis White in the 1880s. Users can look at her faithful reproductions of the major rivers in states surrounding Iowa, and may be especially fascinated by her . Visitors can browse through the diaries at their leisure and also look around by decade. [KMG]

Montana State Historic Preservation Office

The Montana State Historic Preservation Office works with dozens of partners across Big Sky country to preserve the state's cultural and historic places. The website for the Office contains information about their staff, historic architecture, archaeological projects, and cultural records. Visitors can click on the State-owned Heritage Properties link, located at the bottom of the page, to find a list of historic properties owned and managed by Montana. They can also look over technical reports and documents about these properties. Visitors should not miss the report titled "Montana Modernism." This gem offers information and commentary on recently identified properties in Montana (such as the Safeway Grocery in Butte) built in the two decades after World War II. Finally, visitors with a interest in preservation policy can browse through the Preservation Law section. [KMG]

Dakin Fire Insurance Maps

Most American historians and geographers are well aware of the Sanborn fire insurance maps which document the landscape of hundreds of different cities. They are tremendously useful to a wide range of scholars and researchers. What some people may not know is that the Dakin Publishing Company of San Francisco also worked to create similar insurance maps in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The University of Hawaii has created this digital collection of 79 Dakin maps that document major cities in Hawaii, including Oahu and Honolulu. First-time visitors can browse through the maps at their leisure, and also use the search engine to look up features such as commercial businesses and parks. The site also contains a place where visitors can submit queries to staff members at the library. [KMG]

Do the Math

Created by staff members at the University of Arizona's Center for Recruitment & Retention of Mathematics Teachers (CRR), Do the Math is a weekly cable television show that features mathematics teachers explaining key mathematical concepts. Recently, the folks at CRR decided to create a "best of" playlist that offers segments from this popular program. Here visitors will find 18 segments that last between 26 and 38 minutes. Some of the subjects covered include geometry, advanced algebra, and calculus. Visitors may be interested in the materials on the left-hand side of the page, such as an AP Calculus practice exam, information about the related academic programs offered at the University of Arizona, and more. Also, the site contains a listserv for mathematics teachers and information on upcoming conferences that may be of interest. [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

Astronomy Education Review

The Astronomy Education Review (AER) is a web-based journal for "everyone who works in astronomy and space science education." AER is published by the American Astronomical Society, and each edition contains papers, reviews of research, and short articles on innovative work in the field. The journal began in 2001, and visitors can search through the past articles by keyword or volume. On the homepage, it's a great idea to start by scanning through the 10 Most Recent Additions to AER area. Here, users will find pieces like "Astronomy Apps for Mobile Devices" and "Using Smartphone Camera Technology to Explore Stellar Parallax: Method, Results, and Reactions." Along the top of the homepage, visitors can use the Browse tab, look over the About section, or read throughout the Features. This last area contains links to their RSS feed and a place to subscribe for alerts about new items from the AER. [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


Can you crowdsource the weather? That might be difficult, but you can certainly use Weathermob to crowdsource information, opinions, news, and updates about the weather. After downloading the application, visitors can get updates about local weather conditions or add their own observations in the form of tags and commentary. Also, visitors can follow weather report updates from family and friends all over the world. This version of Weathermob is compatible with devices running iOS 4.0 and newer. [KMG]

For academics all over the world, is a place "to share their research, monitor deep analytics around the impact of their research, and track the research of academics they follow." Currently, over one million academics have signed up, and there are over 1.2 million papers available online here. It is completely free to sign up, and registered members can share their own professional work, follow other academics, and also look up analytical statistics on various works in the database. This site is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

Can peer-to-peer car sharing "go big"?

Let a Stranger Drive Your Car? More Owners Say 'Yes'

Personal car-sharing is a new twist on auto rentals

Zipcar invests in Wheelz

Wheelz receives $13.7 million to expand beyond Stanford

A brief history of car sharing

Taking the Wheel: Manufacturers' Catalogs from the First Decade of American Automobiles

More and more people are looking for ways to save money, and some of this can be done through sharing big-ticket consumer goods. Many people might rent out a room in their home to a student, so why not offer up the use of their car to responsible individuals? Over the past couple of decades, a number of car-sharing services have popped up, and the blossoming of social media has helped them grow by leaps and bounds. One such service is Wheelz, which has gained a foothold in places like Palo Alto, California and northern Virginia. These organizations are formally known as peer-to-peer car sharing services, and they represent a movement towards renting or sharing certain services (such as cars) rather than owning these physical assets outright. Commenting on this development, transportation researcher Susan Shaheen remarked that the concept faces several key hurdles. One is that it will be necessary to clarify car insurance laws, and the other is that it may be difficult to craft a profitable business model. [KMG]

The first link will take interested parties to a short segment from NPR's Morning Edition about the growth in peer-to-peer car sharing services. The second link will lead users to a recent news article from the Los Angeles Times about the growth of these services in the Bay Area. The third link whisks users to an update from the Boston Globe about the Zipcar's recent $13.7 million investment in Wheelz. The fourth link leads to an article from the Stanford Daily about the recent growth of Wheelz in Palo Alto and the surrounding area. Those people interested in the history of car sharing will enjoy the fifth link, provided by the Portland Bureau of Transportation. The final link will take curious visitors to a wonderful digital collection from the New York Public Library that offers a sampling from the pages of early automobile manufacturers' catalogs.

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