The Scout Report -- Volume 18, Number 18

May 4, 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

Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation's Future

Over half of all students taking classes at the college level do so at a community college. Many policy-makers, pundits, and politicians are wondering how to best improve these key educational institutions. This 40-page report released in April 2012 takes a look at the current shortcomings of American community colleges, along with offering some suggestions about the way forward. The report was sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges, with generous support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, ACT, and Educational Testing Service. The report is divided into five parts, including "An Imperiled Dream," "Redesigning the Community College," and "Essential Elements in Institutional Transformation." Also, the report contains four appendices and a list of illustrations. [KMG]

Nature Outlook: Malaria

The journal Nature provides a range of peer-reviewed scientific works on a weekly basis, along with science updates and materials aimed at the general public. This particular feature on malaria is available at no charge to the curious public, and as the homepage asks, "What will it take to finally subdue this deadly disease?" Visitors will find a collection of recent articles in the Outlook area, such as "The Numbers Game" and "Vaccines: The Take Home Lesson." Moving on, the Collection area brings together peer-reviewed pieces on the story behind the efforts to eradicate the disease, along with some nice pieces about how the disease is transmitted. It's easy to see how this collection could be used in a public health course, or in another classroom setting. Finally, the site also includes links to popular articles from Nature, along with other open access materials. [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

Earth Sciences Lesson Plans

The earth sciences encompass a range of fields, including geology, meteorology, and other areas of inquiry. This website features a range of lesson plans and activities that cover these fields, designed for both high school and college classrooms. In total, there are over two dozen activities here divided into sections such as Rocks & Minerals and Earthquakes & Volcanoes. The Rocks & Minerals area is a particularly rich vein of pedagogical material. It features a mineral identification lab session and a lesson plan that probes the world of igneous rocks. Moving along, the site also includes engaging materials on the formation of clouds, atmospheric pressure, and a humorous lesson plan on thunderstorms. [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

Space Time Travel: Relativity Visualized

This site was created by two German physicists (Ute Kraus and Corvin Zahn) and it offers a "visual and intuitive approach to the theory of relativity." The site does not offer the basics dealing with the theory of relativity, but rather a novel approach to understanding what an object might look like while moving near the speed of light or what it might be like to "travel to the vicinity of a black hole and take a look-around." As the site notes, "Part of the difficulties in understanding relativity are due to the fact that relativistic effects contradict everyday experience." On the homepage, visitors can learn more in the Content area. Here they can watch remarkable visualizations such as Rolling Wheels, Sights that Einstein Could Not Yet See, and Accelerated Motion. The site also offers brief explanations of each visualization, along with links to additional resources. Finally, the site also includes a gallery of images and an FAQ area. [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

The National Global Change Research Plan: 2012-2021

Released in April 2012, the National Global Change Research Plan 2012-2021 serves as the guiding document of the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) for the next ten years. The plan is built around four broad strategic goals: advance science, inform decisions, conduct sustained assessments, and communicate and educate. The plan builds on the program's basic strengths in integrated observations, modeling, and information services for sciences that serve societal needs. The publication of this document fulfills one aspect of the Global Change Research Act of 1990 which says that the USGCRP will "assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change." Visitors looking for a brief overview of the plan can also click on the fact sheet, which offers a nice overview of this lengthy document. [KMG]

Dinobase [Last reviewed in the Scout Report on October 27, 1999]

Since the last time the Scout Report visited the Dinobase, much has changed, and the site has grown significantly. Created by the University of Bristol, the site includes news from the world of paleontology, blogs, photo galleries. First-time visitors won't want to miss the Database area. Here they can search for their favorite dinosaur by genera or species, and click on the magnifying glass icon to the right of the results for a pop-up page including statistics and illustrations. Moving on, the Interactive Forum is a great place to post questions about the dinosaur world, and look through past replies offered by others. The homepage is full of other intriguing areas, such as links to information about the world of burrowing dinosaurs and a thoughtful answer to the question "Did birds evolve from dinosaurs?" The Gallery area includes works by noted scientific illustrators Jim Robins and John Sibbick. Finally, the site's DinoKids area is perfect for the younger set, and it includes jokes, puzzles, and information about where to go fossil hunting. [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

Get the Math

How does math get used in the "real world?" The short answer is that it is used to create hip-hop music, in fashion design, and through a number of other endeavors. This interactive website combines video and web interactive to help young people develop algebraic thinking skills for solving real-world problems. The series is funded by The Moody's Foundation, along with assistance from WNET and American Public Television. The sections of the site include The Challenges, Video, and Teachers. In The Challenges area, users will find video segments profiling the various young professionals who use math in their work, along with interactive tools to help students solve the challenges they are presented with. Moving on, the Teachers area includes resources for teachers, such as a training video showing how to use project materials in the classroom, along with student handouts. Visitors shouldn't miss the Basketball challenge, featuring NBA player Elton Brand talking about the problems presented by free throw shooting. [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

Columbia Library Columns

Most institutions keep records of their various activities, and university libraries are no different. Columbia University's Library published its in-house "Columbia Library Columns" from 1951 to 1996. Over the years it was edited by several people, including Kenneth A. Lohf, Jean Ashton, and Michael Stoller. This remarkable archive brings together the entire run; all told, it includes 135 issues and 6,900 pages. Visitors can browse the table of contents, peruse a list of all the volumes, and also perform a detailed keyword search. The Selected Articles of Interest collection brings together some of the most compelling offerings, such as "The John Jay Papers," "Instructing Women: Conduct Books in the Plimpton Library," and a rather intriguing piece from 1978 titled "The Library of the Future Has Books." [KMG]

General Interest

The Field Book Project

Based at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, the Field Book Project offers an online location for scholars and others to visit when looking for field books and other field research materials. This ambitious project was funded by the Council for Library and Information Resources, the "Save America's Treasures" grant program, and the Smithsonian Women's Committee. Many of the treasures here can be accessed via the blog or the Flickr account, both of which can be accessed via the homepage. Clicking on the Blog link will bring visitors to the latest updates from the project. Here visitors will find updates from staff members, along with new additions to the field book collection. One recent, undated addition, crafted by the enigmatic Mrs. William Owen, describes the uses of plants in Guatemala. Moving along, visitors can view the Flickr sets, which include lantern slides, along with field guides from researchers such as Albert Spear Hitchcock. Hitchcock was quite an accomplished individual who spent much of his career in the late 19th and early 20th century researching the grasses of the United States. [KMG]

Jack Sheaffer Collection

Born in 1929, Jack Sheaffer chronicled the explosive growth of Arizona during the better part of the 20th century. He attended Tucson High School, joined the Air Force in 1954, and then started working as a contract photographer for the Arizona Daily Star. Sheaffer was the chief photographer for the paper between 1955 and 1982, and this voluminous collection presents a healthy sampling of his work. Here visitors can make their way through over 10,000 photographs digitized by the University of Arizona Libraries Digital Collections. Visitors can perform a detailed search across the entire collection, but it's also fun to just type in a keyword or two, such as Tucson, roads, or parades. Visitors will note that the subjects covered by Sheaffer are vast, and they include tragic accidents, local beauty pageants, and the Tucson Rodeo. All told, this site offers an amazing portrait of Arizona in the latter half of the 20th century. [KMG]

Bates College Digital Library

Bates College in Lewiston, Maine has created this site to provide access to some of the holdings in the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Appropriately enough, the library holds the papers of Muskie, who served as the governor of Maine from 1955 to 1959, and then as one of the United States senators from the state from 1959 to 1980. One of the collections here consists of more than 400 interviews with individuals who knew, affected, or were affected by Senator Muskie. Visitors to the site can browse each interview, and in many cases, the interviews include an audio recording, a transcript and a summary sheet. Interested parties can search for particular words in each transcript and browse by interviewer, interviewee, and interviewer number. In addition, the site includes access to some of the 10,000 historic photographs of Bates College. This section of the site documents the life of the institution from 1875 to the present day, and users can search for photographs of classroom activities, clubs, dorm life, and theater. [KMG]

Fashion Institute of Technology: Teaching & Learning Resources

Located in New York City, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) is known for its excellent programs in fashion design, marketing, and related fields. What people may not know is that FIT also has a great collection of materials for teachers, courtesy of its Center for Excellence in Teaching. The site includes sections such as Printable Resources, Syllabus and Student Learning Outcomes, and Podcasts, Videos and Powerpoints. In the Printable Resources area, visitors can view 15 different handouts, including "Good Teaching Practices for Software" and "Classroom Feedback Questionnaire." Moving on, the Syllabus and Student Learning Outcomes area includes sample syllabi and information on evaluating student learning. Finally, the site also includes helpful videos titles "First-day Icebreakers" and "Tips for Teachers." [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

City of Ideas: Reinventing Boston's Innovation Economy

The Boston Foundation has worked for over a century to improve the lives of Boston-area residents through its investigations into the housing market, economic development, and the future of public schools. This 56-page report on Boston's innovation economy was released in March 2012, and it looks into how Boston will remain competitive in a range of 21st century industries over the coming years. In the introduction to the work, Paul S. Grogan, CEO of The Boston Foundation, notes that "Macro-economic trends have not been kind to households on the low end of the economic ladder" and "Our second challenge is the degree to which rising health care costs have outpaced our investment in education." Moving on, curious readers will find chapters in the paper titled "A New Paradigm for Boston's Innovation Economy" and "Possible Scenarios for Boston in 2030." Public policy types and others will find this work to be quite interesting and thought-provoking. [KMG]

UNESCO Working Paper Series on Mobile Learning

How can people learn from material and content delivered directly to their mobile devices? There are many organizations interested in this subject, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is one of them. This website provides access to their working paper series on mobile learning, instructional videos, and external websites. The question is a timely one, as there is the hope that this mode of delivery can "supplement and enrich formal school and make learning more accessible, equitable, personalized and flexible for students everywhere." In the Working Paper Series area visitors can read four different papers, including "Mobile Learning for Teachers in Latin America." Additionally, the site contains recent issues of the Mobile Learning Newsletter. [KMG]

Virginia Tech: Study Skills Self Help Information

Navigating the tricky shoals of college can be difficult at any age, and particularly for first-year college students. The folks at Virginia Tech's Student Affairs office have compiled this very nice set of resources for those persons wishing to improve their study skills. First up are four online study skills workshops, including Time Management Strategies for Improving Academic Performance and Strategies for Improving Concentration and Memory. Each of these workshops includes interactive elements, such as memory exercises. Moving on, the site includes information for students with attention deficit disorder. These worksheets include "Editing Lecture Notes," "Remembering," and "Where Does Time Go?" Visitors shouldn't miss the Writing Papers area which provides a very brief overview of how to compose a successful short essay. [KMG]

Network Tools


Are you having problems keeping materials in your lab organized? LabGuru may be able to help. After signing up for a free personal account, users can take advantage of LabGuru's many features to store digital copies of papers and protocols, manage research timelines, and track samples and other materials. This version of LabGuru is compatible with all operating systems, and the website also offers a version for use with the iPad. [KMG] is a tool created to help designers share their mockups quickly via the Internet. Visitors don't have to sign up to create an account, and they can get started by just uploading their images to the desktop. After this, they can annotate their mockup, and share the URL with other interested parties. First-time users can look at the example offered here and also look over the FAQ area. This version is compatible with all operating systems. [KMG]

In The News

New research indicates that asteroids barraged the Earth's surface for an additional two billion years

Earth Was Longtime Asteroid Punching Bag

Ancient asteroids kept on coming

Dinosaurs were declining before asteroid struck, say scientists

Triceratops was already on road to extinction before asteroid wiped out dinosaurs

BBC Nature: Prehistoric Life: Dinosaurs


It is generally believed that a massive asteroid impact some 65 million years ago killed off the dinosaurs, ending their long reign as the dominant vertebrates on the planet. However, a recent pair of studies has revealed that such occurrences were much more common than previously thought. Before now, scientists thought that the intense period of asteroid impacts ended almost 3.7 billion years ago. Both of these new studies seem to indicate that over 70 asteroid impacts at least as severe as the one that likely killed off the dinosaurs continued over an additional period of 2 billion years. The scientists think that the potential culprits were asteroids originating from the E belt, which is quite small in the present day. Of course, there is some dissent between the two studies about the range of speeds at which the asteroids were traveling before impact, and both groups of scientists will continue to compare their respective findings. [KMG]

The first link leads to a podcast and article on this recent discovery from the Scientific American's "60-Second Space" series. The second link will whisk users away to a detailed piece by Nature's Helen Thompson which provides additional insights into the recently published studies on the asteroids. The third link takes interested parties to a nice piece from The Christian Science Monitor about those groups of dinosaurs that were already in decline before a massive meteor struck the Earth's surface some 65 million years ago. Moving on, the fourth link leads to a piece from this Tuesday's Telegraph about this steady decline, with a focus on the Hadrosaurs and the Triceratops. The fifth link leads to a site created by the BBC about the world of the dinosaurs. Here visitors can look over renderings of these fabulous creatures, and learn more about them in sections such as When they lived, What their world was like, and Behaviours. The final link leads to a wonderful database of photos, blogs, forums and so on (annotated in this week's Scout Report) from the University of Bristol on the subject of dinosaurs.

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