The Scout Report
February 22, 2013 -- Volume 19, Number 8
A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
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This eleven part series, created by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and NBC Learn, explores the science of innovation. Narrated by newscaster Ann Curry, each segment is approximately five minutes. The offerings include "What is Innovation?" "Biofuels," "3-D Printing," and "Electronic Tattoos." First-time visitors may wish to start by viewing the "Self-Driving Cars" which profiles the work of software engineers at Google as they work on creating a fleet of driverless cars. It's easy to see how this series could be used in the high school or college classroom and it offers a creative approach to talking about this fascinating concept. [KMG]
Based at the University of Richmond, the Digital Scholarship Lab develops "innovative digital humanities projects that contribute to research and teaching at and beyond the University of Richmond." On the website, visitors can learn about ongoing projects, publications, and the Lab's team of dedicated professionals. The Projects section is quite remarkable, as it contains seven unique projects, including Visualizing Emancipation, Hidden Patterns of the Civil War, and Mining the Dispatch. This last project is fantastic, exploring "the dramatic and often traumatic changes in the social and political life of Civil War Richmond" through the articles of the Richmond Daily Dispatch. There are also several Mini-Projects, which include a meditation on Pac-Man and the fascinating Americans in Paris. The Publications and Presentations area includes links to presentations given by staff members, along with commentaries and the like. The site is rounded out by the News area and an About area which provides details on the staff. [KMG]
Created in 2004, the Center for Research and Reform in Education (CRRE) works "to improve the quality of education for children in grades pre-K to 12 through its research into program effectiveness." CRRE's work focuses on developing and evaluating alternative approaches to teaching and school organization. On the site, visitors can peruse the organization's Twitter feed, and then browse their very useful magazine, "Better." The magazine is published three times a year, and it offers a "unique international perspective on evidence-based education reform." Visitors can read past issues of the magazine here or explore issues on a range of specific themes, including assessment, struggling readers, policy and practice, and science. Moving on, the site also contains the Center's blog, "Evidence-Based Education Reform," and links to the a Best Evidence Encyclopedia. [KMG]
The Teach Engineering database features thousands of resources designed to help educators teach students about materials science, chemical engineering, construction management, and dozens of related fields. This particular section of this impressive site brings together resources related to physics. The area contains over 180 resources, including lesson plans, activities, interactive quizzes, and worksheets. Visitors will note that the materials are divided into four sections, including Lessons, Activities, and Curricular Units. First-time visitors will want to check out the Curricular Units area, as it contains nine wonderful resources, including Mechanics Mania and Using Stress and Strain to Detect Cancer. The Activities area contains some rather engaging instructional tidbits, such as the Patterns and Fingerprints activity, which asks students to apply several methods developed to identify and interpret patterns to the identification of fingerprints. Another nice feature of the site is that every resource comes with a summary, an intended grade level, a time allowance, and approximate cost estimate for materials. [KMG]
The National Geophysical Data Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a wide range of educational materials designed for oceanographers, private industry partners, and a range of other users. This particular corner of the site brings together dozens of resources that deal with seafloor topography, sediment thickness, natural hazards, and unique animated dives to ocean floor features. This last collection is quite remarkable, as it allows visitors to dive into the Mariana and Puerto Rico Trenches in a way that would be impossible without some rather expensive equipment. Moving along, the Crustal Age of the Ocean Floor area is an absolute wonder, featuring high-quality images of the earth's tectonic plates. Additionally, the Globes and Global Relief Images area includes short videos of rotating relief globes, along with a very cool global relief origami piece that can be printed out as a type of decoration or class project. The site is rounded out by a link to the Natural Hazards Image Database, which contains thousands of photographs documenting the effects of earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes. [KMG]
The Second Look series is a self-review and evaluation tool for persons who are about to take a histology quiz or exam. Histology (the study of the microscopic anatomy of cells and tissues of plants and animals) is a complex subject, but this fine resource is a concise way to review the important material. Developed as part of the University of Michigan's OpenCourseWare initiative, the materials here include helpful handouts, lectures, and short quizzes that address cell biology, the peripheral nervous system, and other related topics. There are over 27 separate resources here, and along with the actual lectures and handouts there are answer keys for the quizzes as well. Visitors can download each file separately, or they can use the Download All Materials tab to take in all the materials at once. Additionally, a set of links on the left-hand side of the page leads to additional resources in the broad field of the medical sciences, including study guides to drug receptor interactions and an influenza encyclopedia. [KMG]
Human ingenuity never ceases! This wonderful website from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory tells the story of how a common Mexican weed (teosinte) was slowly manipulated by humans until it transformed into corn. As an introduction, users might want to start by watching a 2 minute and 50 second video of maize plants growing at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. After that, it's a good idea to look over the six separate sections here, which include Domestication, Hybrid Vigor, Genome Sequencing, and Jumping Genes. Each area contains explanatory text, photos, primary documents, and thoughtful explanations of complex scientific ideas. [KMG]
Born in 1911, Lloyd Lionel Gaines was one of eleven children. Gaines excelled in his studies and applied to the University of Missouri School of Law in 1936. He was denied admission solely on the grounds that Missouri's state constitution called for "separate education of the races." Gaines did not back down from this injustice, and he sought legal assistance from the NAACP. In 1938, Gaines won his case before the United States Supreme Court, but tragically Gaines disappeared at age 28 in Chicago and was never seen or heard from again. This engaging collection from the University of Missouri Law Library brings together documents related to Gaines's life, including photographs, family correspondence, materials related to his Supreme Court case, and related secondary materials. Visitors to the site can perform a simple search across all the materials, or dig in deeper by perform a citation search. Legal scholars will find the Case Materials area particularly engaging, as it includes links to the trial briefs, respondents' statements, and so on. [KMG]
The University of Wisconsin's Digital Collections include everything from a tutorial in Icelandic to documents that tell the story of the Badger State's early settlement by Europeans. This particular collection brings together works by the Silver Buckle Press, which is a working museum of letterpress printing dedicated to preserving the craft of fine printing through educational programming, publications, exhibitions, and tours. The materials here include hard-to-find items from printing history, including "Hamilton's Wood Type" from 1901 and "The Nubian: a new fashion in types." This last work was created by the American Type Founders Company and it features "1928 Fashions in Type" with a focus on type faces that are "startling, eye-catching, attention-riveting and decidedly intriguing to the memory." There are over two dozen works in the collection, and visitors can search the complete text of all the items or just browse as they see fit. For students and lovers of graphic design, typography, advertising history, and related fields, this collection will be most enjoyable. [KMG]
The Department of Energy has a range of educational initiatives, and this dynamic website is part of their work. The Science Education site provides materials for kindergarten through college level students, including specialized sections for different age groups. The main section of the site contains educational videos culled from different projects, along with news updates on everything from the annual Science Bowl competition to information about participating in the solar decathlon. Further down on the homepage users will find the Read More area, which contains links to three sections: Energy Saver, Energy Today, and Energy Tomorrow. Each of these areas contains links to the department's outreach efforts at educational institutions around the United States, along with embedded resources, such as materials on training seminars and related programs. Also, under the Mission Support area, visitors can look through more detailed sections such as the Office of Science Workforce Development Program and the regional program offices that deal with science education. [KMG]
The Kalamazoo College Digital Archive is formally known as CACHE, as it contains a range of photograph, correspondence, scholarly work and publications from the holdings of that institution. New visitors can look over the About CACHE area to learn about the scope and ambitions of its work. A good place to start exploring is via the Highlighted Collections. These include Kalamazoo College photographs and a variety of publications, including the celebratory "Kalamazoo College Song Book" from 1933. Given the institution's focus on study abroad programs, visitors shouldn't miss the "Atlas" and "Passage" archive here. These two publications document the experiences of Kalamazoo students who have ventured forth to France, Israel, Germany, and dozens of other countries. The site also includes a rather engaging selection of student handbooks from 1920 to the present which offer perspective on student life through the 20th century. [KMG]
When food comes to our mouths, do we think about where it has come from? Sometimes we might, but often, it just passes along unnoticed. This website looks into the world of food during the period from 1950 to 2000, with a special focus on "who does the cooking, where meals are consumed, and what we know (or think we know) about what's good for us." It is all intended to complement an in situ exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History that opened in November 2012. On the site, visitors can view videos of Julia Child's 100th birthday celebration, take a look at special articles about the exhibit from Bon Appetit, and also look over their in-house blog. Visitors can click on About the Exhibition to learn about some of the main sections here, which include Julia Child's kitchen, moved from Cambridge, Massachusetts to the museum after her death. Also, users shouldn't miss Chris Kimball's recollections of eating and cooking with the late Julia Child. [KMG]
The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has long had an ambitious public art program. This handy 62-page guidebook provides interested parties and tourists with a complete listing of these works. Not surprisingly, the works are arranged by elevated line and by stop. The guide starts with providing information about works on the Brown Line, which is a great place to begin. It's a real treat to start with Josh Garber's "Hope and Renewal" which is located at the Kimball stop at the end of the Brown Line in the Albany Park community. Also, baseball fans won't want to miss the artworks located close to the train stations at Wrigley Field and US Cellular Field. The guide also includes an artist index and information about the gorgeous works at CTA headquarters in the city's Near West Side neighborhood. [KMG]
The Great Lakes are vast, and provide fabulous laboratories for people to learn about everything from hydrology to cultural geography. This remarkable collection from NOAA brings together multimedia, lessons, real-world data, and background information about these bodies of water. The homepage features a meditative narrative essay that combines topographic description with general observations about the economic and other activities that take place in the general region. The Multimedia area contains a voluminous photo gallery, a fantastic "Listen to the Lake" podcast, and several Great Lakes webcams. Moving along, science educators will be delighted to learn about the Lessons and Activities area. Here they can download activities that include "Nab the Aquatic Invader," "Fish Life Cycle," and "Great Lakes Connection Model." Further along, the "Great Lakes Literacy Principles and Fundamental Concepts" document provides a framework for educators teaching about the Great Lakes. The site is rounded out by the Background Information area, which includes web diagrams of the Great Lakes food chains and information about migratory birds in the region. [KMG]
For those with scanned documents that would be more useful in editable form, Online OCR offers a free, high-quality solution. Users can simply upload an image (JPG, JPEG, BMP, TIFF, GIF, and non-editable PDF are all accepted), then choose the language and preferred output format. At the free level, the service will convert 14 images per hour, but those who are satisfied with the service and require more frequent conversion may purchase a membership. [CM]
The WordTalk plugin works with Microsoft Word to create a audio version of text documents. The plugin speaks the text of the document and highlights it along the way. It also contains a talking dictionary so that users can decide which word spelling is most appropriate. One of the intended audiences for this device is children who might be having trouble with reading and writing. This version is compatible with all computers running Microsoft Word. [KMG]
The gold rush begins for fragments of Russian meteor selling for up to £6500 each as astronomers warn UK had a lucky escape
Meteorite fragments spark Russia's newest gold rush
Russian Meteor Blast Bigger Than Thought
NASA: Russia Meteor Not Linked to Asteroid Flyby
Top 5 Uses for Meteorites
Last week, everyone was talking about the Russian meteor explosion over the city of Chelyabinsk. The rather dramatic event, involving a meteor that NASA estimates was about 50 feet in length, injured more than 1,000 people. The energy estimate of the explosion was revised upwards to 500 kilotons, which was 30 kilotons higher than initial estimate. Curiously enough, the meteor briefly outshone the sun during the event, which occurred shortly before a much larger meteoroid zoomed by Earth. One intriguing wrinkle to the story is the subsequent "gold rush" that is now taking place in and around Chelyabinsk. Many classified ads appeared on a popular Russian classified ads site, and a number of persons have been hunting around the area looking for pieces of this rare rock. Russian authorities are concerned as they want prospectors to stay away from the area until they have the ability to test the fragments when the snow and ice thaws in the spring. Perhaps there is a strange bright spot in all of this, as local Oleg Karpov noted "Maybe this thing was not that bad after all if a few of us make some money out of it." [KMG]
The first link will take interested parties to a piece from the Daily Mail's Sunday edition about this "gold rush" of sorts. The second link will take users to a piece from Mining.com that talks about the quest for locating meteorite fragments, complete with links to additional coverage from around the web. The third link will take users to the Discover News website's coverage of the revised estimate of the meteorite's blast size. The fourth link will lead curious readers to a news release from NASA that confirms that there was no link between the meteorite that crashed in Russia and the asteroid flyby which took place around the same time. The fifth link leads to a fun slideshow from the folks at Discovery which lists the top five uses for meteorites (spoiler alert: Number Five is "Make a Magical Weapon"). The last link leads to the very compelling Meteor Detection website. Here visitors can check in to learn about high quality meteor ionization trail data, and also view visualizations of meteor trails.
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The Scout Report (ISSN 1092-3861) is published every Friday of the year except the last Friday of December by Internet Scout, located in the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Computer Sciences. Funding sources have included the National Science Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Libraries.
Internet Scout Team Max Grinnell Editor Carmen Montopoli Managing Editor Edward Almasy Director Rachael Bower Director Andrea Coffin Information Services Manager Autumn Hall-Tun Internet Cataloger Sara Sacks Internet Cataloger Tim Baumgard Web Developer Corey Halpin Web Developer Zev Weiss Technical Specialist Evan Radkoff Technical Specialist Debra Shapiro Contributor Holly Wallace Administrative Assistant Michael Penn II Administrative Assistant
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