The Scout Report
May 8, 2015 -- Volume 21, Number 18
A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
The Space Place
Latah County Oral History Collection
2014: The Year in Science
World Meteorological Organization: Weather
European Space Agency: Planck
Zinn Education Project
Multimedia Studios: The Physics Classroom
Urban Land: The Magazine of the Urban Land Institute
Nature's Fury: The Science of Natural Disasters
Reuters: Technology News
Art Nerd City Guides
History Channel: Ask History
The Internet Poetry Archive
Digital Commonwealth: Academy Publications - Phillips Academy Andover
Tesla Unveils New Lithium-Ion Battery to Power Homes
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For educators and parents looking for ways to get kids involved in STEM subjects, this NASA website hosts a number of helpful resources. Readers can explore the site using the categories of Space, Sun, Earth, Solar System, and People & Technology. Each of these categories links to games, quizzes, puzzles, activities, videos, pictures, and other engaging resources. Alternatively, readers can search the site via the Play, Do, or Explore areas. For instance, Play navigates to a host of astronomy related educational games such as Black Hole Rescue! and Satellite Insight. With dozens of games available, students will find much that will inspire and engage. Additionally, the Parents & Educators page may appeal to adults looking to encourage kids in their STEM explorations. [CNH]
This site from the Digital Initiatives department of the University of Idaho Library, features hundreds of interviews with long-time residents of Latah County, Idaho. Many of these interviews were collected in the 1970s and harken back to a time when farming and logging accidents were common events, and shootouts happened with astonishing frequency. An excellent way to scout the site is by selecting one of the highlighted categories in the introductory text, such as "wild animals" or "economic upheaval." The collection also offers lengthy lists of Suggested Subjects and Suggested Locations that will link to entire categories of interviews. The interviews themselves provide fascinating windows into another time and place. [CNH]
For those curious about how science fared in 2014, Nature published an excellent recap of the year. Readers may like to start with Nature's 10, a special feature that profiles 10 scientists who made big contributions in 2014, including a man who helped land a robot on a comet, a woman who advanced cancer treatments, and a compilation of researchers who helped combat Ebola, challenged findings on cosmic inflation, and clarified some difficult questions in molecular biology. Other interesting articles look at the year's top stories; the most-read news stories; an excellent section covering the year's top images; and a fun quiz. [CNH]
As the website for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) notes: "Everyone is interested in the weather." The information on this website can easily be viewed by Themes, including Climate, Water, Oceans, Environment, Natural Hazards, Socio-Economic Benefits, Observations, Research, and others. For instance, selecting Climate navigates to a page loaded with information on climate systems, climate change, climate research, climate risk management, and other topics. Conversely, selecting The Oceans leads to an in-depth article about the WMO's forecast and warning systems. Of interest for educators, there is also a Youth Corner (in the left hand menu bar) that covers everything from careers in meteorology to notes on rain and freshwater. [CNH]
The mission of the Plank space observatory included a number of fascinating goals, such as measuring the amount of dark matter in the universe, testing theories of inflation, studying the origins of the universe, and examining the material composition of other galaxies. In short, Planck used highly sensitive instruments to observe the cosmic microwave background, which "preserves a picture of the Universe as it was about 380,000 years after the Big Bang, and can reveal the initial conditions for the evolution of the Universe." Readers can find much to explore on this page of the European Space Agency website, including excellent information in the About Planck tab. The Microwave Universe, The Spacecraft, The Mission, and a host of amazing images and videos housed under the Multimedia tab round out the site. [CNH]
For educators who are looking for a progressive supplement to the current mainstream high school or college history courses, this site, based on the writings and inspirations of historian Howard Zinn, offers a plethora of interesting resources. Zinn, who died in 2010, was best known for his book, A People's History of the United States, which focused its analysis on the experiences of less powerful people in American history, rather than elite politicians and businessmen. On the site readers can Explore by Theme (African American, Art & Music, Democracy & Citizenship, Disability, Math, Media, and many others) or Explore by Time Period (Colonization, Revolution & Constitution, Early 19th Century, Civil War Era, and others). Selecting Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920-1944 will reveal three pages of resources that can be whittled down by Resource Type or Reading Level. Not sure exactly what you're looking for? The complete collection of resources can be found within Teacher Materials or by using the well-developed search functionality. [CNH]
The Physics Classroom is an "online, free to use physics website developed for beginning physics students and their teachers." The entire project was created by a high school physics educator from Glenview, Illinois; this section of the website, the Multimedia Studios, features a number of helpful resources, including dozens of simple, informative multimedia presentations. For instance, under the category 1-Dimensional Kinetics, readers will find explanations of Average vs. Instantaneous Speed or Acceleration vs. Constant Velocity, each with their own explanatory graphic. Other categories include Newton's Laws, Vectors and Projectiles, Momentum and Collisions, Work and Energy, Circular, Satellite, and Rotational Motion. [CNH]
This website "about endangered species and the efforts to save them," is designed to educate both children and adults about the plights of hundreds of different endangered species from around the world. Readers may scout the site via a number of useful sections. For instance, the Endangered area provides readers with information about such incredible animals as the Black Rhinoceros, the Golden Lion Tamarin, and others. The site provides an overview of each animal, including a photograph, information about the animal, the causes of its endangerment, and the conservation actions that are being taken on in its behalf. The site also features a wonderful Video section, and the Classroom delivers classroom activities, a glossary, a bibliography, and other resources. [CNH]
What can't a discerning reader find on Critical Commons, the public media archive that "supports the transformative reuse of media in scholarly and creative contexts?" At the time of this writing, the Featured Clips section of the site includes a trailer for the 1960 cult classic Peeping Tom, the opening sequence from the hit 1970s TV show The Bionic Woman, and a clip from the 2009 version of Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr. Each video clip is accompanied by a paragraph or two of excellent commentary from the site's well-educated staff. Perhaps the most focused way to experience the site is to select Browse, which links to a search engine. Readers may then search Media, Lectures, Articles, Commentaries, and Contributors. For instance, searching the topic, "money," in the "media" category, turns up a host of fascinating video clips, including an ACDC music video, a short clip from Shawshank Redemption, and some sage advice on consumer spending. [CNH]
Aside from page after page of beautiful architecture and design, Urban Land Magazine also offers readers a peek into how real estate developers and urban planners are seeing the changing dynamics of the world's cities. Here, readers will find articles in seven different sections: Industry Sectors, Capital Markets, Market Trends, Sustainability, Development, Infrastructure, and Planning & Design. One particularly interesting article, written by Daniel Lobo and published on April 24, 2015, profiles six new library designs from around the country, including the innovative Cedar Rapids Public Library and the beautiful Hillary Rodham Clinton Children's Library and Learning Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. [CNH]
The American Museum of Natural History has been educating citizens and students since 1869. Its exhibitions are world-renowned for bringing to life both science and culture. Nature's Fury: The Science of Natural Disasters is no exception to the museum's rich learning environment. And while the full experience is likely best viewed in person, there are many educational artifacts on this website. The short video on the landing page is a great place to start, as it explains the ideas that undergird the exhibit. Then, users can make their way through the various sections of the site, including About the Exhibition, Earthquakes and Tsunamis, Volcanoes, Tornadoes, and Hurricanes. Each section features an excellent educational article, as well as videos and photographs that tell vivid stories. The Additional Resources page features links to disaster agencies around the web. [CNH]
For those who like to keep up on the fast-breaking news of the tech industry, the Reuters section dedicated to technology stories will not disappoint. Recent articles have covered everything from Apple's profit margin on the Apple Watch to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) app designed to record police. Readers may Browse By Page or Browse By Date, and there is an excellent search engine built into the site. Founded in 1851, the Reuters news agency is often considered one of the world's most trusted news sources, and its coverage of tech news is a welcome addition for readers fascinated by the expanding world of technology. [CNH]
The Art Nerd City Guides started out as one woman's love song to the New York art scene. It has come a long way in the last five years, expanding to include a web site each for Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. Articles cover art openings, artist interviews, opportunities for community art, studio visits, gallery reviews, and a host of other themes, memes, and points of interest. For instance, on the New York site, readers may peruse the Map of New York City with highlighted art scenes, find the latest happenings under the What's Up tab, discover the edgier side of things with Artventures, and watch Art-spirational videos (found under the Obsessions tab). Whichever city one is exploring, the Art Nerd City Guides provide an excellent, witty, in-the-know look at what's happening in contemporary art. [CNH]
Did the Aztec really practice human sacrifice? Who invented the toothbrush? What is the smallest country in the world? Ask History, a blog from the History Channel, answers these questions and hundreds more just like them. If you have ever wondered how fast the world's population is growing, where the dollar sign came from, or when the United States started using time zones, then this fascinating back and forth of questions and answers is for you. In addition to the well-composed articles that answer these fascinating questions, most articles feature a list of links - both to other articles in the section, and to videos, podcasts, and explanations from around the sizable History.com site. Readers may also search the site by Most Popular (for instance, Did George Washington have wooden teeth?), Top Categories (Crime, Royalty, and others), or by using the Google-powered Custom Search. [CNH]
While the layout of this site may not immediately impress, there are true and beautiful gems hidden only just below the surface. The site features seven poets and dozens of poems - each of them carefully composed and lovingly offered to the interested public. Each poem is presented in print form as well as in audio, as read by the authors. Seamus Heaney, who won a Nobel Prize for Poetry in 1995, reads "Bogland," "The Tollund Man," "Casualty," and other famous poems. The former Poet Laureate of the United States, Robert Pinsky, gives an introduction to the readings, and then reads "The Night Game," "Ode to Meaning," "To Television," and others. Yusef Komunyakaa, Philip Levine, Margaret Walker, and Richard Wilbur are also featured here, while the Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz reads his poems in the original Polish. [CNH]
The Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a collaborative digital repository that holds both digital objects and descriptions that have been contributed by archives, museums, libraries, or in this case, a boarding school for boys, Phillips Academy Andover. The collection is made up of 69 digital items, primarily yearbooks, course catalogs, and publications from Phillips Academy Andover and Abbot Academy, its sister school for girls. Most items will refer users back to NOBLE Digital Heritage (North of Boston Library Exchange), the contributing consortium. While the metadata has been contributed to the Digital Commonwealth, more digitized content is often available elsewhere. For example, 50 years of digitized volumes of the Abbot Academy Bulletin, 1923 - 1973 are available at the Internet Archive. Also of interest to librarians and archivists, metadata from the Digital Commonwealth is contributed to the DPLA, the Digital Public Library of America. Browse the For Libraries section, and see "Metadata Requirements & Guidelines" for an outline of how this works. [DS]
Created by Swiss designers Marco Muller and Alexis Reigel, Metaflop is an online tool that allows users to create their own fonts. While this may sound daunting, the platform makes the process easy and fun, allowing readers to familiarize themselves with typeface terms like "ascenders," "cap heights," "overshoot," "descenders," and "contrasts" in a playful, low-pressure environment. One easy way to begin is to select "metafonts," which draws up a list of preexisting letter designs. Selecting any of these navigates to the "modulator." From there, readers may play at will, adjusting unit width, pen width, glyph angle, and other variables. The program is approachable - and the best way to learn is to simply jump in and start making changes! Once you're happy with your results, you can download your webfont for embedding on your website or as an opentype postscript font (.oft) that can be used in applications supporting otf. [CNH]
For readers who download movies, audio files, large PDFs, and other big files, one of the frustrations of the Internet experience can be waiting around while a browser figures out what to do with the abundance of information. This powerful, easy-to-use Mozilla Firefox extension takes care of that problem, allowing users to download multiple media all at once - and fast. As a download manager, it gives users the power to pick and choose what content from a page they would like (including, if desired, everything). As a download accelerator it can make the process up to 400 percent faster. This add-on is free and works with Windows, Linux, and Mac, however, users must have already installed Firefox to use it. [CNH]
Tesla unveils batteries to power homes
Will Tesla's battery change the energy market?
Tesla Battery Economics: On the Path to Disruption
Tesla's New Battery Will Make Lithium Ion the Next AA
Who Is Tesla's Home Battery For?
What backing up your home with Tesla's battery might be like
Founded in 2003, Tesla Motors, Inc. had, until very recently, concentrated its considerable resources almost entirely on producing electric cars. In that guise the innovative manufacturing company produced the first ever fully electric sports car (the Tesla Roadster) and a fully electric luxury sedan (the Model S). So when chief executive Elon Musk announced Tesla's foray into home power with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery unit named Powerwall, it caused somewhat of a stir among technology pundits. Commentators around the world asked if the relatively inexpensive, super-efficient battery might change the energy market, by allowing consumers to store substantial energy from solar panels.[CNH]
The first link takes readers to balanced coverage of the story from BBC. Next, Nature's Davide Castelvecchi wonders whether Tesla's new technology will change the energy market, while Gizmodo calls the release "a shot fired in an incredible energy storage disruption." In the fourth article from Wired, Klint Finley points out that Tesla's existing car business and its planned 10-million-square-foot factory give it a big edge on its battery-making competitors. Meanwhile, New York Times journalist Vikas Bajaj wonders who - with a price tag of over $3,000 - the new Powerwall batteries are really for. Finally, the Washington Post examines what using a Powerwall battery to back up an average house might actually be like.
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|Internet Scout Team|
|Catherine Dixon||[CBD]||Managing Editor|
|Debra Shapiro||[DS]||Contributing Editor|
|Kendra Bouda||[KAB]||Metadata and Information Specialist|
|Elzbieta Beck||[EB]||Internet Cataloger|
|Samantha Abrams||[SA]||Internet Cataloger|
|Corey Halpin||[CRH]||Software Engineer|
|Yizhe (Charles) Hu||[YH]||Web Developer|
|Cea Stapleton||[CS]||Web Developer|
|Zev Weiss||[ZW]||Technical Specialist|
|Chris Wirz||[CW]||Administrative Coordinator|
|Annie Ayres||[AA]||Administrative Assistant|
|Adam Schwartz||[AS]||Administrative Assistant|
For information on additional contributors, see the Internet Scout staff page.