The Scout Report
September 18, 2015 -- Volume 21, Number 36
A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
RAND: Academic Achievement
Authentic Assessment Toolbox
Adequacy, Litigation, and Student Achievement
The Center for Genomic Gastronomy
MHS Museum: Online Collections
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: In Circulation
Barking Up The Wrong Tree
Blackbird: An online journal of literature and the arts
Beauties of America: Staffordshire Pottery
What Can Birds Tell Us About Love?
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Physics Girl is the brain child of MIT graduate Dianna Cowern, a self-professed "physics enthusiast and brainstorming wizard" who started shooting videos about hard science topics as a "post-baccalaureate 'not sure what I'm supposed to do with my life' project." It has since taken off - garnering hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and press coverage from US News & World Report, Slate, and other media outlets. On the site, readers may like to start with the Popular Videos section of the home page. Moving on, readers will also find a well-stocked archive of YouTube videos exploring questions such as "Why is the universe flat?" and "What's the difference between a solar and lunar eclipse?" Teachers and educators will particularly enjoy the Education section of the website, replete with Educational Video Topics, links to Other Awesome Physics YouTube Channels, and an option that allows readers to submit their own ideas for future topics. The Blog, while a less active component of the Physics Girl site, offers musings on a range of interesting topics, from "Ten Quirky Facts About Quarks" to "How To Create An Effective Science Video." In all, this website is a wonderful resource for science teachers and others who are looking for pithy, entertaining videos on a range of topics. [CNH]
The mission of the Rand Corporation is to "help improve policy and decision making through research and analysis." Known for its centrist theoretical underpinnings, Rand tends to emphasize quantitatively-based analyses of complex issues, and this page, dedicated to research on academic achievement, aligns with that theme. Here readers will find journal articles, commentaries, reports, and news releases concerning a number of achievement related topics, such as "The Effect of Attending Full-Day Kindergarten on English Learner Students," by Jill Canon, Alison Jacknowitz, and Gary Painter. While some links lead to articles that are located behind pay walls, there are plenty of abstracts to peruse and the news releases, reports, and blogs are freely available for all site visitors. The page can also be searched by content type (e.g. blog, report, journal article, etc.), subtopic, and author name. [CNH]
Founded in 1999, the HistoryMakers has always been committed to recording and making accessible the experiences of African Americans. Readers may want to begin with the biographies featured on the home page. At the time of this writing, these included interviews with artists, educators, business people, entertainers, doctors, and other Black Americans who have made an impact in their fields. There are also interesting resources in the Education section, where readers may watch a 4-minute video introduction to the HistoryMakers, or learn about a number of HistoryMakers projects, such as the NSF-sponsored project "ScienceMakers," in which 180 African American scientists were interviewed. It should be noted that readers will need to create a free account on the site in order to access clips of the video biographies, and only those readers who pay the $30 per month fee may access the full array of over 300 biographical interviews on the site. Nevertheless, the written biographies alone are well worth a visit, and they are accessible without sign up or payment. [CNH]
Typing.com's free Typing Lessons are a helpful resource for those looking to learn how to type or those who are hoping to hone in on their typing skills. Users may select their skill level, such as Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced, to open dozens of lessons on the proper use of a keyboard. For instance, the first three lessons under the Beginner category cover the letters J, F, and Space Bar. Each exercise ends with an evaluation of typing speed (words per minute), accuracy, time spent typing, and an identification of problem keys. The Beginner category includes 14 lessons, including two reviews and a wrap up, while the Intermediate category includes 10 lessons, and the Advanced category boasts eight lessons. Whatever a reader's level, the site offers plenty of practice for typing skills. One caveat, however, is that the free version of the site contains ads. An ad-free experience is available for those willing to pay a nominal fee. [CNH]
In his introduction to this useful site, psychology professor Jon Mueller presents two arguments. First, he claims that our current educational system fails to teach the need for critical skills for success in the 21st century. Second, he posits that the reason for this is, at least partially, due to confusion about how to assess those skills. The website is an answer to that confusion. Here educators will find Mueller's program of Authentic Assessment. Readers may like to begin with the first three sections of the site, "What is it?," "Why do it?," and "How do you do it," before moving onto sections that explain such topics as Standards, Rubrics, and Tasks. Throughout the site, Mueller makes a genuine attempt to provide both a philosophical backdrop for his assessment techniques and the sorts of down-to-earth tools that educators can easily use in their classrooms. [CNH]
As this article notes, the court system has served as "an increasingly important forum in the attempts to remedy the persistent gaps in American education." One strategy that legal advocates have used over the past 20 years has been finance adequacy litigation - that is, suing districts or states for underfunding certain schools. This article from Open Educational Resources, examines the relationship between school finance adequacy litigation and academic proficiency. Readers may like to begin with the summary, which outlines the argument and findings of the article. For a more in-depth understanding, readers may then continue to read the Introduction, Methodology, Data, Results, and Conclusions. Figure 1, in the results section, is especially helpful as it visually articulates the argument that, in fact, successful adequacy litigation does not seem to increase student outcomes. [CNH]
The Center for Genomic Gastronomy thinks of itself as "an artist-led think tank that examines the biotechnologies and biodiversity of human food systems." As such, it hopes to provide readers with information about food controversies, offer alternatives to our culinary cultures, and "imagine a more just, biodiverse, & beautiful food system." The site has a youthful, tech-savvy feel. Here readers will find lectures about food politics (under the Talks tab), tracts dedicated to "experimental eating" and other tropes (under the Texts tab), and a backlog of hundreds of Blog entries that outline the activities of the Center, from presentations in Moscow to hosted dinners in Sausalito. For readers who are fascinated by the cutting edge of food culture, the Center for Genomic Gastronomy is worth exploring. [CNH]
These online collections from the Montana Historical Society (MHS) lovingly reflect the histories, cultures, and arts of the state of Montana and its surrounding regions. Readers may want to begin by browsing the more than 1,600 art works that compose the Art collection. Here they will find landscape paintings, wood sculptures of bears, buffalo, and other wildlife, and portraits of the people who have called Montana home for generations. The American Indian collection also features diverse works of art, including bust portraits, painted portraits, and American Indian crafts. Finally, the Historical collections reveal nearly 300 historically significant objects, such as a WWI uniform, a model Ship of Matrimony that was used to commemorate an early 20th century wedding, and many other pieces. [CNH]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's library features a wide array of collections and research activities related to art from around the world, and its blog, aptly titled In Circulation, touts the latest news about the library's holdings, offering in-depth entries about an array of topics. For instance, at the time of this writing, the site featured a short treatise on the art of the labor movement by metadata and collections librarian, William Bleuher. Readers will also find Gwen Mayhew's article, "Children's Books in So Many Languages!" prominently displayed. The site can be searched by author (of which there are more than 30), department (such as Drawings and Prints, Asian Art, and Paper Conservation), and Tags (for example, Special Collections, Digital Collections, and Digitization). [CNH]
According to Eric Barker, the author of the blog, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, his creation "brings you science-based answers and expert insight on how to be awesome at life." Updated weekly, the blog covers topics such as "Secrets To Success: 6 Tips From The Most Successful People" and "How To Increase Mental Toughness: 4 Secrets Of Navy SEALs And Olympians." While this may sound like just another success-oriented blog, what sets Barker's posts apart is that each one references a study (or multiple studies) to back up his points. For instance, when Barker writes about "How To Attract Good Luck," he does not simply offer his idiosyncratic insights, he quotes Richard Wiseman, a psychology professor who has studied luck throughout his career. For readers who are looking for some easily digestible self-help tips that are usually cross referenced with some pretty decent empirical research, Barking Up the Wrong Tree can be a nice place to start. [CNH]
For readers with an insatiable appetite for trivia, knowledge, and answers to questions of all kinds, Answers.com can be considered either a giant time suck or a small marvel of the information age. Readers can use the site in several ways. First, they may type a question into the search box at the top of the page and click "Go." For instance, entering "why is the sky blue?" returns an answer from an author named RUClimate which has received 33.9K "confidence votes," meaning that over 30 thousand people found the answer worth reading. Thematic headings (Lifestyle, Food, Politics, and more) provide another way to explore the site, or readers can simply meander through the categories of their own choosing (Sports, Science, Animal Life, etc.). One caveat: there are ads on the site, and sometimes they can be a bit flashy. [CNH]
Few free online literary magazines can top the emotional depth and intellectual vigor of Blackbird. A joint project from the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and New Virginia Review, Inc., Blackbird presents poems, stories, essays, and other beautiful examples of written work. The Spring 2015 issue, posted on the landing page at the time of this writing, starts with a Foreword that briefly introduces the issue, which includes an In Memoriam list honoring such luminaries as Mark Strand, Philip Levine, and Tomaz Salamun, along with examples of their poems from past issues. In addition, this specific issue features readings by first-time novelist Helene Wecker, and poetry readings by Hal Crowther and Margaret Gibson. The best aspect of the site, however, is the archive of back issues, which stretches back to 2002 and features some of the brightest minds in fiction, poetry, and literary criticism. [CNH]
Lifehacker is a popular blog that dedicates its substantial energies to "tips, tricks, and downloads for getting things done." New readers may want to start by perusing the Lifehacker Index, which can be found on the About page. Here they will find six orienting sections, including Lifehacker 101, How to Find Any Post on Lifehacker, Popular Categories, Recurring Features, Lifehacker Sub-Blogs, and How to Contribute to Lifehacker. After reading one or more of these posts, readers may want to circle back to the home page where posts explore such topics as "Why You Shouldn't Pick a Wine Just Because It's 'Award Winning'" and "The Best Way to Pack a Suitcase: Five Methods Compared." There is also a search feature that allows for easy finding of specific life hacks. With thousands of handy tips, Lifehacker is a helpful tool for anyone looking for the best ways to improve performance at work or at home. [CNH]
Those familiar with the organization probably tend to think of the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) as an independent library and source of research fellowships, with rich collections of printed materials documenting the 16th to the 19th centuries. However, in recent years the AAS has made available an ever-increasing number of digital resources, as evidenced by the Digital AAS section of its website (http://www.americanantiquarian.org/digitalaas ). AAS is also pursuing an active online exhibition program, including Beauties of America - Staffordshire Pottery, posted in 2010. Staffordshire Pottery owner, John Ridgway, toured the US for two months in 1822 and kept a journal of the pieces he collected and merchants he visited. Primary access to the exhibit begins with a map of the 13 colonies, where mousing over any city will bring up images of the pottery Ridgway saw there. There is also a curator's introduction and extensive bibliography that links to further resources in the AAS collections and beyond. [DS]
For readers who would like a basic, very easy-to-use online diagram application, draw.io could be the answer. The service utilizes simple drag-and-drop techniques to arrange images for non-professional users. First select a system to which you will save your diagrams (possibilities include Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, your computer, and your browser). Then select Create new diagram. From there, select images from the dozen or so categories on the left hand side of the screen and drag them to the workspace, where you can change their color, increase or decrease line widths, and generally edit the style to suit your needs. There is also a helpful Quick start video that readers can watch to help them understand the program. The application is free and does not require a sign up or any other commitment. [CNH]
Google Hangouts was launched in 2013 to bring together several similar but technologically distinct messaging and communication platforms. While the service has faced some criticism (especially concerning privacy issues), it features useful capabilities. Hangouts can be used for video or chat conversations between up to ten people at a time, which is a significant improvement over other free video and chat services. In addition, the platform can be used across devices, so whatever chat conversations users perform on their computers will transfer to their other devices, and vice versa. Users must subscribe to a free Google account to use Hangouts, or download a free app to use on Android or iOS devices. [CNH]
New study asks why birds fall in love
Birds Fall in Love Too, Speed Dating Experiment Shows
Fitness Benefits of Mate Choice for Compatibility in a Socially Monogamous Species
Discovering the Secrets of Long-Term Love
The Gottman Relationship Blog
Journal of Marriage and Family
A study published this week in PLOS Biology looked at mating patterns among zebra finches. In the first phase of the experiment, 20 female finches were allowed to choose mates from among 20 males. Then half of the couples were allowed to stay together, while the other half were separated and placed in relationships randomly. The result? Zebra finch couples that were allowed to stay with their chosen mates exhibited more monogamy, more egg fertilization, and achieved a whopping 37 percent higher reproductive success rate. While the researchers draw no conclusions about what insights the experiment might offer to lovers in 21st century America, some of the links below might help fill out the picture. [CNH]
The first and second links, from the Washington Post and Discovery News, respectively, navigate to coverage of the zebra finch study. Next, readers will find the study itself, which is freely available on the PLOS Biology website. The fourth link navigates to an article by Stanford University's Emma Seppala and extends the conversation into the world of human relationships with its examination of the research-based secrets of long-term love. The Gottman Relationship Blog, available via the fifth link, features posts loosely based on 30 years of John Gottman's groundbreaking research on love and intimacy in romantic relationships. Finally, readers will find much to ponder in the sample articles that are available online from the Journal of Marriage and Family, a highly cited, peer reviewed academic journal concerned with all aspects of marriage, close relationships, and families.
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|Internet Scout Team|
|Catherine Dixon||[CBD]||Managing Editor|
|Debra Shapiro||[DS]||Contributing Editor|
|Kendra Bouda||[KAB]||Metadata and Information Specialist|
|Samantha Abrams||[SA]||Internet Cataloger|
|Molly McBride||[MAM]||Internet Cataloger|
|Corey Halpin||[CRH]||Software Engineer|
|Yizhe (Charles) Hu||[YH]||Web Developer|
|Cea Stapleton||[CS]||Web Developer|
|Zev Weiss||[ZW]||Technical Specialist|
|Adam Schwartz||[AS]||Administrative Assistant|
|Mitchell Mckay||[MM]||Administrative Assistant|
|Zachary Thiede||[ZT]||Outreach/Communications Assistant|
|Hannah Mills||[HM]||Outreach/Communications Assistant|
For information on additional contributors, see the Internet Scout staff page.