The Scout Report
September 25, 2015 -- Volume 21, Number 37
A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Facing History and Ourselves: Educator Resources
Work in Progress: The Hewlett Foundation Blog
Science Advances: Combustion of available fossil fuel resources sufficient to eliminate the Antarctic Ice Sheet
Cuban Missile Crisis: Tools for Teachers
National STEM Centre: Technology Resources
Probability Lesson Starters and Online Activities
A New Nation Votes
The Dana Foundation: Kids
DevArt: Art made with code
The New York Times: Transgender Resources
The African Studies Collection
Medical Dictionary: Comprehensive Medical Terminology Search
The Big Roundtable: Publishing nonfiction short stories
Buffer: A Smarter Way to Share on Social Media
Looking at Greece's Debt Crisis in Light of Another Syriza Victory
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Since its founding in 1976, the creators of Facing History and Ourselves have stressed the importance of educators in shaping "a humane, well-educated citizenry that practices civility and preserves human rights." For teachers who align with these values, this assortment of Educator Resources offers a virtual trove of aids, lesson plans, activities, and other tools that focus on how history took shape and how it continues to shape the present. While a number of these resources are only available to those with a free user profile, numerous items are available without logging in and are free of charge. The Highlights from Our Collection selection provides a nice overview of the items that are available here, including tremendous materials on topics such as Holocaust and Human Behavior and Race and Membership in American History. There are also materials related to Elie Wiesel's classic memoir, Night, a multimedia resource that tells the story of twelve diplomats who assisted Jews during the Holocaust, and other items designed to help students understand the range of human behavior. Each project includes impressive background information, key questions, and other orienting ideas. [CNH]
While the content of the Work In Progress blog tends to orbit the general goals, initiatives, and programs of The Hewlett Foundation, there is plenty here for educators and readers broadly interested in education on a global scale. For instance, recent posts have profiled an elementary school in Uganda, offered tips on grant compliance, and provided an overview of the social media response to a report on the role of citizen-led assessments. Readers may scout the blog by categories such as photo essays, performing arts, environment, education, and others, or identify an inspiring author and read all of that contributor's articles by selecting his or her name on the right-hand side of the homepage. In sum, this blog offers a welcome introduction to the philanthropically funded educational work that the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation does in the United States and abroad. [CNH]
This article from Science Advances, an open-source, online journal created by the publishers of Science, asks a simple question: What would happen to the Antarctic ice sheets if the nations of the world used all of the presently known fossil fuel reserves? The answer? If the world uses all of the known reserves, including tar-sands oil and shale gas, approximately ten trillion tons of carbon will be released into the atmosphere. That amount of carbon would raise global temperatures enough to melt nearly all of the ice in Antarctica. In turn, sea levels would rise by approximately three meters (9.84 feet) per century over the next thousand years. Readers may like to begin by reading the paper's Abstract, which summarizes and outlines the findings. Various charts, figures, and maps round out the research and tell the story in stunning detail. Interested readers will also find a downloadable PDF of the article, which at five pages offers a nice, brief addition to course readings or a quick read over morning coffee. [CNH]
The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University has assembled this informative website about the Cuban Missile Crisis, a series of events that, if handled differently, could have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions of people. This website does a wonderful job of recreating the drama that ensued over two weeks in the fall of 1962 when President Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev went "eyeball to eyeball" in negotiations concerning the presence of Soviet nuclear weapons on the island of Cuba. Readers may like to begin with the About the Crisis tab for an outline of the events. The Lessons tab, in which scholars from the Belfer Center reflect on the lessons that policymakers have drawn from the crisis, is another great feature of the site. In addition, educators will find reading lists, videos, media depictions, tools for teachers, and other resources under the tab labeled For Educators. [CNH]
While Britain's National Stem Centre website is loaded with resources related to science, technology, engineering, and math, the technology section is particularly noteworthy. Here readers will find 1,353 unique resources. Topics are aimed at different age groups beginning in elementary school and ending in high school. Subjects include everything from engineering to the culinary arts and usually include multiple resources. For instance, Water for the World, a series of activities designed for high school students, includes a four-minute video, teacher's notes and a technical brief (both in PDF format), and a PowerPoint presentation. One caveat: the site requires a free sign up that takes several minutes and asks for information regarding one's roles (e.g. teacher, administrator, etc.) and the institution for which one works. [CNH]
Simply defined, probability is the measure of the likeliness that an event will occur. Often represented as a number between 0 and 1, where 0 indicates impossibility and 1 represents certainty, a great deal of mystery lies within these narrow conceptual confines. This site, from Transum Mathematics, offers hundreds of probability activities, as well as links to other websites containing probability related videos, teacher resources, and more. For example, under Probability Starters, readers will find interactives such as Bus Stop, which asks the question, "How many different ways can four people stand in line." It then offers an image of four characters that can be dragged and placed around the screen to illustrate the lesson. In another lesson starter (under Advanced Probability Starters), readers will find the Best Dice activity, in which students must choose between four sets of dice to find the one that would be most likely to roll the highest numbers. [CNH]
A New Nation Votes is "a searchable collection of election returns from the earliest years of American democracy." Compiled by scholar and historian Phillip J. Lampi with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the site can be scouted by State, Year, Office, Jurisdiction, Party, and Election Type. For instance, readers may select the state of Connecticut, which returns 243 results, and then select Connecticut 1790 Governor. Here they will find a transcribed notice that was printed in the Litchfield Monitor, in which the twelve candidates receiving the highest number of votes were elected to the Council of Assistants. In addition, readers may browse candidates in alphabetical order and learn, among many other facts, that a Mr. Garret Lacey was elected to the New Jersey Assembly in Sussex County once in 1820 and a second time in 1821. For educators looking for information about the early electoral history of the United States, this page provides many wonderful details. [CNH]
The Dana Foundation is on a mission to promote education about the human brain, and the Kid's section of the organization's website is packed with fun-filled educational activities and suggestions. Why not start with the Fun section, where readers will find links to dozens of games for elementary school, middle school, and high school students. The Lab is another great place to spend time on the site. Here readers can explore an interactive brain atlas, comparative mammalian brain collectives, and other wonders. In addition, the site features tabs dedicated to Brain Awareness Week, which takes place each March, and resources designed to help Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other related groups plan a troop meeting about neuroscience. Finally, Recent Articles appear at the bottom of the page and cover such topics as cognitive impairment from soccer head injuries and the mysteries of the teenage brain. [CNH]
Kathleen Fitzpatrick wears many hats. She is the Director of Scholarly Communication at the Modern Language Association. She is a Visiting Research Professor of English at New York University. And she is the author of two books, The Anxiety of Obsolescence: The American Novel in the Age of Television and Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy, both of which address issues of the text as a form of expression in an age of constantly fluctuating and amorphous information. This blog (also called Planned Obsolescence) is a continually evolving, polymorphous addendum of Fitzpatrick's thoughts on issues ranging from given names to all-girl a cappella groups to the problems and possibilities of digital networks. While the backlog of entries is extensive, there was a long break between December 2014 and September 2015. However, Fitzpatrick seems to be writing and posting once more. [CNH]
DevArt, which is hosted by Google, features artwork by artists using "technology as the canvas and code as the raw materials to create innovative, engaging digital art installations." On the site, readers may like to simply select the visual images that most appeal to them. Once an image is selected, a profile appears, which describes the artist, his or her project and process, and often a short video that includes interviews with artists and images of the work. The site can also be scouted by languages (c, c++, css, java, etc.), platforms (android, ios, linux, windows, etc.), APIs (github, drive, flickr, maps, twitter, etc.), and Project Types (Commissioned, Finalist, Shortlisted, Featured, Catalogued). For readers who are fascinated by the interface between technology and the fine arts, DevArt will provide hours of wonder. [CNH]
As this resource page from the New York Times website notes, "Being transgender today is still unreasonably hard, but it is far from hopeless." These dozens of resources can provide support for those persons dealing with the stresses of living a transgender identity. They can also be useful to people who are struggling with the transgender identities of loved ones, or for allies who would like to learn more. The resources are divided into eight categories, including Hotlines, Youth, Law and Advocacy, Interest Groups, Service and Veterans, Work and Health, Resources for Families and Allies, and Further Reading. Each category features multiple possibilities. For instance, Further Reading features such sources of information as the Williams Institute, a research center at UCLA that focuses on gender identity law, and the Trans Oral History Project, a site dedicated to collecting the stories of transgendered people. [CNH]
Harold E. Scheub, a professor of African Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, walked more than 6,000 miles through South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho, to record the oral traditions featured on this site. Readers may like to begin by exploring the three basic categories of Images, Sounds, and South African Voices. The Images consist of over 4,000 photographs of people, buildings, and neighborhoods. Meanwhile Sounds features over 7,000 interviews, songs, and other audible wonders. Finally, the South African Voices section is divided into three volumes, A Long Time Passed, Created in Olden Times, and The Way We Travelled. Each volume is divided into multiple chapters, each annotated with English headings that orient the reader toward the time, place, situation, characters, and basic themes of the text. Visitors can also search the collection by date, publisher, subject, or many other fields. [CNH]
Papyri.info offers two primary services, both of which are well worth exploring for readers who love ancient papyrological documents. First, the Papyrological Navigator (PN) enables readers to search, browse, and aggregate ancient papyrological documents and their related materials. Second, the Papyrological Editor (PE) empowers readers to become active participants in "multi-author, version controlled, peer reviewed scholarly curation of papyrological texts, translations, commentary, scholarly metadata, institutional catalog records, bibliography, and images." To use the PN, readers need only select Search the Navigator to access the advanced search page that allows users to scout by text, metadata, translations, and many other variables. The PE may be accessed by selecting Contribute Content. However, readers will need to create a free account using their Google+, Yahoo, Facebook, Amazon, or Twitter account to enjoy this feature. [CNH]
While this visually simple service leaves something to be desired in terms of aesthetics, it is a powerful tool for readers who may sometimes find themselves befuddled by the multitude of terminologies in the medical world. Readers who have a confusing medical word or phrase that they want to understand may simply type or paste it into the search box. For instance, entering "kainic acid" returns the explanation that this substance is "a glutamate analogue that exhibits powerful and long-acting excitatory and toxic activity on neurons." The search engine also allows readers to select "fuzzy search" when they are not certain how to spell a term. This activates an Internet-wide search that clarifies the search. In addition, readers may scout the dictionary by letter, which can make for hours of entertainment as one scrolls through definitions of C factors, C fibers, C genes, C group viruses, and so on. [CNH]
Launched in June 2013, the Big Roundtable publishes short nonfiction stories about everything from the swelling tide of Chinese students matriculating into American universities to the strange passions of Leonard Knight, the designer and builder of Salvation Mountain, the adobe hill meant to proclaim God's love for the world. Guided by the magazine's core values of Voice, Inclusion, Surprise, and Journalism, editors at the Big Roundtable gather together refreshingly rich tales of humanity into each issue. Here readers will find personal reflections on hidden family dynamics, investigations of the prison-industrial complex, undercover observations of the American Nazi party, and much, much more. Interested readers may also submit their own story for possible inclusion, or sign up for an email newsletter to stay up-to-date with the latest features and projects from the Big Roundtable. [CNH]
An interesting complement to the comprehensive newspaper collections held by many libraries, Elephind is something of a boutique collection. The digital newspaper collections search engine contains 2,705 fully digitized newspaper titles, provided by about 21 library partners, that range from the Door County Library (Wisconsin) with one title, to the US Library of Congress with 1,060 titles and The National Library of Australia somewhere in between, at 681. With that range, Elephind is not going to answer all questions, but should be able to provide a wealth of information for some inquiries. For example, I found nothing on my paternal grandfather, whose obituary appeared in the New York Times in 1952. Observing that the Digital Daily Kent Stater Archive is part of Elephind, I tried a search for "kent state shooting 1971" and retrieved 33 results, but it was difficult to eliminate false drops such as "kent" in a personal name. For effective use of this search engine, check the list of newspaper titles carefully - if a user is seeking information on a topic that was covered in one of the titles in Elephind, good results should be retrieved. Otherwise, it is a something of a needle in a haystack search. [DS]
For readers who would like to design simple apps for their small businesses, classrooms, nonprofits, or other groups, AppsBar can be a helpful service. Readers will want to begin by creating a free account. From there, it can be useful to explore the various templates and code libraries from which one may create a customized app. Typically, it takes three to four hours for first-time users to create an app using AppsBar. However, most users find that the second time around takes about half as much time. While the service is a little rigid, and some users report wanting more flexibility, for ease of use, AppsBar is hard to beat. [CNH]
For those readers who post consistently on various social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+, Buffer can add some much-needed organization. Put simply, Buffer automates the timing of social media posts so that a user can compose a slew of updates in a short period of time, and then add them to the Buffer queue. Forthwith, Buffer will check the overall reposting patterns of the various social media services, and post one's updates at what it deems to be appropriate times, thereby attempting to increase likes, reposts, and replies. When readers are skeptical of Buffer's suggestions, they may override and time posts themselves. For readers who take their social media presence seriously, Buffer can expedite the process. [CNH]
Greece election: Alexis Tsipras hails 'victory of the people'
Greece's Debt Crisis Explained
How Greece's prime minister rose from high school activist to high politics
Eurozone vs. EU: What's the difference?
Greece's Ex-Finance Minister Tells All
Supporters were jubilant earlier this week when Greece's election results revealed that Alexis Tsipras had won his second election in less than a year. But Mr. Tsipras's left-leaning party, Syriza, faces profound obstacles in the months to come. The nation's economy has shrunk more than a quarter in the last five years. Unemployment stands at a staggering 35 percent. And the government will now have to implement the policies to which Mr. Tsipras agreed during a much-publicized showdown with international debtors this summer. Among other austerity measures, Greek citizens will have to endure cut wages, decreased pensions, increased insurance contributions, a reform to early retirement, and a privatization program aimed at the nation's failing electricity network. Given the context, even the most optimistic Syriza supporters have greeted the news of their leader's big win with a hefty dose of sobriety about the months to come. [CNH]
The first link, from the BBC, provides coverage of the recent election, in which Syriza maintained its majority with 145 seats in Greece's parliament. Next, a helpful article from the New York Times explains how the debt crisis developed and what it means for the rest of the world. The third link navigates to a Huffington Post section dedicated to Alexis Tsipras, including dozens of articles published since March of last year. In the fourth link, Business Insider's Shane Ferro chronicles the rise of Alexis Tsipras, from high school activist to prime minister. Finally, the fifth link navigates to an explanation of the difference between the Eurozone and the European Union, while the last link takes readers to an in-depth New Yorker article in which Greece's former finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, speaks his mind on the pressures of working with the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.
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|Internet Scout Team|
|Catherine Dixon||[CBD]||Managing Editor|
|Debra Shapiro||[DS]||Contributing Editor|
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