The Scout Report
November 27, 2015 -- Volume 21, Number 46
A Publication of Internet Scout
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison
EUROPA: Teachers' Corner
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden: Download Teaching Modules
New York Public Library: For Teachers
Cambridge English: Resources for Teachers
Stinks, Bangs and Booms: The Rise and Fall of the American Chemistry Set
The Aspen Institute: Roundtable on Community Change
South Asian American Digital Archive
Awakening Joy: Blog
Holocaust Theater Catalog
Understanding the Upcoming Climate Talks in Paris
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This virtual warehouse of science-related blogs covers a staggering range of topics, from health habits to exoplanets. Readers may like to scout the site by subjects, which include Life Science, Physical Science, Environment, Medicine, and others. Contributing bloggers are culled from a wide array of scientific disciplines and write about a range of topics that they find most interesting. Greg Laden's popular entries, for instance, can be found under Life Science one week, Physical Science the next, and Environment the week after that, depending on the topic he tackles. Laden's most recent writings have examined the history of neuroscience, dark energy, and even Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. Educators are sure to find much to enliven their lesson plans within this excellent, variegated, "digital science salon." [CNH]
Educators teaching the history, economy, culture, and politics of the European Union will find many helpful resources on this fact-filled, attractive webpage from EUROPA, the official website of the European Union. Teaching resources have been sorted into four age groups (Up to 9 Years, Ages 9 to 12, Ages 12 to 15, and Ages 15 and over) and branch out to cover a variety of topics. For instance, the Up to 9 Years category features downloadable booklets, posters, a coloring book, and links to websites and online games on topics such as Food and Agriculture, Energy and Environment, and Safety. From the home page, readers may also explore a whole section dedicated to the Best Teaching Material on the EU, Useful Links, EU Games and Quizzes, and platforms for networking. [CNH]
Skepticism 101, the Skeptical Studies Curriculum Resource Center from Skeptic magazine, provides reams of resources built to inspire a critical, even aporetic, attitude toward the known and unknown phenomena of the universe. Here readers will find books, reading lists, course syllabi, in-class exercises, PowerPoint presentations, and student projects on topics ranging from what science is to tips for constructing effective arguments. Resources in the collection may be browsed by Topic, Resource Type, Academic Discipline, and Academic Level. For instance, selecting Critical Thinking and Skepticism navigates to a 4-minute video on the basics of skepticism, as well as an entire course concerned with Public Health & Skepticism, which includes learning outcomes and a downloadable syllabus with required readings, many useful web links, and an overview of the course. [CNH]
For decades, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG) has been "exploring, explaining, and conserving the world of tropical plants." Educators unable to tour the physical location in South Florida will welcome this phalanx of edifying materials. Here they will find Course Units on a variety of topics, including School Gardens, Ethnobotany, Basic Botany, Plant Adaptations and Conservation, and Tropical Botany. Each unit includes handouts, vocabulary lists, suggested homework assignments, lecture resources, and other activities to facilitate instruction and learning. For instance, Unit II: South Florida Plants and Ecosystems offers lecture resources and handouts, such as Native Plants for Your Garden, and activities like Life Under a Log and Native Plant Key. Free and easily downloadable, these teaching modules are a welcome find for educators looking for new and exciting ways to teach basic botany to elementary and middle school students. [CNH]
The New York Public Library (NYPL) is one of the nation's great centers of learning, and this blog channel For Teachers upholds and expands that standard. Here educators will find pages and pages of education-related blog post containing links to teacher resources, student projects, primary sources, and professional development opportunities. For instance, Andrea Lipinski's post, #WeNeedDiverseBooks: A Few of Our Favorites, provides an argument for books that showcase the experiences of characters of different races, languages, sexual orientations, abilities, and other areas of diversity. She then lists over a dozen favorites, including the story of a teenage girl caught in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake of 2010. Indeed, this resource from the NYPL can broaden the understanding of library opportunities and resources available to educators across many fields. [CNH]
For teachers of English as a Second Language, the Cambridge English website offers a host of resources based on the organization's 100-plus years of helping English language learners. While many of the resources here are geared toward English language requirements in the UK, any ESL teacher will find helpful tips in the many free sample papers, lesson plans, teacher guides, and videos. Resources may be searched across various options, including Qualification, CEFR Level, Resource, and Skill. For example, conducting a search with Qualification set to "Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)" and Skill set to "Listening" returns a handbook for teachers, sample papers, lesson plans, teacher guides, and an excellent, seven-minute video that highlights recent changes to the Great Britain's specification exams. All resources are either freely downloadable as zip files or PDFs or may be watched online via YouTube. [CNH]
TeachArchives.org, a site developed by the Brooklyn Historical Society, seeks to be "an innovative resource for teachers, administrators, librarians, archivists, and museum educators." Based on a four-point teaching philosophy detailed in the About section of the site, the project is designed to bring students into contact with primary sources in a fun and accessible way. The Articles section is a great place to begin, featuring a detailed How To section with exegeses on crafting learning objectives, choosing documents, creating handouts, and many other helpful areas. Success Stories are also available here and provide a space where experienced educators offer insight on such topics as Digging into the Collections and Engaging First Year Students. Next up, the Exercises section offers specific activities to engage students with archival materials. For instance, in Melissa Antinori's exercise, Bite-Sized Research: Annotating Civil War Correspondence, students read and analyze letters from the mid-19th century, creating annotations along the way that clarify places, people, and terms mentioned in their assigned correspondence. [CNH]
Have you ever wondered about the origins of the chemistry set or its evolution from the Young Chemists Pocket Companion of 1797 to the modern kits we know today? Stinks, Bangs and Booms answers those questions and more as it traces the rise and fall of the American chemistry set through four interactive chapters: Inception (1791), Heyday (1920-1960), The Decline (1960-1979), and The Resurgence (1980-Today). The engaging online interface was created by Bluecadet and draws upon the plentiful research and archival material of the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Interactive elements and mini-games keep readers interested and users have the opportunity to delve a little deeper or move on to the next section. One particularly interesting activity, featured in the Heyday chapter, includes listening to the short oral histories of professors, business leaders, and others as they remember their first chemistry sets. While most site visitors will be intrigued by the American chemistry set's colorful history, educators and librarians are sure to find many exciting uses for this amazing website. [CBD]
Bill Gates, technologist, business leader, and philanthropist, is also an immensely curious and engaged thinker who is interested in a range of seemingly intractable topics and problems. On Gates Notes, his personal blog, readers will find notes across such complex subjects as Saving Lives, Energy Innovation, and Improving Education. The home page is arranged into three easy-to-scout categories: Recent Posts, Popular, and Reading List, where Gates offers his thoughts on the books he's reading. Readers may also explore the site through such topics as Agriculture, Foreign Aid, HIV-AIDS, Polio, Vaccines, Big History, and many others. With his unparalleled access to brilliant thinkers from around the world, Gates engages many fascinating perspectives on this site. [CNH]
The Roundtable on Community Change, an initiative of the Aspen Institute, uses an equity lenses to examine issues of race, racism, and structural inequalities in the United States. On the site, readers will find erudite reports, publications, and links to other web resources. For instance, the report Great Power, Great Responsibility examines the responsibilities of journalists as they report on issues of race in America, while 10 Essential Questions for Policy Development, Review, and Evaluation is worth a careful read for anyone interested in how to implement an equity focus into discussions about public policy. [CNH]
Map lovers will find hours and hours worth of cartographic joys on this site that draws sources from the U.S. Geological Society, the National Library of Scotland, the Land Survey Office of the Czech Republic, and many other participating institutions. Beginning as a project between Klokan Technologies GmbH, Switzerland and The Great Britain Historical GIS Project, OldMapsOnline "aims to demonstrate a combination of tools for publishing historical maps with a focus on their easy accessibility for the general public." To scout the site readers may like to type a location into the search engine. For instance, entering New London, Connecticut returns maps from 1848, 1893, 1958, and 1989 of New London's harbors, landmarks, neighborhoods, and roads. Meanwhile, entering Abu Dhabi returns dozens of maps dating back to the 18th century, including a beautiful Map of Persia compiled by the British War Office in 1891. [CNH]
The South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) aims to "create a more inclusive society by giving voice to South Asian Americans through documenting, preserving, and sharing stories that represent their unique and diverse experiences." Readers may like to begin by reading the excellent short essay, "An Introduction to South Asian American History," which can be located under the Resources tab. From there, readers may browse the site by Theme, Subject, Collection, Source, Time Period, and other options. Tides, the online magazine of the archive, is another interesting feature of the site. Here readers will find articles that examine such issues as growing up South Asian in Queens, the effects of the 1965 Immigration Act, and the yoga scare that swept the nation in 1927. [CNH]
Awakening Joy is 5-month online course that fuses the ancient intelligence of the world's wisdom traditions with groundbreaking recent research into the psychology of happiness. While the course itself requires a significant investment, the Awakening Joy Blog is free to anyone. Here readers will find posts by meditation teacher, James Baraz and others as they outline strategies for true joy, including becoming socially active for the good of all, turning toward suffering, and developing positive mind states like gratitude and compassion. In addition, short videos by Baraz and Sylvia Boorstein bring home the importance of dynamic engagement with the heart and with others as key parts of a satisfying life. [CNH]
This erudite infographic from the webcomic mastermind behind xkcd, Randall Munroe, elucidates the history of the Senate and the House of Representatives from the nation's founding through the year 2012. Taking as a point of entry the number of members of congress who are left-leaning and right-leaning, the graphic traces historical trends that have shaped our politics over two centuries, from the original dispute between anti-administration factions who favored states' rights and the pro-administration coalition that promoted a central bank, to the advent of the tea party in response to the sweeping democratic win in 2008. A convenient legend explains the various colors and shapes that tell the story. [CNH]
The Holocaust Theater Catalog (HTC) is a partnership between the National Jewish Theater Foundation, the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies at the University of Miami, as well as nationally recognized Holocaust scholars, playwrights, activists, and various other funders. The HTC is truly an index in that it does not contain full text, audio, or visual materials for the plays; instead it provides a method to search and retrieve basic information - author, title, topics, rights holders, experience chronicled - for over 650 theater works from 1933 to the present relating to the Holocaust. This means that HTC enables interested theater producers, actors, artists, students, and educators to identify plays that deal with issues related to the Holocaust for production, teaching, or scholarship. Why is this important? The answer is in a short introductory video (2:04) on the website, by Michael Berenbaum, one of the scholars affiliated with HTC. The treatment of the Jews executed in the concentration camps was specifically intended to de-humanize them. "The goal of theater is to re-humanize these people." [DS]
For readers who are searching for ways to evaluate their website's performance and boost its reach, Google Analytics provides a free service for which many other companies charge. Anyone with a Google account can access and use Google Analytics to track multiple sites, monitor social networks, and measure video. To sign up, select Sign Up from the homepage. Then enter a tracking code onto your pages. Hours later, Google Analytics will begin offering you data about your site, which can then be exported to Excel, CSV, PDF, and other files. [CNH]
A PC Magazine Editor's Choice for September 2015, RescueTime is one of the most popular productivity apps on the market. While a pay version is available, the free version, RescueTime Lite, will likely satisfy the needs of most users. To use the app, first sign up for an account, then download and install. From there, configure your account by entering your top three most productive and most distracting activities, among other details. RescueTime will then begin tracking your productivity, offering weekly reports that provide a detailed, visually compelling analysis of when you are being the most productive and how you are spending your time. Users interested in productivity news and tips may also enjoy the RescueTime blog, available from the homepage. [CNH]
Climate optimism builds ahead of Paris talks
More the 2,000 academics call on world heads to do more to limit global warming
Paris climate talks explained
Eight Common Questions about Paris Climate Talks Answered
The Weight of the World: Can Christiana Figueres persuade humanity to save itself?
A Student's Guide to Global Climate Change: Lesson Plans for Educators
Leading up to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which is scheduled to begin on Monday and run for 12 diplomacy-packed, high-stakes days, pundits from around the world had much to say. Some seemed optimistic that the Paris talks would finally lead to legally binding carbon cuts from the world's biggest polluters. Others worried that the current ban on protests in Paris, due to increased security concerns after the mass shootings there last week, would take the pressure off key negotiators, and the opportunity for impactful action might pass the world by. Whatever happens in Paris next week, the scientific consensus on climate change is clear, and scientists, politicians, and activists are calling for action on the issue that President Obama has called "the greatest threat to future generations." [CNH]
Readers may follow the first link to Nature's coverage of the increasing optimism that has greeted the Paris talks. Next up, the Guardian reports on the 2,000+ academics who have called on the world's 192 countries involved in the talks to make the changes necessary to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius. The next two links, from the British government and Scientific American, respectively, explain what is at stake in the upcoming conference. Meanwhile, the fifth link takes readers to an excellent profile of Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and a significant voice in the upcoming conference. Finally, educators will find much to appreciate in this assortment of EPA lesson plans on climate change.
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|Internet Scout Team|
|Catherine Dixon||[CBD]||Managing Editor|
|Debra Shapiro||[DS]||Contributing Editor|
|Kendra Bouda||[KAB]||Metadata and Information Specialist|
|Molly McBride||[MAM]||Internet Cataloger|
|Corey Halpin||[CRH]||Software Engineer|
|Yizhe (Charles) Hu||[YH]||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.