The Scout Report -- Volume 24, Number 32

The Scout Report -- Volume 24, Number 32
August 10, 2018
Volume 24, Number 32

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

Revisited

In the News

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Research and Education

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Teaching with Historic Places
Social studies

With Teaching with Historic Places, the National Park Service has provided a valuable resource for teachers interested in helping their students "connect social studies, history, geography, and other subjects to their own lives." This resource provides over 160 lesson plans focused on historically significant places in all 50 states as well as in Puerto Rico. In addition to finding lesson plans by state, visitors may browse them by time period, by theme (e.g. maritime history, art, US presidents, etc.), or by academic standards (e.g. history, social studies, and Common Core). The lesson plans are designed to be used in the classroom and address a wide range of activities and skills, such as creative writing, historic preservation, and primary source analysis, and thus teachers of many disciplines beyond history can also find useful material here. Teaching with Historic Places also includes professional development resources and a guide for developing place-based lesson plans. [JDC]

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Sharing Science
Science

The American Geophysical Union's Sharing Science is geared towards helping earth and space scientists communicate about their work and its value with broader audiences, such as journalists, students, and policymakers. Of particular interest to those new to science communication will be the "tools" and "practice" tabs in the box on the right sidebar. Readers will find links to numerous communication tips and outreach resources, including (for example) ways to identify potential audiences, tips for using social media for science outreach, and guidelines for crafting a plain-language summary of your research, among many other ideas. Towards the bottom of the Sharing Science homepage are "Quick Answers" to pressing questions such as "Help! A reporter's on the phone--what should I say?" Although this resource is tailored for scientists in geophysical disciplines, scientists of all stripes will likely be able to find helpful tips at Sharing Science for engaging with the public about their work. [JDC]

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Texas Disability History Collection
Social studies

The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) hosts the Texas Disability History Collection, an archival collection that "emphasizes the pioneering role played by a racially and ethnically diverse cast of Texan disability rights activists, many of whom attended or have worked at UT Arlington, in fighting for equal access to education, work, union membership, public transit, and sports." This collection, which features photographs, newsletters, publications, and much more, has been maintained and digitized by a number of individuals, including staff from UTA's Department of Digital Creation and Department of Special Collections and Archives. Visitors can browse items in this collection by categories including government, policy, and law; mass media, culture, and the arts; and social movements and advocacy. One highlight of this collection is a series of oral history interviews with disability rights advocates. The collection also features an especially robust collection of photographs and newspaper articles about disability and sports, including a video recording of the 2000-2001 National Wheelchair Basketball Championship. [MMB]

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Which One Doesn't Belong?
Mathematics

For mathematics instructors and tutors, math educator Mary Bourassa has created this collection of "thought-provoking puzzles for math teachers and students alike." Each of these puzzles presents learners with four items and asks students to identify and explain which item is the odd one out. However, these puzzles feature one notable twist on the "Which One Doesn't Belong" puzzle: every single item in each grouping could be considered the one that does not belong depending on what criteria learners chose to examine. As a result, these puzzles offer an opportunity for learners to engage in open inquiry and conversation about mathematical concepts. This collection features three kinds of groupings: shapes, numbers, and graphs & equations. As of this write-up, this collection includes over 150 puzzles. Visitors are invited to submit their own puzzles to add to this collection. [MMB]

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Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art
Arts

Scholars and lovers of art history may enjoy Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art. This peer-reviewed digital journal focuses on "American art and visual culture (broadly defined) from the colonial period to the present day" and includes disciplinary and interdisciplinary critical perspectives on topics such as fine arts, installations, commercial media, and material culture. In addition to scholarly articles and book reviews, Panorama also publishes exhibition reviews, research notes, and the "Bully Pulpit," a section that "incorporate[s] a series of short texts that trace a conversation or debate on a topic that is of interest to the field." Launched in 2015, Panorama is published twice a year and is edited by a team of art scholars from across North America. Interested readers can check out the full text and accompanying images of Panorama's seven issues to date on the journal's website. [JDC]

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Language Documentation & Conservation
Language Arts

From the University of Hawai'i Press comes Language Documentation & Conservation, a peer-reviewed online journal "dedicated to serving the needs of linguists and language activists engaged in [the] essential work" of documenting and preserving the world's lesser-known languages. Visitors to this journal will find articles from a range of international scholars on topics such as the goals of language documentation, lexicography, field reports on endangered languages, and language data management. Currently in its twelfth volume, Language Documentation & Conservation is edited by Nicholas Thieberger of the University of Melbourne (Australia) and boasts an editorial board composed of scholars from around the globe. This free journal produces one volume per year, and new articles are published and uploaded on a rolling basis. Interested readers may subscribe to Language Documentation & Conservation to receive email notifications of new issues. [JDC]

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STEM to STEAM: Resources Toolkit
Science

For educators looking for ways to introduce interdisciplinary elements into their classrooms, Edutopia's STEM to STEAM: Resources Toolkit may fit the bill. Here, readers will find links to three curated collections of resources aimed towards helping teachers use integrated studies to increase students' engagement. The first collection contains more than thirty resources and focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Education, Arts, and Mathematics) lessons and activities "to help students practice cross-disciplinary thinking." The second collection offers over fifteen resources geared towards "incorporating aspects of the arts, design, and the humanities into STEM-based school activities," thus turning STEM lessons into STEAM lessons. The third collection focuses on "maker culture" and offers more than thirty resources to help incorporate a hands-on, kinetic approach to STEM (and STEAM) lessons. Each collection is grouped into subtopics and organized such that readers unfamiliar with the topic can orient themselves before diving into the different activities. Edutopia is funded by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving K-12 education. [JDC]

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Crash Course: History of Science
Science

Those curious about how science and scientific knowledge have developed over time will want to check out Crash Course History of Science. Launched in March 2018, this video series is one of the newest additions to veteran vlogging brothers Hank and John Green's popular Crash Course YouTube channel. With fourteen episodes as of this writing and new episodes still being added, the video series starts by breaking down the very concept of "science." From there, each approximately 12-minute episode discusses the history and social context of a particular scientific time period, such as engineering in the Roman empire, science in the medieval Islamicate world, and timekeeping in the Americas. History of Science is hosted by Hank Green, who notes in the first episode that one goal of the series is to "highlight how the values [...] and ethics [...] of scientists and engineers shape our world, and how [...] sciences and technologies are shaped by the societies that produce them." This series holds appeal for educators as well as the general public due to its accessible explanations, fast pace, and dynamic presentation style. [JDC]

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General Interest

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African Vernacular Architecture Database
Arts

Readers interested in traditional African cultures may enjoy the African Vernacular Architecture Database. This database was started in 2014 by Jon Twingi Sojkowski, an architect based in South Carolina whose passion for traditional African architecture began when he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia. Visitors to this resource will find a diverse collection of crowdsourced photographs showing traditional architecture in every country in Africa. The photos are organized by country and include (for example) homes, granaries, barns, and religious buildings all built using indigenous techniques and local materials. The database also includes a "special collection" of early 1900s postcards depicting African vernacular architecture, and those who are in or have visited Africa are encouraged to submit their own relevant photos. According to Sojkowski, traditional construction forms and methods in Africa have begun to be passed over in favor of Western ones, and the African Vernacular Architecture Database is "the only on line [sic] source to view images and descriptions from every African country." [JDC]

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Quills & Feathers
Language Arts

From the University of Nebraska-Lincoln comes Quills & Feathers, a digital humanities project focused on "the literary relationship between Great Plains humans and birds." Visitors to this resource will find excerpts from nearly one hundred texts that depict and reference fifty-seven bird species native to the northern Great Plains. These excerpts are drawn from poetry, prose, and nonfiction writing from both Native American and Euro-American authors. Each is accompanied by a photo of the referenced bird species, brief commentary on the excerpt, and an audio recording of the bird's call (when available). Notable examples include texts by Meriwether Lewis (Black-Billed Magpie and Lewis's Woodpecker in The Journals of Lewis and Clark), Sitting Bull (Northern Flicker in [Song]), and Willa Cather (Western Meadowlark in Song of the Lark). Visitors can browse the entries by bird species or by author via the tabs on the left labeled "The Birds" and "Bibliography," respectively. Quills & Feathers is directed by Thomas Gannon, an associate professor in the department of English. [JDC]

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Sounds of Eau Claire
Arts

The city of Eau Claire, WI, is known today as the site of multiple yearly music festivals and has a long history as a music city--but "[w]hat does it mean to be a 'music city' in western Wisconsin?" This is one of the questions that Sounds of Eau Claire addresses. This public history initiative began in 2017 and features (at this time of writing) five online exhibits and more than fifty digital collections highlighting different aspects of the city's musical heritage. Some examples include oral histories, musical instruments, photographs, and ephemera such as programs and fliers. The collection is searchable by various record types (e.g. item, file, collection, etc.) via the search box in the upper right. Sounds of Eau Claire is largely facilitated by students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and most of the items featured in it are contributions from members of the local Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley community. This project is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and by the Wisconsin Humanities Council. [JDC]

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Footnoting History
Social studies

Footnoting History is a podcast hosted and produced by a team of historians. Founded in 2013 by Elizabeth Keohane-Burbridge (who currently serves as the show's producer), Footnoting History addresses a wide range of historical events and phenomena. Each episode runs approximately ten to thirty minutes in length and investigates a particular story or topic in detail. For instance, in the recent episode "Ancient Authoritative Animals," host Lesley Skousen explores the history of pets through three ancient texts. In another recent episode, hosted by Keohane-Burbridge and Christine Cacciapouti, listeners can learn more about John Quincy Adam's 1797 wedding to Louisa Johnson. This wedding marks the first and last time a woman born outside of the United States married a future U.S. president (Johnson hailed from Great Britain). Each episode of Footnoting History is accompanied by a list of further reading materials for those interested in learning more. Visitors can listen to episodes on this website or subscribe via iTunes, RSS, or Stitcher Radio. [MMB]

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Illusions
Arts

For centuries, artists, philosophers, and scientists the world over (among many others) have pondered the concepts of illusion and reality. The art exhibition Illusions, presented at Rio de Janeiro's Casa Daros in 2014-2015 and viewable in digital form here, offers ten artists' explorations of "the ambiguous and complex, difficult to interpret spaces that swing freely back and forth between a supposed reality and so-called illusion." This mesmerizing exhibition's web experience is interactive and best viewed on a larger screen--as viewers scroll through the different works of art, many of the exhibits give the perception of three-dimensionality (without the need for glasses), while others use video along with still images. Illusions features artists from all over Latin America, and each artist's exhibit has an English-language PDF brochure available to download on the "Exhibition" page (accessible via the menu on the upper right). The exhibition was curated by Hans-Michael Herzog, founding director of Casa Daros, and art historian Katrin Steffen. [JDC]

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Oldweb.today
Educational Technology

Those nostalgic for (or curious about) the internet's olden days may be interested in Oldweb.today, a web portal that focuses on the internet experience from days of yore. As the resource's creators explain, "[t]oday's web browsers want to be invisible [...]. In the 1990s, browser design took nearly the opposite approach, using iconography associated with travel to convey the feeling of going on a journey." Oldweb.today recreates that journey for its users. Unlike other archival web resources, Oldweb.today goes beyond merely showing what websites used to look like--this web portal simulates the browser experience from those early days as well. Visitors to Oldweb.today can choose from a variety of browsers and browser versions, such as legacy versions of Internet Explorer and multiple versions of Netscape Navigator, then enter a URL and choose an archival date to discover what it was like to visit that website on that particular date. Oldweb.today was launched in 2015 by Ilya Kreymer and Dragan Espenschied of Rhizome.org, a nonprofit organization focused on digital art and culture. [JDC]

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WQRX: Videos
Arts

WQXR is a New York Public Radio station dedicated to classical music. On the station's website, classical music fans can explore hundreds of videos that may be of interest, including recitals, ballet performances, interviews, animations, and much more. In one recently posted video, visitors can watch acrobat Yoann Bourgeois perform a routine to Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune" as performed by pianist Alexandre Tharaud. In another recent video ("This Composer is Writing Music in Real Time, and We Can't Look Away"), visitors can watch as composer Nejc Kuhar writes the musical notation for one of his compositions while, at the same time, listening to the composition. This video has been sped up so that Kuhar's notation is it is synchronized with the music. Another recent addition to this collection is a mesmerizing animated video of Pyotr Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" courtesy of YouTube artist Doodle Chaos. [MMB]

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Network Tools

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Rambox
Science

Rambox is a free and open source communications program that integrates common web-based communications systems into a single application. The Rambox community edition supports 98 of the most popular communications services including Facebook Messenger, Skype, Slack, Hangouts, Gmail, inbox.com, Yahoo mail, and others. Rambox provides a configurable notification system that includes a "do not disturb" mode and per-service audio settings. More technical users can customize how individual apps are displayed using Rambox's JS and CSS injection features. Rambox is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Source code for the community edition is available from GitHub under the GNU General Public License version 3. [CRH]

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Iridium Browser
Science

Iridium Browser is a free and open source web browser with a focus on privacy and security. The Iridium project takes the Chromium code base (the open source component of Google Chrome) but modifies it to enhance security and require user consent before storing or transmitting any user data. For example, by default, Iridium always sends a Do-Not-Track header, blocks third-party cookies, clears site data on exit, disables form autofill, does not save passwords, and disables Network/DNS prediction. The full list of changes can be found under the Manifest section on the Iridium website. Users can opt-in to features that store or transmit their data on a case by case basis, deciding for themselves how they wish their data to be treated. Iridium Browser is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Source code is available on GitHub, with most components available under the BSD license. [CRH]

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Revisited

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The American Yawp
Social studies

Originally featured in October 2015, The American Yawp continues to impress. It has since added full integration with the free annotation app Hypothesis and a curated selection of links to primary sources now accompanies each chapter.

Frustrated by the high cost of textbooks and the absence of an inexpensive and academically rigorous alternative, Joseph Locke and Ben Wright, with the help of contributions from over 300 college-level instructors, have created The American Yawp - a free, collaboratively built, online textbook. Operating under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International (CC-BY-SA) License, the textbook is an amazing resource for students engaged with American history and digital learning. The textbook is divided into 30 excellent chapters on topics as wide-ranging as The Early Republic, The Civil War, The Progressive Era, and The Sixties. Additionally, the text is rounded out by vivid images as well as detailed lists of contributors, recommended readings, and notes. Providing a multi-layered discussion of the American past, this resource is for anyone fascinated by the complex themes and counter-narratives of American history.

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In the News

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What if the Earth Turned into Blueberries?

Blueberry Earth: The Delicious Thought Experiment That's Roiling Planetary Scientists
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/08/what-happens-if-the-earth-instantly-turned-in-a-giant-mass-of-blueberries/566540/

The Disturbing Fate of a Planet Made of Blueberries
https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/what-if-earth-were-made-of-blueberries

What Would Happen if All Matter on the Earth Was Replaced by Blueberries?
https://slate.com/technology/2018/08/blueberry-earth-interview-with-anders-sandberg.html

Blueberry Earth
https://arxiv.org/pdf/1807.10553.pdf

What If?
https://what-if.xkcd.com/

Exploratorium: Science Snacks
https://www.exploratorium.edu/snacks

At the end of July 2018, an intriguing scientific question arose on the Physics StackExchange forums: what if the entire planet were suddenly "replaced with an equal volume of closely packed, but uncompressed blueberries"? The question immediately caught the attention of Anders Sandberg, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute, but before he was able to answer it, a moderator closed down the question. Undeterred, Sandberg proceeded to give the question its due, performing the necessary physics calculations and writing a scientific paper where he explains "[t]he result is that blueberry earth will turn into a roaring ocean of boiling jam, with the geysers of released air and steam likely ejecting at least a few berries into orbit." He then made his study publicly available on the preprint repository arxiv.org, and he also intends to submit it to a physics education journal. In explaining his motivations for doing this, Sandberg said, "If you think about physics, many of the best results have come from seemingly frivolous questions. [...] In many cases these thought experiments are leading us to interesting places. Or, at the very least, they allow us to test how well our theory works." [JDC]

The first two links take readers to articles by Sarah Zhang at The Atlantic and Sarah Laskow at Atlas Obscura summarizing Sandberg's study. At the third link, readers will find an interview with Sandberg conducted by Dan Kois for Slate. The fourth link leads to the full text of "Blueberry Earth," the physics paper that Sandberg wrote in response to the imaginative question. Those interested in seeing scientific treatments of similar questions will find them (accompanied by many illustrations) at the fifth link, the What If? series by Randall Munroe, author of the webcomic xkcd. Finally, the last link takes readers to Exploratorium's Science Snacks, where educators and parents will find many inspiring activities (including some edible ones) to help get kids interested in science.