The Scout Report -- Volume 27, Number 8

The Scout Report -- Volume 27, Number 8
February 26, 2021
Volume 27, Number 8

General Interest

Theme: Engineering

Revisited

In the News

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General Interest

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Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing
Health

Contact tracing has been an important piece of the pandemic response. This data visualization breaks the process down for readers, weighing app-based contact tracing's benefits and potential drawbacks, while also emphasizing key considerations (most notably, privacy protection). Thomas Haas and Fidel Thomet, both based in Berlin, made their data visualization project accessible in both English and German and published the piece in May of 2020, shortly after the world began to rapidly respond to COVID-19. Since its publication, many regions have indeed implemented contact tracing apps, and this resource may be useful to readers wishing to further understand the process. The resource's interactive and color-coded diagrams detail how COVID-19 can quickly spread, further emphasizing the importance of a quick contact tracing response. After reviewing tracing apps from several angles, Haas and Thomet conclude that "the reduced probability of infecting other people through your infection outweighs the security risks of this tracing app design." This conclusion is consistent with data protection experts. This timely project has received high praise from the data visualization community, including a top prize from The Pudding's 2020 Pudding Cup. In the selection committee's words, "in a year filled with top-notch COVID visualizations ... this one still managed to stand out." [EMB]

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Black Oxygen Podcast
Social studies

Host Angela Russell created Black Oxygen as a space to "breathe, connect, [and] restore by hearing and listening deeply to Black folks in this shared journey of life." In each episode (which are typically about an hour), Russell engages in conversations with various Black leaders "in Wisconsin and a little beyond." Guests include Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes (exploring the dichotomy between fear and freedom), Judge Everett Mitchell (discussing healing and vulnerability), and Dr. Sagashus Levingston (reflecting on Black motherhood and self-love). The show launched in July 2020 and is currently on its second season, where listeners can expect to continue hearing from diverse Black voices in Wisconsin, with a particular emphasis on love ethics. In addition to the link above, listeners will find Black Oxygen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher. The show is a project of Madison365, a news outlet based in the state's capital city. [EMB]

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Milk Country: The Making of Vermont's Landscape
Social studies

Janice Kai Chen, a student at Dartmouth College, combined interests in food production, the dairy industry, and geographic information systems to create Milk Country. This interactive essay explores topographic, social, and economic changes in Vermont. But, even those less familiar with Vermont or uninterested in food systems will enjoy the essay's stunning data visualizations and exemplary graphics. As Chen notes, Vermont's "ribbons of farmland" are ever changing and threaded with a history of colonization and industrialization. Vermont's economy has also evolved over time, and the piece explores a transition from a booming wool industry (in the mid-1800s, sheep inhabitants outnumbered people six to one) to a booming dairy industry (a 2019 survey reported that "72 percent of respondents considered dairy to be very important to the state's sense of self,"). Those entranced by this brief history may enjoy the further readings listed at the conclusion of the piece. [EMB]

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OpenSciEd
Science

OpenSciEd will be music to the ears of any open educational resources enthusiast. The project "seeks to ensure any science teacher anywhere can access and download freely available, high-quality, locally adaptable full-course materials." Developed with and for classroom educators, OpenSciEd has a variety of units covering chemistry, physics, health, and more. Though the current focus is on middle school curriculum, the project plans to expand to provide resources for K-12 educators over time. New content is released periodically, and readers can find the Unit Release Schedule under the Instructional Materials tab. To learn more about the development process itself, visitors will want to navigate to the OpenSciEd Approach tab. In addition to the wealth of instructional resources available, readers will also have access to professional development tools. Users must create a free account to access the materials. Registrants will join the ranks of more than 18,000 educators currently enjoying the resource. [EMB]

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A Colony in Crisis: The Saint-Domingue Grain Shortage of 1789
Social studies

Historians and educators may enjoy this resource about Saint-Domingue, the former French colony that is now Haiti. The site provides primary sources and translated versions of documents from the late 18th century that help viewers "grapple with existing historiographies of this period and geography." Readers may want to begin by browsing the Background Notes section, which introduces key topics and people. With this context in mind, users can dive into the three issues of translations that are currently available. Each issue contains a variety of documents (available as the French original and an English translation and accompanied by a historical introduction). Additionally, readers will find Haitian Creole translations for Issue 1. For a more in-depth understanding of the grain shortage and the Haitian Revolution, visitors will want to check out some of the content cataloged on the Additional Resources page. A Colony in Crisis receives financial support from the University of Maryland's College of Arts and Humanities and University Libraries, the NEH-funded French Pamphlet Planning Project, and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. [EMB]

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Theme: Engineering

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The Journal of Engineering
Science

The Journal of Engineering (JoE) publishes open access and peer reviewed scholarship under a Creative Commons License. The breadth of topics included within JoE makes it a delightful resource for readers from various disciplines, including electronic, environmental, and materials engineering, among many others. In addition to the scope of topics covered, JoE stands out for its publishing magnitude and frequency. Since its inaugural open access issue in 2013, the journal has published a dozen or more issues each year. Many of these issues are curated based on JoE conference proceedings, giving authors an opportunity to broaden their research impact. The journal also publishes occasional "special issues," and readers will find a page dedicated to these notable resources on the site. JoE is one of many journals published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, a UK-headquartered engineering organization. [EMB]

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The College of Engineering at the University of Utah: Lesson Plans
Science

It is never too early to introduce engineering concepts into educational settings, and with these great outreach materials from the University of Utah's Engineering Department, middle school educators can do just that. Each activity includes instructions (in PDF form) and a mixture of tutorial videos, PowerPoint slides, or handouts. Readers near Utah's campus may be able to take advantage of the "checkout materials" program, where educators can borrow resources needed to complete some of the activities (note that COVID-19 may affect availability). While some of the lesson plans are best suited for in-person classrooms due to the more complex materials lists and need for supervision (e.g., "Building Wings" requires cutting tools and carving wood), others may be adaptable to online learning environments. For example, the "Paper Boats" activity requires more common household objects: paper, tape, a timer, and a pseudo-swimming pool (a tub with water should suffice). [EMB]

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Interesting Engineering
Science

Stay on top of the latest engineering feats with Interesting Engineering. This news source covers a range of innovations and trending topics, from robotics to environmental protection. Though in many ways the site operates as a traditional media outlet, it does a nice job of boiling down complex engineering endeavours into brief, intelligible stories. This makes the site understandable to those less plugged into the engineering world. In fact, Interesting Engineering's mission includes bridging such a gap by "us[ing] innovative storytelling to highlight the enthralling inner workings of the latest scientific breakthroughs, technological innovations, cultural phenomena, and more." The News, Innovation, Science, and Industry sections catalog related pieces. Meanwhile, the How-To section is a bit unique. Here, readers will find solutions for practical problems, like a tutorial on wrapping presents, and D.I.Y. entertainment ideas such as instructions for building a personalized Dungeons and Dragons set. Scrolling down the home page, visitors will see an option to subscribe to the outlet's emails to never miss a story. Readers will also find the outlet's various social media channels linked in the top-right corner. [EMB]

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SciShow: 5 Groundbreaking Women in Engineering
Science

Couched between International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11) and International Women's Day (March 8), now is an excellent time to recognize the role of women in engineering with this episode of SciShow; as host Hank Green notes, "we really can't talk about women in STEM enough." In this brief video, viewers are introduced to five stellar women in engineering. Many readers are relying on WiFi to read this, and in part, people have Hedy Lamarr to thank for this ability. Lamarr, who received recognition for her work as an actress, was also responsible for strides in the realm of "frequency hopping spread spectrum," a signal system embedded in modern WiFi security. Adventure aficionados can thank Olive Wetzel Dennis for her work to "set a new standard for comfortable travel." Annie Easley was a key member of NASA's computing team, and her coding work built a foundation for today's hybrid car batteries. Lynn Conway is a scholar and social activist responsible for microchip design engineering that "kickstarted" current computers and cell phones. Finally, Treena Livingston Arinzeh is moving modern medicine forward with her stem cell research, and she is multiplying her impact by mentoring future engineers. This episode was supported by Emerson. [EMB]

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Engineering.com
Science

Readers searching for "a global community for engineering minds," will want to check out Engineering.com. This site fuses storytelling and information sharing, creating a collaborative space to communicate engineering ideas with like minded individuals. The platform's sleek design and wealth of content make it a wonderful resource for new and experienced engineers alike. Users will want to create a free profile to begin. Signing up only requires an email and password, and from there users have options to customize their profile by choosing a profile picture, writing a brief biography, selecting key interest areas, and more. Once users are logged in, they will gain access to a variety of tools. A particularly intriguing part of the site is the discussion board section, branded as a "go-to watering hole for the global engineering community to ask questions and get answers." Another great aspect of the site is the Resources tab, where readers will find past and upcoming webinars that cover a breadth of engineering topics. Users having trouble navigating the site will find tips on the FAQ page, linked in the bottom menu bar. [EMB]

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Revisited

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Soft Skills Engineering Podcast
Science

Engineering involves more than calculations and construction; successful engineers must hone "soft skills" surrounding workplace etiquette and ethics. For the inside scoop on developing these skills, readers will want to return to this feature from the 09-04-2020 Scout Report (note that dozens of new episodes have been released since its first feature).

What makes a great engineer? Soft Skills Engineering, a weekly podcast by and for software developers, demonstrates that much of the success stems from "the non-technical stuff." Hosts Jamison Dance (an engineering manager) and Dave Smith (a software engineer) launched the show "to help software developers level up their engineering skills beyond writing code." With ample bits of wit and wisdom, the duo tackles topics like "technical leadership" and "code review etiquette," among many more. The more than 200 episodes are available on Apple and Google Podcasts, as well as the link above. Wherever listeners tune in, they may want to read each episode's description, which includes the listener questions answered within. Those interested in submitting their own questions for Jamison and Dave to answer on an upcoming show can do so via the Ask a Question tab. Soft Skills Engineering is supported by various engineering companies, including: monday.com, Vettery, the O'Reilly Velocity Conference, Pluralsight, Algolia, and DevMountain. [EMB]

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In the News

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Honoring Hank: Barrier (and Record) Breaking Baseball Legend Passes Away at 86

Hank Aaron, baseball legend and former home run king, dies at 86
https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/22/us/hank-aaron-dies-trnd/index.html

Hank Aaron's lasting impact is measured in more than home runs
https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/30759337/hank-aaron-lasting-impact-measured-more-home-runs

Remembering baseball legend Hank Aaron
https://www.today.com/video/remembering-baseball-legend-hank-aaron-99965509611

MLB: Hank Aaron
https://www.mlb.com/player/hank-aaron-110001

Jackie Robinson: Athlete and Activist
https://wisconsin.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/46793560-38b2-4bb5-89c9-c56db02c0bbe/jackie-robinson/

The History of Black Athletes' Activism
https://www.c-span.org/classroom/document/?9476

On January 22, the world mourned the loss of Henry "Hank" Aaron. Though "Hammerin' Hank," as he was admiringly called, was a baseball legend and community leader, it is impossible to honor his life without also calling out the egregious racism he faced on and off the diamond. As ESPN Senior Writer Howard Bryant notes, Aaron was both an incredible athlete who "rose up from the depths of Southern poverty to become one of the towering figures in baseball history," and "a bittersweet symbol of both American racial intolerance and triumph." One prominent moment in Aaron's career that details this dichotomy took place on April 8, 1974. On this day, Aaron hit his 715th home run, a feat that broke Babe Ruth's previous record and garnered Aaron a well-earned position at the top of the home run leader board (where he remained for several decades). This accomplishment was also met with increased racial threats against him, though Aaron experienced physical and verbal threats and hate mail throughout his career. Aaron's legacy must also note that a baseball cap was not the only hat he wore; he was a remarkable community leader, too. As a recent example, he received the COVID-19 vaccine publicly at Atlanta's Morehouse School of Medicine as a part of a campaign to address racism in medical research and increase confidence in the vaccination process. Aaron's legacy lives on in history books and the hearts of those who knew him. As his friend Andrew Young notes, "a little bit of Hank Aaron rubs off on you when you get to meet him." [EMB]

At the first link, CNN correspondents Ray Sanchez, David Close, Wayne Sterling, and Jen Christensen summarize highlights from Aaron's incredible baseball career and life and call out the racism he faced. The piece also includes remembrances from several past presidents and other political figures, along with sports icons and civil rights leaders. Next up, readers will find Howard Bryant's reporting for ESPN, which recounts Aaron's athletic achievements as well as other aspects of his life (from his admiration of Jackie Robinson to again noting the jarring racism he faced, even from his own teammates). The third link leads to a video from NBC's Today, which includes clips of a previous interview between Today's Craig Melvin and Aaron, interspersed with commentary from other correspondents and interviewees as they collectively reflect on his life and legacy. One memorable statistic from the story: Aaron earned 25 all-star selections over his 23 MLB seasons (a feat that was possible because early seasons sometimes had multiple all-star games). Hank Aaron's MLB profile can be found at the fourth link, including his stat line from the record-breaking 1974 season. The fifth and six links lead to lesson plans on athletes and activism. One is specific to Jackie Robinson (a noted hero of Aaron's), while the other covers the history of Black athletes and activism from the 1960s to present. Both include short videos accompanied by guiding questions and activities.