The Scout Report -- Volume 27, Number 47

The Scout Report -- Volume 27, Number 47
November 26, 2021
Volume 27, Number 47

General Interest

Theme: Birds

Revisited

In the News

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General Interest

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"May Be An Image": What It's Like Browsing Instagram While Blind
Social studies

A fascinating and information-rich read, this feature from Kait Sanchez at The Verge provides readers a glimpse of what it is like to browse Instagram and other visually dense social media platforms as a blind or visually impaired person. Raising a variety of critical issues, the article goes into depth about the topic and links to a number of valuable resources that help showcase and illustrate the issues raised. The article emphasizes the ongoing need for descriptive alt-text that provides blind readers with a "vision" of a graphic or picture but also dives into the difficulty of creating truly representative alt-text. In the article's elegant summary: "Writing an image description for an esoteric meme can feel like explaining internet culture to your grandparents: you suddenly don't know how to describe what exactly made you laugh." Embedded in the article text are links to examples of poorly done alt-text, resources for creating better alt-text on platforms such as TikTok, and further readings about these vital issues. This piece provides food for thought and helps raise awareness for audiences in a variety of settings - classrooms, libraries, or at home. [REB]

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Website Credibility Lesson Plan
Social studies

When evaluating a website based on the information provided, it is important to assess the validity and reliability of the content. Teachers, educators, and administrators will find use in this Website Credibility Lesson Plan, curated by the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) at Purdue University. Created as part of the center's K-12 Outreach program, this lesson plan for Grades 4-8 will help guide students to identify and classify resources for credibility, explain why websites should be evaluated for credibility, evaluate example websites, and share their findings with classmates. For educators, the lesson plan outlines the necessary materials (e.g., a Web Site Evaluation Rubric) and procedures to keep in mind, as well as supplemental resources and extension activities. The lesson plan matches Indiana Academic Standards categorized by grade level, but could be adapted to meet any national or local standards for science, language arts, or social studies. [AMR]

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Vaccine Confidence Project
Science

"Rooted in data, driven by humanity," the Vaccine Confidence Project works to counter the polarization, mistrust, and disinformation surrounding immunization. The project, which seeks to "monitor public confidence in immunization programmes," in places as diverse as New York, India, and Nigeria, recently received a major grant from the MacArthur Foundation. On the page linked above, readers can navigate resources using the menu at the top. Users can click "COVID-19" for information about the ongoing pandemic, "News" for articles and recent updates, "Research" for information about current and completed projects, and "Resources" for links to other sources and archived materials. Of particular relevance as of this writing, readers may want to explore the Coronavirus Global Impact section, which features regularly updated economic, social, and health sentiment data from Premise Data (click on "See More"). Visitors can follow the project on Facebook (@vaccineconfidenceproject) or Twitter (@vaccine_trust). [JMW]

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USGS: Geologic Map of Alaska
Science

Alaska is one of the most geologically diverse states in the country, characterized by unique glacially formed rock layers and some of the tallest mountains on the continent. Professional geologists, instructors, and geology students may find this interactive geologic map, published by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), useful for navigating the complex geology of this remote U.S. state. There are several options for navigating this resource. Visitors can use the search bar to query specific locations, then click on the map for detailed data about the setting and lithography. Users can also scroll and zoom on the map itself to explore color-coded formations. The table of contents, found in the upper right corner of the map, allows for customization of features such as faults, geologic lines, or geologic units, or toggling between topographic maps and shaded reliefs. Users can also click the links in the left corner above the map for access to documentation and data files. There is a learning curve to use the map, and basic knowledge of geology may be helpful for interpreting results. [JMW]

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Inquiring Minds
Science

Inquiring Minds is a weekly podcast, hosted by neuroscientist and musician Indre Viskontas, for listeners interested in exploring "what's true, what's left to discover, and why it matters," through conservations with scientists, writers, and other thinkers. The podcast was launched in 2013 through a partnership with Mother Jones magazine and the Climate Desk, although currently the podcast is independently produced. Some examples of topics covered on recent episodes are: an exploration of the fascinating, adorable tardigrade with University of California Davis scientists John and Lois Crowe ("A Matter of Life, Death or Maybe Somewhere in Between"); a conversation with mathematician Jordan Ellenberg about how shapes explain the world ("Getting into Shape"); and an interview with cosmologist Katie Mack about the end of the universe ("Five Ways the Universe Might Die"). Inquiring Minds is a must-listen resource for those interested in keeping up with the latest scientific discoveries and new ways of thinking about our world. Readers can follow the podcast on Twitter (@inquiringshow) for updates and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or via RSS. [MJZ]

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Theme: Birds

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Science Friday Book Club: The Genius of Birds
Science

Calling all bird enthusiasts! Explore this valuable collection of articles, recordings, and videos on the expansive world of birds, published by Science Friday (previously featured in the 10-22-21 Scout Report) as part of the weekly SciFri Book Club. Readers can scroll the page linked above to find content that includes articles, radio segments, videos, and educational resources. Visitors will read about crows playing pranks on helpless pigeons, listen to New York bird nerds talk about regional species, watch a video of zebra finch courtship songs, and become immersed in the intricacies of bird behaviors, sounds, sights, and more. Readers can also explore other SciFri Book Cubs by scrolling to the Explore More section at the bottom of the page or follow Science Friday on Facebook or Twitter (@SciFri on both platforms). [JMW]

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The Birders Show
Science

Birders, biologists, and general readers may find this video series to be of interest. The Birders Show is a YouTube series that follows birder Chris Bell and biologist Diego Calderon-Franco on their journeys across the globe. They search for unique species, engage with legendary birder figures, consider birding in different environments, and provide information on other bird-related topics. For instance, two recent episodes focus on photographer Keith Ladzinski's top birding destinations and sexual selection in bird species such as the long-wattled umbrellabird and the bellbird. Readers can also use the menu to access "Playlists" compiled by the creators or to engage with a "Community" of viewers. Users can also follow the series on Facebook (@TheBirdersShow). [JMW]

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Bird Cams
Science

As winter sets in across much of the U.S., birders may find fewer opportunities to get out and see our fine feathered friends. Ornithophiles need not despair, however, thanks to these bird cams from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (previously featured in the 07-13-2018 Scout Report). On the page linked above, visitors will find live cams from partner sanctuaries and organizations across the globe. Some viewing options include: petrels from Nonsuch Island, Bermuda; Northern Royal Albatross from Taiaroa Head, New Zealand; and Panama Fruit Feeders from El Valle de Anton, Panama. Visitors will also find links to bird video highlights on YouTube and Instagram (@cornellbirdcams). The Cornell Lab Bird Cams are sure to excite and inspire interest in learning about and protecting the world's diverse bird species. [MJZ]

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Audubon Bird Guide App
Science

From the National Audubon Society (previously featured in the 04-19-2019 Scout Report), the Audubon Bird Guide App is an award-winning and free field guide to 800 North American bird species. The app is designed to help novice observers and experienced birders identity, document, and learn about birds. On the app, users just need to enter key information about a bird they have seen (color, size, plumage, etc.) to receive possible matches based on location and time of year. The app also includes thousands of photos, range maps, background information, and audio of bird songs and calls to help in identification. There is also a community element to the app, as users can share photos with others and even find birding hotspots based on others' sightings. On the page linked above, visitors will find information about the app, links to download in the Apple App Store or Google Play, and user guides for getting started and troubleshooting. [MJZ]

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International Crane Foundation: Education
Science

Birds offer a wonderful focal point for school lessons in subjects from science to art. The educational resources on this page come from the International Crane Foundation (ICF) (previously featured in the 10-29-2004 Scout Report), a non-profit organization located in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and dedicated to the worldwide conservation of "cranes and the ecosystems, watersheds, and flyways on which they depend." On the page linked above, educators can find multidisciplinary resources for all K-12 grade levels. The "Activity Packets" include lessons introducing students to cranes (Preschool-Grade 2), exploring crane habitats (Grades 3-5 and 6-8), and understanding crane genetics (Grades 9-12), as well as activities in Spanish. Other resources include instructions for making origami cranes, a multimedia program on estuaries, video and other remote content from the ICF facilities, and a request form for a Whooping Crane trunk filled with interactive learning tools. There are also "At Home Education Resources" developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which include live monthly webinars and crane-themed activities for kids. Interested readers can follow ICF on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@savingcranes on all three platforms). [MJZ]

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American Birding Podcast
Science

The American Birding Podcast was last featured in the 01-17-2020 Scout Report. To catch up, readers may want to check out recent episodes such as "Birding Through Pandemic and Cancer" (Feb. 11, 2021), "#BlackBirdersWeek and Its Impact" (June 18, 2020), and "Loving the Unloved Vulture" (Nov. 12, 2020).

The American Birding Podcast "brings together staff and friends of the American Birding Association as [they] talk about birds, birding, travel and conservation in North America and beyond." This podcast was launched by the nonprofit American Birding Association in late 2016, and continues to provide entertainment for bird and nature lovers alike. Host Nate Swick leads informative conversations featuring a diverse range of guests and birding-related topics. Examples of past topics include: a discussion of female birdsong with ornithologist Lauryn Benedict, a chat with the host and director of the video series Birds of North America (see the 5-24-2019 Scout Report), and explorations of two bird-themed games, a board game named Wingspan and a web-based Fantasy Birding game. Each episode also includes a brief news update from the birding world, such as how various threatened avian species are doing. New episodes are released every week and most episodes are approximately 30 minutes long. The podcast's full archives can be streamed and downloaded online at the link above. Those interested can also subscribe via apps such as Stitcher, Podbean, Apple Podcasts, or other platforms. [JDC] [MJZ]

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In the News

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New Evidence Dates Viking Presence in North America to Precisely 1021 CE

Researchers pinpoint when the Vikings came to Canada. It was exactly 1,000 years ago https://www.npr.org/2021/10/21/1047797376/researchers-discovered-the-date-vikings-arrived-in-canada

New Dating Method Shows Vikings Occupied Newfoundland in 1021 C.E. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/new-dating-method-shows-vikings-occupied-newfoundland-in-1021-ce-180978903/

Evidence for European presence in the Americas in AD 1021 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03972-8

Dendrochronology: What Tree Rings Tell Us About Past and Present https://www.environmentalscience.org/dendrochronology-tree-rings-tell-us

The Norse in Newfoundland: L'Anse aux Meadows and Vinland https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/NFLDS/article/view/140/236

Viking expeditions and raids https://en.natmus.dk/historical-knowledge/denmark/prehistoric-period-until-1050-ad/the-viking-age/expeditions-and-raids/

The scientific community has long accepted that the first Europeans to journey to North America were Viking explorers and settlers, not the expedition of Christopher Columbus - yet the exact timing of the earliest Viking expedition was unclear. Now, new evidence has allowed a team of researchers to pinpoint the precise year. The evidence consists of discarded pieces of wood found at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada, which show signs of having been cut by iron tools. The breakthrough came thanks to a rare cosmic occurrence - an enormous solar storm in the year 993 CE, which caused a spike in atmospheric carbon that can be seen in tree ring samples. Using radiocarbon dating, researchers identified tree rings from this year in the wooden artifacts and counted to the outer ring (when each tree was cut and stopped adding growth). The 28 layers between the outer ring and the ring with unusually high carbon provided the year of the Viking visit: 1021 CE, exactly 1,000 years ago. Members of the research team hope that these techniques can be applied to other archaeological finds across the world.

The first link above is to a news brief from National Public Radio about the research findings and the radiocarbon dating techniques applied. The second link, to a piece from Smithsonian Magazine, explains how dendrochronological archives around the world provide evidence of a solar storm in the year 993. In the third link, interested visitors can read an open-access version of the original article in Nature in which the evidence for this discovery is laid out. The fourth link, from the organization Environmental Science, provides an overview of dendrochronology and its applications to archaeology. The fifth link is to an article from the journal Newfoundland and Labrador Studies that highlights the Icelandic chronicles written about the Viking voyages to North America: The Greenlanders' Saga and Erik's Saga. The final link is to a digital exhibition from the National Museum of Denmark that explores Viking trade and travel around the world, including dangerous journeys to Russian, Constantinople, and as far east as the Caspian Sea. [MJZ]