The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 1, Number 18

September 20, 2002

A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Virus World [.mpg, QuickTime]
Created by the Institute for Molecular Virology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, this Web site offers high quality virus images that may be used for seminar presentations or any other noncommercial use. Users can choose from American Society for Virology conference poster images, enhanced EM pictures, and images of virology-related book and journal covers. Images may be searched by virus name; the results page will provide links to summary information from the Protein Data Bank and to the Scripps Research Institute's Virus Particle Explorer. Movie animations and relevant links are provided for some of the virus images. Users can also access tutorials on virus structure and other topics. [RS]
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The Resource Discovery Network, "a collaboration of over sixty educational and research organizations" in the United Kingdom, offers this Web site as a "collection of gateways which provide access to evaluated, quality Internet resources in the health and life sciences." BIOME facilitates Web-based research by offering a searchable catalog of Internet sites organized by field of study. The main categories include health and medicine, veterinary science, biological and biomedical science, agriculture and forestry, and natural history/ environmental science. Users may search for specific topics or browse by subject within each category. Additionally, this site provides Internet information skills tutorials tailored to each discipline. Anyone wishing to conduct Web-based research in the life sciences should find this site helpful. [RS]
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Global Methodology for Mapping Human Impacts on the Environment [.pdf]
A joint project of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and the United Nation's Environmental Programme, Global Methodology for Mapping Human Impacts on the Environment (GLOBIO) aims to "present a simple visual overview of the cumulative impacts of increasing resource demands on man and the environment." Hundreds of environmental impact studies were synthesized with satellite imagery, infrastructure data, etc. to create this "visual overview" of past, current, and potential future conditions. Researchers in the environmental sciences may find the specifics of this recently developed methodology of interest. Users can now download the entire GLOBIO methodology document, as well as an image-rich report titled GLOBIO - The Arctic 2050 Scenario and Global Application.[RS]
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Created by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, UniGene is "an experimental system for automatically partitioning GenBank sequences into a non-redundant set of gene-oriented clusters." In addition to gene sequences, this Web site also offers thousands of novel expressed sequence tag (EST) sequences, a useful gene discovery resource. Organisms currently cataloged include human, rat, mouse, cow, zebrafish, clawed frog, fruitfly, mosquito, wheat, rice, barley, maize, and cress. Users may also access the Digital Differential Display to compare gene expression fingerprints for cancer cells and their normal counterparts. Other Web site features include query tips, FAQs, and relevant external links. [RS]
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Researchers' Forum
Developed by UK Office of Science and Technology, this Web site provides a free forum for science researchers interested in holding online discussions on a particular research topic. Anyone may read the discussion content, but registration is required before one's own comments may be added. The registration process is straightforward and free. A number of life science discussions are currently underway, and most postings are recent. A quick look through some of the discussions yielded information about new publications, links to new field-specific Web sites, questions and answers about funding, requests for collaboration and partnerships, and more. This service should prove useful to researchers wishing to expand their networking circle. One potential drawback is that most registered forum members are from British universities and institutions, and thus discussion content can have limited relevance for non-UK researchers (e.g., government funding). However, non-UK researchers are encouraged to join. [RS]
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Self-described as "the most reliable and up-to-date information resource for those working in the life sciences and associated industries," brings together in one Web site daily news, information, and research tools geared mostly toward biotechnology. The Web site provides "live panel discussions and one-on-one interviews with leading scientists representing the diversity of research in biology and biotechnology, topical reviews and articles on cutting-edge topics in the life sciences, the latest news from academic and industrial labs, high quality laboratory protocols, and organized collections of internet links and web-based tools." Users may also get stock quotes, browse job listings, receive a weekly email newsletter, or visit one of the more topic-specific pages. The "time- and resource-pressed professional" in biotechnology should find this site exceedingly useful. [RS]
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The Microbial Ecology Group of Munich's University of Technology has recently launched probeBase, "a comprehensive database containing published rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probe sequences, DNA microarray layouts and associated information." Users may search for sequences by target organism, which "can assist in the development of new rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probes for fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH)," or by probe name for rapidly retrieving published probes targeting desired sequences without prior phylogenetic analysis. Researchers are encouraged to submit new or missing probes in efforts to keep probeBase as up-to-date as possible. A list of RNA-related links is also provided. [RS]
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The Ciliate Resource Archive
Created by ciliate biologist Denis Lynn at the University of Guelph in Ontario, this Web site serves as "a comprehensive tool for students, educators, and researchers of ciliates (Phylum Ciliophora)." Simply presented and easy to navigate, this site provides information on representative ciliate genera, type species, classification as revised by the Lynn, and more. The Type Species page, which researchers may find the most useful part of this Web site, has a search feature for quickly finding specimens of interest in the list. Although a cautionary message warns users that this search feature functions only with Internet Explorer, it seems to work properly with some versions of Netscape Navigator as well. As of September 20, 2002, none of the Representative Genera links worked except for Stentor, which led to a detailed synopsis of its taxonomy, structure, and function. [RS]
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National Estuaries Day
Get the most out of National Estuaries Day (October 5, 2002) by visiting this Web site from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Follow a link to Estuary Live!, which offers online interactive fieldtrips through a number of estuaries around the nation. Guided tours of eight estuaries will be webcast live October 3 and 4, supplemented by videos from a number of other estuaries. Internet participants "will have an opportunity to see the fascinating creatures that make estuaries their home and experience the diversity of estuarine ecosystems." Viewers may submit questions during the webcasts or videos, which will be answered by tour guides and educators from the featured estuaries. Click on About Estuaries for an introduction to estuarine ecosystems and for links to a number of Web sites that "provide general information, curriculums and helpful references on estuaries." [RS]
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Kids Genetics [Flash]
Drug company GlaxoSmithKline offers this online genetics tutorial designed for kids. The tutorial presents lessons on DNA, genes, heredity, genetic susceptibility to disease, and the role of genetic markers in predetermining risk of disease and medicinal response. Each subject page includes a description of the topic, plus loads of interactive educational games and activities. The educational games are especially well done, although the cartoon-style presentation, which is intended for younger students, can seem somewhat at odds with the relatively advanced material. The additional animated features provided for each subject are presented in a format more appropriate for older students. In all, this Web site offers an in-depth introduction to genetics. [RS]
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Biology in Motion [Flash]
Produced by Dr. Leif Saul, a biology teacher and Web site/ game developer, Biology in Motion has two new interactive education activities. Organize-It introduces an alternative way to test biological understanding by organizing concepts hierarchically. This exercise intends to "remedy some of the shortcomings of the traditional multiple-choice quiz." Users can choose self-tests from a variety of biology topics. Evolution Lab allows users to investigate how natural selection works by watching an animated simulation. Both activities are interesting and effective learning tools. While the Flash features may seem geared toward kids, the content and language are really meant for older students. Helpful tips for using this Web site's activities in the classroom are provided. This site is worth a visit even for those not searching for teaching material. This site is also reviewed in the September 20, 2002 Scout Report. [RS]
[Back to Contents] Fall 2002 Lesson Plans [.pdf]
Check out the latest lesson plans from (last mentioned in the December 14, 2001 Scout Report). Eight new health-related lessons are available for grades 6-8 and 9-12, covering addiction, the human eye, headaches, weight control, and other topics. The lesson plans are clearly organized and may include discussion questions, vocabulary, evaluation guidelines, and links for online research. An archive of older lesson plans is organized by subject in a sidebar for easy retrieval. Many of the topics presented should readily spark the interest of teenage and pre-teen students. [RS]
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The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the US Department of Agriculture offers its latest set of brief but engaging educational activities for kids in this Web site. The recently added feature, No Horsin' Around With These Tests!, introduces immunological concepts in the kid-friendly guise of a story about horses. Two older features are also available, one on using a biocontrol method to combat dry rot fungus in potatoes and another on mites. While these subjects may not at first appear to be interesting to children, the stories and images are appealing. Teachers wishing to introduce younger students to any of the above topics may find this Web site a useful starting point. [RS]
[Back to Contents] Lesson Directory [.pdf], "a non-commercial, ad-free, educational web site created and managed by BioScience Productions, Inc. to promote bioscience literacy," offers high school to undergraduate level lesson plans relating to biodiversity, the environment, genomics, biotechnology, evolution, and new bioscience frontiers. This updated Web site (last mentioned in the March 14, 2001 Scout Report) provides short topic-specific articles followed by original lessons. The articles are not always recent, but all the available lessons plans date within the past few months and are quite detailed. The most recent lesson plans cover such topics as deforestation, human population impacts on the environment, and mitochondrial DNA. The topic pages also include article references, recommended reading, links for additional information and ways to get involved, and more. Users may retrieve middle school-level lessons by following the external links provided. [RS]
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AskERIC: Lesson Plans [.pdf]
AskERIC, the Internet-based arm of the Education Resources Information Center (last mentioned in the January 16, 2002 Scout Report), has two lesson plans for kindergarteners about butterflies. The first, titled How a Caterpillar Becomes a Butterfly, has students role play and draw the stages of a butterfly's life. It includes an attention-grabbing magic trick for an introduction and suggests using Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the role-playing activity. In the second lesson plan -- Butterfly Life Cycle -- students make caterpillar and butterfly models to show life cycle stages. Students learn the basics of ecology and anatomy in both lesson plans. The second Web site includes a butterfly diagram and butterfly-related links. [RS]
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National Teacher Training Institute: Lesson Plan Database [.pdf]
Visit this Web site from the National Teacher Training Institute (NTTI) for a set of engaging lesson plans for middle and high school students. The latest life science offerings address DNA and RNA, pika camouflage, environmental issues, and adaptation. A number of older lesson plans are available as well. In addition to providing detailed instructions, each lesson plan includes a variety of features and resources such as links for in-class research and downloadable activity sheets. The lessons take about one class period to complete and require the use of educational videos -- part of NTTI's goal to increase "dynamic use of classroom technology." [RS]
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Animal Alert
This Web site from Animal Planet offers visitors the very latest news about animals around the globe. Scroll along the map of the world, and then click on an icon. A pop-up window will appear with a synopsis of a news story, a link to the full story, and a list of related features on the Animal Planet Web site. A key to the map icons is provided. The full news story page also provides general information and trivia about each animal. This is a great resource for anyone wishing to keep informed about animal-related current events without having to register for an email newsletter. [RS]
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Marine Flatworms of the World [.pdf]
This frequently updated Web site, individually hosted by Wolfgang Seifarth, is devoted to the study of polyclad flatworms, the free-living marine flatworms primarily found in tropical coral reefs. This comprehensive site describes every characteristic of this beautiful worm order -- phylogeny, anatomy, natural history, distribution, and much more. If you're of the opinion that all worms are impossibly disgusting, click on Marine Flatworms to view a collection of polyclad worm photos from around the globe; it should change your mind. Although not closely related to flatworms, the Web site features an extensive image gallery of colorful nudibranchs (aquatic slugs) that's also well worth the visit. This Web site also contains a Photo of the Week page and a list of marine biology and diving links. [RS]
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MEDLINEplus in Spanish
MEDLINEplus, the National Library of Medicine's free health Web site is now available in Spanish. Spanish-speaking Americans can now access real-time health information from the National Institutes of Health and other credible medical agencies. Current features include interactive health tutorials covering medical procedures, surgeries, and disease, a full-color medical encyclopedia, and more. Additionally, each page of this Web site contains a link to its corresponding English-language page, and vice versa, which non-Spanish-speaking doctors and other medical professionals could use to facilitate communication with their patients. Some of the features currently available at the English-language site are not yet available in Spanish. [RS]
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Disposable Planet [RealPlayer]
BBC Online presents this six-part special on sustainable development. Created in anticipation of the now concluded Johannesburg Summit, this Web site provides a valuable resource for viewers wishing to learn more about sustainable development and related issues. The Web site consists of an overview and six sections: Population, Food, Cities, Waste, Tourism, and Energy. The sections offer an in-depth look at each topic and include audio clips of related interviews and news stories. The discussion forums are now closed, but visitors may read the occasionally insightful and often times heated comments that have already been posted. View the slide show to get a quick, visceral sense of human impact on the planet -- past, present, and future. Visitors may also take a quiz to calculate their ecological footprint, or how much of the earth's resources they individually consume each year. [RS]
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Sea Otter Research and Conservation Program [Media Player, QuickTime]
This Web site from the Monterey Bay Aquarium presents users with a complete overview of its Sea Otter Research and Conservation Program. Visitors learn about the research conducted at the aquarium, and how it contributes to the conservation of the threatened southern sea otter. The site shows how stranded otters are rescued, rehabilitated, and released back into the bay. It also includes a variety of fun features, such as a live Otter Cam; activities for kids; and a video clip of Mae, a rescued pup. Information on this Web site is concise and well-presented, and includes excellent links and resources. [RS]
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NOVA: Killer Disease on Campus [Flash, QuickTime, RealPlayer]
The online companion to the recently-aired NOVA documentary from PBS, this Web site addresses the alarming rise in the incidence of meningococcal disease in the past ten years, especially on college campuses. The site's main features include a young woman's story about her battle with the disease, an animated depiction of how meningococcal bacteria attack the human body, an interview with the documentary's producer, and a virtual lab where users can create six vaccines using different techniques. The Web site also contains FAQs, useful links, a teacher's guide, a transcript of the program, and more. This is a polished Web site with fantastic multimedia features. [RS]
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GreenHouse Gas Online [.pdf]
Keep current with global warming issues with this Web site created by greenhouse gas scientist Dave Reay. GreenHouse Gas Online offers current and archived articles from newspapers and peer-reviewed journals around the world. Only journal articles with freely available abstracts are included. The latest general news and journal articles can be found listed by title on the site's main page, while links to topic-specific material are provided in a side bar. The news and journal archives contain material from 2001 and 2002. Those already interested in and familiar with global warming issues should find this Web site of great use. Students working on related papers or projects would also benefit from this convenient online resource. [RS]
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HortiPlex [.jpeg, QuickTime]
Hortiplex, part of the online gardening forum GardenWeb, is an easy-to-use database of plant names. Regularly updated and ever expanding, this database offers gardeners a way to find relevant information about plants "without having to sift through a lot of chaff." Search by common or Latin name to find every instance of that name in the database, along with botanical information, images, and seed sources. Not every plant listing offers the full array of links at this time. This would be an especially useful resource for those trying to locate or remember the name of a particular horticultural variety. HortiPlex plans to "add plant patent links, links to botanical garden collections, pronunciation guides, and ever greater numbers of plant listings, images and links." Even as a work-in-progress, gardeners should find this site quite useful. [RS]
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Topic In Depth

1. Shark Week 2002
2. Underwater Times
3. The Shark Research Institute
4. How Sharks Work
5. Island of the Sharks [QuickTime, RealPlayer, Vivo]
6. Shark Fin Soup A Dangerous Delicacy?
7. Shark Games
8. All About Sharks
The first Web site (1) is the online counterpart to Discovery Channel's famous Shark Week, offering sharks facts, images, and games. The Underwater Times presents the latest shark-related stories from online news sources in this Web site (2). The next Web site (3) is the home page of the Shark Research Insitute, which promotes sharks as a sustainable natural resource for the dive tourism industry. Learn all about how sharks work in this Web site (4) from Marshall Brain's How Stuff Works. Then, access dozens of shark video clips at this Web site from PBS's NOVA (5). The next Web site is a news story from that addresses problems associated with the demand for shark fin soup (6). The next two Web sites are geared toward kids. The San Diego Natural History Museum Web site (7) contains shark-related games and information, while the final Web site (8), from, offers a ton of shark information and activities, including shark pictures that can be printed out and colored in. [RS]
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Below are the copyright statements to be included when reproducing annotations from The NSDL Scout Report for the Life Sciences.

The single phrase below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing any portion of this report, in any format:

From The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2002.

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2002. The Internet Scout Project (, located in the Computer Sciences Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides information about the Internet to the U.S. research and education community under a grant from the National Science Foundation, number NCR-9712163. The Government has certain rights in this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the entire Scout Report provided this paragraph, including the copyright notice, are preserved on all copies.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, or the National Science Foundation.

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