The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 3, Number 2

January 16, 2004

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

A Note to our Readers




Topic In Depth

A Note to our Readers

We Need Your Feedback -- Please Take a Brief Online Survey


The Internet Scout Project is gathering feedback from librarians, educators, and others about their experiences using open source digital library software to build and manage online collections. Data from this survey will be used to help develop strategies to better facilitate collaboration between open source software developers and the library and education communities. Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey. If you have questions or concerns please don't hesitate to email us at

New MET Editor

The Internet Scout Project is pleased to welcome Valerie Farnsworth [VL] as the new editor for the NSDL report for Math, Engineering, and Technology. Valerie's experience includes work with mathematics and science education researchers at the internationally-renowned the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Valerie is currently pursuing doctoral studies in educational policy studies at UW Madison. We are exceptionally excited to have Valerie on the Scout team and know that the MET reports will benefit greatly from her experience and creativity. [JPM]


Aerospace Engineers Propose System for Automatically Detecting Vertical Flight Limits

Engineers at the School of Aerospace Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a system, which detects envelope limits for autonomous Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAV). The envelope limits ensure safety by restricting the aircraft's maneuverability. Automatic detection of those limits is crucial when performing aggressive maneuvers in varying flight conditions. This article reviews several models used in limit avoidance systems, critiquing them in terms of the system requirements and performance in simulation programs. The authors propose an alternative two-level system that calculates and communicates envelope limits online. Methodology, algorithms, derivations and integration software are described. Results from Software-in-the-loop Simulation and flight tests show the system was successful in keeping the vehicle within prescribed limits when performing a variety of maneuvers. [VF]

MIT Center for Bits and Atoms: Fab Lab

For these researchers, a digital divide that exists between digital and physical worlds can potentially be eliminated through Personal Fabrication technologies. The Fab Lab program is part of the MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA), which broadly explores how the content of information relates to its physical representation. This website provides information about the center's research on personal fabrication machines and applications for these systems. [VF]

Argonne National Laboratory: Battery Research

Advances in research on lithium battery materials and cell chemistries by the Chemical Engineering Division (CMT) of Argonne Laboratories, offers safer and less costly alternatives suitable for use in implantable medical devices as well as hybrid electric vehicles. This website highlights research findings emerging from this program, which, in partnership with the federal government and U.S. auto industry, seeks to develop low-emission full-size passenger vehicles with an 80-mile-per-gallon fuel economy. [VF]

The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search

Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) promotes a contest for anyone who can find the largest prime number. On November 17, 2003 Michael Shafer's computer, in conjunction with an international grid of 211,000 networked computers found the 40th known Mersenne prime, 220,996,011-1! In addition to articles about this new finding, the website provides a link that allows you to view all 6,320,430 decimal digits! Also, find out how you might be the next computer owner to find the new world record prime. [VF]

EPRI: Factors Related to the Series of Outages on August 14, 2003

A non-profit energy research consortium, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), prepared a white paper, recently updated, describing its assessment of factors which may have contributed to the series of outages on August 14, 2003 in the United States and Canada. The study focused on systemic factors as well as specific operational and performance factors, but was not a root cause analysis. The authors note these are only "preliminary observations" given the limited timeframe and data available when the study was performed. [VF]


Modeling for Understanding in Science Education (MUSE)

Modeling for Understanding in Science Education (MUSE) is a collaborative project by the National Center for Improving Student Learning and Achievement in Mathematics and Science (NCISLA) of university researchers, high school teachers, and students. The website provides course materials and extensive background on the educational units for Earth-moon-sun dynamics and natural selection, which are based on several years of research. [VF]

Two on Advances in Educational Technology

The Centre for Research in IT in Education (CRITE) [.mp3 and Quicktime]

Advances in technology can help children play and compose music. The first site describes a project of the Centre for Research in IT in Education, which draws from the field of cognitive development, learning styles theory and educational best practice to develop DrumSteps. This tool, available for downloading, enables children to create, manipulate, edit and save original pieces of percussion music. A user-tracking feature allows the teacher or researcher to follow along with student files click-by-click, giving valuable insights into the students' thinking. The Centre is also examining pedagogical issues surrounding a parallel project, which is described on the second site. Toy Symphony is a project of the MIT Media Lab and Media Lab Europe and offers software, which enables children to compose-by-drawing. The bulk of the project, however, develops specially designed Music Toys, which enable children to engage in sophisticated listening, performing and composing activities normally accessible only after years of study. Videos of the workshops, as well as live concerts in which children play alongside some of the world's most accomplished musicians, are also available to download. [VF]

Groklaw: Understanding Open Source Software

Mark Webbink, Red Hat's general counsel, wrote this article for attorneys wanting to know the basic issues regarding free and open source software. Aside from listing best practices for law offices, he provides a general overview of various open source licenses, explains US copyright law, defines derivative works, and touches on the indemnification issue and the difference between open source and shared source. Webbink also highlights some of the common myths and misconceptions about the General Public License (GPL) and open source and provides links to other sites with more information on open source software. Readers' comments and responses to the article are also posted in a threaded discussion format. [VF]

University of Washington, Department of Mathematics: Probability Abstract Service

The Department of Mathematics of the University of Washington offers the Probability Abstract Service. This archive of research article abstracts covers a variety of topics in mathematics. Everybody is welcome to submit abstracts, so the diversity of submissions is great. The abstracts include either links to a full report or email addresses to contact authors for a copy. [VF]

Dspace Federation

Online storage has become more affordable and feasible, allowing for advances in the management and dissemination of digital materials. DSpace is a digital repository software system for research libraries and institutions, which captures, stores, indexes, preserves, and redistributes intellectual materials in digital formats. Developed jointly by MIT Libraries and Hewlett-Packard (HP), DSpace is available as an open source system that can be downloaded, and then customized and extended for research institutions. [VF]


NREL -- Clean Energy Basics: About Solar Energy

Renewable energy can be cleaner than other technologies, will never run out, allows for local economic investments, and decreases U.S. dependence on foreign oil supplies. This website reviews research by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on advances in solar energy technologies. Visitors can cruise this website for reasons to use renewable energy and suggestions on ways you -- as a home-owner, small business owner, car owner, student, teacher, electricity provider, farmer, rancher, or inventor -- can use clean energy technologies. [VF]

W3C: W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee to be Knighted by Queen Elizabeth

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), is being made a Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. As part of the 2004 New Year's Honours list, the Queen wishes to recognize his "services to the global development of the Internet." The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) serves as "a forum for information, commerce, communication, and collective understanding" to further the development of "interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential." [VF]

National Geographic: Stone Skipping Gets Scientific

This article in National Geographic tells us how and why the magic angle of 20 degrees allows for the most number of skips when skipping stones. How does the author know this? Well, a French scientist constructed a stone-skipping machine to find out the optimal speed, spin, and angle for the maximum number of bounces. Learn more about the physics of stone skipping in this article. [VF]

Electronic Frontier Foundation: Biometrics

Since September 11, 2001 the U.S. government has been actively searching for ways to improve surveillance at airports and U.S. borders. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is concerned that biometric technologies are being promoted as the silver bullet when very little independent, objective scientific testing of biometrics has been done. This evolving website discusses what is known and raises issues for concern regarding recent government proposals for using biometric systems in surveillance. [VF]

Topic In Depth

Technology and Education

1. Christian Science Monitor: Teachers Learn in Cyberspace
2. Videos for Teachers [QuickTime]
3. Connecting Teachers Worldwide
4. Over 4000 Lesson Plans Online
5. The AECT Project: Technology Teachers Can Use to Plan Lessons
6. Grant Opportunities for Programs Using Technology in Education
7. Twenty Years of Policy on Technology and Education [pdf]
8. Education Week on the Web: Current Statistics on Technology Use in Schools [pdf]

Promoting the use of the internet and technology in education is not new. However, the use of technology, especially videos and web-based discussion groups, for teacher professional development is a recent development, spurring interest from state education policy makers, school districts and the technology industry giants. Some examples of these developments and issues to consider are examined in this Topic in Depth.

This article in the Christian Science Monitor (1) discusses some of the recent developments in web-based teacher professional development resources. The Teachers Network (2) is one example of an organization that identifies and exhibits innovative teacher practices. Teachers are able to watch videos of best practices and discuss pedagogical issues with teachers nationwide (Note that a number of these sites require registration, but the registration is free). Similarly, TAPPED IN (3) provides space for an international community of education professionals, including K-12 teachers and librarians, professional development staff, teacher education faculty and students, and researchers to engage in professional development programs and informal collaborative activities. The PBS Teacher Source (4) offers over 4000 lesson plans and activities in Arts and Literature, Mathematics, Science, Health and Fitness, Social Studies, Early Childhood, and Library Media. The AECT Project (4), funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers To Use Technology (PT3) grant program (5), has developed web-based tools that provide teachers with technological resources to use in their student assessments and instructional planning. These efforts are all in support of policies and standards developed by several states and organizations that encourage teachers to integrate technology into their instruction. For example, this website (6 ) describes a project of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) to develop standards for the uses of technology that foster school improvement. This report by the U.S. Department of Education (7)
df}) reviews the past twenty years of technology policy in education, articulating key themes and approaches taken to integrate technology in education and offers recommendations for ways to support and sustain future investments. This article in EdWeek (8) provides some figures on current statistics for technology use in schools.

Below are the copyright statements to be included when reproducing annotations from The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, and Technology.

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 Math, Engineering, & Technology, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2003.

The paragraph below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing the entire report, in any format:

Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2003. 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.

Internet Scout Project Team
Valerie Farnsworth Editor
John Morgan Managing Editor
Rachael Bower Co-Director
Edward Almasy Co-Director
Nathan Larson Contributor
Max Grinnell Contributor
Debra Shapiro Contributor
Rachel Enright Contributor
Todd Bruns Internet Cataloger
Barry Wiegan Software Engineer
Justin Rush Technical Specialist
Michael Grossheim Technical Specialist
Andy Yaco-Mink Website Designer

For information on additional contributors, see the Internet Scout Project staff page.