The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 3, Number 11

March 21, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


GeoCollaborative: Crisis Management [pdf]

The GeoCollaborative brings together researchers interested in finding ways to develop information science and technology to support crisis management. Managing crisis events, such as hurricanes, forest fires, disease outbreaks, chemical spills, and terrorist attacks, involves gathering "geospatial information about the event itself, its causes, the people and infrastructure affected, resources available to respond, and more." The research team addresses "two fundamental problems that impede effective coordinated work with geospatial information." Working from a cognitive systems engineering approach, the group is developing geospatial information and technologies to address these challenges. The website provides an overview of GeoCollaborative's approach and a few selected publications. [VF]

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory [pdf]

Researchers at the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory address a range of topics, including photonics, microelectronics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology. More specifically, the projects are divided into the following four areas: Optoelectronics and Photonic Systems, Microelectronics for Wireless Communications, Microelectromechanical Systems, and Nanobiosystems. The various projects within these areas have their own websites offering a range of publications and overviews describing their work. The laboratory facility is also available for use by visiting university and industrial personnel. [VF]

Geometry and Topology [pdf]

Geometry and Topology is "a fully refereed international journal dealing with all aspects of geometry and topology and their applications." The publisher, Geometry & Topology Publications (GTP), is a non-profit organization based in the Mathematics Department of the University of Warwick at Coventry, UK. Visitors can browse the journal, available free of charge electronically, or search by keyword or author. The moderate collection within the Geometry and Topology Monographs series includes research monographs and refereed conference proceedings. [VF]

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Regional Sediment Management (RSM)

This website describes the Regional Sediment Management (RSM) program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. RSM "provides knowledge and tools for treating coastal and inlet processes on a regional scale or as a system that exchanges sediment by many and diverse mechanisms." Research results can be applied to project planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance in order to minimize disruption of natural sediment pathways and mediate "natural processes that have adverse environmental or economic impacts." Visitors can read about the demonstration programs across the U.S. and various publications, including technical reports and research briefs. Also available are sediment databases and environmental simulation model software. [VF]

Hong Kong Polytechnic University: Nonlinear Circuits and Systems [pdf, Flash]

Hong Kong Polytechnic University's project on Nonlinear Circuits and Systems began in 1991 with a focus on switching power electronics systems. The project has expanded its focus to include signal processing and chaos communications, with an emphasis on practical systems and applications. Seminar slides and Flash movies on chaos and circuit theories and Life Phenomena (such as fireflies, the pendulum and the butterfly effect) are informative. Other graphs represent the SARS virus propagation, the Hong Kong Coast, and the Koch Curve. [VF] is "the home of the first Flash Mob Supercomputer and the official site for all things Flash Mob Computing." The project uses the Grid Computing approach, similar to SETI@Home, to make use of hundreds of idle home computers. What's distinct about FlashMob 1 is that it is "an ad-hoc supercomputer created on-the-fly using ordinary PC's interconnected via a well-organized LAN" (also described as a distributed memory machine) that is set up in a gym or warehouse temporarily. The website describes the project, discusses the advantages and disadvantages of this approach compared to the "Big iron" supercomputing, as well as providing downloads and a discussion forum. The group's two main goals are: to prove flashmob computing can work and "to make this web site a place where people can share ideas, tune software, and improve on our implementation in the tradition of Open Source." [VF]


CESAME Suport Site for Investigations in Number, Data, and Space

From the Center for the Enhancement of Science and Mathematics Education (CESAME), the Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University (the LAB), and the Math Forum, comes this exceptional teacher support site. The mission of the group "is to support teachers who are implementing Investigations in Number, Data and Space in their classrooms. The site is also valuable for other educators and parents who need more information about this elementary mathematics program." At the site, visitors will find several teaching units (grades K-5), games and teaching resources, and links to several ongoing discussions related to these teaching subjects and topics. [JPM]

National Center for Education Statistics: Explore Your Knowledge

A fun site that allows you to test your math and science knowledge, the Explore Your Knowledge site from NCES is a lot of fun. The tests are divided between fourth and eighth grade and the user can choose from either math or science. Also, while there are nearly 120 questions, the user can decide how many to tackle at once -- from 5 to 20. After answering the multiple choice questions, the computer not only scores the test, but gives the correct answer for those that you answered incorrectly. Overall, a fun little module for students to use. [JPM]

American Association for the Advancement of Science: Strategies for Diversifying Science and Engineering

This report from the AAAS news page, discusses new reports aimed at "diversifying America's science and engineering workforce and keeping women, minorities and persons with disabilities in the pipeline at the pre-K-12 level." The two main reports, released by the BEST (Building Engineering and Science Talent) panel, titled What it Takes: Pre-K-12 Design Principles to Broaden Participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and The Talent Imperative: Diversifying America's Science and Engineering Workforce are referred to in this article and links are provided for both. [JPM]

Super Science Fair Projects: Complete Guide to Science Fair Projects, Topics and Experiments

"Today your teacher announced that your school is going to have a science fair and students are responsible for exhibiting their projects. What do you feel? Enthusiastic? Despondent? Dreadful? Fearful? Excited?" This statement opens the Super Science Fair Projects site. Actually, whether student or parent, science fair projects, while great ways to get students actively involved in learning the scientific method and problem solving, can be tough assignments. This site may help you with one of the hardest parts: coming up with an idea. The site does a great job of walking the visitor through the steps needed to plan and implement a project, from Choosing a Topic, the Scientific Method, and writing the Project Report. There are even tips on displaying your project, rehearsing, winning over judges, and what to expect the day of the fair. This is definitely a great tool to tap into when planning a science fair project. [JPM]

Center for Science and Engineering Education

The admirable goals of the CSEE of Berkeley Lab include: promoting science careers for all students, improving science education, increasing the number of students who go into science, and promoting scientific literacy. The numerous links on the site take visitors to programs and projects for students and teachers, an event calendar, and educational tour opportunities. The site is decidedly focused on providing more information for those who are in the neighborhood of Berkeley Lab. There is a link to Activities & Resources, however. Although, this link was being re-constructed at the time of publication and those interested should revisit the site in the future to take advantage of these resources. [JPM]


Making Paper Airplanes

This website, posted by the Los Angeles County Office of Education offers links to a variety of websites about paper airplanes. The websites, including one from NASA, give instructions on making a variety of airplanes out of a single sheet of paper. Background on the History of Flight and information on aerodynamic designs can also be tracked from here. Another section highlights Origami, complete with photos to help walk you through the folding process. Teachers may also find some interesting lesson plan ideas. [VF]

Bizzare Stuff

Bizarre Stuff provides a list of topics from Airships to Zoetrope. On each topic, an overview of the invention or bizarre item is provided along with a history and a review of how the item is constructed. In some cases, links to related websites can lead you deeper into the topic so you can learn more about the Zeppelin or explore ideas in Solar Cooking, for example. The website is a wealth of science project ideas and home experiments, along with easy-to-follow how-to advice. The site is posted by Brian Carusella, but serves as a resource for a course at Carnegie Mellon University. [VF]

National Park Service: From the Roof Down...and Skin Deep

The National Park Service offers this website on the exterior skin of a house, which is defined as a "weather envelope" that "typically includes all the surfaces of its functional and decorative features --roof, chimney, exterior walls, woodwork, windows, porches, doors, and the above-ground portion of the foundation." The site provides some basic pointers on taking care of a historic house. Topics include: What the "Skin" Does, How Your House is Connected, What & When to Repair, and Beyond Maintenance. [VF]

Benton Foundation: Digital Divide Network

Benton Foundation is the producer and coordinator of the Digital Divide Network (DDN). The DDN examines the causes and effects of the divide from four perspectives: technology access, literacy and learning, content, and economic development. The site notes that, "in each of these areas, particular attention is paid to the role of local individuals and organizations when it comes to bridging the divide." Articles, tools, and resources resulting from the DDN project are posted here. Also offered is a forum where practitioners can share their experiences. [VF]

History of Solar Energy

The California Solar Center offers this history of Solar Energy. Written by John Perlin, author of "From Space to Earth - The Story of Solar Electricity," the article summarizes three major solar energy subjects -- photovoltaics, solar thermal, and passive solar architecture. Visitors can get a quick overview of "how we have learned to capture sunlight and use it to make electricity, heat water and heat our homes." [VF]

Topic In Depth

Electricity From Waste Waste Not, NASA-supported Researchers are Working to Develop a Fuel Cell that Can Extract Electricity from Human Waste
The Washington Times: NASA Developing Cells Fueled by Sewage
Fuel Cell Today
Dr. Bruce Rittmann: Professor of Environmental Engineering at Northwestern University
National Geographic: Rust-Breathing Bacteria: Miracle Microbes?
University of Massachusetts, Amherst: Geobacter Project

For most of us, what leaves our bodies in terms of waste holds no desirable potential return. But, NASA scientists are finding that waste may not need to be wasted whatsoever. In fact, they are finding that with the help of a relatively newly-discovered bacterium, human waste may be used to generate electricity.
The first site, from NASA, provides a very detailed release of the story regarding generating electricity from waste and use of Geobacter microbes to help pull it all off (1). The second site, from the Washington Times (2) also provides a good summary of the story. Next, is a link to (3), which provides an exceptionally comprehensive look at the news surrounding fuel cells and related technology and research. Fourth is the link to the NASA-sponsored scientist's, Dr. Bruce Rittman, homepage at Northwestern University (4 ). The fifth site leads to story by National Geographic which highlights the discovery of Geobacter (5). The final link (6) leads to the University of Massachusetts Geobacter Project page. [JPM]

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