The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 3, Number 7

March 26, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


MIT: Space Nanotechnology Laboratory [pdf]

The Space Nanotechnology Laboratory (SNL) at MIT conducts research on nanofabrication, nanometer-accuracy x-ray optics fabrication, assembly and metrology, ultra-high resolution lithography, nanometrology, and nano-accuracy diffraction grating fabrication. SNL's pride and joy is the worlds most advanced grating patterning tool, the Nanoruler -- a ruler with "ticks" only a few hundred billionths of a meter apart. Applications for the Nanoruler (patent pending) might include the manufacture of computer chips and space physics. More information, including images and a White Paper describing the Nanoruler, are available from this website. The website also provides a history of the Laboratory, a description of other projects, and an extensive list of papers, many of which are short and available online.

Smith Institute: New and Emerging Themes in Industrial and Applied Mathematics (NETIAM)

New and Emerging Themes in Industrial and Applied Mathematics (NETIAM) is a project of the Smith Institute and supported by the European Commission's programme in New and Emerging Science and Technology (NEST). Starting in March 2004 and lasting for 15 months, the project brings together researchers from the Smith Institute, Fraunhofer-ITWM in Germany, the Technical University of Eindhoven in The Netherlands, the University of Firenze in Italy and Ventspils University College in Latvia. Using mathematical frameworks, they will identify ground-breaking research directions in four themes: modelling the business environment; modelling criminality in the social environment; visualization and simulation of materials; and complexity at the molecular level. Thematic Workshops "will exploit the brainstorming capabilities of the participants in a facilitated think-tank environment" and a final plenary workshop will report the results of their work. The website provides additional information on the project and invites researchers to join in the Thematic Workshops. [VF]

Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS) [pdf, LaTeX]

Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS) is a collaborative project between Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Princeton University, AT&T Labs - Research, Bell Labs, Telcordia Technologies, and NEC Laboratories America. Affiliate members include Avaya Labs, HP Labs, IBM Research, and Microsoft Research. Their focus is on the development, application and dissemination of discrete mathematics (dm) and theoretical computer science (tcs). The research the center supports has applications to problems in fields such as telecommunications, networking, transportation, engineering, and cryptanalysis, as well as biology, chemistry, management, and decision making. The center offers research conferences and workshops, visiting scientists programs, and other activities for high school teachers and students. Information on enrolling in these programs, as well as several of their technical reports and other publications, is available from the website. [VF]

New York University: Center for Digital Multimedia [QuickTime, AVI, JAVA]

The New York University Center for Advanced Technology (CAT) promotes the development and dissemination of multimedia technologies and applications. As one of fifteen New York State Centers for Advanced Technology, the Center "uses its multimedia technology expertise to augment the efforts of faculty, staff, and researchers working in new media." Through partnerships between NYU faculty, the wider academic community, and leading members of various industries, the Center develops multimedia technologies, tools, services, and products. The three main activities include facilitating research activities, providing "a platform for discussions regarding technology and its impact," and promoting economic development in the greater New York area. The News Archive provides a nice overview of some of the work from the past several years. The Technologies and Projects section of the website describes some of the center's innovative technologies and projects, and demonstrates some of its works-in-progress. [VF]

Courant Institute: Applied Mathematics Laboratory [pdf]

The Applied Mathematics Lab of the Courant Institute is an interdisciplinary research lab, combining applied mathematics, physics, and biology in experimental research and educational laboratory demonstration. The lab is described as "an arena where mathematical theory and numerical simulation collide with experimental observation and measurement." Project descriptions and research papers are available online. One focus of study is "the interaction of flowing fluids with moving and flexible bodies" and some sample project titles include: Drag Reduction through Self-Similar Bending of a Flexible Body, Mathematical Models of the Heart, and Simulation of Insect Flight. [VF]

IEEE: Power Electronics Society (PELS)

IEEE's Power Electronics Society (PELS) "helps in the development and effective application of power electronics technology." Power electronics is definted as "the application of electronic circuits to energy conversion," which is used "everywhere you look," including in computers automobiles, telecommunications, space systems and satellites motors, lighting, and alternative energy. The PELS newsletter is available free online, but the bimonthly series of peer-reviewed papers (the IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics) is for members only. The website also provide some background information on the main areas of power electronics research and states that volunteers will respond to questions about power electronics. Information on PESL conferences and workshops is also provided. [VF]

Pew Research Center: Internet and American Life [pdf]

Who uses the internet, where, when, why and how? The Pew Internet & American Life Project is a non-profit project of the Pew Research Center for People and the Press that conducts and funds "original, academic-quality research that explores the impact of the Internet on children, families, communities, the work place, schools, health care and civic/political life." Research methods include "phone and online surveys; data-gathering efforts that will often involve classic shoe-leather reporting from government agencies, academics, and other experts; fly-on-the-wall observations of what people do when they are online; and other efforts that try to examine individual and group behavior." Reports, summaries, and charts on research addressing these questions about internet usage among other topics are available free online. Another section of the website keeps track of news stories reporting on the project's research findings. Interested researchers can also obtain "raw data" files in SPSS or Word in order to conduct further analysis. [VF]

The Center for Commercial Applications of Combustion in Space [mpg]

The Center for Commercial Applications of Combustion in Space (CCACS) is a NASA / Industry / University space commercialization center based at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) in Golden, Colorado. CCACS conducts research and offers students coursework and experience in combustion or related scientific areas. An emphasis is placed on research results that can be "applied to the development of commercial products and processes, where the research can benefit from the unique properties of space, and where the research addresses NASA's priorities in exploring space." Commercialization projects address combustors, fire safety and suppression, and advanced materials. The website describes the center's research approach, provides updates on current projects and events, and a promotional video called Partners in Space illustrates why one should study combustion in space. [VF]


MarcoPolo: Internet Content for the Classroom [Flash]

MarcoPolo: Internet Content for the Classroom is a nonprofit consortium of education organizations and the MCI Foundation "dedicated to providing the highest quality Internet content and professional development to teachers and students throughout the United States." The website began as a collection of standards-based, discipline-specific websites for K-12 teachers and now offers lesson plans, student interactive content, downloadable worksheets, links to panel-reviewed websites and additional resources. The website also provides information on the "scalable professional development program" and the "network of states partners dedicated to rolling out MarcoPolo to all teachers and aligning the content to state education standards." Visitors to the website can search the educational resources created by or reviewed by the MarcoPolo Partners, or browse the most recent and featured postings. The MarcoPolo Calendar provides information on historic events and associates them with related MarcoPolo lessons, and a monthly newsletter, MarcoGrams, highlights "common themes from space exploration to family culture" and includes "motivating warm-ups for classroom discussion" and links to other resources. Another section links to MarcoPolo websites across the nation that provide teachers with MarcoPolo content aligned to their state standards. Some resources require free registration, such as information on how to use the MarcoPolo program, free web-based training, and technology tips. The program is so comprehensive, there is even research on the impact of the MarcoPolo program so far. [VF]

Science Project

The Science Project website welcomes you to "the world's largest web site for Science Project ideas, information and support." Students can search for ideas by level: primary (e.g. Make a Volcano), elementary (e.g. Fluorescent Lights), intermediate (e.g. pendulums), and senior (e.g. Study of efficient home insulation). Senior project ideas cover the following topic areas: Biology, Engineering, Physical Science, Earth Science/Meteorology, Environmental Science, Computer Science, and Chemistry. The ideas are accessible for free without registration, but "only members can get support and access the members section for more project details." (Unfortunately, this does favor those able to pay -- Basic membership is $25/year and Advanced membership is $150/year, but a trial membership for 90 days is $10.) Opportunities for teachers, scientists and schools are also described within Membership Info. [VF]

Two on Robotics

Chucks Robotics Notebook
Hobby Engineering: Robotics Department

Chuck's Robotics Notebook "serves as a journal and knowledge repository for the aspiring roboticist" and includes sections on circuits, projects, and controllers. A section on Complete Robots describes some of the robots he has built and includes some photos. A "bibliography of sorts" provides his favorite books and articles "so that you can build a 'Mechatronic' library of your own." The second website, Hobby Engineering, is more of a clearinghouse for robotics supplies, but also provided is some information on robotics. Chuck describes robotics as "a fun, challenging activity that also develops important skills in subjects as diverse as reading, researching, critical thinking, problem solving, mechanics, electronics and software." The Robot Builders Menu and Guide describes the components that go into a robot, including tools and kits you can purchase through them online. [VF]

The Math Forum: Mathematics Awareness Month, April 2004

The Joint Policy Board for Mathematics sponsors Mathematics Awareness Month (MAM) every April with the goal of increasing public understanding of and appreciation for mathematics. MathForum offers this website with activity announcements and other information on MAM. Resources that are forthcoming include: a Theme Poster, Essays, and Related Resources. This year's theme is The Mathematics of Networks. Activities for Mathematics Awareness Month are usually organized by college and university departments, institutional public information offices, student groups, and related associations and interest groups and include workshops, competitions, exhibits, festivals, lectures, and symposia. High schools have also become more involved in Mathematics Awareness Month activities in recent years. An online form allows other groups to submit their events in celebration of the Mathematics of Networks for posting online. [VF]

The Freudenthal Institute [Word, pdf]

The Freudenthal Institute is part of Utrecht University in the Netherlands and conducts research on math education. The goals are "to understand and improve the teaching of arithmetic and mathematics at all levels, but particularly in kindergarten, primary, secondary and vocational education." The Freudenthal Institute has developed a theoretical approach known as Realistic Mathematics Education, which is based on the idea that "education should guide the students towards using opportunities to reinvent mathematics by doing it themselves." Through a collaboration with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER), at the University Wisconsin-Madison, the Freudenthal Institute - USA(FiUS) focuses on: Supporting teacher development of classroom assessment, designing comparative achievement studies, developing curricula and materials for students, teachers and parents, building leadership capacity in school districts through professional communities, and collaboration in education (e.g. supervising PhD-students). Teachers are often involved in co-developing classroom materials and assessments. The Freudenthal Institute also offers the Reken Web, which is available in English as well as Dutch, German, Portuguese and Spanish and provides numerous math games which can be browsed or selected by age group (ages 5 - 12). A significant amount of the institute's publications are available online. Additional publications and resources are available for purchase, some in Dutch and English. [VF]

Two on Internet Plagiarism

Internet Plagiarism is an "online resource for educators concerned with the growing problem of Internet plagiarism." The organization provides information on online plagiarism and explains how can be used by educators "to fight plagiarism and help bring academic integrity back into our schools." The technologies behind, facts about Internet plagiarism, and the growth of "cheatsites" online are also explained. Members of pay for access to "a proprietary system that instantly identifies papers containing unoriginal material and acts as a powerful deterrent to stop student plagiarism before it starts." has also developed a system that allows for online peer review of student work, a tool that lets instructors mark and grade papers in electronic format, a tool that lets instructors manage grades and assignments online, and an archiving system that can be used for "an authentic assessment of the learning experience." Visitors to can get quotes for these products and obtain general information about internet plagiarism. [VF]

Education World: Grants and Awards

Education World (reported on in the February 22, 2002 NSDL Scout Report for the Physical Sciences) is a website that intended to be "a home for educators on the Internet, a place where teachers could gather and share ideas." This section of Education World provides information on grants and awards available for teachers. There are currently 52 web resources listed on scholarship and other grants, as well as tips on grant writing. Although some entries from the search result may not belong in this list (ie: offering lesson plans on Irish), there is a good deal of grant resources listed here. [VF]

Tech Learning: Resource for Education Technology Leaders is produced by Technology & Learning Magazine. The magazine is available online and includes contributions from K-12 teachers, administrators and other experts in technology education. Feature articles in the March 2004 issue include Data: Mining with a Mission and Network Monitoring: A 360-Degree Plan. Websites, technology trends, and innovative classrooms or schools are also highlighted in each issue. The Educators' Outlook section includes resources from The Well Connected Educator -- a previous web-based project which collected articles, web tours, Teachers' Choice entries, and forum comments contributed by readers. New contributions from readers continue to be collected through Another magazine, Digital Video in the Classroom, is also posted online. From this website, administrators and teachers can find out how to host a Tech Forum -- a day conference on "a practical look at some of the challenges facing today's schools and how to solve them" -- for a fee, of course. Sections for teachers, administrators and technology coordinators highlight articles from the magazines relevant for these different audiences. [VF]

General History of the Slinky

Did you know the Slinky was invented in 1945 by a Naval Engineer? This article from gives a history of the slinky. Apparently the engineer was working on developing a meter that would monitor horsepower on naval battleships when he discovered the way the tension springs he was working with kept moving after they fell to the ground. As the story goes, "Richard remarked to his wife Betty, 'I think I can make a toy out of this'" and the Slinky was born. Along with the article are links to more interesting facts about slinky history, a letter from Betty James (his wife) and the physics and workings of spring coils (using Hooke's Law). Dont' miss the animated version of a slinky in motion -- it almost put me in a trance! [VF]

The Hobby of Electronic Circuit Engineering [java]

This website (originally created in Japanese and translated into English using translation software) by a Japanese systems engineer, Seiichi Inoue, provides an extensive overview of electronic circuit engineering. Topics covered include: Basic knowledge of Electronic parts, Basic knowledge of Engineering Instruments, an Introduction of Engineering Method, and the Assembly Process. A variety of electronic circuits and their uses are provided, as well as a separate section on PIC electronic circuits. The language may be difficult to follow at times given the translation, but still a gem of a site for anyone wanting to build some circuits! Keep in mind that in some sections, the author notes that he is "describing while studying, there seems to be mistakes in the contents. Do at your own risk." For some further browsing, he includes sections on his other interests, such as 3D photography, java programming, CAD, Japanese customs and the Japanese language. [VF]

Vintage Calculators Web Museum

This "web museum" devoted to vintage calculators shows "the evolution from mechanical calculator to hand held electronic calculator." Some items featured include: Mechanical and early electronic desk calculators, "strange hand-held calculators," and articles, photographs, and databases from the archives of the International Association of Calculator Collectors. A history of the technology and information on British and sterling currency calculators are also posted here. The website also offers a Calculator time-line (chronicling calculator developments), background on the technology used by mechanical and early electronic calculators, and information on The Calculator Business. An index allows visitors to search the calculators featured on this site. The Puzzle Corner section asks visitors to contact them with any information that may answer unresolved questions regarding vintage calculators. [VF]

Lemelson-MIT Invention Index Study

In January 2004 Lemelson-MIT released results from their annual Invention Index Study, which measures Americans' attitudes towards invention. This news release highlights the study findings, methodology and background about the study. The nationally representative survey found that "the cell phone is the invention they most hate but cannot live without" -- just slightly more hated than the alarm clock. The report notes that, "While the Lemelson-MIT Invention Index found a vast majority of Americans (95%) believe inventions have improved the quality of life in the United States, their strong feelings toward cell phones illustrate both the benefits and unintended consequences of innovation." The study also surveyed Americans' views on America's competitiveness globally and where the responsibility for encouraging invention lies (industry, universities, primary schools or government). The Lemelson-MIT Program "provides the resources and inspiration to make invention and innovation more accessible to today's youth." [VF]

The Virtual Museum of Computing

The Virtual Museum of Computing provides an extensive list of websites on the history of computing and on-line computer-based exhibits around the world. Inventors who recently died are highlighted, with links to websites about them and their work. The online galleries include exhibits on mathematics, computing, electronics, corporate histories and general historical information. Links to other computer-related museums and online exhibits, personal collections, newsgroups and computer simulators are also available from this website. Another section includes information on the future of computing and networking. [VF]

PBS: Digital Divide [pdf]

This PBS series on the Digital Divide, which aired in 2000, "asks the question: is everyone participating equally, if at all, in the Digital Revolution? And are 'wired' kids being taught how to use computers in ways that enhance instead of replace traditional learning skills?" The website is organized in terms of four major gaps in technology usage: schools, gender, race, and the workplace. Each section includes subsections which offer: 1) historical and general information (in an interactive display), 2) resource links, and 3) transcriptions from interviews with educators, community leaders, and experts in the technology field. They also highlight common themes that emerged across these divides, such as access, education, diversity, and careers. These themes are then used to organize the section providing links to other resources online. As part of a national outreach campaign, PBS produced brochures on suggested activities for teachers, students, and youth community leaders, which are available in the Learning Tools section. [VF]

The Future of Children: Children and Computer Technology [pdf]

The Future of Children is a publication of The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and The Brookings Institution. The purpose of the site is "to promote effective policies and programs for children" by providing information and research findings. Available from this website is the journal of Children and Computer Technology, which focuses on children's use of computer technology both in school and at home. The articles "summarize the knowledge and research available on how the use of computers affects children's development, whether it increases or decreases the disparities between rich and poor, and whether it can be used effectively to enhance learning." The site describes "promising examples of computer use" and offers recommendations to improve children's access to computers. Other sections include a review of Federal Programs to Increase Children's Access to Educational Technology, a survey on What Children Think About Computers, and a glossary which gives definitions for selected terms and acronyms. [VF]

Topic In Depth

Game Technology and Children

1. Kaiser Family Foundation: Children and Electronic Media [pdf]
2. ERIC Digest: Video Games and Children
3. GameZone Online: Interview with James Paul Gee
4. National Geographic: Video Games Boost Skills
5. Grading the Movies: Video Game Violence Reviews
6. The Education Arcade: Video Games in Education
7. IT University: Info Lounge

Children make up a large part of the market for computer and video games. This topic in depth explores some of the perceived negative and positive facets of games and their impact on children.

A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation (1) finds that "children age zero to six spend as much time with TV, computers and video games as playing outside." Current discussions not only focus on perceived negative effects of games on children, such as this review by ERIC (2 ), but also the positive effects of games on learning, such as this article on literacy (3) or this article about cognitive processing (4 ). Many websites grade games for their content, such as this website (5 ), while others emphasize the interdisciplinary work done in game research (6 ) and offers tips for teachers and policy makers. The Info Lounge at this research center (7) answers some frequently asked questions about computer games (e.g., How do you study games from an academic perspective? and Are computer games violent?). [VF]

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.