The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 3, Number 9

April 23, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


SRI International: Natural Language Program [pdf]

This website describes the Natural Language Program that is part of SRI International's Artificial Intelligence Center. The center's research focuses on natural language theory and applications, with emphasis on three subgroups of study. The subprogram on Multimedia / Multimodal Interfaces seeks to understand the optimal ways in which natural language can be incorporated into multimedia interfaces. The subprogram on Spoken Language Systems integrates linguistic processing with speech recognition for use in ATIS, a system for retrieving airline schedules, fares, and related information from a relational database. The subprogram on Written Language Systems researches the problems involved in interpreting and extracting information from written text, such as on-line newspaper articles. Additional information on these projects, related publications, and software are available from this website. [VF]

United States Advanced Battery Consortium [pdf]

United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) is a collaboration between DaimlerChrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors Corporation and is part of the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR). USABC conducts research and development of advanced energy systems with applications for electric vehicles. The website reviews the goals for the battery systems under investigation, provides information on submitting proposals for research funding, and posts manuals on USABC Abuse Test Procedures, Electric Vehicle Battery Test Procedures, the FreedomCAR Power Assist Battery, and 42 Volt Battery Test procedures. Related Links offer additional information on projects such as the Electrochemical Energy Storage Tech Team and the 42 Volt Working Group. [VF]

Digital Earth: GeoWeb

GeoWeb is part of SRI International's DARPA-sponsored Digital Earth Project. Drawing from search engines like Yahoo Maps, MapQuest, or TerraServer, the GeoWeb is "a vision for making all geographically referenced, or georeferenced, data available over the Web." The infrastructure allows for open, global, and scalable Internet searches associated with a specific latitude/longitude location. Clients can query the GeoWeb to "discover relevant metadata and use Web-based or peer-to-peer communications to retrieve the actual data." The data can be used, for example, with Internet-connected cell phones and car navigation systems. The website describes the project goals and work on building the standards, tools, browsers, and infrastructure necessary to develop GeoWeb. [VF]

Stanford University: Computer Forum [QuickTime]

The Stanford Computer Forum is sponsored by the Industrial Affiliates Program for the Computer Science Department and CS/EE Computer Systems Laboratory. The Forum brings together students, faculty, and industry leaders through events and programs, and offers members "facilitated interaction with faculty, students, and colleagues at other member companies." The website announces upcoming meetings, symposia and job fairs. The Events Archive includes a few short video clips on previous workshops on emerging technologies and future research. The Forum also posts information on the members and their research interests, which fall within the following research areas: BioCompuation, Database, Graphics, Hardware & Architecture, Knowledge Management, Mobile Computing, Networks, Operating Systems & Apps., Robotics, and Security. [VF]

Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences

The Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, based in the United Kingdom (UK) is a national and international research institute that offers research programmes on selected themes in mathematics and the mathematical sciences with applications in science and technology. Leading mathematical scientists from the UK and overseas interact in long-term research projects. This website links to completed papers from participants of Institute programmes. Previous participants are invited to submit new items to the series as they continue to post new articles. [VF]

Math Archives: Applied Mathematics Info

This British website developed by Earl Fife or Larry Husch provides a database of information on Applied Mathematics. Visitors can search by keyword or scroll through by topics, such as History of Mathematics, Industrial Mathematics, Linear & Nonlinear Programming, Multivariable Calculus, or Ordinary Differential Equations among others. Icons let you know how the websites present the information (such as JAVA, other types of interactive pages, animations or movies, or a collection of links to other sites) and will indicate the minimum level of training expected for a reader (such as K-6 Pre-Algebra, 7-12 High School Mathematics, Lower Division College Mathematics, Upper Division College Mathematics, or Graduate and Professional Mathematics). [VF]


Core-Mathematics Project (CPMP) [pdf]

The Core-Mathematics Project (CPMP) involved four years of research, development, and evaluation in over 35 high schools in Alaska, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas. With funding from the National Science Foundation the project sought to develop student and teacher materials for "a comprehensive Standards-based three-year high school mathematics curriculum for all students, plus a fourth-year course continuing the preparation of students for college mathematics." The four-year curriculum replaces the traditional Algebra-Geometry-Advanced Algebra / Trigonometry-Precalculus sequence by teaching algebra and geometry every year while also introducing new topics such as statistics and discrete mathematics. The curriculum emphasizes mathematical modeling and applications and received the highest designation of "exemplary" from the U.S. Department of Education Expert Panel on Mathematics. Although the CPMP curriculum must be purchased from the publisher Glencoe / McGraw-Hill, sample materials and details about the curriculum, including approaches to assessment and evaluations of the curriculum are available online. The website describes features of the CPMP curriculum, overviews the mathematical content, and discusses issues for instructional design and implementation. Information on upcoming conferences and workshops, and other online articles are also available. [VF]

Looking at Student Work

The Looking at Student Work website "represents an association of individuals and educational organizations that focus on looking at student work to strengthen connections between instruction, curriculum, and other aspects of school life to students' learning." The association grew from a meeting hosted by the Chicago Learning Collaborative and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform in 1988. The website offers resources for teachers, administrators, staff developers, and other school-based educators, including an explanation of the approaches offered, a rationale for looking at student work in the ways proposed, a description of the protocols used for looking and a discussion of how the approach "challenges the norms of teaching." Visitors are invited to use the website as an introduction to these ideas, as a resource for information and tools, and as an opportunity to read and discuss with colleagues the principles of looking at student work. To promote interactions among colleagues, the site provides information on other people and organizations involved in looking at student work, and has a page for feedback from visitors to the website. Related books, articles, videos, websites, and supporting materials are also highlighted. The Research section includes links to two recent resources providing snapshots of teachers of mathematics and sciences engaged in the processes of "looking at student work." [VF]

Eternal Egypt [Flash, Shockwave, QuickTime]

Available in English, French, and Arabic, Eternal Egypt is a website with a wealth of information on "the artifacts, characters, and places that together comprise the wonder that is Eternal Egypt." The website is organized so visitors can choose between a guided tour, begin with one of the cultural highlights (such as The Temple of Luxor or Part of a Wall of a Tomb), or simply explore and discover. A key feature of the website is the context provided in relation to various topics, so that a visitor can learn about the artifacts, but also how they connect to other people, places and artifacts, and where they fit in terms of an overall timeline and on a multimedia map of Egypt. Topics include: Arts and Crafts (Libraries, Architecture, Paintings and Relief, Sculpture, Humanities, Crafts), Science (Archaeology, Mathematics, Astronomy, Medicine, Social Science, Engineering), Agriculture (Irrigation, Herding, Farming, Crops), Commerce and Trade (Transportation), Government (Leaders, Seats of Power, Theocracy, Military), and Society and Culture (Family, Food and Drinks, Clothing, Sports and Entertainment, Religion and Spirituality). [VF]

The Electronic Emissary

The Electronic Emissary is "a Web-based telementoring service and resource center" where K-12 teachers and students can locate mentors who are experts in various disciplines in order to assist in "curriculum-based electronic exchanges among the teachers, their students, and the mentors." Interactions take place through electronic mail, web forum, chat, and teleconferencing exchanges and typically range in length from 6 weeks to a full academic year, depending on students' needs and interests. Although classroom teachers serve as the subject matter experts, this practice termed "telementoring" allows additional expertise to be made directly available to students and teachers in cases where "the issues being explored are multi-disciplinary, technically and conceptually sophisticated, or dependent upon current and highly specialized research and theory." Staff of the Electronic Emissary also conduct research by facilitating and investigating "the nature of online communication between adult subject matter expert volunteers and elementary, middle-level, and secondary students and their teachers." The website includes summaries of completed Electronic Emissary learning projects, and additional information on the project and how to get involved either as a mentor, student or teacher. The project is on a volunteer basis and there are no monetary costs associated with it as long as you have Internet access. Some parts of the website were still under construction at the time of this review. [VF]

International Mathematical Olympiad

The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) is the World Championship Mathematics Competition for High School students. This annual event began in 1959 in Romania, with 7 countries participating and has gradually expanded to over 80 countries from 5 continents. The location alternates each year, with the current 2004 IMO scheduled for July 4-18 in Athens, Greece. The IMO Advisory Board ensures that the competition takes place and that each host country observes the regulations and traditions. The official delegation to an IMO consists of a maximum of six students and two leaders. There is no official team and different countries have different methods of training and selecting students for an IMO. More information on the selection of problem questions, the competition process, the marking of the papers, and other procedures are provided on this website. Also posted online are competition results and exam problems from previous Olympiads, related materials, countries with Olympiad sites and a listing of previous competitions by year. [VF]

U.S. Department of Education: Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers To Use Technology

The U.S. Department of Education's Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers To Use Technology (PT3) grant program started in 1999. PT3 provides grants to "transform teacher education so that technology is integrated throughout teaching and learning" and so "new teachers enter the classroom prepared to effectively use the computers that await them." The website offers stories about innovative strategies used by grantees to "transform teacher education." Approaches highlighted include: Course Redesign, Digital Equity, E-Portfolios, Faculty Development, State-Wide Change, Technology Tools, and Video Learning Tools. The website provides information on grant application procedures and a database on PT3 projects which includes information on the Grant Type, Grant Year, State, Grant Focus, Subject Focus, Grade, Scope, Impact, Products, and Consortium Members. States that have PT3 project websites are listed alphabetically by state. Various resources on education and technology are also available from this website, such as Digital Equity Resources from the PT3 Digital Equity Task Force, and a bibliography and resource list on Technology and Change. [VF]


National Engineers Week

Now an annual event, National Engineers Week was founded by the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1951. In 1988, the National Engineers Week consortium expanded and now includes "more than 100 engineering, scientific, and education societies and major corporations dedicated to enhancing the public understanding of the engineering profession and to promoting pre-college interest in math, science, and engineering as a career option." From this website, visitors can read suggestions for ways to get involved in National Engineers Week (National Engineers Week 2004 was held February 22-28) and learn about other competitions for young and upcoming engineers. Also available online is the first Connecting the World teleconference which featured Alan Boeckmann, Chairman and CEO of Fluor Corporation, speaking about Engineering in the 21st Century. The website currently promotes the "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day," which was presented to the United Nations as part of an international briefing, Girls and Technology: New Educational Opportunities. Another feature of interest is the section highlighting the accomplishments of engineers and their inspirational stories about becoming "the engineer behind the sounds of Star Wars," for example. The New Faces of Engineering program highlights the work of young engineers. A discussion forum and various educational resources are also available from this website. Finally, a section on Engineer / Volunteer Kits suggests ways engineers, community members and teachers can get involved in supporting up-and-coming engineers. [VF]

Zabaware, Inc.

Zabaware, Inc. boasts that its chatterbot software can "give your computer the power of thought." Using artificial intelligence technology, speech recognition technology, and real-time animation, Zabaware has developed software that can speak and understand English. The website provides some information on the technology and lets you chat with one of their chatterbots over the Internet, or download free software to use on your PC. Some suggested uses include having your Ultra Hal Assistant remind you of meetings, read your documents out loud to you, or understand and respond to emails and instant messages. [VF]

New Scientist: Commercial Space Flight

This article from New Scientist highlights the most recent actions that are bringing us closer to commercial space flight -- the granting of the first licence to a private company. The one-year license authorizes the launching of people up to 100 kilometers. Apparently, the company is competing with other companies to win a prize being offered by the X Prize Foundation, which will be awarded to "the first private group to send three people to the sub-orbital height of 100 kilometers twice in two weeks." The president of X Prize, Peter Diamandis, is quoted as saying he expects a winner by October 2004. So stay tuned! [VF]

MSRI: Journalist-in-Residence Program

Supported by grants from the Gabriella and Paul Rosenbaum and William Randolph Hearst Foundations, the Mathematics Science Research Institute (MSRI) offers a Journalist-in-Residence Program in an effort to make mathematics accessible to the layman. Responding to complaints that mathematics is "too abstract; too remote from 'real life' to be of interest to the general public," the program developers argue that mathematics is relevant to real life (consider computers, satellites, finance) and that mathematics can and has been explained successfully to the general public. The Journalist-in-Residence Program helps connect mathematical scientists and journalists who then communicate with the public. Recent participants are listed with links to their websites and (sometimes) their articles (although some links need to be updated). [VF]

Library of Congress: How does an hourglass measure time?

Everyday Mysteries: Fun Facts from the Library of Congress offers an explanation for how an hourglass measures time. Learn about the careful calibration of this age-old timepiece and what factors affect the accuracy of the sand clock. The website provides links to related websites that provide a brief history of the hourglass and sell custom hourglasses. The U.S Official Time website, which is also a link from this article, highlights exhibits that concern time (time keeping, calendars through the ages, daylight saving time, clockworks, and the quartz watch). For further reading, you can search the Library of Congress online database. [VF]

Community Technology Centers' Network

Community Technology Centers' Network (CTCNet) is committed to the goal of creating "a society in which all people are equitably empowered by technology skills and usage." CTCNet brings together agencies and programs that provide computer exploration and learning opportunities for "people of all ages who typically lack access to computers and related technologies." The organization was founded in 1990 (originally the Playing to Win Network), by Antonia Stone, a former public school teacher. Now with funding from numerous sources, CTCNet networks more than 1000 community technology centers where people in low-income communities gain access to computers and computer-related technology. The website provides information on current projects and sponsors, as well as how to become a member and the benefits of membership, such as a start-up kit, an annual conference, and other resources. Information for volunteer opportunities is also listed. [VF]

Topic In Depth

Hybrid Vehicles

Motor Trend's Car of the Year, 2004: the Toyota Prius
Clean Vehicles
U.S. Department of Energy: Hybrid Electric Vehicle Program The Honda Civic Hybrid The Prius Hybrid
NPR: The Future of Hybrid Technology and Hybrid SUVs

40, 50, 60 miles per gallon?! 600 miles on a tank of gas?! With today's wallet-sucking gas prices, such fuel economy may be music to our frugal driving ears. Or, maybe you're simply interested in fewer emissions. If so, then sitting at a stoplight with your car's gasoline engine off while the gas guzzlers around you idle away may sound like a smart idea. Not only that, the electric motor charges as you decelerate and powers you out of that stoplight, making the hybrids curiously better with fuel efficiency in the city rather than out on the open road. This type of fuel economy is no longer a thing of the future. It's available now in a limited number of hybrid electric / gasoline models from Honda and Toyota and said to become an option on many more vehicles, including those from American auto makers, starting next year. In fact, one of the current models, the 2004 Toyota Prius was named Motor Trend's Car of the Year. Good luck finding one though, most dealers have sold out their entire stock, including demo models, and have long waiting lists. And, there's no dickering on the price, which, loaded with every available option, is just below $26,000 (or a base of $19,995).

The first site takes you to the very informative essay at Motor Trend's site on its car of the year, the Toyota Prius (1). The next site is from the Union of Concerned Scientists. This great resource, called Clean Vehicles, offers all sorts of info about vehicles for the future (2). The Department of Energy's Hybrid Electric Vehicle Program page (3 ) offers lots of good information about the technology surrounding the cars as well as information on how you can get a tax break if you buy one. In fairness to both Honda (4 ) (Note: Honda also makes the Insight) and Toyota (5 ) these two sites take you to their webpages devoted to their two comparable hybrid cars, the Honda Civic Hybrid and the Toyota Prius. The last site takes you to a recent story on NPR about the future of hybrid technology and hybrid SUVs (6 ) [JPM]

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