The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 3, Number 12

June 4, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


NSF Engineering News: Historic Wall

This edition of Engineering News by NSF announces "The Most Historic Wall Since the Great Wall of China." What makes this wall original is that it was built entirely by a robot, making it "the first wall ever constructed entirely by machine, with no use of human hands." A link to a related website describes the technology used to build the wall known as Contour Crafting. Contour Crafting builds the structures layer-by-layer in a process by which structures can be "'printed out' from computer design software, much as ink jet printers produce documents from word processing software." Researchers hope that one day the technology can be used to build a 2000 square foot home in day or to construct extraterrestrial habitats. [VF]

Campus Computing Project [Windows Media Player, pdf]

The Campus Computing Project is an ongoing study of the role of information technology in American higher education. Each year about 600 two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities participate in the Campus Computing Survey. The focus of the survey is on "campus planning and policy issues affecting the role of information technology in teaching, learning, and scholarship." The study results from 1995-2003 are currently available online, along with related reports, articles, and videos. Topics of related reports include the use of technology in teacher education and open source. Unfortunately, the reports and videos are posted without any accompanying description so you have to open the files to find out what they are about. [VF]

First Monday: Sharing Digital Resources [Real Player]

First Monday has posted selected papers from the Conference on Libraries and Museums in the Digital World. The conference, also known as Web Wise 2004, was sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and co-hosted by University of Illinois at Chicgao. The theme of Sharing Digital Resources addressed the different meanings and implications of sharing in the digital environment. Items posted online include a video of the keynote address, project demonstrations, and extended papers on topics such as imaging, problems of public media, and the role of museums in teaching and learning. [VF]

Jahrbuch Project: Electronic Research Archives for Mathematics [pdf]

Jahrbuch Project has compiled this Electronic Research Archives for Mathematics that includes "the most important mathematical publications of the period 1868-1942 and a database based on the 'Jahrbuch ber die Fortschritte der Mathematik'" or JFM. The project's directors have posted articles of JFM, which was founded in 1868 by the mathematicians Carl Ohrtmann and Felix Mller, because they are "still valuable sources for mathematical research and teaching." The website includes a project description along with a fully searchable database. The articles are in multiple languages, including English, German, French, and Russian. [VF]

United Nations University: International Institute for Software Technology

The International Institute for Software Technology is part of the United Nations University and is located in Macau. The Institutes mission is "to help developing countries strengthen their education and research in computer science and their ability to produce computer software." They work with universities to develop curricula and provide training and collaborate with research institutes, as well as public and private institutions, to develop software. The website highlights the tools they developed for the RAISE (Rigorous Approach to Industrial Software Engineering). A summary of their most recent work is available in the annual report with further details provided in their technical reports, both of which are free online. Additional information on the University is also available. [VF]

Cubic Surface Homepage

Prof. Dr. D. v. Straten of the Algebraic Geometry Group at the University of Mainz, Germany initiated the Cubic Surface Homepage. The website offers "a lot of information, images, movies, tools, etc. concerning cubic surfaces." The collection includes images and movies of surfaces with only rational isolated singularities, a historical overview of cubic surfaces, a bibliography and "the Cubic Surface Program that allows users to study cubic surfaces interactively by moving 6 points in the plane." [VF]


Southwest Educational Development Laboratory: SCIMAST [pdf]

The Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) serves the Southwest including Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Although most of SEDL's SCIMAST Access Centers are specifically targeted for these specific states, the SCIMAST website offers an array of broadly applicable resources on science and mathematics education. One feature of the site is the Classroom Compass, "a thematic publication designed to link issues in mathematics and science education to instructional ideas and resources." Each issue explores a theme in depth, illustrating instruction around that theme and providing informational resources and materials for further investigation. Topics include constructivism, cooperative learning, Rhythm of Mathematics, science as inquiry, and using community resources. Visitors can also search the extensive resource database for mathematics and science instructional materials and resources. [VF]


William J. Beaty, an Electrical Engineer at the University of Washington, has posted this website about electricity. He offers a simple answer to the question, What Is "Electricity?," identifies twenty misconceptions he has found to be barriers to understanding electricity, and then proceeds to explain various aspects of electricity. Beaty's debunking articles address common misconceptions about circuitry, doorknob sparks, voltage, and more. [VF]

NCISLA: Scaling Up Innovative Practices in Mathematics and Science [pdf]

The National Center for Improving Student Learning and Achievement in Mathematics and Science (NCISLA) has posted this report on Scaling Up Innovative Practices in Mathematics and Science. This final report focuses on "how to use what we learned from our studies of students and teachers to develop similar innovative practices in new settings." The report stresses the forms of professional development and organizational supports needed for creating classrooms in which students learn with understanding. They argue that what was successful in one setting "cannot simply be transported intact to new settings, but instead offer valuable lessons about what can and does 'travel'." [VF]

Graphics for the Calculus Classroom [GIF, Java, MPEG]

Douglas Arnold, Director of the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications in Minneapolis and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Minnesota, has posted this website of "excerpts from a collection of graphical demonstrations" he developed for first year calculus. Visitors will find an overview and animations for topics such as differentials and differences, computing volume, how a ball bounces, secants and tangents, a trigonometric limit, and the number e.

Oracle: [pdf] by Oracle offers free email and websites for students ages 7-14. The website serves as a protected, online learning community for primary and secondary students around the world. Students can create interactive web pages that feature their reports, poems, stories and videos to share with fellow students. Teachers can use to promote online discussion groups, post assignments and research articles, communicate with students via email, or develop a Parent Page. The website provides information about how to sign up, use the tools, and an overview of the protection safeguards that have been included. [VF] was developed by a math teacher from southwest England "to encourage an interest in Mathematics." The website offers "fun bits" and puzzles in mathematics, primarily geared toward children ages 11 to 16. Some topics include long division, fractions, graphs, and proofing. Also posted are an easy-to-print Times Table and a table of prime numbers. [VF]


Electronic Frontier Foundation: E-voting Archive [pdf]

EFF argues that, "communities across America are purchasing electronic voting (e-voting) machines, but the technology has serious security problems that aren't being addressed." The EFF website seeks to alert the public to a debate between researchers who have raised concerns with the security of the technology and one manufacturer's attempt to terminate those criticisms. The archive is "a resource in the fight for accountable elections and responsible voting technology." Resources include amicus briefs, testimonies, standards, independent research, media coverage and related websites. [VF]

National Do Not Call Registry

Modern technology makes it easy for companies to get your phone number. As a result, many people are overwhelmed with phone solicitations. However, the National Do Not Call Registry, managed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), provides some relief. From this website, you can join the National Do Not Call Registry, which will effectively stop most telemarketers from calling you for the next five years. [VF]

Furman University: Mathematical Quotation Server

Hosted through the mathematics department at Furman University, this website offers "a collection of mathematical quotations culled from many sources." The quotation database can be searched for by keyword, browsed by last name, randomly generated or viewed in its entirety. Some quotes are long while others are short and may be attributed to an anonymous person, but all have something to do with mathematics. [VF]

NPR: Search Engine Wars [SMIL, RealOne Player]

In April 2004, NPR produced a five-part series to "look at the business of search engines." The stories address how search engines have grown over the years in terms of developing new technologies, expanding public reach, and ultimately becoming a profit-making (and competitive) enterprise. This website offers audio clips of the radio shows along with links to related websites. [VF]

Mathematicians Throughout the Year

With this website, mathematics fans can honor at least one mathematician a day using this calendar posted by the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. The calendar marks the births and deaths of mathematicians. Other links can also take you to the Birthplace Maps section, where you can click on a country and get a list of the mathematicians born in that country. The Indexes of Biographies starts in 500 AD and goes to the present, providing an extensive amount of biographical information on mathematicians. History buffs may also enjoy the section on the history of mathematics, the Famous Curves Index, mathematics timelines, and the section on "mathematics in various cultures." [VF] is a special report of the United States Institute of Peace about "How Modern Terrorism Uses the Internet." Professor Gabriel Weimann of Haifa University, Israel, reports on websites maintained by terrorist organizations and "identifies no fewer than eight different ways in which terrorists are using the Internet to advance their cause, ranging from psychological warfare to recruitment, networking to fundraising." The report includes various "examples culled from an extensive exploration of the World Wide Web" of these different uses. Links to related articles and online resources are also provided. [VF]

Topic In Depth


What Is Digital Cinema? By Lee Manovich
Awesome Library: Animation
Digital Media FX: The History of Animation
Library of Congress: Origins of American Animation
North Harris College: Biology Tutorials and Resources
Character Animation Technologies Gallery
Slashdot: Mathematics of Futurama

Animation is making a splash with the recent box office hit, Shrek 2. This Topic in Depth explores how animation works, its history and the entertaining as well as academic applications of animation. The first website provides a basic overview of digital cinema (1). More information on animation can be found on the second website (2). Digital Media FX provides this history (3 ) of animation. The Library of Congress has also put together a nice website (4 ) with some historical artifacts that for demonstrating a "a variety of elements that go into the creative process of developing and interpreting animated motion pictures." The fourth website provides an extensive list of online resources and academic uses for animation such as Chemistry, Evolution, Genetics, and Physics. (5 ). This fifth website posts the winners of the 2004 Character Animation Technologies competition (6 ). And finally, Slashdot has a nice expose on the Mathematics of Futurama (7).

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