The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 3, Number 15

July 16, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


m-learning [QuickTime, pdf, Powerpoint]

m-learning is a European research and development project supported by the European Commission's Information Society Technologies (IST) programme. Its mission is "to develop prototype products and services which will deliver information and learning experiences via technologies that are inexpensive, portable and accessible to the majority of EU citizens." The products and services currently being designed are targeted for "young adults (16 to 24) who are not currently taking part in education or training" and who are unemployed, under-employed or homeless. The products employ themes such as football and music and include activities designed to develop aspects of literacy and numeracy. Research reports and Powerpoint presentations are available online, along with video clips and summaries about the group's work. [VF]

Wolfram Research, Inc: Mathworld

Mathworld, hosted and sponsored by Wolfram Research, Inc., is an online mathematics encyclopedia intended for students, educators, math enthusiasts, and researchers. This amazing resource was compiled over 12 years by Eric Weisstein with assistance from the mathematics and Internet communities, and continues to be updated. (Weisstein also authored the ScienceWorld site, which contains material about astronomy, scientific biography, chemistry, and physics and has been reported on in a previous Scout Report). Topics listed in the index include: Algebra, Applied Mathematics, Calculus and Analysis, Discrete Mathematics, Foundations of Mathematics, Geometry, History and Terminology, Number Theory, Probability and Statistics, Recreational Mathematics, and Topology. Visitors can also browse an alphabetical index of subjects and concepts covered on this website. The What's New section highlights current developments in mathematics, and more extensive coverage of select topics is offered in the newsletter. Numerous animated GIFs and 3D graphics pages coupled with links to further references and articles make this an interactive site as well. [VF]

The Human Interface Technology Laboratory [pdf]

The Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand (HIT Lab NZ) is hosted at the University of Canterbury. In partnership with HIT Lab US, based at the University of Washington and industry, the group conducts human-computer interface research and develops technology that can be utilized in areas such as education, medicine, scientific visualization, telecommunications and entertainment. The website describes their various projects, "all of which are centred on the theme of enhancing face to face and remote collaboration." Numerous research papers are available online and cover topics such as teleconferencing, gaming, and Augmented Reality. A quarterly newsletter provides updates on projects and lab news. [VF]


Given the direction of current Internet computing, Discolab is a research group whose goal is to "harmonize the operating system with the evolving role of networking in various emerging network-centric systems, ranging from Internet servers to ubiquitous networks of embedded systems." DicsoLab explores ways to improve performance of network-centric systems through TCP Servers and Memory-Mapped Network File Systems. The group's work on Remote Healing Systems explores the potential for Remote Memory Communication so that systems can monitor themselves, detect failures, and recover and repair remotely. Other projects on distributed computing and pervasive networking are also described on this website. Publications are posted online by research area. Papers used for the weekly reading group are also posted online. [VF]

Wind Science and Engineering Research Center

The Wind Science and Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University conducts "multidisciplinary research to mitigate the deleterious effects of windstorms on the built environment, people, and the quality of life, and to utilize the beneficial effects of wind." The website highlights the Fujita Scale Enhancement Project, which examines the scale used to classify tornadoes by intensity. Links to websites on other wind projects are also provided. The Wind Engineering Library allows visitors to search more than 4500 articles on the center's research as well as education-related publications. Teachers and the general public will find an extensive list of other Internet resources on wind energy. [VF]

Handshake Solutions

Handshake Solutions, an Incubator Technology business of Phillips, uses Handshake Technology or Asynchronous IC design, to offer tools for the design of clockless circuits and related services. The Handshake Technology replaces the traditional clock design with "a system of request and acknowledgement signals or handshakes." According to the website, this system is more efficient and can extend the life of batteries. The Handshake Technology is "particularly suited to contactless and dual-interface smart cards, wireless connectivity applications and harsh electromagnetic environments such as the car." The website provides some information on the technology, but is primarily targeted for companies that might be interested in the group's tools. [VF]


NWREL: Northwest Teacher [pdf]

The Northwest Eisenhower Regional Consortium for Mathematics and Science publishes a monthly magazine called Northwest Teacher, which is "devoted to rigorous and imaginative learning." The magazine is published twice yearly and is available free of charge from this website. The Winter 2004 issue addresses the topic: Learning English in the Mathematics and Science Classroom. The journal offers stories as a way to inspire teachers to reflect on and discuss their beliefs and experiences with fellow teachers. Additional books and articles for further exploration are also listed in the magazine. [VF]

University of Cambridge: Mathematics Enrichment (nrich)

University of Cambridge offers this website, Mathematics Enrichment (nrich), with problems, games and articles on mathematics for students ages 5 to 19. The problems are organized by Tiers (1 to 3) and follow the UK education system, but a guide for international educators is given in the Help section. Each problem includes a question, related resources, pictures or diagrams, a form for students to submit their solution, hints for students having difficulty, and notes for parents and teachers. The website is updated monthly and offers a weekly problem. This months' theme is "the mathematics of making journeys," with the path of the Olympic Torch as an intriguing lead-in to the topic. Registered users can pose questions and post messages in the discussion forum, both of which are also viewable by non-registered viewers. Registration is simple and does not cost anything. [VF]

Two on Summer Reading and Mathematics

Reading for the Fun of It: The Math-Literature Connection (Grades 8-12),1819,227,00.shtm
Summer Reading: Math for the Fun of It (PreK-9),1819,85,00.shtm

The Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science Education (ENC; see October 17, 2003 Scout Report) offers these two lists with suggestions for summer reading. The first website provides a list of books that are not math books, but "books that apply mathematics in unexpected settings," giving mathematics "an interesting twist." Each entry includes a brief description of the role of mathematics in the book. The second website provides a list with short descriptions of fun books for younger kids (ages Pre-K to 9 years old). Suggestions include books of games and adventure stories. [VF]

Optical Research Associates: Optics for Kids

Optical Research Associates has posted this website with information on optics for kids. The website provides some optical basics and "a bit of a pep talk on science and engineering as careers." The website answers questions about lasers, light, and explains why the sky is blue. Links to other teaching and learning resources available for purchase are also provided. [VF]

Mighty Mouth-watering Math

Mighty Mouth-watering Math -- previously called Mighty M&M Math, but changed to avoid copyright infringement -- is a fun website offering a mathematics activity using M&Ms (or M&M-like) candy. The activity is intended to teach students "fractions and percentages in a motivating and mouth-watering way." Students are asked to determine the percentage of each color in a bag and whether those percentages are the same worldwide. Students then submit their results, which are tabulated and posted online. The activity, developed by a teacher and her son and daughter, is described on this website along with some suggestions for extending the activity. [VF]

Exploring Fractals

Dr. Mary Ann Connors, a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at University of Massachusetts Amherst has developed this website based on a curriculum project previously funded by the National Science Foundation. Exploring Fractals provides an introduction to fractals, explores concepts such as shape and dimension, provides some classroom investigations, demonstrates how to create simple fractals, and offers some additional information for teachers. Diagrams and pictures are used as part of the explanations. Other Internet resources for further investigation are also provided. [VF]


Federation of American Scientists: Nuclear Resources

Federation of American Scientists (FAS) is a non-profit organization founded in 1945 as the Federation of Atomic Scientists. The founders "were members of the Manhattan Project, creators of the atom bomb and deeply concerned about the implications of its use for the future of humankind." Although not as sleek a design as the main website for FAS, this website has a wealth of information on nuclear resources, with particular emphasis on the now common household term, WMD. From this website, visitors can read the Special Weapons Primer for an introduction to special weapons, research arms control agreements, review the "global guide to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, including information on delivery systems, doctrine, organizations and facilities," read up on Richard L. Garwin, the famous weapons designer, learn about the history and technology of space nuclear propulsion, or explore numerous other links. [VF]

Mathematical Lego Sculptures

The Mathematical Association of America has posted this article by Andrew Lipson, which features his Mathematical Lego Sculptures. After paying tribute to some of the other impressive Lego sculptures people have created of desks and other objects, Lipson notes that "for some reason it didn't seem to have occurred to anyone to make abstract sculptures from LEGO, let alone anything mathematical." The colorful photos of his sculptures are accompanied by casual descriptions of the process he went through to make them, mistakes and all. A link at the bottom takes you to Lipson's full website with many more sculptures, including a number that copy various M.C. Escher drawings. [VF]

Lawrence Hall of Science: Kids Play [Shockwave]

The Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley is a resource center for mathematics education, providing "innovative materials and programs for students, teachers, families, and the public at large." This section of the website provides several online games and activities that parents or care givers can try with their children at home. For example, kids can read about the Tower of Hanoi and then play a Tower of Hanoi math game. Some activities are part of the Lawrence Hall of Science Showcase (see also Scout Report for Physical Science, November 15, 2002) and require Shockwave to run. [VF]

TECHWR-L: Avoiding Repetitive-Stress Injuries

If you work in front of a computer a lot, you are probably a candidate for Repetitive-Stress Injuries (RSI). This article from TECHWR-L entitled, Avoiding Repetitive-Stress Injuries: A Guide for the Technical Communicator gives some helpful tips for preventing the aches, pains, hand problems and eye strain associated with repeated computer usage. The article discusses different mouse options, keyboard options, and other adjustments you can make to lessen your risk of RSI and make typing at the computer a little more pleasant. Additional links at the bottom provide further information on healthy computing. [VF]

Union of Concerned Scientists: New Cases of Scientific Abuse by Administration Emerge

The Union of Concerned Scientists is a non-profit organization that works to "connect the best scientific insights with the knowledge and support of an astute citizenry and apply them to the machinery of government at all levels-with results that have set a standard for effective advocacy for decades." This news release discusses "new evidence that the Bush Administration continues to suppress and distort scientific knowledge and undermine scientific advisory panels." At the bottom of the news release is a link to the full report, with information on the various cases investigated regarding research on the environment and public health as well as cases relating to Advisory Panel abuses. Additional cases include the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Peer Review and Aluminum Tubes in Iraq. [VF]

Calculating machines [Java]

This website created by Erez Kaplan "deals mainly with the mechanical calculating machines from a collector's point of view." Included here is an historical review of calculating machines, along with Kaplan's attempt to classify the machines, a collection of old advertisements for the machines, and a brief history of calculating. The latest feature is a Java applet that lets you operate an 1885 Felt adding machine to give you a sense of the way it was used. The photos and descriptions provide insight on other gadgets such as the Pocket Cash Registers used by "the sophisticated man or woman of 1900 who had everything." The Reference section provides some resources for further reading, including numerous other personal calculator collectors sites and museums. [VF]

Topic In Depth


Canada Science and Technology Museum: Information on Sound
Art Ludwig's Sound Page
Fox Mill Elementary School: Sound Tasks
Science Museum of Minnesota: The Sound Site [Quicktime VR, Real Player]
American Institute of Physics: Physics as a Sound Investment
Acoustics Research Institute
Exploratorium: The Science of Music

The science of sound is relevant to the music we hear and produce, the ways ships communicate underwater, and much more. The interactive aspect of the World Wide Web provides a fun platform for learning about sound. The websites covered in this Topic in Depth provide an overview of the science of sound, the applications of acoustics, and fun ways to learn about all of it.

The Canada Science and Technology Museum provides a nice overview of the science of sound (1). The second website (2) also discusses some of the basics and also provides video and sound files to demonstrate the concepts. The third link takes you to a website that guides the visitor to various websites to get answers to some interesting questions about sound, such as What is the difference between noise and music? and how do dolphins use sound to communicate? (3). The Science Museum of Minnesota offers the Sound Site (4). For more on acoustics research areas, see some of the projects at the Acoustics Research Institute In Austria (6) such as Computational Acoustics and Digital Signal Processing. Last but not least, this website from the Exploratorium (7) takes you through some of the connections between science and music.

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