The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 3, Number 16

July 30, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


University of Southampton: Applied Mathematics Group [gzip, dvi, ps, pdf]

University of Southampton's Applied Mathematics Group conducts research in a variety of topics such as liquid crystals, phase field models of solidification, hyperasymptotics, fluid dynamics and the mathematical modelling of industrial problems. A link is also provided to the General Relativity group homepage, which collaborates with the Applied Mathematics group to investigate the application of general relativity to astrophysics. Brief descriptions of the research projects and some publications can be found on staff members' personal home pages and under the section on Research in Applied Mathematics. Visitors can also browse publications in the Publications section or search by author or keyword. [VF]

Buildings Technology Center [pdf]

Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Buildings Technology Center is a "research facility devoted to the development of technologies that improve the energy efficiency and environmental compatibility of residential and commercial buildings." The state-of-the-art research and development facility houses about 50 staff and 10-20 guest researchers. The website describes the center's facilities, research capabilities, and research programs. Another section describes some of the tools for buildings that the center has developed, such as a heat pump design model, building envelope web-based calculators, and a computer program designed to determine the most cost-effective retrofit measures for single-family homes. Publications on topics such as envelope systems, appliance and equipment efficiency, Desiccant-related research and other research on building design and performance are posted online. An easy-to-browse database of success stories provides specifications, rendered and line drawings, and other facts about the Center's building technologies. [VF]

Berkeley Wireless Research Center [pdf, PowerPoint]

The Berkeley Wireless Research Center joins students and faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) at the University of California at Berkeley with the Gigascale Silicon Research Center "to support next generation wireless communication systems and expand the graduate research program in the wireless segment." The research focuses on "highly-integrated CMOS implementations with the lowest possible energy consumption and advanced communication algorithms." The website provides information on the facilities and its history, as well as a general overview of the Center in PowerPoint. A few select publications, presentations and theses are posted online. Access to some recent publications is restricted, but the What's New section provides an overview of current work. [VF]

NASA: The Dryden Flight Research Center [pdf, QuickTime]

The Dryden Flight Research Center began in "the pioneering days after World War II, when a small, intensely dedicated band of pilots, engineers, and technicians dared to challenge the 'sound barrier' in the X-1." Their research projects now include the Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) project as well as numerous other projects exploring high-altitude aircraft, solar-powered aircrafts, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology, and much more. Each project is described on a project page, which, in most cases, also includes a fact sheet, photos or movies. At the bottom of the Research page, visitors can find The Dryden Technical Reports Server, which includes numerous abstracts, citations and full text Technical Reports written by Dryden engineers. The Education section offers links to resources and programs for educators and students ranging from K-12 to postdoctoral levels. History buffs will also find a wealth of information on flight research, including biographies, speeches, publications, general information about Dryden's aircraft history and a presentation that "explores the drawings, concepts, inventions, successes and failures of the early pioneers of flight research from Leonardo da Vinci to the Wright brothers." [VF]

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) identifies as "a leader in defining the future's high-performance cyberinfrastructure for scientists, engineers, and society." Initiated as part of the National Science Foundation's Supercomputer Centers Program, NCSA now works with research centers across the U.S. to build cyberinfrastructure, tools, and applications for grid computing. Visitors to the website can browse through the various research projects by topic areas such as cluster computing, cyberinfrastructure, education, data analysis, grids, and visualization. The Projects page also highlights feature stories and programs. Other sections provide additional information about the partnerships and facilities, as well as a history of NCSA. [VF]

Intelligent Systems and Robotics Center (ISRC) [pdf]

Sandia National Laboratory's Intelligent Systems and Robotics Center (ISRC) responds to "challenges impacting national security and US economic competitiveness." Research areas include: Economic competitiveness, engineered collectives, high consequence systems integration, intelligent systems modeling & simulation, and robotic vehicles. In other words, their technologies can be used for automated biomedical devices, mechatronic technology for oil and gas pipeline inspection, landmine detection and removal, and shipbuilding. The website includes descriptions and pictures of their robot vehicles, robot modeling and simulation projects, as well as other software and hardware technologies they have developed. Various publications and information on the facilities are also posted online. [VF]


Solar System Exploration: Paper Models for Kids

NASA offers this website focusing on Solar System Exploration and projects for kids to build paper versions of the "super tough robots are out there exploring our solar system." Using colored, cut and folded pieces of paper, kids can construct models of Cassini, Galileo and many other spacecrafts. Along with the instructions (which need to be downloaded and printed), they provide a rating for level of difficulty as well as information on the spacecraft and its mission. A link to a website devoted to paper modeling provides some basic tips on paper model construction. [VF]

Argonne National Laboratory: Newton BBS

The Argonne National Laboratory, Division of Educational Programs offers the Newton BBS. The program started in November of 1991 as an educational resource and a place for K-12 science, math and computer teachers and their students to practice telecommunications, to contact research scientists, and to connect teachers. Students and teachers can submit a question about math, science or computers or search the archives of more than 15,000 previously answered questions. A question and answer is highlighted each week. The Teacher, Classroom and Curriculum Support section offers web pages by teachers for teachers. Teachers who would like to post something of general interest or for classroom use can email it in text format and Newton BBS will develop the web page and post it. Scientists interested in volunteering to answer questions can mail in their biographies. [VF]

Webmonkey: HTML for kids [Shockwave] offers this website with resources to help kids make their own websites. Adults with limited HTML experience may also find the Tools section of WebMonkey to be a great resource for creating websites. In this section, they have programs that write HTML code and useful reference guides, such as a color chart. However, most of the website is addressing kids directly, providing some basics on the World Wide Web, HTML code, graphics and gizmos, and layout. After reviewing the basics, kids can move on to doing some projects. The WebMonkey website also provides some suggested projects and offers a Playground section where kids can "see some of the cool things that can be done on the Web." Examples of completed projects are posted and kids can submit their websites to be included in the Gallery. Throughout the WebMonkey website are links for parents and teachers, offering a planning guide and suggestions for how to use this website as a learning tool. [VF]

The National Math Trail

The National Math Trail, funded by the US Department of Education's Star Schools program, through the Satellite Education Resources Consortium (SERC), and NEC Foundation, combines mathematics, technology, and students' communities. The project is based on the Math Trail concept "developed by Australian educator Dudley Blane as a way to have students become active learners by finding the math that exists in their communities." The idea is that students create math problems based on what they find in their communities and then teachers submit the problems to the National Math Trail website so they are then available for others to access. Submissions, which can include photos, drawings, sound recordings, and videos, are done using an online form or via mail. The submissions are indexed and can be searched by topic or explored via an interactive map. (Note: Unfortunately, the search function only works using Internet Explorer.) The section on participating explains the simple and free sign-up and submission procedure and offers some other resources such as a Technology Tutorial and links to websites on NCTM Standards associated with this activity. The home page highlights recent developments, such as the recent expansion of The National Math Trail to include students internationally. [VF]

Shodor Education Foundation: Project Interactive

The Shodor Education Foundation, Inc. has developed Project Interactive for the "creation, collection, evaluation, and dissemination of interactive java-based courseware for exploration in science and mathematics." They offer over 70 lessons geared towards grades 6 through 8, a separate section of activities and lessons for grades 3 - 5, and a section that lists the over 100 java-based activities by topic. Some activities are supported best by additional tools, which are provided in the Tools section. A discussion section provides teachers ideas for how to introduce or explain a concept, informal and formal definitions of concepts as well as some common student misconceptions. The What's New section lists the recent additions to the website. Teachers may want to start with the Teacher Resources section, which provides some helpful suggestions for how to use this expansive website. Another section highlights the resources available on the website that are specifically designed for students, such as activities, a dictionary, and text on mathematics topics. [VF]

Teaching with Electronic Technology

Michael Hall, an adjunct lecturer in the University of Maryland's Honors Program, offers this website with various articles addressing "the considerable variety of uses for computing and related forms of electronic technology in teaching." The articles range from general to theoretical, along with "some instructive examples of specific applications of technology to teaching and learning." Hall warns that some of the links may be inactive given his inconsistent monitoring of the website. Nonetheless, he offers a wealth of resources, which are divided into sections. The General section offers links to organizations with information about conferences, publications, and general discussions of teaching with electronic technology. Some examples include Evaluating Web Resources, Internet Research Ethics, and Teaching with Electronic Technology. The list goes on and on, with the remaining sections offering links on institutional support available for teachers, and other Internet resources. The pull-down menu provides a somewhat more manageable way to explore the resources by topic. [VF]


Annenberg/CPB: Cast Your Vote

This website by Annenberg/CPB addresses issues in statistics and polling. To enter the exhibit, you must complete a short online survey about your opinion on polling. Once you enter, you are taken through a year in "a fictitious election campaign for an inside look at the mathematics behind the polls and the news you hear everyday." The website reviews concepts such as random sampling, margin of error, confidence intervals, and ways in which surveys can "go wrong." The presentation is quick and easy to follow, ending with some examples of other instances where statistics comes into our daily lives. Links to related resources offer additional exploration of statistics. [VF]

Open Directory Project: Structural Engineering

The Structural Engineering website is part of the Netscape Communication Corporation Open Directory Project, which is helping to build "the largest human-edited directory on the web." Structural Engineering posts links to other websites about bridges that have been "selected by humans." The entries can be ordered by alphabet, by topic, or by popularity. A link at the bottom of the page takes you to a form for submitting a site and provides additional information on the Open Directory Project and how to become a volunteer editor. [VF]

Two on Blogs

The History of Weblogs
Jonathon's Blog

According to Dave Winer of Scripting News, "A weblog is kind of a continual tour, with a human guide who you get to know." Winer provides a brief history of the weblog on the first website, along with a plug for his software that makes two products for weblogs. The second website provides an example of this ever-growing trend and it's applications in the industry. Jonathon Schwartz, COO of Sun Microsystems has started his own Blog, providing "a personal take on the IT business." The interactive format allows him to include links to other Blogs or articles along with a running commentary. [VF]

The Information Society

The Information Society (TIS) journal "is a key critical forum for leading edge analysis of the impacts, policies, system concepts, and methodologies related to information technologies and changes in society and culture." In particular, the key information technologies they focus on are computers and telecommunications and their potential for transforming informational and social structures. The journal is refereed and publishes scholarly articles, position papers, debates, short communications and book reviews. Article abstracts are online and listed by issue and volume, topic area, author, or special issue title. The full text of the articles are available only through paid subscription. [VF]


EyeGaze is a British company that has developed video technology that can be used by profoundly and partially deaf people. One example of their services and technology is a remote video interpreting centre. The project is managed by a team of Deaf and hearing individuals with diverse skills and experiences, "which affords us a holistic view of issues surrounding communication, information delivery and the Deaf community." The website provides an overview of their research and services, as well as some information on issues in the deaf community. [VF]

DoD & Information Technology Related Acronyms

If you've ever explored government webpages, you've probably noticed the extensive use of acronyms. This website from Data & Analysis Center for Software (DACS) provides a list of Department of Defense (DoD) specific acronyms and technology acronyms. The acronyms are listed alphabetically. From this list, it seems as if just about everything is given an acronym, even if that acronym is already used for something else. [VF]

Topic In Depth

Energy Efficiency

U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency
Pacific Gas and Electric: Energy-Saving Resources
UC Berkeley: Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITIRS)
Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology
EPRI: Electricity Technology Roadmap Initiative
Smithsonian: Powering a Generation of Change
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: Energy Crossroads

As temperatures rise this summer and people turn on their air conditioners, the stakeholders in the electricity supply system worry about system overload. To help prevent overload, people can use less by conserving energy or find more efficient ways to use the energy they do. As researchers develop new technologies, and industry tries to promote those technologies, policy advocates look at long-term projections. This Topic in Depth explores the energy crisis and reviews some of the current technologies and energy-saving resources.

This first site from the U.S. Department of Energy (1) offers an overview of some of the key issues surrounding current discussions of energy: "reducing America's dependence on foreign oil and developing energy efficient technologies for buildings, homes, transportation, power systems and industry." Given that any technology developed to make our energy-using appliances more efficient requires consumers' purchase and use of these new technologies, it makes sense that some industry stakeholders, such as Pacific Gas and Electric (2) describes the smart energy technology being developed by researchers at UC Berkeley's Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITIRS) that will monitor household energy usage so people know what energy they are using. Meanwhile, other researchers continue to pursue renewable energy technologies, such as those highlighted on this website from the Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology (4). This website (5) describes an initiative by EPRI to collaborate with various stakeholders to develop an Electricity Technology Roadmap for the next 25 years. This website from the Smithsonian (6) describes a project "to document the story of electrical power restructuring in North America as it unfolds over the coming years," offering electricity basics, a history of energy science and usage, an overview of deregulation, and an image gallery. Finally, this website from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (7) serves as an all-around resource on research, policy and other resources.

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