The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 3, Number 17

August 13, 2004

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




Topic In Depth

Research is a "link exchange for the technical community" hosted by MathWorks. In other words, anyone in the technical community who registers with the website can add a link, update a link or view the links already posted. The links are organized by the following categories: MATLAB, Excel, C, C++, Java, Fortran, Visual Basic, Applications and Industry, and Learning and Education. A section on Recent Links lets you view the links submitted in the last 30 days. Each link entry includes a brief description of the website, a rating option and information on total visits from the MathTools website. also offers a free monthly newsletter, which is sent free of charge if you register with them. Archived editions are available online without registering. Registering is free and necessary if you want to update or submit a link. A disclaimer notes that although MathWorks reserves the right to remove or refuse any link, they do not "control the content posted on the Links submitted, and, as such, does not guarantee the accuracy, integrity, or quality of such content." [VF]

Engineers Edge: Strength and Mechanics of Materials

The mission of Engineers Edge is "to be the preferred online destination for designers, engineers and manufacturing professionals" by offering training, seminars, and online technical information and products. This section of their website on Strength and Mechanics of Materials offers an overview of topics in Materials Science, including sections on stress, strain, Hookes Law, malleability, fatigue and vibration. The short explanations are accompanied by related figures and equations. The section also provides a link to their free Technical / Engineering Publications, which cover a variety of topics including: Machine Design, Electronic Design, and Processing Magazine. [VF]

EELV: Mathematics Section

EEVL (Edinburgh Engineering Virtual Library) and online engineering meta-resource hosted by eLib (Electronic Library Programme), JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee), and the University Library and Institute for Computer Based Learning of Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh) (see also see the September 20, 2001 Scout Report). This section focuses on Mathematics and can be browsed using the following subject categories: General, Algebra, Analysis, Applications to Science and Engineering, Computer and Information Sciences, Mathematics education, Geometry and Topology, History and Foundations of Mathematics, Numerical Analysis and Optimization, Probability and Statistics. A news section provides a link to their One Stop Industry News Service, covering topics in Engineering, Mathematics and Computing Industry, as well as other recommended websites for news in these fields. The Top 100 page provides a listing of sites accessed most frequently in the EEVL Mathematics section. Links to universities and other educational resources are also provided. [VF]

Mechanical Engineering: Power and Energy

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers offers a free online version of their print magazine, Mechanical Engineering. Although the online version is posted a bit later than the print version, you can't beat the price. This feature issue from March 2004 focuses on Power and Energy. The articles address topics such as energy bursts, electric reliability and grids, wind power, solar energy, a new solution to pollution in Manila. From their website you can also read their weekly updated "late-breaking technical and industry-related business news" along with links to related resources. [VF]

MindSwap [pdf]

MindSwap is the website for a research group within the University of Maryland Information and Network Dynamics Laboratory (MIND LAB). They claim to be "the first site on the Semantic web." They explain that they are first because: a) their website builds on an older website that used a toolkit based on a web ontology language called SHOE, developed at the University of Maryland; b) they hope you will start here for all your semantic web needs, since this site "harnesses many Web technologies (HTML, XHTML, XML, PHP, CSS, etc.) and couples them with Semantic Web languages (RDF, RDFS, DAML+OIL, OWL)" as well as other tools; and, c) it is the first "Owl-compliant" website to date. From this website, visitors can learn more about the Semantic Web and projects of MindSwap. Various papers, photos, demos and downloads are available. Links from many of the pages will let you either let you see the Semantic Web markup or take you to pages describing how the pages are created and the tools that were used. It's a great way to learn about "many of the ways Semantic Web technology can be used to provide new capabilities on the Web." [VF]

CalPoly: ARDFA [pdf]

This website, with the aptly-titled URL, features "new technologies regarding traffic and transportation in the state of California." The research on this website is brought to you by the Applied Research and Development Facilities and Activities (ARDFA) funded by the CalPoly Foundation. Research currently highlighted includes a project on Evaluating the Operation Impacts of a Variable-Toll Express Lane Facility in the SR91 Corridor and another on Transportation Management Center (TMC) Simulator which is used to "better manage the state's transportation in times of harmony and times of crisis." The websites for these projects and some older projects provide an overview their research program and in some cases, report on their research findings. [VF]


The Multicultural Pavillion: EdTech & Digital Divide [pdf]

The Multicultural Pavillion is part of EdChange, a website is founded and maintained by Paul C. Gorski, Ph.D., which provides "resources and dialogue for equity in education." This section on Ed Tech & Digital Divide offers online resources and articles on the digital divide and multicultural e-learning. Gorksi has also posted a 28-page report that combines various conference presentations, articles, and research he has done over the past three years on Multicultural Education and the Internet: Tools, Resources, and Commentary. Other sections of the Multicultural Pavillion offer listservs, historical documents, news updates, awareness activities, a poetry journal, movie reviews, songs for initiating multicultural dialogue, a working definition of multicultural education, and other resources on multicultural education and teacher action research. [VF]

Institute of Civil Engineers: Education Zone

The Institute of Civil Engineers, based in the United Kingdom, offers the Education Zone. From this website, students ages 7 and up can access educational resources and information on careers. The website is divided by age group, offering young students interactive games to learn about engineering and older students resources for doing course work and learning about careers in engineering. Parents and teachers in the UK will also find a section that lists local events. [VF]

U.S. Census Bureau: FactFinder Kids' Corner

U.S. Census Bureau offers a Kids version of the American FactFinder, where kids can learn about the U.S. Census, get facts on their state, and "have fun with quiz questions." The website was designed in partnership with kids ages 7 to 11 and researchers from computer science, education, art, robotics, web development, and other fields, with additional design support from IBM. An interactive U.S. map links to information about each state, including the total population, urban and rural residence, school attainment, school enrollment, and languages spoken. The interactive quizzes let you test your knowledge of the U.S. Census figures. General information on the U.S. Census is also provided. [VF]

NCREL: Pathways to School Improvement

The Pathways website, developed by the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, "synthesizes research, policy, and best practices on issues critical to educators engaged in school improvement." The main aspect of this website is their Critical Issue section, which synthesizes research on an issue in education. The issues, which are chosen annually in consultation with experts in the field, are grouped into the following categories: Assessment, At-Risk Students, Family and Community, Instruction, Leadership, Literacy, Mathematics and Science, Policy, Professional Development, and Technology in Education. Each Critical Issue includes an overview of the issue, sets goals to address the issue, discusses action options, implementation pitfalls, different points of view, and provides illustrative cases, additional resources and contact information. Some examples of Critical Issues in mathematics include: Ensuring Equity and Excellence in Mathematics and Locating, Using, and Integrating Internet-Based Mathematics Materials. Examples of Critical Issues in technology in education include: Technology Leadership: Enhancing Positive Educational Change, and Using Technology to Support Limited English Proficient (LEP) Students' Learning Experiences. [VF]

United Kingdom Center for Materials Education: 12 Guides for Lecturers

United Kingdom Center for Materials Education offers its 12 Guides for Lecturers free online. The guide begins with a section on attracting materials students by working with schools and the wider community. Another section discusses ways to teach materials engineering, taking the perspective that it's a more complex activity than deciding on a list of topics to teach, but also involves Developing Professional Skills. Other sections focus on specialized curricula, such as Materials for Engineers and Materials Chemistry, or on instructional strategies, such as tutorials, labs, case studies, problem based learning or distance learning. Finally, two sections deal with assessment. One section addresses Assessing Materials Students in ways that "do in fact give marks for those things we want to acknowledge, rather than those aspects that are simply easy to assess" while another section offers tools for evaluating a materials course to "enable you to develop an improved course for next year's cohort." [VF]

Science U: Geometry Center [java, vrml]

Science UTM offers online articles and activities "for people who like science." Science U and the web-design and development company that owns and operates the website, Geometry Technologies, were formed as a result of the closure of The Geometry Center at the University of Minnesota. One of the conditions of that grant, which funded The Geometry Center and ended in 1998, was that the Center would find a way to keep their materials available to the public. In anticipation of the day when the Geometry Center goes offline, they are slowly migrating materials to this website. The Geometry Center section at Science U offers lessons on solids using interactive models, geometry tiling activities, an interactive fractal generator, and many other puzzles, articles and activities. Visitors can search their resources using an online query form or by browsing the topic index, subject listing or content listing. The content listing gives you an idea of the different types of resources available, such as articles, facts and figures, classroom materials, online simulations, hands-on-projects, or software. The Science U also offers other sections on astronomy, graphic arts, and a library with various online and print resources on science. [VF]


First Monday: Open Access Publishing

The peer-reviewed Internet journal, First Monday (discussed in the August 23, 1996 Scout Report), presents a dreary picture for open access publishing and research. The author of this article, Joseph J. Esposito, comments on The Unexpected Future of Open Access Publishing. Esposito is skeptical of the idea that the age of the Internet and online publishing will bring access to the world's research publications free for everyone, "by shifting the costs to other places in the value chain and disintermediating publishers." Instead, he argues that Open Access will come about at the cost of authors and their proxies. The author details his argument regarding these unanticipated outcomes in this article. [VF]

JEC Composites

JEC, "a service provider whose vocation is the international promotion of composite materials around the world, and as both an information transmitter and receiver" offers the JEC Composites website. From here, you can learn about what's new in the composites industry across the world and read about recent technological advances in various sectors such as aeronautics, automotive, and construction. For example, have you heard about the material used to make stab-resistant jackets in Japan? Or the material that was used to construct the bike Lance Armstrong used to win the Tour de France? Those in the industry can also get updates on business news, trends, and upcoming conferences. [VF]

The Newton Project

The Newton Project, hosted by the Imperial College London, has taken on the amazing task of making available (in print and electronic format) all of Newton's texts, both 'scientific' and 'non-scientific.' The Project currently highlights some of his lesser-known private writings on theology and alchemy, as well as papers relevant to his three decades of service at the Royal Mint. Although the project is still underway and searching for more funding, there are already a good deal of manuscripts online. The Featured Text includes a brief description, history, and excerpts from the manuscript. The more adventurous will enjoy browsing the manuscripts themselves, some of which can be viewed as images of the original documents. Each entry includes a header with some background information and an option to view the transcript in different formats. Another section provides a brief account of Newton's lifework and his archives. One aim of The Newton Project is "to be one of the most extensive and technologically sophisticated online resources for the study of any one individual, using both XML encoded texts and database technology" and they are off to a great start. [VF] Nanotechnology provides this overview of Nanotechnology. The section begins with a definition of nanotechnology and goes on to review some commercial applications of nanotechnology. The site also provides a brief history of the beginnings of nanotechnology. The Article Archive provides links to articles about the latest advances in nanotechnology. From their subject pages, you can view links to other online resources on the history, research methods, key people, and terminology in nanotechnology, as well as more information on the industry and applications of nanotechnology. [VF]

Two on Powerpoint

Wired: PowerPoint is Evil by Tufte
Sociable Media: Five Experts Dispute Tufte on PowerPoint

Edward Tufte, professor emeritus of political science, computer science and statistics, and graphic design at Yale, is well known in graphics and data presentation circles for his publications and workshops on the art of effective presentations. In the first article, Tufte points out the evils of PowerPoint presentations, such as it's emphasis on format over content, and its infiltration into schools, which teaches kids "how to formulate client pitches and infomercials." He argues for an approach that is more in tune with the way visual reasoning works. The second article from Sociable Media provides a rebuttal to Tufte's claims. In this article, Cliff Atkinson has interviewed five other experts on presenting data for their views on PowerPoint. He highlights some comments from the interviews, but also posts the transcript from the interview. [VF]

Chinese Mathematics

The School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of St. Andrews Scotland offers this website on the history of Chinese Mathematics. Key features highlighted in the overview include: a discussion of the Chinese version of Pythagoras's theorem, a famous Chinese mathematics book commonly known as the Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art, and the work of several Chinese mathematicians. Visitors to the website can also browse a chronological listing of several Chinese mathematicians and read about their careers. Other features of the website include a section summarizing each chapter from the Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art, a section highlighting ten other mathematical classics, a review of the Chinese numeral system, and a collection of Chinese problems, which are extracted from various articles in their archive. [VF]

Topic In Depth

Information and Communication Technology

WordIQ Dictionary and Encyclopedia
World History: Some Dates in the History of Cultural Technologies
Wikipedia: Information Theory
The Center for the Study of Technology and Society
MediaLab Europe: Intimate Interfaces
NSF: Computer Information Science and Engineering (CISE)
First Monday: E-Learning and Language Change

Communication is a central aspect of all our lives. Today, our modes of communication are highly dependent on technologies such as the internet, wireless networks, phones, and computers. This issue of Topic in Depth explores the ways these forms of communication are part of our lives and highlights some new directions in communication technology.

WordIQ Dictionary and Encyclopedia (1) offers this definition: "Communication is the process of exchanging information usually via a common system of symbols." The website explains some of the key process involved in communication and describes different forms of communication, such as animal communication, interpersonal communication, and computer-mediated communication. Also taking a broad view on communication, this world history website (2) provides some background on the mathematical theories that are used in designing telecommunications systems. The articles highlighted on this website from the Center for the Study of Technology and Society (4) attest to the far reaching influence of communication technology. As research on the MediaLab Europe website suggests (5), we have moved into not just developing technology that mediates interpersonal communication (such as phones) but also creating "intimate and personal connections with and through new technologies." This NSF website (6) also highlights some recent discoveries in Computer Information Science and Engineering. Finally, this article from First Monday (7) discusses the far-reaching effects these new developments in technology and globalization are having on language and learning. [VF]

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