The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 3, Number 18

August 27, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


Learning Technology Research Institute [pdf]

The Learning Technology Research Institute, based at the London Metropolitan University, "conducts research into the application of information and communication technologies to augment, support and transform learning." The institute's research focuses on three areas in particular. The first focuses on the design, development and use of learning objects, particularly for instruction in programming. The second theme is the study of learning interaction and networked communities from which they have developed "a range of innovative dialogue systems, interactive web-portals, and models or frameworks for communicative interaction and learning." The third focus is something called "informal eLearning." This research project seeks to provide learning services that will help people to manage their "personal learning goals, projects and informal learning activities" and community collaborations. The website provides a description of each research theme along with several publications and examples of their software and learning objects. [VF]

SIAM Journals [PostScript, pdf, DVI]

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) advances and promotes research that involves "the application of mathematics and computational science to engineering, industry, science and society." SIAM publishes eleven different journals, each one dedicated to a different topic within applied and computational mathematics. Paid subscription is required to access the journals online or to receive a print copy, but recently posted articles are available free online for one month at this website. From here, visitors can browse articles from the following journals: Multiscale Modeling and Simulation, SIAM Journal on Applied Dynamical Systems, SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, SIAM Journal on Computing, SIAM Journal on Control and Optimization, SIAM Journal on Discrete Math, SIAM Journal on Mathematical Analysis, SIAM Journal on Matrix Analysis and Applications, SIAM Journal on Numerical Analysis, SIAM Journal on Optimization, and SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing. [VF]

The Matrix Market [PostScript]

The Matrix Market website, provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is "a visual repository of test data for use in comparative studies of algorithms for numerical linear algebra." The repository includes about 500 sparse matrices from a variety of applications, along with matrix generation tools and services. Visitors can scan the top ten or browse the repository by collection, matrix name, or generator name. Search categories include: by matrix properties, by application area, by contributor, and in bibliography. Tools for browsing through the collection are also included. The Welcome page provides additional information on the project, as well as a few reports and technical presentations. [VF]

TU Delft: Hydrolic Engineering [pdf]

Given the Dutch reputation for water management, it's no surprise that one of their leading technical institutes, The Technische Universiteit Delft, offers a program in Hydraulic Engineering. The website, in both Dutch and English, describes their program as an attempt "to bridge the gap between basic sciences (fluid mechanics and soil mechanics in particular) and practical engineering applications in the design, construction, maintenance, management and eventually the demolition of hydraulic structures." The Education section of the website posts MSc theses completed by their students. The research section describes current and recently completed research projects and includes a listing of publications, some of which are available to download. The website also has a link to a Hydraulic Engineering portal, which offers various publication databases (some in Dutch only), and the Civil Engineering Knowledge Centre, which provides library access and discussion forums for students and staff of Civil Engineering. [VF]

MIT: Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab [pdf]

The MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab is the result of a merger in 2003 of the Artificial Intelligence Lab and the Lab for Computer Science. The interdepartmental laboratory conducts research in "both computation and artificial intelligence, broadly construed." The four main research areas include: Architecture, Systems, and Networks; Theory; Language, Learning, Vision, and Graphics; and Physical, Biological, and Computational Systems. The site lists the various research projects, each with an abstract describing the lab's approach and current progress on the project. The Research Activities section provides links to specific project websites of CSAIL researchers. They have not yet developed a CSAIL publications series, so research continues to be published under the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Laboratory for Computer Science publication series, which are also available from this website. [VF]

University of Surrey: Small Satellites Home Page

The University of Surrey, U.K. offers this website, providing "up to date information, resources, references and links for space researchers and enthusiasts on the internet." The Small Satellites Home Page (SSHP) focuses on small satellites and "the capabilities and advantages that small satellites can bring to existing and new applications." Small satellites had been the exclusive domain of scientific and amateur groups, but are now a viable alternative to large satellites given recent advances in microelectronics. The SSHP offers a history of small satellites, discusses why interest in small satellite missions has increased, and describes how the 'modern' satellites work. Visitors can also browse their listing of past, present and future small satellite missions or read a brief overview of "the anatomy of the small satellite." Other useful information posted online include tables of conversion constants, a list of acronyms and abbreviations, and an overview of orbits and orbital elements. Although a few of the links are not working, especially under the Special Lists section, the Technology link will lead you to data on various topics such as amateur satellites, military small sats, GPS navigation, and remote sensing. [VF]


SBC: Filamentality

Filamentality is a tool offered by SBC (that's right, the phone company) as part of its education program and the Knowledge Network Explorer (KNE) website. The tool is meant to help educators (classroom teachers, trainers, students, or librarians) create Web-based activities. Basically, Filamentality is "a fill-in-the-blank tool that guides you through picking a topic, searching the Web, gathering good Internet links, and turning them into learning activities." The idea is to "combine the 'filament' of the Web with a learner's 'mentality.'" Setting up your own website is free and the process is explained so that you can get started with little or no knowledge of HTML or how the Web works. The Search Filamentality section lets visitors find some websites already created using Filamentality (i.e.: a search for "mathematics" brought up 1396 different websites), as well as related resources offered through the Knowledge Network Explorer. The Activity Formats section provides some suggestions and examples for ways to organize your educational website. [VF]

ASIMO Humanoid Robot [pdf, Word, QuickTime, Windows Media, QT Movie]

This is the educational companion website to ASIMO (see MET report August 16, 2002, Humanoid Robot), a robot designed by Honda Motor Co., Ltd. The ASIMO North American Educational Tour introduces the Honda ASIMO robot to kids across America as a way to encourage students to study robotics and science. Although the online schedule shows no touring after July 11, 2004, they suggest you check back frequently for updates. Meanwhile, the website offers a wealth of information on robotics and the history of ASIMO. The information is provided with brief descriptions as well as interactive diagrams and videos of ASIMO. For a bit more fun, the ASIMO Download Center includes an ASIMO robot screensaver, ASIMO robot wallpaper, and an ASIMO desktop pet. A teacher resource section includes fun facts about ASIMO and robots, a detailed history of ASIMO and suggested activities. [VF]

Why Files: Of Storytellers and Math Wizards

This interactive article from the Why Files reports on a recent study by Daniela O'Neill, professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, which examined the relationship between language ability and skills in mathematics. The author discusses the findings and points to some interesting directions for further investigation. In particular, "the study suggested that certain narrative skills could predict math skills on a later test, but it did not explain the relationship." The full article on the study is in a journal First Language, which is available only by subscription. [VF]

Education Commission of the States: Education Issues [pdf]

The Education Commission of the States is a nonprofit organization whose mission is "to help state leaders identify, develop and implement public policy for education that addresses current and future needs of a learning society." This section on Education Issues allows visitors to choose a particular issue to explore such as mathematics, or browse the sections on Early Learning Issues, K-12 Issues, and Postsecondary Issues. Each issue page includes a section on What States Are Doing, Selected Research & Readings, and Other Web Sites. In some cases, they include links to related issue areas for further exploration. Visitors are invited to email comments within each issue area. [VF]

Consortium on Chicago School Research: Key Measures

Founded in 1990 and based at the University of Chicago, the Consortium on Chicago School Research "aims to conduct research of high technical quality that can inform and assess policy and practice in the Chicago Public Schools." One of the group's goals is enhance the communication between researchers, policy makers and practitioners and to encourage the use of research in policy action. This section of the site reports on the findings from their 2003 survey (released in January 2004) of all Chicago public school teachers and sixth- through 10th-grade students. The survey, which they conduct every two years, asks teachers about classroom instruction, professional development experiences, and working conditions. Students are asked to report on their school experiences, attitudes, and activities. They have grouped the responses and present them in terms of five Essential Supports for Student Learning: School Leadership, Parent and Community Partnerships, Student-Centered Learning Climate, Professional Capacity, and Quality Instructional Program. A final section reports on seven measures from specific survey items that asked teachers and students about computer access, computer usage, and the availability of resources (including human resources) that facilitate the inclusion of technology in the classroom. Also included are graphs that show survey response trends from 1994 to 2003. [VF]

ASME: Great Achievements in Mechanical Engineering

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) offers this educational website for teachers. Essentially, they provide free downloadable lesson plans and activities based on what the ASME has selected as the top 10 Great Achievements of 20th Century. The top 10 Great Achievements are: the Automobile, Apollo Moon Landing, Power Generation, Agricultural Mechanization, Airplane, Integrated Circuits, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, CAD Technology, Bioengineering, and Codes / Standards. Each achievement and lesson plan is described briefly, with the full activity description, background information and student handouts available in PDF. [VF]


Ethics in Computing

Dr. Edward F. Gehringer, Associate Professor at the Department of Computer Science, NC State University has posted this website on Ethics in Computing. An interactive image of a map guides visitors through different topics covered on this website, so you can start with the Basics or jump right into one of the issue areas. The areas covered include: Social Justice Issues, Commerce, Computer Abuse, Speech Issues, Risks, Privacy, and Intellectual Property. Under each area are links to other resources on the Web, providing definitions, relevant data, case examples, and offering various perspectives on the issues. Some of the links are out of date, but there is still plenty of information to be gleaned from this website on ethics. [VF]

Two on the Athens Olympic Stadium

The "New" Athens Olympic Stadim for 2004
Chief Engineer: Olympic Marvel

Have you been admiring the stadium and buildings where the 2004 Olympics are taking place? These websites provide some insight into the design and building of the Athens Olympic Stadium, which was upgraded for the 2004 Olympic Games. The first website provides some great photos of the Olympic Stadium. Several of the photos give a glimpse of the building at different stages of development. Also included are photos the computer model and rendering of the stadium. The second article, entitled, Olympic Marvel Is A Tribute To Engineering Ingenuity, describes some of the key features of the building, such as the PLC-controlled unit and the four pulling cylinders. [VF]

Ask Jeeves for Kids

Ask Jeeves, the online search engine that lets you enter your search in the form of a question has set up this website just for kids. Kids can ask a question, such as "How do I use a slide rule?" and Jeeves will reply with a listing of websites. A running list gives you a "peek at what kids are asking right now." By clicking on an image map of a pile of books, kids can also go directly for "study help" in spelling, geography, math, science, astronomy, clip art, biographies, history and more. They have also organized a list of Fun and Games, with anything from online spelling games to online ping pong and bingo. Finally, the section on News Resources offers a list of various online news agencies that have articles just for and about kids. [VF]

NASA Experimental Communications Satellites

Since 1958, NASA has been developing communications satellite technology, making it "the most successful commercial enterprise in space." This website, hosted by NASA, provides a short history of the experimental communication satellites that helped to develop the estimated 150 communications satellites in orbit today. The projects are listed and described in chronological order. Also included are color images of the satellites and related websites. The author ends the website with some concluding remarks, a chronological listing of key events and a bibliography. [VF]

Bureau International des Poids et Mesures [pdf]

The Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) is the organization that "ensures world-wide uniformity of measurements and their traceability to the International System of Units (SI)." The BIPM also conducts measurement-related research, such as accurate measuring of ionizing radiation. From the website (in both English and French), visitors will find "direct access" to metric conversion charts, information on metric standards and the current time. Also available from this website is an overview and history of The International System of Units (SI) and information on the international agreement that established the BIPM. The section on Scientific Work covers measurement issues such as Length, Mass, Time, Electricity, Ionizing radiation, and Chemistry and includes summaries of the research, current developments, photos, prototypes, publications and more. Visitors can also browse the publications in the Publication section. [VF]

Curious Math

The author of Curious Math, Clay Ford, enjoys mathematics. While Ford claims not to be an expert by any means he maintains a fun website full of math tricks and trivia. Examples of postings include how to "quickly square a number that ends in 5" and "why the number 153 in the Bible is such an interesting number." Visitors can search a particular subject or browse the Math Topics, which are categorized as Facts, Trivia & Fun, News & Updates, or Tricks, Rules & Methods. The articles are also organized by Top 10 most read, most commented, and most active new submitters. Registered users can post comments to the entry, submit a math article on tricks and trivia, contact other users, or join the discussion forum. Registration is free. [VF]

Topic In Depth

Information Technology and Healthcare

National Health Information Infrastructure
PC World: Medical Records May Go Online,aid,117479,00.asp
CNET News: Human Chips More Than Skin Deep
Medical Records Institute Survey
Ariadne Magazine: Interoperability
Connecting for Health Roadmap
Electronic Record Development and Implementation Programme (ERDIP)

In July 2004, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched its initiative to develop a National Health Information Infrastructure. The ultimate goal of this initiative is to create an electronic health record (EHR) for every American so that health records can be securely shared among health care providers. This Topic in Depth explores developments in electronic health records and technology.

This first website (1) is the official site for the National Health Information Infrastructure 2004: Cornerstones for Electronic Healthcare. Some current ideas for how to share medical records, such as secured online postings or saving data on flash disks are discussed in this article from PC World (2). This next article (3) discusses another development in information technology, implantable electronic identification chips. The fourth website (4) presents findings from a recent Medical Records Institute survey of health providers on their current uses, future hopes and perceived barriers to electronic health record systems. One challenge for the initiative is interoperability, which is explained generally on this website (5). The issue of interoperability, as well as privacy and fragmentation in the health industry are addressed in the Preliminary Roadmap for Achieving Electronic Connectivity in Healthcare released by Connecting for Health (6). For more on current research on technology supporting the use of electronic records see this website from The Electronic Record Development and Implementation Programme (ERDIP) (7). [VF]

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