The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 3, Number 19

September 10, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


Lighting Research Center: Solid-State Lighting Research [pdf]

Solid-state lighting technology (also known as light-emitting diodes or LEDs, organic light-emitting diodes or OLEDs, or light-emitting polymers) has a "bright future," according to this website from the Lighting Research Center (LRC). LRC researchers are doing their part in advancing the applications of LEDs for use in signals, electronic devices, and display lighting. The website discusses some of the benefits of solid-state lighting, such as lower energy consumption and reduced maintenance, and highlights recent developments in research. Visitors can learn more about LRC's research on solid-state lighting by browsing the Completed Research section, the Ongoing Project section, and the Publications section. From this website, visitors can also learn about educational opportunities offered by LRC and explore other areas of the Center's work. [VF]

SRI International: Computer Science Laboratory [PostScript]

The Computer Science Laboratory at SRI International "studies the logical foundations of scalable systems, that are beyond the scope of traditional testing or simulation, and builds and applies efficient high-level tools for rigorous mechanical analysis." These scalable systems include traditional computer hardware and software, as well as biological systems and nanoelectronics. The website provide a brief description of each of the lab's projects along with a list of recent publications, most of which are available to download free of charge. Other activities, such as workshops and journals, are also described. An interesting feature is the The Risks Digest, which is "a moderated digest" and includes postings on "risks to the public in computers and related systems." Visitors can browse The Risk Digest by date or search the archives. [VF]

How is Mathematics Used in Technology?

The British Columbia Institute of Technology posts this page on how mathematics is used in technology. A table format allows visitors to explore the relationships between the different areas of mathematics (listed horizontally) and several areas of technology (listed vertically). The applications listed in the table are then linked to a topic area page with more specific examples of how mathematics is used in that area of technology. Examples include the use of Integral Calculus in Chemical Science and the use of Algebra and Geometry in Robotics. They note that the project is not yet completed, so check for more examples in the future. [VF]

Formula Finder

Formula Finder is a website developed by a student who "thought it would be a nice challenge to design a website that could serve up Math formulae." The website consists of a search function that allows visitors "to enter formulae and then query it back." Using Math Markup Language (MML) and open source software, the website responds to queries with mathematical expressions, which are displayed in plain text and online resizing rather than as graphic (GIF) images. Visitors can also browse the full listing, submit additions to the list, or render the content MML based on presentation MML using the "test" function. The author projects that one day soon the technology will allow the Formula Finder to be easily accessible through PDAs or cell phones and "we will then have math anytime and anywhere." Note that some browsers may not support the formula display or you may need to acquire mathematical fonts for accurate displays. [VF]

MIT: Project Oxygen [mpg]

MIT's Project Oxygen designs computer systems that are more "human-centered" than current systems that "have required us to interact with them on their terms, speaking their languages and manipulating their keyboards or mice." The project title alludes to the group's goal of "bringing abundant computation and communication, as pervasive and free as air, naturally into people's lives." This means developing a system that is pervasive, embedded, nomadic, adaptable, powerful, yet efficient, intentional, and eternal, according to the website These criteria are met using device, network, software, perceptual, and user technologies, all of which are described on the site. Several possible applications are presented in terms of hypothetical situations where this type of system would come in handy. Demonstration videos allow visitors to view a sampling of some of the technologies being tested by Project Oxygen researchers and their industry partners. [VF]

The National Institute for Aviation Research [QuickTime]

The National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University houses numerous laboratories conducting research and development, education, testing, certification, and technology transfer for the aviation industry. Current research includes Crashworthiness, Dynamic Seat Certification, Airframe Design and Analysis, Composites Material Testing, Aerodynamics Design and Testing, Human Factors, CAD/CAM Education, 3D Prototyping, and Aeroacoustics. The links from the main page list contact information for the different labs, but the sidebar link to Research Labs will take you to individual websites where some general information on the facilities, projects, and workshops are provided. The laboratory with the most information available online is the Aging Aircraft website. Also, the Wind Tunnel website includes a history and rich description of the tunnels used for research. [VF]


Seeing Math [QuickTime, pdf]

The Concord Consortium's Seeing Math Telecommunications Project, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education, "develops multimedia case studies and digital tools for elementary and middle school mathematics teacher professional development." The core feature of this project are the Internet-based video case studies, which explore "the way individual teachers meet the challenge of implementing standards set forth by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)" and are used as part of the organization's professional development courses. The cases are used as a starting point for participants to discuss their own practice as they follow the decision-making process of the case teachers. The team notes that the videos are "not presented either for critique or as recipe for emulation" but as a way for teachers to "reflect on and inform their own practice." Samples of the videos are posted on this website, along with information on the project, the participants, and related publications. Links to other programs that are seeking pilot participants are also provided. [VF]

Internet Mathematician [Microsoft Word, rtf]

Internet Mathematician is offered through MathGate, which is part of EEVL: the Internet guide for Engineering, Mathematics and Computing and based in Information Services at The University of Birmingham. The website "is one of a set of free tutorials within the RDN Virtual Training Suite, created by subject-specialists from universities and professional organisations across the UK." The tutorial offers tips on Internet searching and suggests ways to evaluate the resources you find. Some pitfalls of Internet searching, such as the cost for subscriptions on some sites, the reliability of information, and the sheer volume of information are also discussed. Throughout the website are periodic quizzes and suggested websites (some of particular interest for mathematicians), which can be added to a "links basket" for retrieval later. The "reflect" section offers three scenarios for practical ways a mathematician might use the Internet. The Teaching Pack section provides materials that can be used in a classroom or workshop on using the Internet. A Glossary also reviews some Computing and Internet terminology. [VF]


The WebQuest website offers various resources for teachers looking to use the WebQuest model to teach with the Web. A WebQuest "is an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is drawn from the Web." The model, developed in 1995 at San Diego State University by Bernie Dodge with Tom March, has received significant attention in recent years. The bulk of the website is located in the Readings and Trainings Materials section, where teachers can find the paper that started the WebQuest project, as well as various articles providing different perspectives on what the WebQuest is all about and how to proceed to create your own lesson using the Internet. Examples of WebQuests created by teachers and a template with sections such as Introduction, Task, Process, Evaluation, Resources, and Conclusion help guide you through the process. The Portal provides updates on WebQuest news (mostly workshops and conferences) and a link to the Top rated WebQuests, as well as some "Middling" WebQuests, and new ones that have not yet been rated. The WebQuests in their database as well as various articles can also be searched from the Portal. The Forum section is a place for "conversations about using and extending the WebQuest model." [VF]

Teachers2Teachers (Math)

Teacher2Teacher is published by MathForum and similar to Ask Dr. Math (See NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, and Technology, February 15, 2002). The difference is, Teacher2Teacher is "a peer-mentored question-and-answer service" and intended to serve as "a resource for teachers and parents who have questions about teaching mathematics." Visitors to the website can search or browse the archived discussions by topic area or grade level, ask a question, discuss math education in the Teachers' Lounge, or look up some Frequently Asked Questions. When posting a message or question, you are asked to provide your name and email. Registration is not required, but will qualify you for a free copy of their newsletter via email. Questions are answered by Teacher2Teacher Associates. Anyone interested in becoming a Teacher2Teacher Associates can learn more about how to apply in the About T2T section. [VF]

San Jose Children's Discovery Museum [Macromedia Flash Player, pdf]

This website from the Children's Discovery Museum (CDM) in San Jose, California, offers a variety of interactive tools and games for children ages 4 to 10 years. The mathematics game featured is a card game called Arithmetic Rummy and requires a printer, while other features are more graphic-oriented. For example, an interactive video takes children through a short journey about energy, while another highlights water ways. The Teacher section provides additional tools and resources, which can be searched by grade level and then topic area. These lesson ideas can be used both on and off the Internet. Parents and teachers can also learn about other programs at the museum from this website. Registration is not required, but parents and educators are encouraged to register so CDM can "offer more personal experiences on the site for each child registrant" and "communicate appropriate educational content directly." [VF]

Simple Interactive Statistical Analysis [Microsoft Excel]

Simple Interactive Statistical Analysis (SISA), designed by a research consultant in the Netherlands, "allows you to do statistical analysis directly on the Internet." The program will calculate a variety of statistical procedures, including T-Tests, Poisson Distributions, and other calculations. The ability to perform analysis online provides users an opportunity to assess the software, which is also for sale. The Guide to Procedures provides helpful explanations of the different statistical procedures and guidelines for deciding on the appropriate procedure and filling out the calculation form. Numerous spreadsheets are also available to download. [VF]


NSF: Occupational Trends [Microsoft Excel]

The National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, reports here on statistics for a subset of individuals from the Current Population Survey (CPS), which is conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The findings reported here show that "more than four million individuals with at least a high school education were employed in science and engineering (S&E) occupations in the United States as of April 2003." The page provide's statistics for the highest level of educational attainment within this group (high school diploma, 5 percent; associate's degree, 17 percent; , bachelor's degree, 48 percent; master's degree, 22 percent; doctorates, 7 percent; and professional degree, about 2 percent) and correlate those numbers (along with race/ethnicity and gender statistics) with occupational groups (i.e., computer and math sciences, physical sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and engineering.) Links are provided to more detailed information on the data as well as Excel files of the data. [VF]

How a Boomerang Works

Have you ever wondered how the boomerang was invented? Well, according to this website, no one knows. However, Rangs Boomerangs (which makes boomerangs) gives a nice overview of what is known. For example, boomerangs have been used by the Australian Aborigines and have been found in other ancient cultures in Egypt, Stone Age Europe and the Indian subcontinent. A link under the History of the Boomerang offers a thesis that traces the boomerang back to "throwing wood" (approx. 5000 B.C.). The authors also explain how the boomerang works and offers tips for throwing a boomerang. The Boomerang Info section will alert you to boomerang demonstrations and workshops. Of course, the company also highlights its own boomerang products. [VF]

Scientific American: Computer Hacking

This article from Scientific American discusses the ins and outs of computer hacking, answering the question "How do computer hackers 'get inside' a computer?" The author of the article, Julie J.C.H. Ryan, is an assistant professor at The George Washington University and co-author of a book on hacking. The article reviews some of the different approaches to hacking, from "low-technology" strategies like bribery to an attack that is "blasted out shotgun style." If nothing else, the metaphors are interesting and the article ends with a quick run-down of some things individuals can do to protect their computers against hackers. Unfortunately, the author concludes that it's impossible to eliminate all "the vulnerabilities of your system." [VF]

NATO: Defense Science and Technology

Since the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, "NATO involvement in science and technology has sought to build cooperation and promote security and stability." This website offers an overview of the origins of NATO in science and technology and the Research and Technology Organization (RTO), which is "the central element of the NATO defense science and technology program." The article ends with some issues and recommendations as RTO gears up for "working with the new strategic command for transformation and the NATO Response Force, the integration of the new members, and building relations with Russia." Visitors can explore the other links on this website to learn more about the organization's research panels, modeling and simulation work, and various publications. [VF]

Lucid Cafe: USS Macon

The Lucid Cafe is a resource on coffee as well as a library and gallery, with a Biographies Archive. One entry in the Archive is this website on the USS Macon. The article describes the structure of this blimp, which had a top speed of about 87 miles per hour and was nearly twice as large as the famous Graf Zeppelin. Photos show the interior of the blimp as well as the trapeze and harness used to release airplanes. The process of retrieving planes is described as "like a performing air stunt." [VF]

American Museum of Radio and Electricity [Windows Media Player, QuickTime, Macromedia Flash Player, pdf]

This "one-of-a-kind museum for North America" is based in Bellingham, Washington. The museum aims to be "the best at presenting the relationship between early investigations into the phenomenon of electricity and the subsequent development of radio." The website presents some examples of their exhibits, such as "The Dawn of the Electrical Age (1600-1820) What is electricity?" and "The Wireless Age (1900-1920) Development of the wireless telegraph and telephone." The really fun part of the website is the Workroom, where you can listen to archived sound clips, watch a video demonstrating how static electricity is generated using a Wimshurst Influence Machine, and turn the dials of an interactive 1922 Tuska Radio. Information about the museum's history, curators and giving program are also provided. [VF]

Topic In Depth


Many cities around the world offer subways as a primary mode of public transportation. These subway systems are not only major accomplishments in civil engineering, but have a rich history. This Topic in Depth explores the technology, history and future of subways.

The New York Subway
Channel Tunnel Rail Link
The Subway Page
Civil Engineering: The Big Dig
Lost Subways
Federal Transit Administration: Rail Technology and Systems Information

This first website provides an interesting history of the New York Subway (1) as well as numerous other resources on subways. The second website focuses on the Channel Tunnel (or "Chunnel") in the UK (2), while this third website highlights subways around the world (3). Civil Engineering's Project Watch page provides a general overview and some basic information, such as the cost and timeline, for the "Big Dig" in Massachusetts (4). This interesting website reviews "lost subways" (5), including photos, articles, and other historical information. This website from FTA reviews some of the challenges involved in subway design (6 ). Finally, for a look to the future, check out the AirTrain website (7). [VF]

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