The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 3, Number 21

October 8, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


Intelligent Systems Group

The Intelligent Systems Group at the University of Leeds draws from "expertise in solid mechanics and mechatronics to carry out multi-disciplinary R&D." The group's research focuses on materials, structural optimization, dynamic systems, automotive applications, control systems and mobile robotics. This website describes the organization's current research activities as well as future plans. The group's theoretical and practical research activities include, for example, dynamic material properties and processing, which they apply to studies of impact crashworthiness of composite race-car structures and impact biomechanics such as in spinal burst fracture. The group also houses the Leeds/Ricardo Automotive Driveline research program. A bibliography of publications is posted here, but the full articles are available only to staff and students who can access the University of Leeds Publications Database. The research section, however, provides a nice overview of the various projects. [VF]

Workshop on Memory and Sharing Experiences [pdf]

The Second International Conference on Pervasive Computing was held in April 2004 in Vienna, Austria. This website highlights a Workshop on Memory and Sharing Experiences from Pervasive 2004. The purpose of this workshop was "to exchange research results and to foster ideas in the emerging field of ubiquitous experience recording technologies with the goal of effective experience sharing." The infrastructure is used to "record experiences of people working and playing in the real world" and has applications in multimedia memory aids, context recognition, life-pattern modeling, and the storytelling of life. The full program, proceedings and a summary discussion are posted on this website. Topics covered at the workshop included methods and devices, storage and databases, experience and interaction corpora, applications, privacy, and other issues. The website also links to information on a special issue of the Personal and Ubiquitous Computing Journal, as well as other related online resources and projects. [VF]

Bookmarks for Electronics Designers

Electrical design engineer Lazar Rozenblat was once told in college that "an engineer does not have to remember everything, but should know where to find the information he/she needs." Following that advice, Rozenblat has put together this "one-stop informational resource on Power Electronics /SMPS design." The website provides links to engineering reference information and design resources and is "being constantly updated." The About section describes his selection process and invites others to submit their websites to the page. The links are organized by topic areas, such as SMPS design, standards, tools, and magnetics, and links are then listed under sub-topics within those areas. The EE Reference section provides some links to tutorials, general engineering reference, and career resources. [VF]

The Edinburgh Virtual Environment Centre [pdf, Macromedia Shockwave Player]

The Edinburgh Virtual Environment Centre (EdVEC) "is committed to pursue and publish research of the highest international standard." Its work focuses on the capture, modelling and representation of 3D real-world objects and domains. The organization also offers virtual environments to support teaching and research within the University and collaborate with industry to promote technology transfer. The website seems to be a work in progress, but a number of publications are already posted. Also several of the center's animation and commercial projects are described in the Projects section, along with a few demonstrations of these and other projects. The Services section describes some of what the organization offers in terms of 3D-data capture, scanning, and analysis services. [VF] is "an international non-profit organisation that promotes the effective use of Information and communications technology (ICT) in the developing world to reduce poverty and improve people's lives." The focus of its work involves ICT-related policy analysis, but organization "also promote best practice in ground-level technology implementation through research and evaluations." It provides information and resources, support grassroots projects and other efforts, and advise decision-makers and the public on key issues. As members of the technology community, the organization brings "an entrepreneurial attitude" and an understanding of technology as well as its commitment to work with governments and the private sector to achieve the goal of "spanning the international digital divide." The website provides an overview of the "digital divide" and describes the organization's approach to addressing these issues. Policy reports, case studies and evaluation guidelines are posted on this website. The organization's current work includes a comparison study of open source and proprietary software, which is also described here. [VF]

Institute for Security Technology Studies [pdf]

The Institute for Security Technology Studies (ISTS) at Dartmouth College "is dedicated to pursuing research that addresses critical national needs for security technology and policy in cyber and emergency response environments." Its interdisciplinary research draws from science, engineering, social science and policy perspectives to investigate critical security problems using existing technology and ideas, as well as by developing new technologies. A wealth of publications including journal articles, conference papers, and technical reports are available to download from the Library section. Also posted are descriptions and links to websites for the Institutes projects within the Cyber Security & Trust Research Center (CSTR Center), the Emergency Readiness & Response Research Center (ER3 Center), Cyber Security Exercise Development Center (CSED Center), and other Special Projects. Visitors interested in getting an overview of the organization's work can read the featured publications or check out news items, such as a project to develop "a mathematical technique to tell the difference between a 'real' image and one that's been fiddled with." [VF]

Rock-Climbing Robotics [pdf]

This is the website for a Stanford PhD candidate, Timothy Wolfe Bretl, who is "currently working on the design of motion strategies for autonomous mobile robots." His work is providing insights into fundamental design principles, which he hopes can be used "to create useful autonomous systems that can perform difficult, dangerous, or tedious tasks." One area of his work involves Autonomous Rock-Climbing Robots, which could one day be used for "search-and-rescue in mountainous terrain or broken urban environments." Also highlighted here is his work on Dynamic Movement and Cooperative Mobile Robotics. Photos, diagrams and 3D models help to display and explain these research projects. More information can be found on his Publications page, where a few articles and reports are available to download. [VF]

Center for BioDynamics

The Center for BioDynamics (CBD) brings together the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston University to foster "advance training and research at the interfaces among dynamical systems, biology and engineering." The CBD's work provides insights into the functioning of physiological systems and examines ways to improve clinical devices and techniques. The center also hosts work in research and development on dynamical systems techniques for various other applications. The Ongoing Research section describes major findings from recent research activities (2003-2004) and numerous other articles from 1999 to 2004 are posted in the Publications section. [VF]



TeacherTECH is the teacher-training component of GirlTECH, a program of Center for Excellence and Equity in Education (CEEE) at Rice University. The project focuses on providing technology training and exploring "innovative teaching strategies that impact equity in the classroom." TeacherTECH offers lesson plans designed by teachers in a way that is intended to "take full advantage of Internet resources and to teach mathematics and science concepts in new and exciting ways." From this website, visitors can select lessons by the year they were developed (going back to 1995) or search on a particular topic or string of words. The lesson ideas are described along with links to additional resources. The lesson descriptions include related graphs, data tables, as well as suggested ways to extend the activity or integrate technology. [VF]

New York Times Daily Lesson Plan: Mathematics

These lesson ideas from the New York Times offer suggestions for ways to draw on real world issues and statistics to develop lessons in mathematics. For example, in one lesson "students convert statistics about gun injuries into visual presentations, then use these as the basis for a poster campaign to teach children about the dangers of guns in home" while another lesson idea involves designing brochures that are intended to explain specific mathematical concepts to a popular audience. Each lesson idea includes a recommended grade level, subject areas covered, lesson objectives, resources/materials needed, a description of the activities along with handouts, further questions for discussion, assessment, key vocabulary terms, and some ways to extend the activities and relate them to other disciplines, such as social studies or journalism. Links to related Times articles and related online resources provide an interactive aspect to each of the lesson entries. [VF]

Visual Fractions [Java]

Visual Fractions is "a tutorial that offers instruction and practice in identifying, renaming, and operating on fractions" and was created by Richard E. Rand. The website reviews examples of fractions, which are modeled with number lines or circles. Throughout the website are instructions to follow, encouraging students to try a few activities on their own. For a more light-hearted approach, Rand has a game that involves using fractions to help Grammy find Grampy and to make treats for Grampy. The software programs used to create the line and circle fractions, Fraction Modeler and Fraction Maker, are available for purchase and described on this website. [VF]

The Flip Site [Macromedia Flash Player]

The Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction, at the Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona, hosts this website on coin flipping. The Flip Site has been keeping track of the coins flipped by the cyber-character, Mr. Flipper, since midnight on January 1, 2004. They have even posted a graphic image of Mr. Flipper, so visitors can see the flips "live." The results from the coin flips are kept in the FlipParade section, where visitors can watch the series of flips completed thus far. The database they are creating is intended to provide "a number of ways to see some neat things about random processes." To help visitors engage in some of these neat things, they provide a query tool that will analyze the number of heads or tails that appear in a row and suggest ways to set up experiments to look at the frequency distribution of coin flips. A web discussion board allows visitors to share ideas or ask questions, which Dr. FlipMiester, the "resident expert on coin flips," will answer. [VF]

Symmetry and Tessellations

This website provides 30 suggested activities in Symmetry and Tessellations using resources available across the World Wide Web. The author, Jill Britton, has complied this collection of links to coordinate with the chapters and activities from her publication, "Investigating Patterns: Symmetry and Tessellations" (Grades 5-8). The activities begin with "What is Mathematics?" and move on to cover topics such as Pythagoras observations of music, patterns on Ukrainian Easter eggs, and tessellating art. She provides a short comment on each of the websites and the links are arranged by activity topic. Links at the bottom of the website will take visitors to other collections of links relating to more pattern-related activities. [VF]


Math-Kitecture, designed by Charles Bender, "is about using Architecture to do Math (and vice versa)." The author provides suggested activities that engage students in doing real-life architecture while learning estimation, measuring skills, proportion, and ratios. The main activity is for students to hand-draft a floor plan of their classroom to scale and then use software to create a computer-aided design (CAD) version, which can then be submitted and added to the online gallery. To assist students in the process, Bender has posted examples of floor plans, guidelines for creating scale drawings, and instructions on how to use computer software such as AppleWorks (ClarisWorks) or MS Powerpoint to create the computer version of the drawing. Also posted is a large collection of links to other web resources on architecture and mathematics. Additional Math-Kitecture "Architivities" include finding geometric shapes in buildings and structures (both on the computer and off), designing a dream bedroom, and exploring a 3-D model of a Frank Lloyd Wright house to estimate volume and surface area. Also highlighted are the performance standards for middle school mathematics and core curriculum for grades seven and eight that are met through these activities. Teachers are invited to send in additions to the section on Teacher's Notes, which posts lesson plans, ideas, and reviews sent in by teachers. [VF]

Science and Mathematics Initiative for Learning Enhancement

The Science and Mathematics Initiative for Learning Enhancement, or SMILE program, is a project of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Center and is funded by a grant from the Lucent Technologies Foundation. The program is "designed to enhance the elementary and high school learning of Science and Mathematics through the use of the phenomenological approach." On this website, the project posts the lesson plans developed by teacher participants at its summer sessions held between 1986 and 1997. The lessons, available free online, are also available in print or CD for purchase and include a list of the materials needed, suggested activities and expected outcomes. The Mathematics section includes lessons on Geometry and Measurement, Patterns and Logic, Probability and Statistics, Recreational and Creative Math, Practical and Applied Math, Graphs and Visuals, Algebra and Trigonometry, and Arithmetic. Submissions from participants after 1997 are less detailed, offering a brief single concept lesson or idea. More recent additions are posted in the Contributed Lessons section, which welcomes guest contributions from educators, parents and others interested in contributing concept lessons which use the phenomenological approach to learning. Visitors may also find some helpful resources in the Web-based resources section. Also posted are class notes from courses offered through the SMILE teacher training program. [VF]

Bridge Building [pdf]

This WebQuest was created by preservice teachers in the Education Department at University of Richmond as part of a course on integrating technology across the curriculum. The website is intended to serve as a resource for anyone interested in using the WebQuest model (See Scout Report on Math, Engineering and Technology, September 10, 2004) to teach with the web. This particular WebQuest offers an approach to using the Web to learn about bridge building. The Process section offers some helpful suggestions, websites, and worksheets to achieve the task. Guidelines used in evaluation of student work is also posted, along with a glossary of some engineering terminology. [VF]


Picasso Photos [jpg]

This article describes the Picasso-effect software that is part of a suite of imaging technologies developed by computer scientists at the University of Bath. The scientists have found a way to turn photo albums, videos and movies into drawings, paintings, and cartoons. The researchers were able to "teach the computer how to pick out the elements of photographs that, until now, only humans have been able to recognise as important." Basically, the computer identifies elements, such as a nose, eye or mouth, and proceeds to cut the images into chunks. The chunks are then statistically shuffled and then randomly-selected chunks are distorted to create a 'cubist' composition. The author ends the article with a discussion of some of the applications for this "automated art" in animation. [VF]

TechWeb Encyclopedia

TechWeb Network is an online resource for IT professionals providing "contextual access to the resources of CMP's network of industry-leading technology publications." The site offers this handy encyclopedia of technology terms where visitors can search a database of over 20,000 IT terms. Results are given as short definitions with links to related terms, along with links to definitions of other terms that are similar to the original term requested. For fun, visitors will also find a featured "random definition" and can browse the top 10 requested definitions. [VF]

A Modern History of Blacks in Mathematics

Dr. Scott W. Williams, a Professor of Mathematics at the State University of New York at Buffalo, maintains this webpage, which provides a Modern History of Blacks in Mathematics. In addition to a timeline highlighting key figures in mathematics, the author also considers the greatest Black Mathematicians, The First African American Women in Mathematics, The First Africans, and Other Important Events in the past 300 years. Another section, which covers Mathematics in Ancient Africa, addresses earlier periods in history, while an article from Kenneth Manning asks, Can History Predict the Future? [VF]

Roper Center: Polling 101

The U.S. Presidential election season seems like a good time review the basics on polling. The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Connecticut is "the largest library of public opinion data in the world." (See also Scout Report for Social Science, December 1, 1998.) This section of the website gives visitors a short lesson on public opinion polling. The Polling 101 page reviews Sampling, Total Survey Error, Reading Tables, and provides links to other pages with additional information on polling. A final section talks about the Role of Polls in Policymaking based on a 2001 phone survey conducted for the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in collaboration with Public Perspective magazine. Visitors can also browse through the Public Opinion Matters section of the website to view recent polls on economic issues, education, technology, and more. The full database of polls, however, is accessible only through paid membership. [VF]

WorldSpace Satellite Radio Network [mp3]

WorldSpace is part of Noah Samara's vision "to 'create a new form of electronic media' using satellites to broadcast directly to people across the globe." WorldSpace claims to be the first to bring Satellite Radio to the world, among other "firsts." This section of the website describes how satellite radio works. A map shows the coverage area for their two satellites. The rest of the website describes their product. The Listen Now section provides some sample mp3 files to give you a taste of their programming and sound quality. [VF]

Number Palindromes

The World of Numbers is "an amalgamation of randomly gathered numbers, curios, puzzles, palindromes, primes, gems, your much valued contributions and more general information." Choosing "number palindromes" from the drop-down menu will take you to a page with a list of links to webpages on palindromes -- numbers that read the same from left to right as from right to left. Also posted are more examples of square palindromes, circular primes, Palindromic Primes, Palindromic Tetrahedra, and much more. Visitors are invited to make their comments and contributions as well. Also provided are links to websites on integers and other special numbers, such as primes and zero. [VF]

UCSD Math Club: Fun & Games [Macromedia Flash Player]

This website provides links to a few Games, Jokes, Trivia, and Brainteasers from the University of California at Santa Diego Math Club. The Math Club serves as "a gathering place, as well as an academic and career resource, where all students interested in mathematics can further their involvement in the subject, meet other people with simi liar interests, and discover some of the opportunities mathematics has to offer." This section of the website provides some light-hearted math fun. There are a few interactive games, but by far the largest section is the jokes page. The brainteaser section includes an invitation to anyone who solves the currently unsolved brainteaser to submit their solution to an Advisor, who will then post it, if correct, online. Links to related pages allow visitors to explore some topics further. [VF]

The David Sarnoff Library

The David Sarnoff Library is "devoted to the study and understanding of the innovative spirit personified in the greatest technological visionary of the 20th century and realized in the accomplishments of Radio Corporation of America (RCA) employees at laboratories, factories, and offices in New Jersey and around the world." From this website, visitors can examine timelines, galleries, links, and references that relate to David Sarnoff's life, the history of radio, television, electronics, and communications, and the history of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). The RCA timeline includes links to related websites for additional information on select innovations. Note that some pages are not complete since the website is still under construction. [VF]

Topic In Depth


Wireless technology can be used to connect computers to the Internet via the airwaves, but also to connect your PDA with your computer at home, or even your mobile phone. Wireless technology offers new flexibility, but also raises issues for security and the government. This Topic in Depth reviews these issues and provides some background on wireless technology.

Wireless Networking Mini-Tutorial (WKMN) [Macromedia Flash Player]
Wi-Fi Alliance
3Com: 802.11b Wireless LANs [pdf]
Information on BlueTooth
e-week: WiFi Security,1738,1591939,00.asp
O'Reilly Network: Wireless Surveying
Bitpipe: Wireless LAN White Papers [pdf]

The first website from WKMN (1) identifies the major types of wireless used today as Local Area Networks (LANs), Wide Area Networks (WANs) and Mobile Wireless, and Personal Area Networks. The WiFi Alliance, which certifies interoperability of IEEE 802.11 products in order "to promote them as the global, wireless LAN standard across all market segments" also gives an overview of WiFi, or Wireless Fidelity, on this second website (2). The IEEE 802.11 is the common standard used for LANs and is described more in this white paper from 3Com (3). The Bluetooth infrastructure, more common in Personal Area Networks, is described on this website (4 ). The current hot issue in the Wi-Fi world is security, which is discussed in this article from e-Week (5). Legal issues are also being raised, especially since the boundaries for wireless are unclear, which means people can survey for wireless networks without paying for access. This process is described in an article from the O'Reilly Network website (6). Finally, this last website (7) offers a number of white papers on wireless LAN. [VF]

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From The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2004.

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2004. The Internet Scout Project (, located in the Computer Sciences Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides information about the Internet to the U.S. research and education community under a grant from the National Science Foundation, number NCR-9712163. The Government has certain rights in this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the entire Scout Report provided this paragraph, including the copyright notice, are preserved on all copies.

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