The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 3, Number 24

November 19, 2004

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




Topic In Depth


Trinity College: 4th Generation Telephony [pdf, Microsoft PowerPoint]

The Network Telecommunications Research Group (NTRG) at Trinity College in Dublin focuses on "a wide range of areas involving core networking and telecommunications technology." This website highlights the group's project on 4th Generation Telephony. The reference to fourth generation telephony puts the work within a historical context, beginning with analogue-based mobile phone systems and leading into systems using digital technology, such as Global System for Mobile (GSM) Communications, in the second generation. The third generation of research currently under way, focuses on defining standards for the third generation mobile systems. The fourth generation telephony follows from third generation efforts, "but starts with the assumption that future networks will be entirely packet-switched using protocols evolved from those in use in today's Internet." The website highlights some of the benefits of this approach and describes the research issues NTRG is addressing, including compatibility, mobility, and quality of service. The Dublin Ad-hoc Wireless Network (DAWN) project, which serves as a prototype for this research, is also described. Several publications and some older video demonstrations are available online to download free of charge. Websites developed through Undergrad Coursework and Projects provide additional resources on the topic of telecommunications technology. [VF]

The Disappearing Computer Initiative [pdf]

The Disappearing Computer is an initiative funded by the European Union (EU) as part of its focus on Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) within the Information Society Technologies (IST) research program. The mission of the Disappearing Computer initiative is "to see how information technology can be diffused into everyday objects and settings, and to see how this can lead to new ways of supporting and enhancing people's lives that go above and beyond what is possible with the computer today." The three main objectives of this initiative are based on a definition of "information artefacts" as "future forms of everyday objects that represent a merging of current everyday objects (tools, appliances, clothing, etc) with the capabilities of information processing and exchange (based on sensors, actuators, processors, mircosystems, etc)." The organization's goal is to create individual artifacts, understand how individual artifacts can work together and then design interactive systems. The research projects address issues such as pervasive computing in real work environments and finding ways to develop sound models that are based on the physics of sound-generating phenomena and can inform the design of artifacts that interact with humans. Each project has its own website where visitors will find detailed explanations and publications relating to it. [VF]

Veterinary Informatics and Epidemiology

Veterinary Informatics and Epidemiology (VIE) is a collaboration between the University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow focusing on animal disease and modeling. This website highlights the range of projects carried out within VIE, emphasizing the informatics side of the research. Projects include: Cattle Disease Diagnosis System, TrypsChemo, EU Concerted Action on Lyme Borreliosis, and Integrated Control of Pathogenic Trypanosomes and their Vectors. When possible, Web-based and other software resources developed from these projects are available online to download. A project to improve collaboration and communication among those "involved in effecting and managing change at all levels" within the area of epidemiology and informatics is still being developed and that section of the website is under construction as of this report. [VF]

Stanford University: Dextrous Manipulation Laboratory [pdf, mov]

The Dextrous Manipulation Laboratory is a project within the Design Division of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. The website describes some of the lab's past and current projects on robotic hands and tactile sensors, as well as teleoperated hands using haptic information. The two current projects highlighted include work on "a new class of biologically inspired robots" and progress made in developing "a telemanipulation system that allows a person to control a dexterous robotic hand in an intuitive manner." Various conference papers and theses from the Lab are posted online. Project pages provide overviews of the lab's research and development in hardware and software as well as video footage displaying some of its accomplishments. Research methods and system designs are further detailed in the Research sections of the project websites. Links to related course pages, research labs, and images make this a dynamic resource for anyone interested in robotics research. [VF]

Helsinki University of Technology: Computational Information Technology [pdf]

Computational Information Technology is a research group of the Laboratory of Computational Engineering at the Helsinki University of Technology in Finland. This section of the website introduces visitors to the group's work on modelling and analyzing complex physical, technical and economic processes and systems. Researchers "carry out method development and application oriented research on advanced probabilistic and information theoretic methods." Some applications include statistical modelling of financial markets, pattern recognition in neural networks, machine vision for microscope image processing, data mining, and intelligent human-machine interfaces. The Research Projects section describes the group's work in these areas and highlights the mathematical and statistical methods used, such as Bayesian methods, vision geometry, Turing's reaction-diffusion systems, and time-frequency analysis. Each research area has its own website, where the overall project and theoretical framework is described along with images and diagrams. Publications, such as theses and journal articles are listed and some conference proceedings and articles are available to download. [VF]

University of Toronto: The Artificial Perception Laboratory

The University of Toronto's Artificial Perception Lab investigates the theory, implementation, and application of multi-sensor information systems. The lab's research addresses microphone arrays, camera arrays, sensor networks, Multi-Sensor Information Systems and applications for human-computer interactions and robotics. The Projects section provides abstracts of the lab's work, along with photos and diagrams and links to additional information and program source code for related projects. Several research articles are posted online, along with links to media coverage the lab has received. For example, a November 2004 press release describes its work in developing a three-dimensional multi-camera system that can capture images of a scene from multiple angles and then sort the images to improve surveillance in public places. [VF]

University of Texas at Austin: Technology, Literacy and Culture

This website from the University of Texas at Austin highlights faculty and student research on the impacts of technology on social life, histories of technology, technology and culture, cyberrealities, and more. Some of the questions addressed in this work include: How can understanding workers' improvisations improve information design?, What kinds of metaphors do we use with each other to help us make sense of the Internet? and, How is the Internet influencing our ideas? From here, visitors will find links to researchers websites, articles, and related project websites. [VF]

Super Computing Science Consortium [QuickTime]

The Super Computing Science Consortium is a partnership among university, state and Federal research organizations aimed at improving "the ability of the partners to advance energy and environment technologies through the application of high performance computing and communications (HPCC)." The website describes the organization's project on MFIX, for which it has made available open source code, and another project investigating topics such as gas flow and the catalytic decomposition of ozone, for which it offers several images and video simulations. Information on grants for researchers affiliated with the partner colleges and universities is also available. Hardware and software resources available for partner researchers are described along with photo images when applicable. The News section highlights recent activities such as conferences and new products from the Super Computing Science Consortium. [VF]


International F1 Team in Schools

The Formula One (F1) in Schools CAD/CAM Design Challenge, which began in the UK, is now open to schools internationally. Major sponsors include Denford, Jaguar and BAE Systems. Through this program, students between the ages of 11 and 18 explore the process of design, analysis, and testing by producing their own F1 Car of the Future using 3D CAD models. The CO2 powered racing cars they manufacture then compete on a racetrack. Students are introduced to "a variety of engineering and manufacturing principles, as well as the laws of math, science and most importantly, teamwork." The website describes the process, provides an example design brief, posts the results from the contests, explains entry procedures, and offers tips and tools for creating a winning car. The Showcase Gallery offers examples of exceptional work from F1 student portfolios as a source for inspiration. [VF]

Science Toy Maker

This colorful non-commercial website, created by educator Slater Harrison, offers some tried and true projects involving science. The projects use "easily-available, inexpensive materials, and don't require special skills, tools materials or facilities." The author encourages "creative inventors and tinkerers" to improve on the project designs. Some examples of projects include making robot hands, designing a "stomp rocket" and exploring optical illusions. Each project description includes a "more about" section that offers additional explanations, related activities and links to related websites for further research. Narratives that accompany the project descriptions offer some background context. Statistics of visitors to this website are also posted online to show how many international borders this website has crossed. [VF]

The Science Spot: Power of Technology

Developed by a science and health teacher in Illinois, this site offers resources for science teachers. This section of the website provides online workshops and "techie tips to discover new ways to enhance your classroom with technology." Workshops cover topics such as clip art, digital cameras, the Internet, and search engines. Links to other sections of the website offer science trivia, lesson plans, project ideas, and puzzles. The Reference Desk section lists online resources on a range of science topics, including inventions, biology, astronomy, chemistry and physics. [VF]

ALFY: Teach, Learn, Communicate

ALFY, Inc., an online education and technology company, hosts this website called Teach, Learn, Communicate (TLC). TLC provides resources for teachers organized around thematic units in the areas of science and health, mathematics, language arts, and social sciences. Lessons based on seasonal themes, such as Thanksgiving and topics such as Baseball, Chocolate, and the Internet are also available. Within each unit are games, stories and activities from ALFY along with other online resources with ideas for Web-linked classroom activities. Some other tools for teachers include a Lesson Builder, which enables teachers to type and save lesson plans using a Lesson Template and an archive of Lesson Plans that other teachers have created. Websites specific to teacher professional development are also listed in the Great Links and Site of the Week sections. Another feature is a section offering tools "to communicate effectively with students, parents and colleagues," such as a Home Page Builder and an Award Maker that can be used to create certificates for students. [VF]

Johns Hopkins University: GlobeTech Online Course

GlobeTech was created as part of the Boundless Learning program at Johns Hopkins University, which aims to "improve learning and performance among students in academically diverse classes though application of effective instructional strategies, efficient teamwork, and a wide range of technology tools." GlobeTech is a free online course that is organized into four main topics, which together spell GLOBE: Get ready, Learn about teacher preparation, Organize team learning, Boost individual understanding, and Evaluate and celebrate. The course begins with tips on ways to prepare students for the learning experience of using technology, and continues with a discussion of presentation strategies and ways to "maintain student motivation, convey important curricular materials, and effectively integrate technology." Suggested Teamwork activities and strategies for individually monitoring, reinforcing, and assessing students within a cooperative learning environment are also provided. The resource section provides links to related websites and lists articles for further reading. [VF]

Try Science [Microsoft Word, Macromedia Flash Player]

Try Science is a website supported by IBM Corporation, the New York Hall of Science (NYHOS), the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), and science centers worldwide. The site provides a variety of mathematics, science and technology experiments and activities for students. Many of the activities are interactive, although the experiments are largely meant to be conducted offline. A section on Field Trips allows visitors to search for local science centers, which are described as "places where people of all ages can learn at their own pace, engage their curiosity, use their senses to ask and answer questions, and explain to others what they have learned." Webcams are set up to let visitors view activities at select science and technology centers worldwide. A section for teachers provides suggestions for how to use TryScience in the Classroom, discusses how the website meets Standards in the U.S, Australia and United Kingdom, offers some testimony from teachers who have used TryScience, and lists several professional development programs offered by science centers. Parents will also find a section with some helpful information about science and education along with resources on ways to get involved. Sending one of the Try Science experiments home with students is one suggested way that teachers can get parents involved in their kid's science education. Note that many of the pages require Flash plug-ins. [VF]

BotBall Educational Robotics Program

Botball is a workshop and competition presented by the KISS Institute for Practical Robotics. The program offers hands-on learning in robotics and is "designed to engage students in learning the practical applications of science, technology, engineering and math." Registered teams receive KISS Institute's kit of robotics equipment, but teams must have access to a laptop computer and the Internet. Following a workshop, students are given seven weeks to create a team of robots and a weblog documenting their robot-building process. The robots then compete in a field where they must play the game by themselves without being guided by remote control. Details about the program as well as possible ways to obtain financial aid and raise funds are posted on this website. Video footage and news clippings provide some background information on previous Botball tournaments. [VF]

Introduction to Spreadsheets

The WiseOwl project is sponsored by the Instructional Technology Division of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction offering resources for K-12 education. Although this website is specifically geared toward teachers in North Carolina whose students are expected to know measurement for the fifth grade End of Grade Test, several of the resources are applicable to any teacher looking for ways to teach about spreadsheets. The website offers links to other web resources on using spreadsheets in the classroom and suggests several group and individual activities. Printable pages designed to complement the activities are also posted. Another section provides links for teachers wanting to learn more about spreadsheets. [VF]


The Grey Labyrinth: Puzzles

The Grey Labyrinth, which is paid for by visitor donations and maintained by a collection of volunteers, is an archive of puzzles from mathematicians, philosophers, and others. The editors challenge visitors to solve one of the rotating unsolved puzzles before the solution is posted online. Recently solved puzzles include a relativity game and exercises in geometry and probability. A survey on each solution page asks visitor to rate the puzzle on a scale of one to five, and results for the puzzle are posted online. Puzzles from previous years, going back to 1996, are saved in the archives, which can be sorted by name, popularity and date. Anyone who agrees to the Registration Agreement Terms can register to join the forum or chat on a private messaging system and also contribute to the list of puzzles. [VF]

Paper Airplane [pdf]

Ken Blackburn, who holds multiple Guinness records in time aloft for paper airplanes, has posted this website dedicated to making paper airplanes. He provides links to websites with information on paper airplanes and images with accompanying text on the how-to's of paper airplane folding. Planes submitted by visitors to the website are also posted and he encourages others to send in their models. An essay on paper airplane aerodynamics offers an in-depth discussion of why paper airplanes look different than real planes, explains the Reynolds number, and addresses other important aspects of flying such as Dihedral, weight, launching, and gliding. A section for teachers includes a guide for curriculum-based activities and explanations of relevant topics as well as some links to other websites. Visitors can also read about his experience competing for the Guinness record, find out about clubs or upcoming contests, or read a history of the paper airplane. [VF]

How Augmented Reality Will Work

How Stuff Works (see also MET report from November 16, 1998) provides this overview of how "augmented reality" will work. The author predicts that computer graphics, which have become much more sophisticated since the original computer games, will soon "seem all too real." He describes how researchers are working "to pull graphics out of your television screen or computer display and integrate them into real-world environments." The article provides some basic information on this new technology. [VF]

AAAS: Informal Science Forum

This article from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) reports on an AAAS forum held in November 2004 to explore the Evolution and Future of Informal Science Programs. The story highlights the experiences of George D. "Pinky" Nelson, a veteran of three space flights and now the director of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education at Western Washington University, and his views on the importance of "informal science" to American education. From here, visitors can explore other resources offered by AAAS, such as Science Update Radio and science websites and other information for kids, teachers, and journalists. [VF]

Association for Computing Machinery: e-voting

The Association for Computing Machinery is "an international scientific and educational organization dedicated to advancing the arts, sciences, and applications of information technology." This website provides the official position for the Association on computer-based voting systems. Their position is that "while computer-based e-voting systems have the potential to improve the electoral process, such systems must embody careful engineering, strong safeguards, and rigorous testing in both their design and operation." The website also reports on results from a poll of the members, indicating that 86.38% of the members surveyed "strongly agreed" with this position. [VF]

GPS Drawing

This website on GPS Drawing was created by Jeremy Wood and features his artwork and a few other GPS artists. The drawings posted in the Gallery "are of journeys captured using GPS receivers" and "were created by treating travel like a geodetic pencil or a cartographic crayon." He has created images of animals and objects through travels by foot, boat, bicycle and plane. The project is also meant to provide "a platform for creativity and innovation with GPS software and technology." One section describes the software used to make the drawings, but also notes that it is currently not available to the public. The Projects section includes various GPS animations, documentation of exhibitions, and workshops conducted in galleries, museums, and schools, as well as computer and cardboard models that make the drawings three dimensional. [VF]

History of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge

This website from the University of Washington Libraries highlights their special collection on the history of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The pages include images and text detailing "the story of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge from the inception to the reopening of a reconstructed bridge in 1950." Text sources are listed in the bibliography section. Photos of the collapse as well as the reconstruction provide a unique view of bridge construction. [VF]

Smithsonian: Information Age

This website features photos and documents from an exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History on the Information Age. The exhibition entitled Information Age: People, Information & Technology "displays visually and interactively how electrical information technology has changed our society over the last 150 years." Artifacts featured here include Samuel Morse's original telegraph transmitter and receiver, an Edison Stock Printer, Alexander Graham Bell's early telephone equipment, and an Apple I Computer. [VF]

Topic In Depth

Fiber Optics

Recent news coverage describes a collaboration between SBC Communications and Microsoft to combine telephone, television and internet access under one highspeed network connection. This Topic in Depth explores fiber optic technology, its history and implications.

SFGate: SBC and Microsoft
SBC Communications Inc.
How Stuff Works: How Fiber Optics Work
Fiber Optic Reference Guide: A Brief History
PC World: Has Your Broadband Had Its Fiber?,aid,117684,00.asp
Telephony Online

This article from SFGate reports on the recent negotiations between SBC and Microsoft (1) and the implications of the new technology for Internet and television access. This website from SBC (2) provides video footage and background information on their initiative called Project Lightspeed. This initiative is based largely on fiber technology, which is described further on this website from How Stuff Works (3). This website (4) provides a brief history of fiber optics technology along with links to sections on the applications of fiber optics and more basics on transmission. This article from PC World (5) discusses how fiber optics became a viable option. This article from Telephony Online 6)reviews some of the challenges that remain. [VF]

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

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