The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 4, Number 5

March 11, 2005

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




Topic In Depth


Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center

The mission of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center at Georgia Tech is "to promote universal access to mobile wireless technologies and explore their innovative applications in addressing the needs of people with disabilities." Anticipating that wireless devices are likely to become an integral part of daily life, with applications ranging from conducting financial transactions to setting a home thermostat, these researchers are working to ensure that people with disabilities are able to use these devices and actively participate in "the information age." Supported by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research of the U.S. Department of Education, the group's research addresses three inter-related projects: Assessment of User Needs, Evaluation of Emerging Technologies, and Policy Initiatives. The website also describes its work in exploring and developing new applications of wireless technologies to support independent living for people with disabilities, such as wearable computing. Related software applications are posted online to download as well as various publications, such as conference proceedings, journal articles, and technical reports. [VF]

BEARS conference UC Berkeley [Windows Media Player]

The Berkeley EECS Annual Research Symposium (BEARS) is a conference hosted by UC Berkeley's Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department in the College of Engineering. This website provides the agenda for the 2005 BEARS (held on February 10 and 11) along with information on the presenters and abstracts and video footage of their presentations. The conference highlights work from EECS scientists on "advances enabling computing and communications to connect diverse aspects of our world." Topics include: wireless networks, optical communication, the future of the internet, embedded software, machine learning, security, and trust. [VF]

Duke University Robotics [Wimdows Media Player]

This website highlights robotics research from the Robotics and Manufacturing
Automation Laboratory at Duke University. Their work is "devoted to the
development of command and control systems for cooperative robots." Their
website provides descriptions and some demonstration videos of their work in
multiple industrial robot control, mobile robot development, sensor fusion,
robot-World Wide Web interfacing, sensor integration, among other related
projects. A bibliography of publications by Lab researchers is also available
online. [VF]

Computational Science Center [pdf, Microsoft PowerPoint]

The Brookhaven Computational Science Center is a collaborative project among researchers in biology, chemistry, physics, and medicine working with applied mathematicians and computer scientists "to exploit the remarkable opportunities for scientific discovery which have been enabled by modern computers." The Center is filling a need for upgrading the computing infrastructure within the Brookhaven National Laboratory and making "the most advanced systems available to researchers throughout the scientific community." The group's work addresses research in computational biology and nanoscience, as well as other areas of science, including nuclear and high energy physics, astrophysics, materials and chemical science, sustainable energy, environment, and homeland security. Detailed descriptions of each project and some related publications and presentations are posted on this website. Note that the link to the Workshops section of the website was not working at the time of this report. [VF]

Problems with Standards-based Mathematics Tests [pdf]

Alan Tucker, an Applied Math professor at Stony Brook University took it upon himself to analyze the reliability of the scoring of the Math A test, New York's standards-based exam. Tucker was part of the New York Board of Regents special panel which investigated the high failure rates on the June 2003 exam. He reports here on his findings regarding "flaws in annual math tests mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act." In particular, he is concerned about the likelihood that students scores on standards-based test can be compared over time at the level of precision needed to make decisions that come with high-stakes consequences. A short report and a full report are available from this website, explaining his model and statistical analysis. [VF]

SNOW Research Community of Practice

SNOW Research Community of Practice, sponsored by the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, is a collaboration of professionals whose goal is to "provide a one-stop solution to customers' snow science and engineering problems." The 48 members have expertise in a variety of areas, including geophysics, chemistry, biology, physics, and mechanical, geological, electrical, civil, and geological engineering. This website provides contact information for snow experts and describes the tools and facilities that are at their disposal. They also provide a wealth of information on various aspects of snow research, including snow models, snow chemistry, and GIS/Remote sensing of snow. Also described here is research on snow mechanics and engineering, which can be used "to develop instrumentation, physical understanding and models and combined with other physical principals to solve problems in hydrology, transportation, engineering infrastructure, and climate change." In addition, the group provides updates on snow impacts in the news, such as the extensive snowfall in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan that has affected safety, transportation, and flooding in those regions, and a link to a map of U.S. snow coverage from the National Weather Service. [VF]

IBM: Electrochemical Technology in Microelectronics

The current issue of the bimonthly IBM Journal of Research and Development features articles on electrochemical technology in microelectronics. Most of the articles address some of the issues that have arisen in this rapidly expanding field, especially as the dimensions of the features of microelectronic components have decreased. Other articles discuss cache prefetching, logic-based embedded DRAM (eDRAM), and register-renaming mappers for IBM POWER4 processors. Members of the IBM technical community and non-IBM authors are invited to submit papers for future issues of the IBM Journal of Research and Development on topics relevant to the scientific and technical content of the Journal. The next issue will highlight the fastest computer in the world -- IBM's supercomputer called Blue Gene. [VF]

ArXiv: Math [pdf, PostScript]

ArXiv is an e-print service owned, operated and funded by Cornell University, and partially funded by the National Science Foundation. The database includes articles online in the fields of physics, mathematics, nonlinear science, computer science, and quantitative biology. From the Mathematics section, visitors can search for related articles on topics by using an online search form with various search options. For example, articles can be retrieved by searching on recently posted abstracts within a particular topic or by author using the "form interface" or by words in the author, title or abstract fields using the link for the search function at the top of the webpage. The publications are each available in a variety of formats. [VF]


Statistical Education Through Problem Solving

Statistical Education Through Problem Solving (STEPS) was a collaborative project between seven universities throughout the United Kingdom "to develop problem-based teaching and learning materials for statistics." The materials draw on specific problems arising in Biology, Business, Geography and Psychology to help students learn that statistical issues are "important natural parts of the process of reaching conclusions." The software developed as a result of this project, which utilizes the computer and graphical illustration to support learning, is available to educational institutions free of charge and can be downloaded from this website. (Note that other organizations are expected to purchase the software.) A glossary of statistical terms is provided in the software program as well as on this website. Although the funding for the project ended in 1995 and the website was last updated in January 2004, the material is still current and useful for teaching statistics. The authors note that the STEPS modules are intended to be used to support existing coursework, and "not intended to replace lecturing staff or to provide a self-study course in statistics." [VF]

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: The Whole Frog Project [mpeg, QuickTime]

This Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory project demonstrates how computers "can teach some things better, either by themselves or through synergy with conventional methods." The Whole Frog Project uses 3D digital imaging to provide high school biology classes with the opportunity to explore the anatomy of a frog. The virtual frog dissection kit, a Web-based interactive program, uses "data from high resolution MRI imaging and from mechanical sectioning, together with 3D surface and volume rendering software to visualize the anatomical structures of the intact animal." Sample images from the kit are posted along with a description of the technical aspects of the program. Another goal of the project is to introduce the concepts of modeling and to show how 3D structures and images can be obtained, for example, from MRI imaging (biological specimens), X-ray CT imaging (industrial imaging of non-biological objects), and through "direct generation from mathematical descriptions." Movies of the frog and technical reports are available to download from the website and some of the data files can be accessed through an anonymous FTP site. Another fun feature of the website is the Virtual Frog Builder Game, which lets the user "interactively dissect a (digitized) frog named Fluffy." The online game is also available in Spanish, German, Dutch, French, Italian, and Portuguese. [VF]

Learning and Teaching Scotland: Connected [pdf, Windows Media Player, QuickTime]

Connected is an online magazine published by Learning and Teaching Scotland, "a national public body which provides guidance and support for teachers, school managers, local authorities, parents and others involved in education in Scotland." The articles featured here focus on ways to use information and communications technology (ICT) in learning, teaching and community development. The current issue is on 'New Teachers and ICT', and includes articles written by new and student teachers, reports from faculties of education, tips and links to useful websites. Some examples of topics addressed include using digital images in education, teaching with an interactive whiteboard, enhancing music with ICT and using an electronic voting system with parents. Teachers (and those from Scotland, in particular) are invited to comment on the articles by emailing the organization. [VF]

Responsive Classroom

The Responsive Classroom addresses some of the challenges present in any elementary classroom, be it first-grade mathematics or third-grade science, by offering "an approach to teaching and learning that fosters safe, challenging, and joyful classrooms and schools, kindergarten through eighth grade." Through this website, classroom teachers share "practical strategies for bringing together social and academic learning throughout the school day." They report that teachers in urban, rural, and suburban settings nationwide find that these strategies have increased student investment, responsibility, and learning, and decreased problem behaviors. Studies detailing the effectiveness of the program are posted on this website. The basic principles of the program are also described, but the books detailing their approach must be purchased. The newsletter, however, is available free of charge and the archive includes previously published articles, which can be searched by topic, such as technology in the classroom and family involvement. [VF]

Captain Astounding

This is a companion website to the Captain Astounding books, which are "richly illustrated" books intended to make mathematics enjoyable for undergraduate students and adult learners. The books are described as humorous stories addressing topics in math, which the website argues makes them not text books. The website provides information about the books, contests and useful links, as well as a section highlighting some math topics from the featured book. For February, 2005, the featured book is called The Power, "a highly entertaining saga about raising a positive number to a positive power." This Math Topics section provides a glimpse at the writing style used in the book to explain such topics as the square or cube of a number. [VF]

Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision Awards [RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, QuickTime]

ExploraVision is a competition sponsored by Toshiba, Inc. and the National Science Teachers' Association (NSTA). The competition, which is open to all students in grades K-12 attending a school in the U.S., Canada, U.S. territory or a Department of Defense school, provides students a chance to "develop skills that will prepare them well for the 21st century workplace." Through ExploraVision, students work in teams to select a technology, research how it works and why it was invented, and then give their projections for how that technology may change in the future. The website lists some of the previous winning ideas as "things as simple as ballpoint pens and as complex as satellite communications." As part of the competition, student finalists plan, design, and create Web pages to convey their ideas, which are then accessible from the ExploraVision website. More information on how to enter the competition and prizes awarded is provided on this website. The Tips for Teachers section offers some suggestions for ways to prepare students for the competition and video footage shows some highlights from the 2004 Awards Weekend in Washington, D.C. [VF]

Academy for Educational Development (AED)

The Academy for Educational Development (AED) (see also Scout report for June 30, 1995) released a report in the fall of 2004, which evaluated a teacher professional development program called Teacher Leaders for Mathematics Success, or TL=MS. The study "shows significant mathematics achievement gains among students in low-income schools in the Bronx, N.Y." after participation in the program. A summary of the findings and the full report are available from this website. The report provides an overview of the methodology and findings in terms of the impact on teachers and on students. Key components of the program are also described. [VF]

Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Technology Network

The Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Technology Network (SETNET), created by the British Department of Trade and Industry, "seeks to stimulate the interests of young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and in pursuing careers related to these subjects." Local networks partner with educational organizations, professional associations, research institutes, industry, government departments, and charities to "deliver high quality STEM activities and experiences to schools and young people." The website provides information on the group's program and publications documenting the program's effectiveness, as well as some external publications on issues relating to STEM education in the United Kingdom (UK). The links section, where SETNET has posted a database of "schemes and resources," is most likely to interest teachers beyond the U.K. Visitors can search the database or browse the list of lesson ideas, each of which includes links to online resources for developing, planning and communicating ideas, working with equipment, tools, evaluating processes and products, as well as useful materials and components, and resources for understanding of materials and components. [VF]


Wolfram Graphics Gallery [QuickTime]

Wolfram Research, creators of Mathematica software (see also NSDL Report for Math, Engineering, and Technology, July 16, 2004), have posted this gallery of images that demonstrate how "Mathematica has opened the door to a new kind of imagery that melds art and science." The colorful images in the gallery, created by Mathematica users around the world, are grouped by type: 2D Graphics, Polyhedra, Surfaces, and Animations. High resolutions images are available upon request, and in some cases there is an option to order a poster. [VF]

Energy Ideas Clearinghouse

The Energy Ideas Clearinghouse, managed by the Washington State University Extension Energy Program and supported by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, offers over 5,000 resources on energy efficiency. The resources are arranged by topic or by business type. Some of the topics include: appliances, heating/cooling, lighting, motors, and renewables. Businesses range from agricultural to residential to commercial. The website also has a section with links to recent news stories regarding energy issues in the Northwest region. Each day, a new question from their readers is posted along with an answer from an engineer, energy specialist, or research librarian. Past Q&A's are then integrated into the larger resource library. A large selection of factsheets are also available separately from the publications section and offer ideas for energy efficiency programs in utilities, commercial/industrial, and residential areas. [VF]

Predictions 2005

Gartner, Inc., which provides research and analysis on the global IT industry for clients worldwide, offers annual predictions for the year ahead in the areas of technology, application, and industry. This section of the website highlights the firm's 2005 predictions for technology. Some of the technologies addressed in this issue include open source software, public network infrastructure, and mobile and wireless technologies. The full document must be purchased, but visitors may browse through the summarized predictions free of charge. An Overview page also reviews some of the "significant technology events and trends" that will challenge or facilitate industry growth goals. Other reports offered by Gartner, such as Hype Cycles, which helps industry differentiate between hype and future technology, are also summarized. [VF]

PBS: Quantum Computing

This episode of the PBS program Closer to the Truth provides some insight into quantum computing technology. The program summary discusses some of the potential uses for quantum computing and features excerpts from the program in which researchers from IBM's Watson Research Center, MIT and UC Berkeley were interviewed. Visitors can also download video footage of the show and the transcript. Short definitions for key terms such as Tunneling, Superposition, Entanglement, and Quantum Mechanics are also provided. [VF]

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [pdf]

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers offers this gateway page to two websites providing information on its activities in the Gulf Region and Afghanistan. Posted on the sites are photos, stories and factsheets presenting the agency is conducting in these areas. Some examples projects underway include sewage system reconstruction and bridge building. The Gulf Region website includes a section on "postcards from Iraq," which offers "stories by our people about their efforts in Operation Iraqi Freedom" and a magazine called EssaysOn Forward, with photos and articles on reconstruction efforts. Another section provides information the "Repair and Continuity of Operations of the Iraqi Oil Infrastructure." Links the U.S. Army, Department of Defense, and related websites are also provided. [VF]

BBC: Birth of the Internet

In this article from the BBC Click Online, Robert Kahn, the Internet's co-inventor, "tells how it all began, when, as an assistant professor of electrical engineering at MIT, he took a leave of absence to brush up on his networking theory." The article gives a sense for the innovative work that went into creating the Internet and also discusses the lack of attention given to security issues early in the development process. He notes that, "we weren't worried about viruses because we were dealing with a very narrow research community that was 'colleagular'. " From this website, visitors will also be able to read about other articles and video footage from Click Online, which focuses on "lifstyle technology." [VF]

Sacred Geometry

The material on this website is used for a course taught at Dartmouth University called, Geometry in Art and Architecture. The website presents several images of "polygons, tilings & sacred geometry" along with descriptions of the geometric patterns. Although the text is obviously written for students who follow a particular course and hasn't been updated since 2002, the author provides some interesting examples of how the fields of art and mathematics overlap. Information on the author's book on the subject and bibliographical references are also posted for anyone wanting to explore this topic further. [VF]

Fossett's Makes Aviation History

This article from CNN reports on the first non-stop solo flight around the world, completed by Steve Fossett on March 3. The article provides some basic facts about the accomplishment, such as the distance (19,880 nautical-miles or 36,818 kilometers) and time (67 hours and two minutes). The touchdown is also described in detail as well as some highlights from the trip. A section on related links offers a gallery of photos and audio slide show of his "historic landing," which includes the voice of an air traffic controller clearing Fossett for landing and a Southwest Airlines pilot offering Fossett his congratulations. Note that the CNN website does have a few pop-up ads. [VF]

Topic In Depth

Technology and Religion

PBS: Can Religion Withstand Technology?
Institute for the Future Blog: Emerging Technologies and Their Social Implications
National Faculty Leadership Conference: Theology/Technology
TechNewsWorld: Technology and Religion
Wired: on Muslims and technology,1284,66305,00.html
Cornells Minister of Technology
Readings in Faith and Science

This issue of Topic in Depth explores the relationship between technology and religion in today's world. This first website, from PBS, features interviews with "a skeptic, a devout Muslim scientist, and an expert in the sociology of religion" who address the question, Can Religion Withstand Technology? (1). This blog from the Institute for the Future discusses how religion is making use of technology (2). One way that religion and technology interact, of course, is through the use of the Internet in communicating religious ideas, as is evidenced by this collection of websites listed on cybertheology (3 ), which also offers a number of articles on theology and technology. This next website from researcher at the University of Maryland (4) is "dedicated to illustrations of the trends to refer to and use metaphors from technology in conveying fundamental ideas in theology" and presents some of the data collected so far as part of this research project. In this article from TechNewsWorld (5), an associate deputy of interfaith relations for the Episcopal Church discusses his views on "the future of religion and technology -- and what he views as their joint role in the survival of humanity." Wired offers this perspective on how technology has impacted Islamic traditions (6). W. Kent Fuchs, Dean of Cornell University's College of Engineering, discusses the ways that religion and technology can help each other in this short article (7 ). Finally, this website (8) offers a large selection of articles specifically addressing Faith and Science from the Institute for Theological Encounter with Science & Technology. [VF]

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From The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2005.

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2005. 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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