The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 4, Number 7

April 8, 2005

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




Topic In Depth


Seville Game Theory Group [pdf, postscript]

Jesus Mario Bilbao Arrese, a Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Seville, heads the Seville Game Theory group (SGT). On this website, visitors will find a selection of publications by members of the group, including papers, preprints and PhD theses. The Blackboard section includes various position papers, mostly in Spanish, which address issues such as the value of using scientific methods to understand, design and analyze complex voting systems. The website also provides links to Economics and Mathematics associations, information on conferences on game theory, and links to related journals and book series. The Download area also provides links to online resources that address topics related to game theory. [VF]

Institute for Molecular Manufacturing

The Institute for Molecular Manufacturing (IMM) conducts and supports research on molecular systems engineering and molecular manufacturing (molecular nanotechnology, or MNT). The website provides information on the IMM research projects. Also posted here are IMM's "guidelines for research and development practices that will minimize risk from accidental misuse or from abuse of molecular nanotechnology." Some article preprints are also available to download free of charge. [VF]

International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos (IJBC)

The International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos is "widely regarded as the leading journal in the exciting field of chaos and nonlinear science." Feature articles from previous issues are available online as free samples, along with papers and letters, as long as you provide your name and email address. They also offer to send free emails with updates on the current issues's table of contents. Access to the full journal is available only by paid subscription. Links to information on related books and journals are also provided. [VF]

MIT Media Lab: Software Agents [pdf, Microsoft Word, QuickTime, Macromedia Flash Player, Windows Media Player, RealPlayer]

The Software Agents Group of the MIT Media Laboratory "investigates computer systems to which one can delegate tasks." Software agents are different from conventional software because they are "long-lived, semi-autonomous, proactive, and adaptive." Software Agents Group focuses on creating software that "acts as an assistant to the user rather than a tool, learning from interaction and proactively anticipating the user's needs." The website describes the group's various projects that use "common sense reasoning" to Enable the Semantic Web, to improve video came design, or to Find Cultural Differences in Text. Many of the descriptions include screenshots or video footage demonstrating the group's work, along with related publications. Various conference papers and journal article are also posted in the Publications section of the website. The resources section provides links to websites describing the Open Mind and ConceptNet projects, which form the foundation of the group's work. [VF]

UKQCD Collaboration

The goal of the UKQCD Collaboration is "to procure and jointly exploit computing facilities for lattice field theory calculations whose primary aim is to increase the predictive power of the Standard Model of elementary particle interactions through numerical simulation of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD)." Their website, hosted by the School of Physics of the University of Edinburgh, offers several articles that are intended to provide non-specialists information on their research. Other documents provide background information on testing lattice QCD codes and related topics, as well as links to other resources on lattice QCD. Some sections are password protected and only accessible by collaboration members. [VF]

Field Arithmetic Preprint Archive [dvi]

The Field Arithmetic electronic preprint archive "stores electronic preprints on the arithmetic of fields, Galois theory, model theory of fields, and related topics." Hosted by Ben Gurion University in Be'er-Sheva, Israel, the archive included over 50 articles at the time of this report. Each article is accompanied by an abstract and is available in .dvi (TeX) format A mailing list informs members when new preprints are added to the archive. [VF]

The Visual Math Institute [Java]

The Visual Math Project was founded in 1975 by Professor Ralph Abraham from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Ralph Abraham, who is now retired, formed a nonprofit organization called the Visual Math Institute (VMI) and continues to maintain its website. In the FAQ section, Abraham explains that Visual Math (VM) "refers to the coordination of multiple modes of intelligence and representation, cognitive styles, for the purpose of communication of mathematics." The FAQ section also includes information on Math Anxiety as well as an overview of mathematics, Euclid, and chaos theory. VMI's research, which is described further in the Research section, "is devoted to visual math research and education, including computation math, computer graphics, and interactive environments." The visual projects on Chaos, Euclid and Kepler provide overviews of related topics, information on useful references, and some visual demonstrations of the topics. [VF]

University of Toronto: Department of Civil Engineering

This website highlights civil engineering research projects from the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto. Its research projects are intentionally chosen for their potential to "make significant contributions, ensuring that the interests of society, the economy and the environment are well-served." Some examples of topics addressed by the various research projects include: Sustainable Infrastructure, Building Science, Concrete Materials, Engineering GeoScience, Structural Engineering, and Transportation Engineering and Planning. Included here are descriptions of specific projects, which in many cases are accompanied by photographs. For example, the Building Science section includes a "walking tour" of photos of various problems in buildings (i.e., rotting wood or moisture in masonry) along with a discussion of problem causes and solutions. [VF]


Kids Design the Future [pdf, QuickTime]

The Human Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland wants children to have "a voice in making new technology for kids." To meet this goal, the group have organized a technology design team which brings together children (ages seven to eleven) and researchers from computer science, education, art, robotics, and other disciplines to meet twice a week and work on projects together. The teams write papers and create new technologies, most of which are available free to download from this website. Information on the group's design process and approach to teaching and learning is also provided.

Alvirne High School: Calculus

The Calculus class at Alvirne High School in Hudson, N.H., encourages students to join in preparing for the Asvanced Placement Calculus exam. To provide students practice in Calculus, a new problem is posted each week and students are invited to send in their solutions. The following week, a detailed solution is then included in the archive of calculus problems from Alvirne High School. Guests are also invited to submit a problem of the week, and those problems are then included in a separate archive. The website also provides an extensive list of online resources for teachers and information on the AP Calculus exam. [VF]

Articles for Educators

Articles For Educators is a free resource offered by Virtu Software. On this website, teachers will find lesson plans, field trip ideas, tips and tricks for the classroom written by educators. Visitors can browse the directory of articles by subject or search for a specific topic. This section highlights Mathematics lesson plans written by math teachers and is organized into the following main sections: Competition, Fun with Numbers, and Miscellaneous. Membership, which is free, provides educators access to post articles, comment on other articles, or discuss subjects in the community forum. The website does include a few advertisements, but they do not overwhelm the website and its creator, a software developer who is also active in Christian ministry, also includes several Christian education links. [VF]

METRIC Math [Java]

Developed by individuals from the Mathematics Department and the Chemistry Department at the Imperial College in London, METRIC Maths aims to help students improve their math skills and knowledge. Visitors can download for free the Java-based program, which is geared towards advanced secondary level mathematics and as preparation for transitioning to University level mathematics. The program provides students an opportunity to "investigate mathematical ideas using METRIC's explorations," practice mathematical skills using their self-test exercises, or browse through course notes. A toolkit is also provided, which contains calculators, graph plotters and numerical tools. Note that the Teacher's Guide section of the website was not available at the time of this report, suggesting the project is a work in progress. [VF]

Museum of Science's Educator Resource Center

The Museum of Science's Educator Resource Center (ERC), based in Boston, MA, offers this website providing educators with "recommended and institutional Museum materials, all mapped to national and state standards, in order to increase the quality of science, technology, and engineering education." The collection includes a wealth of curriculum materials and science project resources focused specifically on engineering and technology education. Each lesson is evaluated in terms of usability, teacher support, and standards compliance. These evaluations and annotated comments from the evaluator provide insights into how useful the resource might prove in various learning environments. Visitors can search the collection using a variety of search criteria. Teachers in the Boston area can also use the online calendar of events to plan a field trip to the Museum of Science. [VF]

Houghton Mifflin: Beyond the Book

Offered by the educational publisher Houghton Mifflin, the Beyond the Book website is meant to be "an online leadership forum for superintendents and educators nationwide, dedicated to helping every child learn and every child succeed." The website is divided into sections where visitors can read about case studies written by "inspiring superintendents and teachers from across the country," insights on best practices, strategies and management methods, commentary and opinions on current events, issues, or trends in education, and highlights from national news coverage. Note that some of the news articles may require free registration to access. All of the articles address a variety of topics in education, including mathematics education and the use of technology in education. Educators are invited to contribute a case study or educator insight article, or to provide feedback and responses to any of the website content or articles in the project newsletter, which is emailed to subscribers weekly free of charge. [VF]

Educational Software Directory

Educational Software is an online directory that provides information on various software programs used in education. The website is hosted by KnowPlay, an online software store, which charges software makers to have their information posted here. The collection of programs and related websites can be searched using keywords or browsed by topic areas, which are: Children's, Games, Language Arts, Math, Multimedia, Music, Reference, Science, Social Studies, Special Needs, Teacher's, and Training. Other sections of the website provide links to organizations that offer online reviews of educational software, publishers of educational software, educational organizations involved in educational software, and online magazines, news sources, and related resources. [VF]

Unidata K-12 Weather Sites

Unidata is a community, consisting mostly of educators and researchers, which provides "data, tools, and community leadership for enhanced Earth-system education and research." In this section of the website, Unidata members suggest some of their favorite K-12 websites that educators can use to teach about weather. Along with each website link is a short description of the resource. Some websites are described as offering multimedia instructional resources and weather data, while others offer instructional modules or lesson ideas. SkyMath, for example, was developed in 1996 by Unidata and offers a free module that uses "everyday atmospheric science issues to teach math according to the national standards." [VF]


The Economist: Proof and Beauty in Mathematics

This article from the magazine The Economist argues that the notion of mathematical proof is now in flux and that "the use of computers to prove mathematical theorems is forcing mathematicians to re-examine the foundations of their discipline." The author discusses the differences between proofs conducted by hand and those conducted by computers, using the classification of finite simple groups as an example showing how some proofs are unverifiable. The article concludes with a discussion of two recent examples illustrating how computers have been used to prove important mathematical results in a changing field. [VF]

Women, Minorities and People with Disabilities in Engineering

This website, from the National Science Foundation, "provides data on the participation of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering education and employment." The site provides the data in the form of tables, graphics, and spreadsheets, which can downloaded free of charge. Topics addressed in the database include US Demographics, Undergraduate Enrollment, Undergraduate Degrees, Graduate Enrollment, Graduate Degrees, Postdoc Status, and Employment. The data can also be viewed by group, such as sex, race/ethnicity, minority women, and disability status. The section called Technical Notes provides information on reporting categories, primary data sources, and sampling errors. [VF]

Scientific American: Nanotechnology

This section of the Scientific American website highlights developments in nanotechnology. Compiled here are Scientific American news articles, feature articles and In Focus articles from as early as 1997 specifically addressing nanotechnology. Visitors to the website can read about nanoparticles, nanotubes, nanochips and how "the smallest technologies are shaping the future of science." [VF]

Technology Review: When the Web Was New

How has our understanding of the Web changed since 1995? This article from Technology Review, an MIT publication, gives readers a chance to consider this question. The author, an MIT graduate, reflects on "When the Web Was New" by posting an article he wrote in 1995. Presented with some graphic images, the article provides a look into the history of the World Wide Web and related technology. Reflecting back, the author states, "how easy it is to forget that many of the technologies that structure our lives today are less than a decade old." [VF]

Home Power Magazine [pdf]

Home Power Magazine has been a resource for "home-scale renewable energy and sustainable living solutions" since 1987. Articles from the current issue of the magazine are available to download free of charge on this website. Some older articles are also posted in the Downloads section. For visitors wanting to find out what back issue to purchase, the HP archive includes a search function and purchasing information. Topics addressed include solar, wind, and microhydro electricity, home-energy efficiency, solar hot water systems, space heating and cooling, green building materials and home design, and efficient transportation. The information is intended to help home owners make informed decisions about home energy use by providing extensive product information, homeowner testimonials, buyer advice, and "how-to" instructions. Contributors include do-it-yourself homeowners, "innovative idealists," licensed electricians, and "pragmatic policymakers." The Resources section provides some background information on renewable energy, such as a glossary, recent news coverage, and updates on renewable energy companies in the stock market. Information on renewable energy events and energy fairs around the world can be found in the Events section. [VF]

Internet Culture

Martin Ryder, a technologist, self-proclaimed Luddite, and educator affiliated with the University of Colorado at Denver School of Education has compiled this list of online resources on Internet Culture. The resources are organized by topic areas, which include, for example, history, virtual architecture, Internet communities, psychology, norms, gender, and political structures. The Other Resources section refers to websites addressing issues such as The Digital Divide, a Theory of Technology, and Teaching and Learning on the Internet. [VF]

Technology, Intellectual Property and Real Estate Finance

The work of Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner LLP is "organized along legal disciplines and industry segments." Through their work, the attorneys critically examine the business and legal issues that their clients in various industries face and they "have authored what many consider the authoritative guides on specific areas of information technology law." Posted here are articles on a range of legal topics including bioinformatics, construction, information technology, and outsourcing. Visitors are also invited to join the electronic mailing list for white papers or electronic newsletters. [VF]

International Human Powered Vehicle Association

The International Human Powered Vehicle Association is an association of national associations and organizations who are "dedicated to promoting improvement, innovation and creativity in the use of human power, especially in the design and development of human-powered vehicles." The website provides updates on the world of human-powered vehicles, such as upcoming world championships and innovations in bicycle technology. The Source Guide includes links to directories with details on human-powered vehicle providers and companies selling materials needed for bicycle builders. The Library provides information on video, software, books and periodicals, while the Builder's Corner section offers how-to articles and guides. Information on human-powered vehicle races and schools with Human Powered Vehicle programs is also provided. [VF]

Topic In Depth

Forensic Engineering

National Academy of Forensic Engineers
Institution of Structural Engineers: Paris Airport Collapse
Materials Evaluation and Engineering, Inc.: Forensic Engineering Investigations
Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science
Engineering Forensics Research Institute
Glendale High School Civil Structures Module

The National Academy of Forensic Engineers (1) provides a short definition of forensic engineering as: "the application of the art and science of engineering in matters which are in, or may possibly relate to the jurisprudence system, inclusive of alternative dispute resolution." Specialty areas in forensic engineering include fire investigation, industrial accidents, product liability, traffic accidents, civil engineering and transportation disasters, and environmental systems failures. For example, forensic engineers investigate structural collapses, such as the 2004 Paris Airport collapse described in this article from the Institution of Structural Engineers (2) This website from Materials Evaluation and Engineering, Inc. (3) points out that materials engineering is useful in product failure analysis because many products fail due to materials problems. Given the role forensic engineers play in legal disputes, research in forensic engineering is also a topic on this engineering ethics website (4). (5 ) offers The Forensic Center Newsletter, which aims "to stimulate interdisciplinary efforts and research that unite, explore, and advance knowledge in the broad areas of law, medicine, and forensic sciences." This website from the Engineering Forensics Research Institute provides some examples of current research in forensic engineering (6). Finally, Glendale High School offers this Civil Structures Module (7) as a resource for teaching about topics related to forensic engineering, using the 1981 Kansas City Hyatt Regency walkway collapse as an example for analysis. [VF]

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