The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 4, Number 8

April 22, 2005

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




Topic In Depth


The Web Robots Pages

Martin Koster, a software engineer working in the United Kingdom, maintains this website about Web robots. Web robots, also known as Web Wanderers, Crawlers, or Spiders, are "programs that traverse the Web automatically." The website provides information on how Web robots operate, how they feed search engines, and ways to steer them away from (or to) your pages. Also available from this website is a database of currently known robots, with descriptions and contact details. For more information on technical aspects of designing, building, and operating Web robots, visitors can read discussions from an archived mailing list, browse some older articles and papers posted, or follow links to related websites. [VF]

Journal of Online Behavior

The Journal of Online Behavior (JOB) "is concerned with the empirical study of human behavior in the online environment, and with the impact of evolving communication and information technology upon individuals, groups, organizations, and society." The peer-reviewed articles cross science and social science disciplinary boundaries as well as geographical boundaries. The electronic version of the journal, which is available free of charge, includes an interactive discussion space. Some topics addressed in the articles and research reports include comparative media effects on communication processes and outcomes; social-cognitive dynamics and their effects presented by online interaction; temporal and longitudinal analyses of media influences and adaptation; and media usage and effects by and among ethnic and cultural groups. [VF]

EERE: Inventions and Innovations [pdf]

The US Department of Energy's (DOE's) Inventions and Innovation (I&I) website is a resource for inventors interested in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. The Inventions and Innovation (I&I) offers "financial and technical support to inventors and businesses for promising energy-saving concepts and technologies." Grant application information is available from this website along with several other resources, such as handbooks, directories and factsheets. Some examples of topics covered in the factsheets, which are free to download, include solar energy, wind, hydropower, hydrogen fuel cells, and vehicle technologies. The EnergyTech database, available from this website, provides online resources that pertain to every stage of energy technology development and commercialization. The News and Events sections are updated regularly with information on upcoming conferences and recent developments by I&I grantees. [VF]

Advanced Topics in Aerodynamics

This web site, authored by Antonio Filippone, a researcher affiliated with The University of Manchester's Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, Civil Engineering, is a well-organized resource on aerodynamics, aeronautics and propulsion systems. The information provided here may appeal to those with a general interest in aerodynamics, as well as those with a relatively advanced understanding of aerodynamics and fluid dynamics. Each topic area begins with graphics, figures, tables, and summary overviews before continuing on to a more in-depth discussion of the topic. Additional references and reviews of those texts are also provided for those interested in further reading on the subject. The Data Base section includes tables with wing aspect ratios, drag coefficients and levels, rotor performance data, and engine data, as well as links to sections of the website that provide other aerodynamics-related data. A site map and search function makes this an easy website to navigate. [VF]

Geometric Modeling and Industrial Geometry [pdf, zip]

The Geometric Modeling and Industrial Geometry group is part of the Institute of Discrete Mathematics and Geometry at the Vienna University of Technology. The group's goal is "to bridge the gap between academic and industrial research in geometry" by "performing application oriented fundamental research and industrial research closely connected to geometry." Its work currently emphasizes the recognition, inspection, manipulation, and design of geometric shapes. Short descriptions of the group's work and some articles are available on the academic research, covering topics such as Computational Line Geometry, Laguerre Geometry, approximation in the space of planes, the isophotic metric, and swept volumes. Visitors can also read about the group's industrial research on 3-D Computer Vision, reverse Engineering, and Industrial Inspection. The Application Areas section includes more articles and provides actual data from some of the objects it has scanned along with the resulting 3-D images. [VF]

Cornell University: Project Euclid [pdf]

Project Euclid, available through the Cornell University Library, is "a user-centered initiative to create an environment for the effective and affordable distribution of serial literature in mathematics and statistics." The project is a collaborative partnership with scholarly publishers, professional societies, and academic libraries. The goal is to provide full-text searching, reference linking, interoperability through the Open Archives Initiative, and long-term retention of data. Visitors can "Tour Euclid" to read more about the functionality of the website, including the different options for access. Some publishers require a paid subscription, while others may offer a pay-per-view option or free downloads. Multiple linking options make this a dynamic database. The website has a simple search function and the option to browse the database by journal title, publisher or discipline. A News section provides updates on the project and newly added journals. [VF]


The ROADNet project at the University of California at San Diego aims to bring "the information superhighway to the dirt road and the high seas." In other words, ROADNet researchers are working to build wireless networks to stream remote field data and then develop an integrated information management system to deliver the data in real-time to multiple users. The website describes some of ROADNet's field research studies, which provide a heterogeneous test bed for developing the proposed integrated information network. Field studies in California include ecological and hydroclimate studies as well as projects on coastal and ocean monitoring. Information on the project's data management tools and technical advice for those working to develop sensors is posted here. Visitors to the website can also view video footage of real-time data from the project's field projects and get updates on which projects in the network are online. Publications, presentations and photos provide additional background information on the project and its research. [VF]

CAD Resources Library

This section of Virtual Library, started by Tim Berners-Lee, provides educational resources on CAD. CAD software, used for drafting architectural and engineering drawings and for making technical illustrations in general, is widely used by engineering professionals and students. The website provides links to "important CAD resources associated with the CAD industry." The resources are organized into the following sections: Organizations Associated with CAD; CAD Research and Artificial Intelligence Links; CAD Directories, Gateways and News Centers; Important CAD Review Resources; CAD Magazines, Journals and Newsletters; and CAD Software Programs. Visitors are invited to make recommendations for additions to the library. [VF]


Teacher-To-Teacher Workshops [Windows Media Player]

Teacher-to-Teacher Workshops are closed-captioned video footage from previously held workshops provided by the US Department of Education. The workshops "brought together some of the nation's most effective teachers and education experts to share with their colleagues research-based practices and proven methods of using data to inform instruction." The video courses can be viewed either online or on the Florida Education Channel. By completing the free enrollment process, teachers have access to the professional development courses and the electronic Professional System, or ePDC, which is a personal portfolio that will document a teachers' professional development. The courses cover English/Language Arts and Math/Science instruction as well as some topics broadly applicable to all educators, such as basics on No Child Left Behind, Building Teacher Leaders and Differentiated Instruction. [VF]

Mathematics Awareness Month: Mathematics and the Cosmos [pdf]

April 2005 is Mathematics Awareness Month, which is sponsored each year by the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics "to recognize the importance of mathematics through written materials and an accompanying poster that highlight mathematical developments and applications in a particular area." In addition to the free poster, which can be downloaded or requested by mail, the website also offers various "theme essays." This year's essays address topics such as the mathematical study of the cosmos, mathematical models, and celestial mechanics. A limited number of complimentary copies of a DVD in which astronaut Michael Foale provides his personal account of the experience on Mir and explains the mathematical methods involved in the rescue mission can also be ordered through this website. A section on Related Resources provides links to numerous other online articles addressing this year's theme: mathematics and the cosmos. Institutions are invited to submit information on their Mathematics Awareness events so they can be included in the listing of activities going on across the United States for Mathematics Awareness month. [VF]

Microsoft: Personal Energy Meter

Microsoft's Education website offers several instructional resources, such as lesson plans and tutorials. Not suprisingly, the lessons and tutorials make use of Microsoft software products. The objectives for this lesson on measuring energy costs are: to analyze the amount and cost of energy used for personal day-to-day activities; to explore methods for and effects of conserving personal energy; and to advocate for better energy conservation. Students use Excel to keep track and analyze data they collect from one week of energy tracking at home. Among the resources provided by Microsoft is a Personal Energy Meter spreadsheet that students can use for this project. The website includes a step by step description of the activity along with links to some related online resources. [VF]

The Peanut Software [pdf]

The Peanut Software website is a data-sharing project through which teachers share material they wrote as they used Peanut Software to teach mathematics. A link from this website provides access to the free Peanut Software. The instructions and tutorials posted on this website were written by users of the Peanut programs, which were written by Rick Parris, of Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. Most of the investigations described by teachers focus on plotting and geometry. The programs are frequently updated. Some materials are also available in French and in Portuguese. [VF]

How Games are Reshaping Business and Learning

This website features presentations made at a conference sponsored by eInnovate and held on January 20, 2005, on "How Games are Reshaping Business and Learning." The conference presenters discussed the "gamer generation" and explored the "profound ways in which 'games' are forever reshaping teaching and learning in the business environment." Other questions addressed through the paper and video footage from the conference include: "Why are video games setting a new standard for learning?"; "How, and why, do modern video games reflect cutting-edge research on learning?"; and "What are the implications for the workplace and learning?" The paper, written by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Laboratory, describes "an approach to the design of learning environments that builds on the educational properties of games, but deeply grounds them within a theory of learning appropriate for an age marked by the power of new technologies." [VF]

Milken Math: Mike's Math Club

Mike's Math Club, sponsored by the Milken Family Foundation, is "a curriculum enrichment program that shows elementary school students that math can be useful and entertaining." Visitors to the website are introduced to the Math Club Team through short personal descriptions and photos. The team of full-time teacher-mentors visit children in public schools in California and communicate via mail with students in Michigan. Through "secret codes" and an online decoding program, individual students in the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Caribbean islands of Grenada, Trinidad, and St. Vincent also join Mike's Math Club and and correspond with each other. Various math games and activities are available in the "Do The Math" section of the website. A key theme is to engage students in learning how to use logic and deductive reasoning to create strategies and solve problems. [VF]

Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Week

The 2005 Excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education (ESTEME) Week, April 11-16, 2005, is an annual event sponsored by the US Department of Education (ED) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) along with other US government agencies and scientific societies. The activities during ESTEME Week provided "an opportunity for the nation's schools to focus on improving math and science education." The website lists activities and events held during this week and provides links to a variety of websites with educational resources. Engineering, which was a new basic topic area added this year, is highlighted as "a profession that can take you from the depths of the ocean to the far reaches of space, from within the microscopic structures of the human cell to the top of the tallest skyscrapers." Most of the website resources are in the Website Gallery, but the Educator link also features selected Webquests. A section for parents lists a variety of games, activities, and articles that parents can use to help them support their children and help students explore career options. [VF]

Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching: INTERMEP [pdf]

This website features a variety of projects and products produced by the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching (CIMT) at the University of Exeter. For example, the Mathematics Enhancement Program is an ongoing project to develop and trial a new mathematics course with primary schools in the United Kingdom. Results from diagnostic tests are posted online along with the instructional units and related curriculum materials. The International Project on Mathematical Attainment is a longitudinal, international study of mathematical attainment, which follows students in several countries from their first year in school onwards. The tests used in the study and conference reports from 1999, 2002 and 2003 are posted online. Also available here is the International Journal for Mathematics Teaching & Learning, which is published only in electronic form and "aims to enhance mathematics teaching for all ages (and abilities) up to 18 years, through relevant articles, reviews and information from around the world." They invite anyone involved in the teaching of mathematics to contribute. The section called The Complete CIMT Index offers links to a variety of instructional resources and descriptions of other projects associated with the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching. [VF]


Animation Magazine

This online magazine is all about animation and features regular articles, reviews of films and books, and profiles about people in the industry and tutorials. Articles in the current issue address topics such as "the impact of new technology on performance and the future roles of technology, new and old" and international perspectives on Bridging the Cultural Divide in Digital Entertainment. The tutorials cover topics such as how to make 3-D characters come to life and making molds. The Special Features articles report on gaming, production, technology and voice acting. Past issues are also available and can be searched by key word or sorted by category. Numerous other links are listed for more information on animation, resources for education, and listings of upcoming events and contests. [VF]

Carnegie Mellon: Alan and Danny's Puzzle Page [pdf]

Alan Frieze and Danny Sleator, professors from Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science, are the hosts of this website of puzzles. Every few weeks, they post a new puzzle and a few weeks later, they post the solution and related references. The fairly advanced puzzles generally involve constructing an algorithm or a proof, and some also involve writing a computer program to solve them. Previously posted puzzles and their solutions are also available here. [VF]


InterConnection is an organization that "works to make Internet technology accessible to non-profit organizations in developing countries." With the help of Virtual Volunteers, the group provides Internet services, primarily website development, to clients worldwide. The website provides information on how to become a Virtual Volunteer and describes the group's other services, such as refurbishing computers and IT training. The articles posted here provide updates on recent projects by InterConnection, such as the status of a project to deliver hundreds of computers to the Kurdish region of Iraq, and discuss topics such as technology in developing countries, sustainable development, and ecotourism. Note that the video Virtual Tour of the Center works only in Internet Explorer. [VF]

NASA: How Does This Work? [RealPlayer]

The videos on this website from NASA demonstrate how things developed and used at NASA work, including such things as solid rocket boosters, space shuttle main engines, and parachutes. The website is intended to "showcase the creativity and dedication that allow the challenges of space flight to become some of our greatest achievements." The videos footage and silted graphics are accompanied by narration and printed subtitles. [VF]

Resources for the Future: Wholesale Electricity Markets and Policy [pdf]

In this article, Tim Brennan, a senior fellow at Resources for the Future, provides an overview of Wholesale Electricity Markets and Policy. Based in Washington, D.C., Resources for the Future (RFF), is an "independent institute dedicated exclusively to analyzing environmental, energy, and natural resource topics." (See also Scout Report from August 23, 1998.) The article is adapted from a book by Brennan published by RFF. In the article, Brennan discusses the challenges and benefits of "replacing regulation with competition" and provides an overview of the electricity market. He concludes that "while reasons for optimism exist, policy-makers should always keep in mind that electricity's crucial nature and unique characteristics may render it unsuitable for extensive competition." The Publications section includes numerous other Discussion Papers, Issue Briefs and Reports on environmental topics which are available free of charge. [VF]

Drexel University: Archimedes

Chris Rorres, a retired professor from the Department of Mathematics at Drexel University and currently a part-time lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine, maintains this site all about Archimedes. The main page of the website provides some quick facts about Archimedes, such as his inventions (i.e., war machines) and fields of science he is credited with initiating (i.e., hydrostatics and static mechanics). Often called the "father of integral calculus," Archimedes wrote about topics such as plane equilibriums, quadrature of the parabola, the sphere and cylinder, spirals, conoids and spheroids, floating bodies, and measurement of a circle. These and other topics are explored further in the articles and online resources. Some sections provide background on his life, his death, and feature collections of pictures of Archimedes and stamps of Archimedes. [VF]

Women Tech World

Women Tech World is "the online home" for the Women's Technician Club, which connects women technicians with each other. In the section featuring Role Models, the organization posts biographies, stories and photos of "wonderful women who have succeeded in occupations ranging from auto technician to computer network engineer to detective and more." Women are invited to add their biographies to this list of role models from across the US, representing all ages and races. The website and projects are run by the Institute for Women in Trades, Technology & Science (IWITTS), a nonprofit organization based in Alameda, Calif. The Community section of the website provides information on how to join its electronic mailing lists, message boards, or e-mentoring groups. The Career Center provides an overview of careers for technicians, such as engineering, telecommunications, or installation maintenance and repair. [VF]

Children Now: Media Policy [pdf]

Children Now is an independent, nonpartisan organization, the goal of which is to ensure "that children grow up in economically secure families, where parents can go to work confident that their children are supported by quality health coverage, a positive media environment, a good early education, and safe, enriching activities to do after school." This section of the website features the group's research on children and the media. Recent reports posted here include one entitled, Digital Television: Sharpening the Focus on Children, which addresses the FCC's ruling that will "improve children's television as the nation's broadcasters make the transition to digital television (DTV)" by providing access to educational television programming that parents are able to identify as educational. Additional articles on media legislation affecting children are also posted here. [VF]

Topic In Depth

3-D Simulations

Stanford University: Folding@home
Center for Automation in Nanobiotech: Nanorobotics
University of Texas Austin: Robotics Research Group
EdCenter: Interactive 3D Modelling
EuclideanSpace: Building a 3D World
The Breve Simulation Environment
Cyberbotics, Ltd.: Webots (TM)

Three-dimensional (3-D) rendering and animation technology is not only used for entertainment, but also for research and educational purposes. The technology can be used for purposes of scientific simulation in fields such as physics, biology, or chemistry. For example, Stanford University's Folding@home project (1) uses 3-D simulations and distributed computing to study protein folding, misfolding, aggregation, and related diseases. Three-D simulations can also be used to observe phenomena that would normally be impossible to scrutinize in detail, as is demonstrated on this website on Nanorobotics (2). This next website describes work by the Robotics Research Group (3) in using 3-D simulations to enhance undergraduate and graduate engineering education. The EdCenter (4) makes available several compressed files of 3-D simulations that model earthquake data, Mars, a San Diego Fly Through, and more. On this website (5 ), Martin Baker provides "all you need to know about 3D theory" and this website (6) provides access to a free open-source software package which "makes it easy to build 3-D simulations of decentralized systems and artificial life." This last article from Cyberbotics, Ltd. (7) discusses how mobile robotics simulation programs can be used to design robots. [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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