The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 4, Number 9

May 6, 2005

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




Topic In Depth

Research [pdf] is the official website of a research project hosted at the School of Mathematical Sciences at Queen Mary, University of London, and funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The goal of the project is "to cover theoretical, computational, and statistical aspects of combinatorial designs" and to develop an online database of various resources for Design Theory. The library includes an Encyclopaedia of Design Theory (which is still under development), documentation on The External Representation of Designs, and various preprints, research reports, and books. The site also provides a database of (binary, connected) block designs and free software packages for the creation, analysis, and application of combinatorial/statistical designs. [VF]

Modeling & Simulation [pdf]

Modeling & Simulation is a journal published by The Society for Modeling and Simulation International. The Society has made its 2004 Modeling and Simulation Resource Guide available free to download. The directory provides descriptions and contact information for the many modeling and simulation software packages currently available, as well as listings for various modeling and simulation organizations worldwide. Two guest articles describe techniques for the application of real-time simulation in simulations that are complex. Previously published articles are also posted in the online archive. [VF]

Calit2: Live Webcasts [RealPlayer]

The California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) conducts research on the scientific and technological components needed to "extend the reach of the Internet throughout the physical world." (See also report on Mathematics, Engineering and Technology, March 15, 2002) This section of the Institute website features live webcasts and video footage of guest speakers who visited the Institute. Topics range from robot design to Internet plagues, and from Telematics to the Internet marketplace. Upcoming live webcasts for May 2005 will address Non-Magnetic Data Storage Principles, Potential and Problems; Quantum Codes: Constructions and Parameters; and Biotechnology Entrepreneurship. [VF]

University of Maryland: Graphics and Visual Informatics Laboratory [pdf]

The University of Maryland's Graphics and Visual Informatics Laboratory (GVIL), which is part of the Department of Computer Science and the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, promotes research and education in computer graphics, scientific visualization, and virtual environments. Its goal is "to improve the efficiency and usability of visual computing applications in science, engineering, and medicine." The website provides descriptions of various projects, which study the design of algorithms and data structures appropriate for very large graphics datasets, as well as issues related to distributed graphics datasets, the influence of heterogeneous display, and rendering devices over the visual computing pipeline. Specific applications are also described, such as protein folding and rational drug design, navigation and interaction with mechanical CAD datasets, and ubiquitous access to distributed three-dimensional graphics datasets. Various publications are also available to download free of charge. [VF]

Nexus Journal: Architecture and Mathematics Online

The Nexus Network Journal is a peer-reviewed research journal on studies in architecture and mathematics. The publication, which comes out twice yearly, is divided into the following sections: Research Articles, Didactics, Geometer's Angle, Book and Article Reviews, Conference and Exhibit Reports, Virtual Library, Submission Guidelines, and Readers' Queries. Research articles address broad topics such as, "How Should We Study Architecture and Mathematics?" and more specific topics such as an analysis of Palladio's buildings. (Note that a few articles are in languages other than English.) The Didactics section includes articles on instructional issues and student projects related to studies of architecture and mathematics. The Geometer's Angle (TM) section includes musings of a featured "Geometer." Readers are invited to post queries and responses in the Readers' Queries section of the website. Orders placed for books through the Virtual Library help fund the Nexus Network Journal. [VF]

Texas A&M University: Energy Systems Laboratory [pdf]

Texas A&M University's Energy Systems Laboratory (ESL) is a division of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station and is affiliated with the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the College of Architecture. The Laboratory, which was established in 1939, today continues to work on developing and transferring energy-efficiency technology. Its research projects, funded largely by grants, focus on metering and modeling energy use in buildings; optimization of heating, ventilation, and cooling systems; and modeling and analysis of other data it collects. The website describes the lab's research and educational programs. The Resources section provides links to related national laboratories, university research centers, energy societies and international entities, a listing of publications by ESL faculty, staff and students along with ordering information, and descriptions of the software packages it has developed. The ESL software applications can be used to calculate and analyze energy use and are available for evaluation or purchase. [VF]

Virtual Reality Lab [pdf, Microsoft PowerPoint, mpeg]

The Virtual Reality Lab (VRlab) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) focuses on the modelling and animation of Three-Dimensional Inhabited Virtual Worlds. The VRlab "is a world leader laboratory in real-time Virtual Humans and a key player in the area of multimodal interaction, immersive Virtual Environments, and Augmented Reality." Based on physical laws, artificial intelligence and behavioral laws, the lab is able to develop models for walking, grasping, motion synchronization, collision detection and perception. The website provides background on its research areas, which are divided into the following categories: motion control, augmented reality, vision, virtual reality, standards, behavioral animation, medical simulation, and multimodal interaction. The Multimedia section provides demonstrations of the lab's work in these areas. Visitors may also enjoy browsing through the descriptions of semester and master projects or reading final reports and presentations completed by students' working in the VRlab. Some of the VRlab's European and National collaborative projects are also described. The Publications section includes a bibliography of VRlab Members' journal articles, conferences proceedings and books, some of which are available to download free of charge.

Kinematic Models for Design Digital Library [pdf, QuickTime]

The Kinematic Models for Design Digital Library (K-MODDL) is a collaborative effort of Cornell University librarians and faculty in Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics to provide open access, multimedia resources for learning and teaching about Kinematics. The website provides an overview of Kinematics, which is "the geometry of pure motion," along with a discussion of its history and contribution to a theory of machines. Funded by the National Science Digital Library of the National Science Foundation (NSF), K-MODDL is intended as "a pedagogical space" for use by teachers and researchers, and learners of all levels. The key feature of K-MODDL is the Reuleaux Collection of Mechanisms and Machines, which includes several interactive photographic animations and descriptions that illustrate kinematic mechanisms. Visitors may browse the models in the collection by category, or search by title words or by keyword (in English or German). Also available are educational tutorials, historical and contemporary texts related to the history and theory of machines and mechanisms, biographical information on important players in the history of machines and the field of kinematics, and finally, stereolithography files for printing working physical replicas. [VF]


Ethnomathematics Digital Library

The Ethnomathematics Digital Library (EDL) is "a resource network and interactive learning community for ethnomathematics, with emphasis on the indigenous mathematics of the Pacific region." The collaborative project is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and overseen by Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL). Based on the premise that "mathematical ideas are mental constructs created by individuals and groups in response to cultural activities" (such as navigation, building, and trade) the group identifies, reviews, seeks copyright clearance, digitizes, indexes, and archives ethnomathematics materials that they consider high quality. There are about 700 items in this growing collection, which visitors may search by keyword or browse by subject, geographical area, or cultural group. [VF]

InterActive Education

InterActive Education at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom aims to address the challenges related to "teaching and learning in the information age." Its research has focused on ways to enhance teaching and learning across the curriculum from primary to post-16 levels of schooling. The project is currently drafting the final report of findings, but provides periodic updates on this website. The website also describes the project and its five research themes: educational policy and management of ICT, teaching and learning theory, the role of subject cultures in mediating ICT use, teachers and professional development, and learners' out of school uses of ICT. [VF]

Engineering Education Service Center

The Engineering Education Service Center (EESC) aims to promote engineering for K-16 education. Its consulting services, workshops, and publications, which include books, software and DVDs are available for purchase only. However, the website does offer some online resources that are free of charge. For example, a camp directory lists numerous residential camps for high school students in science, mathematics, and engineering throughout the United States that are or were previously offered. Other directories list accredited technology and engineering programs, pre-engineering competitions, and scholarships, along with links to related websites. Also available from this website is the monthly e-newsletter, Pre-Engineering Times, a publication of JETS, which provides career guidance and resources for students, parents, and educators. [VF]

Edutopia [pdf]

The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF), which "documents and disseminates information about exemplary programs in K-12 schools to help these practices spread nationwide" provides this website, Edutopia. The website and the organization's magazine and documentaries are intended to "celebrate the unsung heroes across our nation who are making 'Edutopia' a reality." Recognizing that for innovations to spread, educators and parents, as well as business and community leaders, must see them and understand them, the organization offers the Documentary Gallery, which helps visitors visualize what these innovations look like. The extensive collection of online videos is complemented by articles, research summaries, and links to relevant websites, books, organizations, and other publications. The materials are organized onto webpages designed for a particular audience (students, teachers, business and community leaders, parents, and policy-makers) on through pages highlighting the thirteen topics the organization has identified as critical elements in public education (Assessment, Business Partnerships, Community Partnerships, Digital Divide, Emotional Intelligence, Mentoring, Ongoing Professional Development, Parent Involvement, Project-Based Learning, School-To-Career, Teacher Preparation, Technology Integration, and Technology Professional Development). [VF]

Royal Economic Society: Computers at Home, Bad News for Educational Outcomes

This report, dated October 2004, was presented in March at the Royal Economic Society's 2005 Annual Conference at the University of Nottingham. The paper, entitled "Computers and Student Learning," was written by Thomas Fuchs and Ludger Woessmann from the Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich and reports on findings from a study that used data provided by PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) to examine the relationship between computers and student learning. Although the initial release of the data seemed to indicate a positive correlation between computer availability and educational performance, these authors examined the data more deeply and found that "computers in the classroom have no discernible positive effect on children's educational performance while computers at home could actually be detrimental." In their analysis, they suggest that computers at home are not necessarily used for educational purposes but rather for playing games, chatting and otherwise providing entertainment, which ends up displacing other activities more conducive to learning. At schools, they find that little computer use correlates with poor performance, moderate computer use with higher performance, and frequent computer use with poor performance, concluding that displacement of more effective teaching methods may also occur with more frequent use of a computer in the classroom. They conclude that, "the trick seems to be what you do with the computer, not its mere availability." [VF]

Bilingual Mathematics Dictionary

This website, maintained by Dr. Denise Meeks, Faculty and Department Chair of Science & Mathematics at Pima Community College in Arizona, provides an English-Spanish dictionary, or glossary, of mathematical terms. It is intended to facilitate the teaching of mathematics to students whose primary language may be Spanish. The Bibliography lists the Spanish language mathematics texts, bilingual dictionaries, and Latin-American technical magazines and journals that were used to check the terms for accuracy and practical mathematics usage. New terms are still being added and students and teachers are invited to provide comments, corrections, criticisms or suggestions using the short User Survey form. [VF]

World Lecture Hall

The World Lecture Hall is maintained by the Center for Instructional Technologies, a unit of the Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment, at The University of Texas at Austin and serves as "your entry point to free online course materials from around the world." Visitors may search this collection by keyword or browse by study area, which includes an extensive list of subjects such as aviation, mechanical engineering and statistics. Each entry is linked to webpages created by university faculty worldwide who are using the Web to deliver courses, although the courses listed here are not necessarily delivered entirely over the Internet. Materials can be posted in any language and submitted using a simple online form. [VF]

Children's Literature in the Mathematics Classroom

The Children's Literature in the Mathematics Classroom website is part of the Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication, an information repository available through the Indiana University School of Education, which provides resources in Language Arts. This section of the repository provides an introduction to children's literature in the mathematics classroom. The collection of materials available here were assembled from the World Wide Web, ERIC Database, and a variety of other bibliographic resources. (Note that instructions on how to order the ERIC documents are provided at the bottom of the website, but other resources are free). From this website, visitors can also reach a variety of other literacy resources, including a collection of links on Technology in Literacy Education listed in the "categorically arranged listing of bibliographies." [VF]


Sloan Career Cornerstone Center [pdf]

The Sloan Career Cornerstone Center is "a non-profit resource center for those exploring career paths in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics." For each discipline the website provides students a sense for what it's like to be a mathematician, engineer, or technician in industry, business, or government. The website includes a collection of profiles of individuals working in these fields, including details on their educational background and job descriptions as well as video footage of interviews. Other features of the website include an overview of applications for each discipline, ranges of compensation for jobs in the field, and descriptions of the sectors in which they might work. Resources and advice on how to prepare for and research jobs, as well as ways to continue one's professional development, are also provided. The Day in the Life section reviews some typical problems, work environments, skills, activities, and offers additional advice for career seekers. The Center offers all this information on a variety of engineering careers including Aerospace Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Engineering Technology, and Nuclear Engineering. Additional fields, including those in the life sciences, will be added in the future. The content on the website was originally part of a CD-ROM and video series completed with contributions from various national organizations and associations. [VF]

Renewable Energy Trust

The Renewable Energy Trust, which was created by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1998, is administered by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, a statewide quasi-public economic development agency. The Collaborative "seeks to maximize environmental and economic benefits for the Commonwealths citizens by pioneering and promoting clean energy technologies and fostering the emergence of sustainable markets for electricity generated from renewable sources." The website provides information on the Trust's various programs and activities. The Energy Information section of the website provides more information about renewable energy and suggestions for what energy users can do as well as resources for teaching students about renewable energy and global warming. [VF]

Digital Village Radio [RealPlayer, mp3]

KPFK's Digital Village broadcasts weekly out of North Hollywood and is supported by the Pacifica Radio Foundation (and listener pledges). The show, hosted by volunteers Ric Allan and Doran Barons, is about computers, the Internet, and "how the technology is changing the way we communicate." Previously aired shows are available to download from the online archive. Other features of the website include a blog, which highlights articles and news stories across the Internet, and a "bookshelf," where they provide information on the books by guests that have been on the show, as well as books by authors they just find interesting. [VF]

Bridges and Tunnels of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania

Technophile Bruce S. Cridlebaugh has compiled this website of information on the bridges and tunnels of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh to satisfy his curiosity. The information featured here has been primarily gathered by visiting the various bridges and tunnels and making on-site measurements, sketches, photos and notes. Despite limitations due to the nature of some sites, such as "a given location, private property, high traffic, and so on," he has gathered information on almost 50 structures. Visitors can browse the collection by the structure's location, design, name, or use. Books, magazines, newspapers, maps, and Internet resources used to develop the website are listed in the Information Source section or in the Other Info section. The author also provides an overview of Bridge Basics and explains common terms used in Engineering, Masonry, Metal work, Bridge and Tunnel building, as well as Mapping. [VF]

American Statistical Association: Statistics in Sports

This section of the American Statistical Association website covers Statistics in Sports. Available here are a few older articles dealing with sports statistics and links to websites containing data for several professional and amateur sports, as well as websites with general news and information about sports, and a listing of official team websites for pro teams. A section called Statistics on the Web provides links to academic departments, conferences, and employers, while another section answers some frequently asked questions about sports statistics as a career. The website also provides an explanation of the Player Game Percentage (PGP) technique and uses the 2004 World Series as an example to demonstrate the technique. Educators will find a link to a website that offers suggestions of ways to incorporate sports statistics in the classroom. [VF]

National Technology Transfer Center

The National Technology Transfer Center (NTTC) "provides access to federal technology information, technology and market assessment services, technology marketing and assistance in finding strategic partners." The purpose of the Center is to help make "commercialization deals happen" by fostering relationships with federal clients, showcasing technologies and facilitating partnerships between clients and US industry. The technologies showcased here have been assessed by a team of market and technology analysts for their commercial potential. This extensive database of technologies, which largely seems to come from NASA, can be searched by keyword or browsed by category, such as medical devices, communications, software, or aerodynamics. NTTC's services and programs that promote business partnerships are described further on this website. [VF]

NY Skyscrapers

This website provides a wealth of information on "New York City's most striking architectural entities, its high-rise buildings." The author has organized the information on New York's skyscrapers by architectural style and by location, using an interactive map of the city. The website also keeps track of recent updates to the website and lists New York City museums that feature skyscrapers. Other sections provide links to New York City architecture photos, webcam views of skyscrapers. A section called Skyscraper Press features press clippings "from hilarious to tragical." Visitors may join also the Skyscraper Forum or sign the Guestbook. The Topical Index cross references terms and topics used throughout the website for those interested in a particular architectural issue. Another section provides numerous links to other architecture resources and databases on the Internet. [VF]

Roger Penwill Cartoons: CAD humor

Injecting a little humor into the workday, this website features cartoons by Roger Penwill, who has been drawing for more than fifteen years. The cartoons are about computer aided design (CAD) and draw on his experience using the program AutoCAD as an architect. His cartoons have appeared monthly in CADALYST magazine. Other cartoons and entertaining sections can be reached from this website and comprise some of his earlier Computer Solutions cartoons, which also appeared in two book collections. [VF]

Topic In Depth

Data Mining

Data Mining 101
University of Helsinki: Date Mining and Machine Learning
Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval
AZMY: Data Mining for Everyone
Weka Machine Learning Project
KD Nuggets
A Brief History of Data Mining
The Data Mine

Data Mining, also known as Knowledge Discovery in Databases, is a process used to extract implicit, previously unknown, but potentially useful information from raw data. This first website (1) provides a basic overview of Data Mining and some applications for the process. Common applications of data mining include fraud detection and marketing, but data mining has also been applied in paleoecology, and medical genetics as described on this website from the University of Helsinki (2). This website from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (3) describes a project involving the development of new algorithms that will be applied to the creation of two large-scale databases to be used to "enable insight into government efficiency and the flow of scientific ideas." This white paper (4) provides a nice educational resource for Data Mining. If you are inspired to try your the process, the Weka Machine Learning Project from Waikato University (5) offers open source software that can be used for data mining tasks. KD Nuggets (6) posts articles on Data Mining, Knowledge Discovery, Genomic Mining, Web Mining that range from the serious to the silly, along with other resources. For a brief history of data mining and related fields, visit this website (7). Finally, The Data Mine website (8) is an excellent place to venture into further explorations on Data Mining. [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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