The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, & Technology -- Volume 4, Number 12

June 17, 2005

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

A Note to our Readers




Topic In Depth

A Note to our Readers

Internet Scout Project Says Goodbye to NSDL Scout Reports

Dear Reader,

With this edition, the Internet Scout Project ends the NSDL Report for Math, Engineering, and Technology after four years of publication. We are very excited about our newest NSF National Science Digital Library-funded effort, the Applied Mathematics and Science Education Repository (AMSER), a new four-year project that will link community and technical colleges to online applied math and science resources via a web portal and complimentary services. Our goal is to make AMSER-- -- the same kind of high-quality source of information about online resources that the NSDL Scout Reports have been.

As part of our effort to make AMSER useful and usable we have created an online survey -- -- which will help us better understand how faculty and staff at community and technical colleges are currently using digital materials. We would encourage readers from these environments, as well as those from the rest of the education and library communities, to complete the survey. Your valuable feedback will help inform the work of AMSER and NSDL as a whole. If you have questions about AMSER or an interest in using AMSER in your classroom, please e-mail, or watch for information about the project on the Scout website at -- where you can also find information about subscribing to our flagship publication, The Scout Report.

Chris Long
Managing Editor


MIT: Building Technology Program

The Building Technology Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is an interdisciplinary program, bringing together researchers from the Department of Architecture, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Their projects focus on the building industry, which represents "one of the largest enterprises in the country" and innovations in building technology. This website provides links to information on several research projects, such as a project "to explore design, technology and implementation of environmentally responsive urban housing in China" and others that explore options for naturally ventilated buildings. Another project website describes recent research in Masonry Structures, while The MIT Design Advisor offers and online design tool for architects and building engineers. [VF]

The Computer Vision Homepage

The Computer Vision Homepage, established at Carnegie Mellon University in 1994, serves as a central location for links to websites relating to computer vision research. The resources are divided into specific subpages, including Vision Groups, Hardware, Software, Demos, Test Images, Conferences, Publications, and General Info. A separate subpage also lists links to websites on related topics, such as Geographic Information Systems and Pattern Recognition. Recent additions to the website are listed in chronological order in the New Additions section. The Computer Vision Homepage is currently maintained by Daniel Huber on a volunteer basis and he invites others to contribute suggestions for websites to add to the list or to assist in updating the Homepage. [VF]

ESource: PIER Technical Briefs [pdf]

ESource provides "unbiased, independent analysis of retail energy markets, services, and technologies." Its information services, such as publications, conferences, and consulting services are available through paid membership. However, this section of the website provides a selection of technical briefs free of charge. Access to these briefs does not require membership, although visitors are asked to fill in a short online form with their name and email address. The briefs are offered through funding from the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program and report on energy-efficient technologies. Some of the briefs available at the time of this report address topics such as Classroom Lighting, Small HVAC Savings, and Hybrid Lighting Fixtures. Each brief reviews the current problems related to each topic area, provides some solutions, and describes the benefits and applications for the technology highlighted in the brief. [VF]


GNUplot is described on this website as "a portable command-line driven interactive data and function plotting utility for UNIX, IBM OS/2, MS Windows, DOS, Macintosh, VMS, Atari and many other platforms." The software, which is copyrighted but also freely distributed, was designed to allow scientists and students to visualize mathematical functions and data. Since its development, GNUplot has also proved useful in supporting many non-interactive uses, such as Web scripting and integration as a plotting engine for third-party applications. The plots can be either 2-D or 3-D, using lines, points, boxes, contours, vector fields, surfaces, and various associated text. The current officially released version of GNUplot is available to download from this website. Also available are minimal instructions for building from CVS source, instructions for patching and building, and a demo gallery along with other documentation. [VF]

Caltech: Applied and Computational Mathematics [pdf]

This website from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) features "the interwoven fields of applied and computational mathematics." Highlighting the interdisciplinary nature of the field, the group's work draws on modeling, analysis, algorithm development, and simulation to address problems arising in the pure sciences and engineering. Students and faculty explore the mathematical properties of systems in physics, chemistry, biology, geology, astronomy, materials science, fluid mechanics, and other disciplines. At the time of this report, the section offering Technical Reports was still under development. However, some of the individual researchers have links to websites (within the People section) with a list of publications, some of which are available to download free of charge. Abstracts of Colloquia at Caltech also provide the visitor an overview of topics that interest this group of researchers. [VF]

NanoLink: Key Nanotechnology Sites on the Web

The NanoLink website provides links to nanotechnology resources online. The service is maintained collaboratively by Memex Research Pte Ltd and Internet Research & Development Unit (IRDU), and is hosted by SunSITE Singapore at the Computer Centre of the National University of Singapore. The listing includes websites of research groups and informational materials related to Nanotechnology and related areas, including Fullerenes and Bio-Fullerenes, Molecular Engineering, Molecular Manufacturing, Molecular Medicine, Molecular Self-Assembly, Nanobiology, Nanochemistry, Nanocomputers and Nanocomputing, Nanoelectronics, Nanofabrication, Nanomedicine, Nanophotonics, Nanophysics, Quantum Computing, Quantum Engineering, Scanning Tunnelling, and Atomic Force Microscopy. The resources range from the general overview to more detailed topics and are organized alphabetically. If the list is a bit overwhelming, the authors have identified a subset of eight resources as especially "worth reading." [VF]

Engineering Conferences International [pdf]

Engineering Conferences International is an electronic journal available through the Berkeley Electronic Press "to provide conference organizers with a new publication option--a highly visible, rapidly disseminated outlet for conference materials." The ECI program sponsors interdisciplinary scientific/engineering conferences through the Engineering Conferences Foundation and Polytechnic University. They publish this series, which includes presented papers, peer-reviewed articles, and other materials (presentations, data sets, video files, etc.) that are associated with ECI conferences. Visitors can browse by year or subject and download the materials free of charge. Other publications, such as journals, working papers, monographs, and newsletters available through Berkeley Electronic Press (see also Scout Report for Business & Economics, April 5, 2001), can be found by following the link to "bepress." [VF]

International Computer Science Institute [pdf]

The International Computer Science Institute is an independent, nonprofit basic research institute that is affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley. The goal of the Institute is to create "synergy between world-leading researchers in computer science and engineering" by bringing together academic and industrial researchers. Its research currently focuses on Internet research, such as Internet architecture, open-source routing, and network security, as well as Human Language Technology, such as speech and text processing. A significant portion of the Institute's work is in theoretical computer science and projects are chosen for their importance and their compatibility with the strengths its researchers. This website provides links to websites detailing several programs including Algorithm Projects, AI Projects, Networking Projects, and Speech Projects. Other areas of research include a project "to support historically underrepresented ethnic minorities and women in their desire to become leaders in the fields of computer science, engineering and information technology;" the development of a Community of Practice Environment utilizing the Internet for information sharing and collaboration; and a project exploring Robust Video Compression based on Distributed Source Coding techniques. A number of publications, such as conference proceedings, academic journals, technical reports, and some books, are available to search and download free of charge. The ISCI Gazette, available in the News section, periodically features a research area. Research in Bioinformatics is discussed in the March 2005 issue. [VF]


National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition: Math Lessons

The National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition & Language Instruction Educational Programs (NCELA) is funded through the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) to support the Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students (OELA). The National Clearinghouse "is authorized to collect, analyze, synthesize, and disseminate information about language instruction educational programs for limited English proficient children, and related programs," with an emphasis on academic content, English proficiency assessments, and accountability systems. This section of the website lists select websites that offer online Math lesson plan ideas. Other subjects featured in the lesson plans section include science, social studies, language arts, and foreign language/ESL. The National Clearinghouse website is also a resource for information on demographics and other statistics related to English Language Learners (ELLs), educational policy information, and a variety of other educational resources of interest to practicing teachers, prospective teachers, parents, community members, researchers, and service providers. Several terms commonly used in relation to the education of linguistically and culturally diverse students are defined in the Glossary of the Ask an Expert section, where visitors to the website can also submit a question they want answered. [VF]

Rethinking Schools: Spring 2005 Rethinking Mathematics

Rethinking Schools, founded in 1986, publishes educational materials, including this online version of its quarterly journal. The organization is "firmly committed to equity and to the vision that public education is central to the creation of a humane, caring, multiracial democracy." Although the journal features articles of interest to a broad audience, they focus on problems facing urban schools, with a particular emphasis on issues of race. The articles are written by and for teachers, parents, and students and cover topics relating to classroom practice and educational theory, in addition to key policy issues. The Spring 2005 issue includes two articles specifically addressing mathematics education as well as excerpts from the organization's newest book called Rethinking Mathematics. The first article, entitled Integrals and Equity, discusses how "a math lesson prompts new awareness for prep school students--and their teacher." The second article, entitled The Geometry of Inequality, describes a math activity in which students and teacher explored some of the causes of the 1992 "Rodney King Riots" in South Central Los Angeles. [VF]

Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education [pdf]

The Triangle Coalition is a nonprofit organization with the goal of bringing together "the voices of government, business, and education to improve the quality and outcome of mathematics, science, and technology education." The website describes their three major areas of activity as "advocacy, communication, and programmatic efforts to advance science, mathematics, and technology education for all students." The Advocacy section of the website provides several online resources to assist members in reaching government representatives and reviews current legislative news. Although some of the materials the organization offers are available only to its members, the Triangle Coalition Electronic Bulletin, an electronic newsletter, is available free online for visitors and highlights current developments in math, science and technology education. Additional resources for non-members include comparison sheets, factsheets and historical information on federal programs relating to math, science, and technology education. The section on programmatic activities describes the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program, which brings selected mathematics, science, and technology teachers to Washington, D.C., where they work as professional staff members in Congressional offices, the Department of Energy, NASA, the National Institute for Standards and Technology, or the National Science Foundation. [VF]

Annenberg Teachers Lab: Shape and Space in Geometry

Annenberg/CPB, part of The Annenberg Foundation, develops multimedia resources to help teachers "increase their expertise in their fields and assist them in improving their teaching methods." This section of the Annenberg Teachers Lab features lessons on Shape and Space in Geometry. The website reviews the ways in which geometry is not abstract, but rather is "fun and colorful, instructive and practical." A background article explains how geometry is part of real life and why geometry is an important part of math education. The site offers several classroom activities, which are divided into two broad categories. The first set of activities is about shape and focus on identifying properties of various shapes and measuring their dimensions. The second set is about space and focus on moving objects in your imagination, and visualizing how things will look. An overview page for each set of activities discusses the rationale for the focus on shape and space, and reviews the NCTM Standards addressed through the activities. [VF]

Teachers at Work

Teachers at Work is a website, maintained by Mark Treadwell, offering Internet tools for teachers. Key features of this website include Online Professional Development, through which teachers meet monthly to discuss online education research papers selected by the professional development group, as well as a section listing over 3,000 websites reviewed by Treadwell. The articles used for the Online Professional Development program are available to download free of charge (although not all of the links were working at the time of this report). The online educational resources are organized by subject area, such as Info & Com Tech, Math(s), Science, Social Science, and Technology Education. Other sections feature websites that provide background information on Asians in Asia, Aboriginal people in Australia, Maori in New Zealand, and African Americans in the US. A newsletter, published online and free to access addresses a select topic in each issue and reviews websites related to education. The product offered by Treadwell, for a fee, is The Knowledge NET, which can be used to combine intranets, create an extranet for a cluster of schools, and provides other administrative tools to assist educators. A series of links on the right side of the website provide general information on Internet technology. [VF]


Teachnet.Com was started by a husband and wife team--Lee Shiney who is a graphic designer and writer, and Lajean Shiney who is an elementary school teacher in Wichita, Kan. Their website offers multiple resources for teachers, including lesson plan ideas in mathematics, science, technology and many other subject areas. A section called Power Tools offers ideas and services that can simplify a teacher's job, such as online organizational tools, interactive games, and instructional tips. The Sharing section provides teachers a chance to speak out and hear others "talk" about various topics. This section includes editorials on education-related topics, reviews of websites and products, as well as a bit of humor and inspiration. Teachers can also contribute by sending in their own submissions, responding to surveys, or joining their Teacher-2-Teacher electronic mailing lists. [VF]

Center for Learning Technologies in Urban Schools

The Center for Learning Technologies in Urban Schools (LeTUS), funded by the National Science Foundation, is a partnership between the Chicago Public Schools, the Detroit Public Schools, Northwestern University and the University of Michigan "to better urban science education through innovative, hands-on, project-based curricula." The Center develops curricular units designed for urban students and then observe the classrooms to learn about what works in the classroom. The website provides an overview of the organization's instructional approach, as well as links to websites that describe its various curricular units and provide supporting technology, such as software, that is free to download. Topics covered in the curricular units include air quality, animal behavior, biology, communicable diseases, Earth science, physics, environmental science, water quality and weather. Findings from the Center's classroom studies are detailed in research papers available online as part of the LeTUS Research Paper Series. [VF]

Maths Internet Guide

The Maths Internet Guide is maintained by Boris Handal, who has taught mathematics education, engineering mathematics, statistics and computer studies units across various educational settings. He has compiled this list of over 250 select websites, "carefully chosen for their interactivity and grouped into five search categories." The websites can be browsed by topics and grade levels. Also featured here are a selection of Maths Humour websites, Mega Sites with links to online resources, Magazines & Journals, and a couple of workshops, Using the Internet in Teaching and Learning Maths, and Evaluating Online Maths Resources (which work best using Internet Explorer). The resources are intended for "individual learning, homework, demonstrations or explorations." [VF]


PBS: The Merrow Report

The Merrow Report, a PBS television program, features video documentaries about current issues in education for K-12 educators and the general public. On this program, "Veteran NewsHour education reporter John Merrow investigates education's headline-making issues, as well as those we don't hear about." From this website, visitors can read about past and upcoming programs, such as a NewsHour program on Women in Science, where Merrow goes inside an all-girls school in Cleveland, Ohio, "that is closing the science gender gap one student at a time," and a program called Declining by Degrees that explores the variation in American higher education institutions. Video footage and interactive websites are created for the more recent programs, while over 50 of earlier programs are available to download through Annenberg/CPB, which can be accessed from this website. [VF]

Chronology of Personal Computers

This document by Ken Polsson "is an attempt to bring various published sources together to present a timeline about Personal Computers." The author has posted this document online as he continues to work on a book project, for which he has browsed extensively through various sources for historical information related to personal computers. The document provides a brief summary of "the essential happenings that shaped the industry." The full text, which contains close to 3,000 entries, is available for purchase. This online document represents the start of the timeline "to show you the quality of the material" and begins in 1947 with the invention of the point-contact transistor amplifier by three scientists at Bell Telephone Laboratories and ends in December, 1977 with a victory by Microsoft in an important legal battle against Pertec, on ownership of the BASIC software Bill Gates and Paul Allen wrote and licensed to MITS. The references are listed in a separate file, which is also available online. [VF]


WikiHow is an exciting new "collaborative writing project aiming to build the world's largest how-to manual." Applying the wiki model of information collection (see also NSDL Scout Report for Mathematics, Engineering and Technology, November 5, 2004), wikiHow contains instructions on how to do thousands of things, all written by individuals in the wikiHow community. Anyone is invited to join the community by contributing a new page or editing a page that someone else started. The quality of the entries are improved over time as people make changes and remove "vandalism, nonsense, and material not fit for the wikiHow site." WikiHow is sustained by funds gained through "tasteful, non-obnoxious advertising on the website" and is powered by open source software created by the WikiMedia Foundation. Visitors can search the how-to articles or browse by topic, which range from auto repair to removing salt buildup on zipper. [VF]

ABA Legal Technology Resource Center

The American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center is intended to help lawyers "solve the technology puzzle." They regularly conduct survey research assessing the use of technology in the legal community, including availability and usage of a wide range of general and legal-specific technologies. The full report for 2003 is available for purchase only, but the methodology and the executive summary can be downloaded free of charge. The 2004-2005 ABA Annual Technology Survey Report analysis will begin soon. Summaries of older Topical Surveys are also available to view. Some examples of these include: Feasibility and Viability of the Digital Library; Trends In Legal Publishing for the Millennium: Quality Moves to the Internet; and Wireless Network Adoption in Law Schools. [VF]

Industrial Arts/Technology Education as a Social Study: The Original Intent?

Although published in the Journal of Technology Education in the Spring 1995 issue, this historical article is nevertheless timely. Available through Digital Library and Archives, University Libraries, Virginia Tech, the article reviews the history of the field of industrial arts, once known as "manual arts." The author highlights the similarities between the educational goals of industrial arts programs in the 1920s and modern technology education. He points to how today's technology education is not far off from the industrial arts philosophy, which was intended to be general education for boys and girls of all ages and grade levels. He then goes on to discuss the nature of that philosophy and to "demonstrate that industrial arts was originally intended to be part of the 'social studies.'" He concludes with a discussion of Why the Intentions Were Never Realized and some implications of this heritage for public school curriculum. [VF] Deep Impact Team Solves Blurry Photo Problem

This article from describes how scientists from NASAs Deep Impact mission intend to fix the spacecrafts blurry vision problem by applying a mathematical process to the images after they have been transmitted to Earth. The author briefly descibes the process, called deconvolution, and discusses some challenges that the researchers will need to address. Readers can also learn more about the Deep Impact mission and its goal of learning about the makeup and nature of the mysterious nucleus of the comet Tempel 1. NASAs Deep Impact mission was designed to uncover a comets innards by smashing a probe into Tempel 1. After being releases from the Flyby craft, the Impactor will position itself directly in front of the speeding comet for a head on collision. The impact is scheduled to occur at 1:52 a.m. EDT this July 4, 2005. [VF]

FCC History Project [pdf]

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has initiated this history project in an effort to raise public awareness of "the extent to which every area of their life is intertwined with the communications technologies the FCC has responsibility to regulate." Aside from the commonly known FCC regulations regarding television and regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable, the FCC authorization rules also protect individuals when we use a variety of other electrical and electronic equipment. Previous exhibits, available still online, have focused on the technological history of television and the pioneers who developed radio's core technologies, which focus on public safety, business, and personal communication aspects of radio. The current exhibit highlights aspects of the more recent history of the Internet. Through these exhibits, "the FCC hopes to inform and, possibly, inspire with a few reminders of the great achievements that made television, radio and the Internet as we know them today possible." Additional resources available here include a history of Communications Laws; Early Government Documents About Telephone, Telegraph, and Broadcasting; and Radio Service Bulletins. [VF]

DARPA Grand Challenge 2005 [pdf]

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense (DoD), sponsors the annual DARPA Grand Challenge (first reported on in the August 1, 2003, NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, and Technology), which is "a field test intended to accelerate research and development in autonomous ground vehicles that will help save American lives on the battlefield." Individuals and organizations from industry, the R&D community, government, the armed services, academia, students, backyard inventors, and automotive enthusiasts are invited to enter the challenge. The news release posted on this website on June 6, 2005, announces the 40 semifinalists selected to advance to the National Qualification Event, which will be held September 27 through October 6, 2005 in Fontana, Calif. The team that develops an autonomous ground vehicle that is the first to finish the designated route within 10 hours wins $2 million. When the race was first held in 2003, the most successful team managed to cover only 7.4 miles of the desert terrain featuring natural and man-made obstacles. A related website describing the Autonomous Vehicle Practice Facility of the US Department of Defense Joint Robotics Program (JRP) was still under construction at the time of this report. [VF]

Topic In Depth

Public School Finance

RAND Review: Who Is Accountable for Education If Everybody Fails?
Public Education Network: Gross Inequities, Confused Priorities
CPRE: School Funding Formulas
NCES: Education Finance Statistics Center
ECS: State Links for School Finance
NCES: Students' Classroom
New American Schools: Resource Reallocations
Suppose There Was a World Bank for Education

This issue of Topic in Depth explores some of the resources available online regarding school finance. The first article from the RAND Review (1) discusses the challenges involved in meeting the ambitious goals established by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and the need to develop a school accountability system that can provide "the incentives and resources that the schools really need to help all students meet the state performance standards." In the second article (2), Linda Darling-Hammond, a Professor at Stanford University discusses the inequality of school funding across the US, again using California as an example. This website from CPRE (3) offers several articles that explain how school finance in the US works. The NCES Education Finance Statistics Center (4) is also a hub for information on public elementary/secondary education finance, including finance data on school districts nationwide. The Education Commission of the States (ECS) (5) offers this listing of state finance agencies for more state-specific information. Students can explore the topic further using this educational website from NCES (6). A collection of reports available through New American Schools (7) highlights one approach to the problem of school finance, namely resource reallocation. Taking yet another tactic, the author of this last article (8) proposes "a 'World Bank' for American education." [VF]

Below are the copyright statements to be included when reproducing annotations from The NSDL Scout Report for Math, Engineering, and Technology.

The single phrase below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing any portion of this report, in any format:

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

The paragraph below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing the entire report, in any format:

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.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, or the National Science Foundation.

Internet Scout Project Team
Valerie Farnsworth Editor
Chris Long Managing Editor
Rachael Bower Co-Director
Edward Almasy Co-Director
Nathan Larson Contributor
Max Grinnell Contributor
Debra Shapiro Contributor
Rachel Enright Contributor
Todd Bruns Internet Cataloger
Barry Wiegan Software Engineer
Justin Rush Technical Specialist
Michael Grossheim Technical Specialist
Andy Yaco-Mink Website Designer

For information on additional contributors, see the Internet Scout Project staff page.