The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 1, Number 18

September 20, 2002

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board began operations in 1998 with the stated mission to promote the prevention of major chemical accidents at fixed facilities. The independent, scientific investigative agency's Web site contains historical and current data, reports, and other information on chemical accidents from around the nation. For example, on September 13, 2002, a chemical plant explosion occurred in Freeport, Texas, involving an explosion, fire, and release of chemicals to the environment. The entry contains which specific chemicals were involved and a brief report of the incident, as well as injury, containment, and other relevant information. [JAB]
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Pangaea, the Network for Geological and Environmental Data, is operated by the Germany-based Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research and the Center for Marine Environmental Sciences. The site is described as a "public data library on the Internet aimed at archiving, publishing and distributing geocoded data with special emphasis on environmental, marine and geological research." Data can be searched and downloaded by several straightforward and intuitive methods such as a simple keyword search, a clickable map, or by individually configured datasets. [JAB]
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PEER Strong Motion Database
Processed by Dr. Walt Silva of Pacific Engineering and supported by the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) at the University of California Berkley, the PEER Strong Motion Database "contains 1557 records from 143 earthquakes from tectonically active regions." Searches can be done by earthquake, type of plate movement (e.g., strike slip), magnitude, and several other criteria. The correct browser and JAVA version even allows dynamic sorting and interactive plotting of data. [JAB]
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Environmental Services
The Environmental Services governmental Web site contains a wealth of information, data, and publications. Physical science topics include air resources, beach and coastal information, geology, GIS, waste management, and water resources. A great source for state specific research information. [JAB]
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Health Assessment Document For Diesel Engine Exhaust [.pdf]
From the EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment, a recent publication release is available online entitled Health Assessment Document for Diesel Engine Exhaust. The over six hundred-page document contains information on the physical and chemical composition of diesel exhaust, its atmospheric transformation, and an extensive look at its health effects. [JAB]
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Danger in the Air: The 2001 Ozone Season Summary [.pdf]
Danger In The Air: The 2001 Ozone Season Summary report can be viewed or downloaded from the Web site of the public interest watchdog organization the US Public Interest Research Group. Although the organization has a specific agenda, the data, which is reported to be from a network of more than a thousand ozone monitors across the nation, should be helpful to those studying or monitoring ozone. [JAB]
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The Eleventh Biennial Report of Great Lakes Water Quality [.pdf]
The Eleventh Biennial Report of Great Lakes Water Quality has been released by the International Joint Commission (IJC). The IJC is an independent and objective advisor between the governments of the US and Canada that specifically focuses on boundary or transboundary water issues. The report includes the current state of the Great Lakes; policy issues; and information about nutrients, toxic substances, nuclear issues, and much more. This site is also reviewed in the September 20, 2002 Scout Report. [JAB]
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The National Elevation Dataset
The National Elevation Dataset is a product offered by the USGS that "is designed to provide national elevation data in a seamless form with a consistent datum, elevation unit, and projection." The interactive GIS map interface can view various layers of data from all over the US, creating informative and useful maps, which can be printed or ordered in CD format. The handy "help" button provides a pop-up informational window when questions arise. [JAB]
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The Earthquake Resource Links for Teachers
The Earthquake Resource Links for Teachers Web site is provided by the Mid-America Earthquake Center located at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The site contains links to earthquake lessons and activities that are divided by general grade levels, including Do Lost Pet Ads Predict Earthquakes? and Will Overstressed Bridges Survive Earthquakes? Additional sections offer educational material on general earthquake information and the new Madrid seismic zone. [JAB]
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Offered by the Tata Energy Research Institute, the EduGreen Explore Web site allows kids to learn about energy, water, climate change, solid waste, and more. Besides giving good descriptions on these various subjects, students will also gain a global perspective on these issues since the Institute, which is located in India, gives specific information for the country. The site also contains quizzes, maps, activities, and more worth checking out. [JAB]
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Nebraska Earth Science Education Network
The Nebraska Earth Science Education Network has as one of its objectives to promote and enhance K-12 earth science education. The Web site provides lesson plans on various subjects including astronomy, geology, mapping, soils, water, and weather. Each submitted lesson gives a recommended grade level and contains objectives, materials needed, procedures, and conclusions, depending on the activity. The site is a great resource that provides unique and original information from teachers for teachers. [JAB]
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The World Almanac for Kids now has a companion Web site with dozens of quality informative topics. The Space page in particular contains extensive information on the planets, space exploration, astronauts, astronomers, telescopes, fun facts, and more. The site, which contains many other subjects such as the environment, will give kids hours worth of fun learning. [JAB]
[Back to Contents] was created by astronomy buff and elementary school teacher Hiram Bertoch. Her goal of creating a kid friendly Web site that is balanced between text and tech was definitely achieved. Interactive, visually pleasant, and content rich, the site provides kids a great learning resource that is fun to explore. One of the activities "How Big is the Universe" shows a picture of a man in the grass and lets you zoom out by powers of ten to finally see the whole universe. Teachers will also find the site useful with its free lesson plans, worksheets, and additional educational links. [JAB]
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The Catalyst
The Catalyst is a Web site dedicated to providing online chemistry resources for the secondary education teacher. The resource links page contains dozens of links organized by subject such as organic chemistry, periodic tables, history of chemistry, experiments, teaching, and supplies. Other highlights of the site include a teacher's forum, links to other high school chemistry pages, a question and answer section, a bulletin board, and more. [JAB]
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Exploring Planets in the Classroom: Hands-On Activities
Provided by the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium, the Exploring Planets in the Classroom: Hands-On Activities Web site offers 25 science activities for students. Categories include an introduction to the solar system, planetary properties, volcanology, impact craters, dynamic earth, gradation, gravity forces and rockets, the moon, remote sensing, and Mars. Just one example of the many quality activities shows students how to build an accelerometer to measure g-forces. [JAB]
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Mineral Matters Kids' Habitat
From the San Diego Natural History Museum comes the Mineral Matters Kids' Habitat Web site. Visitors will learn how to identify minerals, create a rock and mineral collection, how to grow your own crystals at home, and explore some basic questions and answers about minerals. [JAB]
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TriNet is a multi-functional seismic network for earthquake research, monitoring, and computerized alerts. The collaborative project among governmental and educational institutions hopes to "create a better, more effective real-time earthquake information system for Southern California." The main focus of the site is the up-to-date availability of earthquake occurrences shown on various interactive maps of California. Other features available include seismic data, emergency response information, an earthquake education section, and much more. [JAB]
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GIS for Everyone [Flash]
The GIS and mapping software company ESRI's Web site (last mentioned in the May 19, 1998 Scout Report for Social Sciences) contains a set of educational pages called GIS for Everyone. Here, visitors can learn the basics of GIS technology and how it's used, download software tools and data for free, and more. One highlight is found on the GIS in Your Everyday Life link, which offers an interesting Flash movie that explains how geography matters to us all. [JAB]
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The Volcano Information Center
The Volcano Information Center Web site was designed by Professor Emeritus Richard V. Fisher at University of California at Santa Barbara "to provide links to data and to inform about general volcanology in an organized way, including features of volcanoes, volcanic eruptions and volcanic hazards." Visitors can learn about the benefits of volcanoes, their hazards, eruptions, and volcanic flow, as well as explore provided links to other volcano related sites with current volcanic activity, maps, and more. The basic and largely non-technical descriptions are a good starting point for those wishing to learn about one of the most powerful natural forces on earth. [JAB]
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Amazing Earth Games: Disasters You Can Play at Home
Another above average offering from, the Amazing Earth Games: Disasters You Can Play at Home Web site does a great job at making learning fun. The interactive activities include: Crumble California, in which users get to see how the continental plates have affected the state; Unleash a Superstorm, which lets you create your very own hurricane; and the Destroy Life on Earth activity, which gives you the power to launch fireballs at our planet and witness the result. A great site for anyone searching for quality online learning material. [JAB]
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Tropical Prediction Center
The Tropical Prediction Center Web site is maintained by the National Weather Service of NOAA. Visitors will find current information on tropical storms and hurricanes, including public advisories. Also available are hurricane facts, historical data, tracking charts, satellite imagery, season summaries, and a wealth of other interesting and important information. [JAB]
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About Watersheds [Flash]
About Watersheds is a learning activity page provided by of Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Although from an unusual source, the interactive activity does a terrific job at describing what watersheds are, how they are affected by land use activities, and what citizens can do to help protect them. Additional links are available that provide more information about specific topics. [JAB]
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Coastal and Marine Geology Program
The Coastal and Marine Geology Program Web site of the US Geological Survey is a clearinghouse of coastal related information and scientific research. Visitors will find a link to the monthly newsletter "Sound Waves;" information on topics of study such as corals, pollution, erosion, and sonar mapping; and goals and plans for the program. [JAB]
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Partnerships to Advance Learning in Science: Java Simulations
Provided by Iowa State University, the Partnerships to Advance Learning in Science: Java Simulations Web site contains several interactive science simulations. Visitors can explore advection, the energy budget, adiabatic processes, and radiation. For example, the mountain simulation teaches about adiabatic processes by allowing users to adjust various parameters such as temperature, dew point, mountain slope, and cloud base altitude. The simulation then blows a leaf over the mountain and moves it according to what was entered. Each activity has accompanying directions and questions if interested. [JAB]
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Topic In Depth

1. All About....Fog
2. Atmospheric Moisture
3. Understanding Clouds and Fog
4. Fog Chemistry
5. Interactions Between Aerosols and Fog
6. Natural Hazard Statistics
7. Make Fog in a Jar
8. GOES Nighttime Fog and Low Cloud Imagery
The first site, offered by, is entitled All About....Fog (1). Visitors will find a brief and simple explanation of the weather phenomenon, including how it forms, where it occurs, and how it dissipates. The second site, Atmospheric Moisture (2), is presented by the Naval Meteorological and Oceanography Command Public Affairs Office. This one-page graphically friendly site also provides simple descriptions and informative illustrations on moisture and resulting fog. Next, from USA Today, comes the Understanding Clouds and Fog (3) Web site. This extensive site provides a great section on fog that includes descriptions of various types: advection, radiation, steam, precipitation, upslope, and valley fog. The fourth site (4), maintained at University of California at Boulder by Professor Robert Tardif, is entitled Interactions Between Aerosols and Fog (5). Visitors will find descriptions of aerosol properties and fog characteristics, as well as how aerosol causes the formation of fog. The Natural Hazard Statistics (6) Web site is provided by the National Weather Service's Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services. The site provides statistical information on fatalities, injuries, and damages caused by weather related hazards including fog. For example, in 2001, there were seven fatalities and 67 injuries attributed to the visibility thief. The seventh site, from Web Weather for Kids of the University Cooperation for Atmospheric Research, is called Make Fog in a Jar (7). Letting students see first hand how fog forms, this simple activity can be completed with a little help from an adult, some paper, a jar, warm water, matches, and a bag of ice. The last Web site, GOES Nighttime Fog and Low Cloud Imagery (8), is maintained by the Office of Research and Applications at NOAA. The site shows fog depth images and animations from around the US. These are generated from two GOES InfraRed (IR) channels that are combined to create a product for the detection of fog and low stratus clouds at night. [JAB]
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From The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2002.

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Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2002. 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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