The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 11

May 30, 2003

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

In This Issue:




Topic In Depth


Water Resources Data System State Climate Office
The Water Resources Data System is a "clearinghouse of hydrological and climatological data for the State of Wyoming" provided by the University of Wyoming. Online data include a water quality database, climatological data (such as snow depth and precipitation), and earthquake and landslide data. A water library link contains research briefs, publications, a reference shelf, newsletters, and other related documents. Additional links on the main page include US Geological Survey stream flow conditions, the state climatologist office, data clearinghouses, and other Wyoming-specific informational sites. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Uncle Sam's Reference Shelf: County and City Data Book
Uncle Sam's Reference Shelf: County and City Data Book contains official population and housing data from the 2000 Census plus business and other data for all US counties, cities with 25,000 or more inhabitants, and places of 2,500 or more inhabitants. Information includes percent population change by state; counties with populations of one million or more; top 40 cities by population; state, county, and city area and population; population by age, race, and sex; relevant maps, and much more. The PDF files include easy-to-read tables and graphs making the information an easily-accessible source of the country's latest geographic data. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Data Web
The US Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, maintains the Data Web Web site. The Web site "serves the continuing need for historical, statistical, and technical information on the projects of the Bureau by legislators, State and Federal officials, water users, engineers, educators, students, and others, in foreign countries as well as the United States, who are concerned about water resource development." Users can search by dams and reservoirs, power plants, or browse the 200 specific projects by name or state. Each project summary contains a general description of the project, its development, benefits, related data, and much more. Those interested in any of the vast information provided will appreciate the well-designed and organized site. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Catalog of US Government Publications
The Catalog of US Government Publications is a search-and-retrieval service that provides bibliographic records of US Government information products from January 1994 to the present. Users can search by keyword, title, class number, depository item number, GPO stock number, date, and more. Once returned, the records include the title, a short and full record link, an option to locate libraries, and a link to locate the publication online (if available). Other helpful features of the site include agency publication indexes, agency Web site links, a page of new electronic titles, hints for using the catalog, and more. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Earthquake Notification Services
The US Geological Survey Earthquake Hazards Web site contains the Earthquake Notification Services page and service. Users can subscribe to three email lists that include BIGQUAKE -- which sends a message whenever an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.5 or greater occurs anywhere in the world or a magnitude of 4.5 or greater occurs within the 50 US states -- and QEDPOST -- which sends a daily message of the earthquakes located 7 days prior to the current day -- and MTALL -- which sends a message that contains the estimate of the seismic moment tensor for earthquakes with either a body-wave magnitude or surface wave magnitude of 5.5 or greater. Seismologists and other related professionals will appreciate being able to stay abreast of the latest tectonic activity with this helpful tool. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Offshore Technology
Offshore Technology is a Web site specifically geared for the offshore oil and gas industry. The highlight of the site is the Industry Projects link, which gives information about offshore drilling projects from around the world. Sites are categorized geographically and include description of the project, information on the geology of the area, drilling history of the site, wellhead platform, pipeline information, and much more. Other links on the main page include an A to Z listing of contractors and suppliers, exhibition and conference information, and other helpful resources for the offshore drilling professional and researcher. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

The Global Change Calendar
The Global Change Calendar, a service of NASA's Global Change Master Directory Web site, provides a listing of conferences, meetings, symposia, and workshops having relevance to global change or earth science data. Users can view past events, browsing by date or alphabetically. Searches can be done by subject and date, and results can be limited by date ranges. Subjects covered include atmosphere/climate, environmental chemistry, energy, geography, geology, GIS, hydrology, and more. The simple interface and easy-to-use search features of the site make it a useful tool for anyone seeking event information or adding an event of their own. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

National Groundwater Association
The National Groundwater Association's stated purpose is to provide guidance to members, government representatives, and the public for sound development, protection, and management of the world's ground water resources. The Web site contains everything needed to stay current, including a daily updated news service, a publications link, events calendar, certification information, buyers guides, educator resources, an online database for members, and much more. If used for nothing else but the well-written daily articles, the site should be a definite bookmark for anyone working in a related field. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]


Space Science Institute: Curriculum Materials
Researchers and educators of the Space Science Institute are working together to "expand our knowledge of the space sciences and communicate that knowledge to the public." The Curriculum Materials page of the Web site contains three comprehensive lessons, including: The Kinesthetic Astronomy activity that involves teaching basic astronomical concepts through choreographed bodily movements and positions; the Saturn Educator Guide, which chronicles NASA's deep space mission; and, Solarscapes: Sunspots and Rotation lesson which allows kids to explore the phenomena of the Sun by calculating the period of the solar cycle and more. Each well-designed lesson contains all the necessary instructions and downloads needed to complete them. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Water Info For Kids
The City of Phoenix Web offers the Water Info For Kids page as part of its larger governmental Web site. Six topics are covered including What is water?, What is the Hydrologic (Water) Cycle?, Where does our water come from?, Who uses water?, How can we take care of water?, and Phoenix water and wastewater facts. Each page contains non-technical text and colorful graphics making it especially good for younger students. And, although a "next" link would make the pages flow better from one to the next, the site does a good job of presenting the material in a fun and challenging way. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Mississippi River Adventure [Macromedia Flash Player]
The US Army Corps of Engineers offers the Mississippi River Adventure Web site. This interactive multimedia activity lets kids input their names, choose a character, and begin an adventure from the headwaters of the Mississippi to its outlet in the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, users can click on various locations and objects to learn how the river is formed, what takes place on it, how cargo is transported, how locks and dams work, the history of the river, what sorts of animals can be found in and around it, and much more. The video game style of the educational activity does a great job of giving kids a fun way to learn about one of the nations greatest resources. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Internet Public Library
The Internet Public Library is a learning and teaching service of the University of Michigan School of Information. In part, the library exists to "provide services and information which enhance the value of the Internet to its ever-expanding and varied community of users." The wealth of information provided on the site includes descriptions of quality Web sites in categories such as dictionaries, writing style guides, encyclopedias, education, science, and more. The science category, for example, includes additional subheadings such as astronomy, chemistry, earth science, energy, and physics among others. Educators and students alike will appreciate this helpful and easy-to-use resource. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

SciTech Hands-On Museum: Experiment
The Experiment page of the Aurora, Illinois SciTech Hands-On Museum includes several quality science educational activities. The first is a lesson plan that lets kids explore what evaporation is and shows it taking place. The Excite an Atom activity includes an interactive model of a Hydrogen atom that allows students to choose various energy states to see how the atom reacts and then returns to the ground state and emits a photon. Additional features of the site include science fair project ideas and other helpful science links, making it a valuable resource especially for grade school science teachers. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Digging into Minnesota Minerals
The Digging into Minnesota Minerals Web site is part of the larger Minnesota State Department of Natural Resources site. These fun and interesting pages explain how Minnesota came to acquire its most common minerals over geologic time, what the basic types of rocks are, mining history of the state, the geology found in state parks, and much more. Included are basic descriptions, photographs, illustrations, and even educational activities for teachers related to the minerals. This well-designed site would be a great addition to any grade school or high school science curriculum. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Students and Teachers: Curriculum Materials
From the Commonwealth of Australia Bureau of Meteorology comes the Students and Teachers: Curriculum Materials Web site. Educators will find more than twenty activities and lesson plans related to weather with titles such as: A Pet Cloud, Bottled Pressure, Colors of the Sky, El Nino and Rainfall, High and Low Pressure Systems, and The Ups and Downs of Ozone. The main page includes a description of each lesson, a suggested grade level, and its intended learning outcome. The individual links contain everything needed for the lessons completion including any relevant downloads, animations, and links in a well designed and easy to use format. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

The Kids Guide to Science Projects
The Kids Guide to Science Projects Web site is maintained by the Educational Technology Department of the Tucson, Arizona Unified School District. This informative site gives students a host of science fair project ideas, research help, examples of projects, complete project steps, and even online help if any problems or questions are encountered. Project topics include aerodynamics, chemicals, color, energy, environmental studies, light, sound, water, and much more. The Project Steps link does a good job of outlining what needs to be done, and in what order, so kids can successfully use the scientific method in attempting any science research project. Although the site is not extensive, it does provide a good amount of helpful educational material useful to students and educators. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]


Ocean98 Facts and Information
Ocean98, which is part of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, offers the Facts and Information page as part of their main Web site. Here, visitors can learn ocean physical and biological facts and statistics, browse individual topics for further information, explore a oceanography encyclopedia of terms, read featured articles related to oceans, and more. The site does a good job of presenting the material in a nontechnical and interesting way, making it good for people of all ages. As is stated within the mission statement and is accomplished within the site, "increasing awareness of the oceans must begin with a basic educative attempt to make people 'see' the oceans and to understand the role they play in life on our planet." [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

NOAA Central Library: Historical Maps and Charts
The mission of the NOAA Library and Information Services is to ensure the delivery of scientific, technical, and legislative information to users, including NOAA staff, the general public, academia, industry, and other government agencies. The library's Historical Maps and Charts Web site contains over 20,000 maps and charts from the late 1700s to the present, some of the nation's earliest nautical charts, hydrographic surveys, topographic surveys, geodetic surveys, city plans, and Civil War battle maps. The Historical Map and Chart Project View or Download link contains the search interface, which allows users to look by keyword, region, type, year, or chart number. Once found, the charts and maps can be viewed in fine detail by zooming in and out and panning via the navigation buttons. Anyone interested in historical maps, nautical navigation, or similar subjects should thoroughly enjoy exploring what is offered on the site. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Earth Watch
The Earth Watch-Weather on Demand Web site is provided by Digital Cyclone of Minnetonka, Minnesota. Visitors of the site can get up-to-the-minute information and news on the latest weather watches and warnings, Atlantic and Pacific Satellite Images and radar maps, local weather forecasts, and more. One highlight of the site is the Hurricane and Tropical Storm Archives link, which contains more than thirty historical satellite images of past events such as Hurricane Gordon of 2000 and Hurricane Andrew of 1992. Although the local forecasts are offered by outside links, the site does a good job of offering a mix of nationwide weather information and other unique features that many should find interesting. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

The Mineralogy Database
Created by petroleum geology consultant David Barthelmy, the Mineralogy Database Web site reportedly contains 4,281 individual minerals and descriptions. Visitors can browse the minerals by crystal system, by x-ray powder diffraction properties, by chemical composition, by the Dana system or the Strunz system, by physical and optical properties, alphabetically, and by mineral pictures. The large amount of information available for each specimen is impressive, especially for a personal Web site. Everyone from curious kids and adult hobbyists to academics and researchers will find something worth exploring on this extensive site. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Paleontology at the US Geological Survey [pdf]
"Paleontology, the science which uses fossils to study life in past geologic time, has served an important role in geologic studies at the USGS since its establishment in 1879." The Paleontology at the US Geological Survey Web site contains a broad introduction to the subject and provides links to various products produced by the agency. The Fossil Groups link lets visitors learn about the different types of fossils, how they lived, and how they are used to answer important questions about the world we inhabit, including well written descriptions and many photographs. A products link offers a large list of paleontological publications. The educational resources page rounds out the informative and interesting site, giving anyone interested something to enjoy. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

US Department of Energy: Waste Management
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management's goals include minimizing the waste generated by DOE, and pursuing compliance with all applicable environmental regulations. The Waste Management Web site contains information on how the DOE directs the treatment, storage, and disposal of waste generated by DOE's activities, nuclear and otherwise. A whole host of reports and other informational products such as the Standard Operating Practices and Procedures link and Waste Management Privatization information is available. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

National Wetlands Inventory
The National Wetlands Inventory is a product of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which produces information on the characteristics, extent, and status of the Nations wetlands and deepwater habitats. The user-friendly Wetlands Interactive Mapper allows visitors to display national coverage of spatial themes, including wetlands data, high resolution hydrology and transportation, and US Fish and Wildlife refuges. The impressive amount of information available in the inventory currently includes 90 percent of the lower 48 states and 34 percent of Alaska. A great resource for citizens and decision makers alike, the site effectively combines technology and information with easy access and use.
[Back to Contents]

Minerals Yearbook [pdf]
According to the Minerals Yearbook Web site, the US Geological Survey Minerals Information Team's mission is to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on the domestic and international supply of and demand for minerals and mineral materials essential to the US economy and national security. The yearbook reviews the mineral and material industries of the United States and foreign countries, contains statistical data on materials and minerals, and includes information on economic and technical trends and development. Volume I contains metals and minerals information, volume II US area reports, and volume III international reports. A lot of data is presented in the various documents; thankfully, the site is organized well and easy to navigate. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Topic In Depth

Understanding pH
1. The Story of pH
2. The pH Factor
3. pH and Water Quality
4. More Soil Stuff: Soil pH
5. Understanding the pH Cycle within the Aquarium
6. pH Calculator
7. Acids and Alkalis--the pH Scale
8. Acid Rain Lesson Plan: Activity 1 The pH Scale
The first site related to pH is from the Horiba corporate Web site entitled the Story of pH (1). Visitors can learn what pH is and how it's measured, explore various facts about pH, and read several anecdotes such as "Is the Rain in Our Cities Acidic." The site contains simple text, attractive graphics, and a well-designed layout making it fun and easy for anyone to explore. The second site from the Miami Museum of Science is called the pH Factor (2) kids activity page. This interactive and extensive site contains lessons on testing items for pH, tasting acids and bases, an interactive meter to find the pH of common household items, and much more. Next, is the pH and Water Quality (3) page, which is part of the State of Kentucky Division of Water Web site. The site provides a table of the effects of pH on fish and aquatic life and gives a short description of the most significant environmental impacts of pH. Trout for example, can tolerate a pH range between 4.1 and 9.5 while Mosquito larvae can survive within the 3.3 and 4.7 range. The fourth site from Gardengate is entitled More Soil Stuff: Soil pH (4). Described is the pH range of most soil types, requirements of certain plants, how to test soil for pH, and how to adjust it using sulfur and limestone. maintains the Understanding the pH Cycle within the Aquarium (5) lesson plan site. The stated objective of the activity is to have students define pH, explain how it affects a tank's water quality, and test the pH level in a classroom aquarium. Although an aquarium is obviously needed, the activity offers a unique and fun way for kids to learn about this basic chemistry concept. offers the next site, which is an interactive pH calculator called pH (6). Users simply enter a pH to get the concentration of Hydrogen ions or, conversely, the Hydrogen ion concentration to get the pH. Another tool to learn about pH and Hydrogen ions is called Acids and Alkalis--the pH Scale (7). Provided by, the interactive pH scale illustrates how the ion concentration changes with pH, common acids associated with each, and whether it is a weak or strong acid or alkali. The last site maintained by the National Park Service is called Acid Rain Lesson Plan: Activity 1 The pH Scale (8). Kids will be able to describe the pH scale and its components, explain why a pH measurement must be accurate, and explain why small changes in pH are important. Everything needed to complete the activity is provided, including a materials list, complete instructions, thinking questions, as well as links for further information. [JAB]
[Back to Contents]

Below are the copyright statements to be included when reproducing annotations from The NSDL Scout Report for the Physical Sciences.

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 Physical Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2003.

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, 1994-2003. 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.

Joel Brieske -- Editor
Ted Schroeder -- Managing Editor
Rachael Bower -- Director
Edward Almasy -- Technical Director
Max Grinnell -- Contributor
Rachel Sohmer -- Contributor
Cavin Leske -- Contributor
Meagan Lauing -- Contributor
Laura Boyle -- Contributor
Yasuhiro Sasahira -- Contributor
Debra Shapiro -- Contributor
David Sleasman -- Internet Cataloger
Colin Holden -- Assistant Internet Cataloger
Barry Wiegan -- Software Engineer
Pat Coulthard -- Technical Specialist
Noah Diewald -- Technical Specialist
Michael Grossheim -- Technical Specialist
Andy Yaco-Mink -- Website Designer
David Mayer -- Website Designer

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