The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences -- Volume 4, Number 6

March 18, 2005

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




Topic In Depth



NASA's Cosmochemistry Program (CCP) assists cosmochemical investigations that involve laboratory studies of extraterrestrial materials, examine the geochemistry solar system bodies, and/or study the formation and development of the solar system. Visitors can read abstracts of the proposals that have been awarded funding. The website offers a detailed strategy for the implementation of the program, which includes discussions of the facilities and methods, demographics, management, and challenges. [RME]

Puff - A Volcanic Ash Tracking Model [gif, jpeg, pdf, postscript, tar]

This website, provided by the University of Alaska and Geophysical Institute, explains the Puff-A Volcanic Ash Tracking Model project, which uses representative ash particles from volcanoes to study the advection and diffusion of ash within the atmosphere. After learning about the history of the project, visitors can find animations and images of the model's predictions for various volcanoes as well as the technical documentation. The website offers downloads of the latest version of the model, information on Puff's sensitivity, and satellite imagery of past volcanic eruptions. [RME]

University of California, San Diego: Advanced Energy Technology Group [Microsoft PowerPoint, pdf, jpeg]

The Advanced Energy Technology Group at University of California, San Diego "focuses on the exploration and application of advanced technologies to improve the economic and environmental attractiveness of emerging energy sources, including fusion, advanced fission, renewables and energy efficiency." The website divides the descriptions of its many projects into four categories: Inertial Fusion Energy, Fusion Power Plant Studies, Laser-Matter Interactions, and Thermal Sciences. In the Library link, visitors can find an archive of material properties, information on upcoming meetings, downloadable presentations, and publications. [RME]

Louisiana State University: Research in the Department of Geology and Geophysics

The Department of Geology and Geophysics at Louisiana State University promotes its geologic and geophysics research, facilities, and collections at this website. Users can find summaries of the Department's research projects in the areas of Fluids in the Crust, Geochemistry, Paleontology, Petrology, Mineralogy, Surficial Processes, and Biogeochemistry. The website introduces the petrographic and optical analysis facilities, X-ray crystallography, paleomagnetism lab, and additional facilities. Students and educators can also find contact information for the mineralogy and petrology collections. [RME]

University of Wisconsin-Madison Chemistry Department: The Gellman Group [gif, pdf]

The Gellman Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison presents its research "focused on understanding the interactions involved in the folding of natural and unnatural amide polymers." After learning the basics of the Group's unnatural amino acids and beta-peptide foldamers work, users can discover its biological applications. The website offers helpful figures to explain the protein-protein interactions and Beta Hairpins and Sheets. Researchers can find downloads to Gellman's numerous publications since 1989. [RME]

Alabama A&M University-Howard J. Foster Center for Irradiation of Materials [jpeg, gif]

The Howard J. Foster Center for Irradiation of Materials at Alabama A&M University "was established in response to the growing need for surface modification and characterization capability in North Alabama." Researchers can find images and concise explanations of the numerous material characterization and materials processing activities at the Center. The website allows users to search the Center's publication by keyword. Visitors can find out the latest meetings, conferences, and other events. The website also presents the many people and organizations involved with the Center's work. [RME]

SuperWASP: Wide Angle Search for Planets [gif]

"SuperWASP is the UK's leading extra-solar planet detection program comprising of a consortium of seven academic institutions." The website presents how SuperWASP works through clear text and helpful images. Researchers can find technical information on the Torus Fork Mount, CCD Cameras, and the Enclosure. Students and educators can discover the common techniques the Program uses to detect exoplanets such as pulsar timing and photometry. The website offers a gallery of images, the latest Program news, and other Web resources. [RME]

USGS: National Geochemical Survey Database [Microsoft Excel, Arc/Info]

The USGS's National Geochemical Survey (NGS) is producing "a body of geochemical data for the United States based primarily on stream sediments, analyzed using a consistent set of methods." After learning the history and background of the project, users can access the NGS data by geographic area. The website allows researchers to compare the analytical methods and view national maps illustrating the distribution of these methods for each element. Visitors can easily view maps of the distribution of arsenic, mercury, lead, calcium, titanium, and other elements. [RME]


Kepler Education Page [pdf, jpeg]

"The Kepler Mission is a NASA Discovery Program for detecting potentially life-supporting planets around other stars." Users can discover how NASA scientists are using the transit method to find planets through a demonstration using Legos. The website offers space science activities, factsheets, and an interactive program to educate individuals about planet detection. Visitors can read the latest news about the Kepler Mission. The website also offers a link to a thorough description of the Kepler Mission's goals, scientific basis, and technology. [RME]

School Science [Macromedia Flash Player]

School Science is a UK website, supported by numerous science organizations, offering educational tutorials, worksheets, and activities covering topics in chemistry, physics, and biology. The materials are broken down into three age levels: eleven through fourteen, fourteen through sixteen, and sixteen through eighteen. Among other things, each lesson offers an introduction, an activity, and a short quiz. The Students link offers fun interactive modules where users can see how atoms diffuse, build a series circuit, and much more. Educators are sure to find fun science materials to supplement their curriculum at this website. [RME]

Top 20 Activities in Chemistry [Java]

At this website, Quia furnishes 20 interactive activities to educate students about chemistry. Students can play matching, word, and concentration games to learn the names and formulas of binary ionic compounds, element symbols, common names of chemicals, and other basic chemistry concepts. The website also offers a quiz about chemical bonds, a chemistry Jeopardy game, a Battleship game about balancing equations, and much more. While users can subscribe to customize the activities, the free activities supplied at the website offer amusing ways to learn about chemistry. [RME]

The NASA Sci Files [Macromedia Flash Player]

The NASA Sci Files website "is designed to enhance and enrich the teaching of mathematics, science, geography, and technology in grades three through five." Educators can find the television broadcast schedule, past episodes for free, and innumerable in-class and at-home activities. Students can solve NASA problems, find animations and videos, discover experiments they can do at home, and much more. Parents can find out why and how they can become involved in exciting their children about science and mathematics. With so many entertaining activities, children are sure to become excited about science. [RME]

Discovery Channel: Kitchen Chemistry

This Discovery Channel website presents the science behind cooking. Through concise descriptions, users can discover how the kitchen is like a chemistry laboratory and cooking an experiment. The website educates individuals how adding salt affects the boiling point of water and why beating egg whites affects their texture. Students can learn about common chemical compounds in the kitchen including sugar, starches, fats, and proteins. The website offers suggestions on how an understanding of chemistry can create new, great food recipes. [RME]

Physics: Mechanics Overview [Java]

The Batesville High School Physics Department offers a tutorial about mechanics, the study of motion. The materials are divided into two main topics: Kinematics and Dynamics. The website offers a review of the concepts and discussions of the applications, packed with many animations to help individuals grasp the difficult concepts. Students can find numerous practice quizzes dealing with physics concepts such as speed, free fall, projectiles, and kinetic energy. Educators can find simple laboratory experiments as well as links to outside physics resources. [RME]

Valdosta State University's Virtual Museum of Fossils [gif]

Valdosta State University's Virtual Museum of Fossils offers information on animals since the Precambrian era. The website offers two navigation options. In the Find an Animal section, users can view fossils by clicking on different areas of the geologic timescales for Prokaryotes, Eukaryotes, Invertebrates, and Vertebrates. In the Choose a Time section, students can learn about the major characteristics of each era. For each period, this link also offers a map of the world, the characteristics of the landscape at the time, and pictures of fossils of the animals that lived during the period. While the Take a Tour link is still under construction, the abundance of information covering the geologic past makes the site worth the visit. [RME]

The Why Files: Virtual Science Comes Alive [jpeg, Java]

At this Why Files website, students can learn about meteorology and physics through four interactive games. Students can adjust the funnel width and the pressure difference to observe how these factors affect the destruction caused by a tornado. At the Play with Lightning link, users can examine how distance affects the dangers of lightening and the loudness of the thunder. The Hit a Homerun game allows visitors view the path of a baseball at different altitudes, speeds, and angles. The website also illustrates how temperature affects the shape of snowflakes. [RME]


Net-Weather [jpeg]

Net-Weather presents a host of meteorological information for the UK at this website. Users can find out seasonal, monthly, 10-day, and additional relevant weather forecasts. The Charts and Data link offers live satellite images, links to numerous forecast models, and data on sea temperatures and anomalies. For people who like winter and snow, the website offers interesting stories about famous British winters as well as snow reports. The Net-Weather Forum is a great place to discuss any weather-related topic. [RME]

Dallas Paleontological Society

The Dallas Paleontological Society promotes the science of paleontology by creating a "network for the exchange of data between professionals and serious amateurs in the field." Everyone should visit the Paleontological Information System, which is an easily searchable database containing information and photos of numerous specimens, related documents, and a glossary. In the Paleontological Info link, visitors can find materials about the surface geology of Texas, a geological timetable, and the Cretaceous geological formations in Northern Texas. The website also offers fossil preparation tip of the day. [RME]

Taking Action on Climate Change [jpeg, RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, pdf]

At this Government of Canada website, visitors can "learn about the science, impacts and adaptation to climate change and how individuals, governments, businesses, industry and communities take action by reducing greenhouse gas emissions." Through maps, graphs, and clear text, users can learn the basics of climate change and the greenhouse gases. The website details many of the ecological, economic, and global impacts of climate change. Users can find out about the One-Tonne Challenge, which encourages everyone to reduce their emissions. Teachers can find questions and activities to educate their students about climate change. The website also offers a calculator to estimate a user's current emissions, a series of videos instructing individuals how to create an energy efficient home and car, as well as publications and media resources. [RME]

The Global Sun Temperature Project [Microsoft Excel]

This website created by Stevens Institute of Technology and the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) allows students from around the world to work together to determine how average daily temperatures and hours of sunlight change with distance from the equator. Upper elementary, middle, and high school students can participate in the Global Sun Temperature Project from March 18 to June 3, 2005. Educators can find project information, lesson plans, and implementation assistance. Participants can submit their project data, pictures, and final reports. If interested parties miss the May 6th registration deadline, check out the website to discover future runs. [RME]

ESA: Earthnet Online [jpeg]

The European Space Agency (ESA) describes its earth observation missions and related research at this website. The website features the latest news, image of the week, and upcoming events. At the Missions link, visitors can learn about Envisat (Environmental Satellite), ERA (European Remote Sensing Satellites), and future observation missions. The Satellite Images link allows users to browse satellite and SAR Interferometry images from around the world. Visitors can discover how this work assists in disaster management, river and lake studies, and additional initiatives. [RME]

U.S. Department of Energy: Office of Science [pdf]

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science "is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, providing more than 40 percent of total funding for this vital area of national importance." At this expansive website, users can find posters explaining the Office's goals, its history, and answers to common questions. Researchers can receive the latest news, publications, images, and articles about the Office's basic research in energy, environmental, physical, and additional sciences. The website provides links to the National Laboratories and Research Universities. At the Facilities for the Future of Science link, individuals can learn about the proposed new facilities and upgrades to ensure continuing U.S. leadership in science and technology. The website presents the Office's accomplishments, results, awards, grants, and much more. [RME]

Institute for Mathematics and Applications: Mathematics of Materials and Macromolecules: Multiple Scales, Disorder, and Singularities [jpeg, pdf]

The Institute for Mathematics and Applications (IMA) developed this website to promote its conferences and workshops dealing with the applications of mathematics in the study of materials and molecules. Visitors can find information on a particular event's schedule, participants, and accommodations as well as abstracts. The events dealing with the physical sciences include workshops dealing with atomic motion, macroscopic models, and biophysics as well as a program about environmental and geophysical modeling. [RME]

South Carolina Seismic Network [jpeg, gif, pdf]

The University of South Carolina offers data from the seismic network that stretches from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Atlantic coast. Users can view maps of earthquake activity in South Carolina since 1996. The website offers a synopsis of the Charleston Earthquake in 1886, which was the largest historic earthquake in the Southeastern United States. Visitors can find a catalogue of the earthquakes occurring between 1698 and 1998 and a map of the East Coast seismicity from 1973 to 2000 as well as publications, technical reports, and bulletins. [RME]

Topic In Depth


Project Atmosphere Canada: Clouds
Weather [pdf]
Understanding Clouds and Fog
Dan's Wild Weather Cloud Gallery [gif]
Fractal Clouds [pdf, QuickTime, gif]
Web-Weather for Kids: Clouds
Clouds [gif]

First, the Project Atmosphere Canada offers a module to educate primary and secondary students about cloud formation and characteristics (1). The website outlines key points and offers a more in-depth discussion of water vapor, cloud formation, convection, air motion, severe weather, and more. The second website, by Scholastic, supplies many pdf documents of activities and lesson plans for all types of weather phenomena including clouds (2). Students can learn about condensation, discover what makes up a cloud, and find a key identifying the cloud types. Next, USA Today offers an online tutorial of the differing characteristics of clouds (3). Users can learn about Mammatus clouds, contrails, cloud seeding, and other cloud-related topics. At the fourth website, visitors can view meteorologist Dan Satterfield's amazing cloud photographs (4). Educators may find useful materials to supplement their lectures. Next, NASA's Climate and Radiation Branch furnishes "information on the fantastic variety of cloud forms and structures, and their implications for climate" (5). While the website is still being constructed, users can find useful information about the Bounded Cascades Fractal Cloud model, animations, and definitions of inhomogeneous cloud terminology. The sixth website, created by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, addresses how clouds impact our lives, how they cause chaos, and how they form (6). The enlightening descriptions are packed with colorful images and short quizzes. Next, The Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology describes the useful of clouds as an indicator of weather conditions (7). After learning how moist air can form clouds, individuals can view images of the ten most common cloud types. Lastly, Enchanted Learning offers a table of the cloud types with their abbreviation, appearance, composition, and altitude along with explanations of cloud formation and the atmosphere (8). Educators can find simple activities dealing with cloud types and the water cycle. [RME]

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From The NSDL Scout Report for Physical Sciences, 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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