Research news and notes from the National Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Education
Digital Library (NSDL) Program [Back Issues]

The Whiteboard Report
August 2007, Issue #119



Pathways Make Progress in 2006-07
NSDL's Pathways partners have been working closely with Core Integration in the past year. These efforts are bearing diverse fruits and leveraging the power of the NSDL Network. New partnerships and collaborations are forming. Pathway workshops offer multiple models for professional development. Pathways have achieved significant technical gains. They are also exploring cross-collaboration and new ways to use the tools and services developed by Core Integration.

Eight of the nine Pathways have released new portals or have enhanced portal services in the past year. The ninth partner, ChemEd Dlib, which is finishing its first year with NSDL, has ambitious plans. It is developing a new portal that will include the Journal of Chemical Education Dlib collections, the American Chemical Society (ACS) collections, the ChemCollective project, and chemistry materials from both NSDL and non-NSDL projects.

Engineering Pathway has implemented Community Sign On (CSO), so that signing in to NSDL also resigters a visitor at their site. They have also integrated NSDL searches within their own search results. Teachers' Domain, MatDL, and ComPADRE are nearing implementation of CSO, along with other NSDL projects like Instructional Architect and Content Clips. BEN and Math Gateway are beginning to explore CSO requirements and implementation.

Pathways have contributed their time and effort to the Metadata Working Group (MWG), which is developing a common thesaurus of subject search terms for NSDL. AMSER is developing controlled vocabularies on key concepts in applied math and science; ChemEd DLib is developing taxonomies for general chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and video collections.

Pathway Workshops have been one of the most successful areas of collaboration in the last year. Supplemental funding from the National Science Foundation has allowed Pathways and Core Integration to present professional development workshops tailored to the needs and goals of each Pathway community. These include a September 2006 workshop for MatDL focused on the integration of research with education, a two-day teacher/faculty training workshop sponsored by the Math Gateway in October, a four-day leadership training institute for 21 "BEN Scholars" run by BioSciEdNet (BEN), a three-hour training workshop at the League of Innovation conference in New Orleans sponsored by AMSER, a two-day workshop for 22 educators in April sponsored by CSERD, Engineering Pathway's workshop at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) 2007 Conference in June, a July workshop where nine teachers invited by ComPADRE are utilizing digital library tools to make physics modeling curriculum accessible, and the Summer Science Forum for public television representatives sponsored by Teachers' Domain. -Eileen McIlvain, Core Integration

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Engineering Pathway On Bridge Design
Engineers are looking for clues to explain the collapse of the I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis on August 1. Investigators are focusing on the bridge's gusset plates, which reinforced its steel trusses. Since these plates are used in hundreds of bridges around the country, the lessons learned in Minneapolis could prevent similar incidents. Engineering Pathway's educational resources on bridge failures, safety and design include a presentation on the Cooper River Bridge by Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell University. The Cooper River Bridge, the longest cable stay span in North America, opened in Charleston, South Carolina in 1992. See the presentation by searching for "Cooper River Bridge" at

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Middle School Portal: Three Essential Cycles
Three cycles essential to life are the subjects of new science publications on the NSDL Middle School Portal. Under the series title "What Goes Around Comes Around," the publications provide resources for teaching units on the Carbon, Water, and Nitrogen cycles. Along with coverage of the naturally occurring cycles, the author, Mary LeFever, stresses the human impact on the cycles, from water management to pollution to climate change. "In this way," she notes, "students apply knowledge, analyze issues, synthesize concepts, and evaluate proposed solutions." A former middle school science teacher, LeFever identifies dozens of quality lesson plans and classroom activities as well as rich sources of content information for the teacher. The three publications are aligned with the National Science Education Standards.

The series appears in the Explore in Depth section of the Middle School Portal. At the web site, teachers will also find one-page publications called Quick Takes, which identify three or four "just-in-time" resources for teaching a topic or for expanding content knowledge. Teachers are invited to register for e-mail announcements of new publications. -Kim Lightle, Middle School Portal
Nitrogen Cycle:
Water Cycle:
Carbon Cycle:

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ASM MicrobeLibrary Atlas CD
Have you purchased your copy of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) MicrobeLibrary Atlas CD? Available for just $18.00, the Atlas CD provides over 300 images that portray results from the use of standard microbiology protocols and media such as Gram Stain, Blood Agar, MacConkey Agar, Triple Sugar Iron Agar, and more. Orders may be placed online through the ASM eStore at questions about the MicrobeLibrary nd/or the Atlas-Protocol Collection, email

Keeping Current: An NSDL User Wiki
When you enter the term "global warming debate" in the NSDL search box, you get 297 resources, some of which are more than ten years old and have not been updated recently. These older resources are useful artifacts of a time when scientists still disagreed about human-induced global warming. But now that debate has almost ended, and the resources are not current information. You have to dig around to find that. A wiki project called "OurNSDL" is now in development that will allow users to share information on the best NSDL resources having to do with subjects such as climate change.

One recent OurNSDL test searched the collection using the term "global warming debate" to see what came up. The first resource listed was Dr. James E. Hansen's January 1999 article The Global Warming Debate, which is posted on the website of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Sciences. If you know that James Hansen is a climate scientist with a long history of making high-profile warming warnings, you might do another NSDL search using his name. When you do, you get an abstract of Hansen's March 2004 article in Scientific American magazine called Defusing the Global Warming Time Bomb. Also listed is a more recent resource from NASA, Hansen's former employer. It is a fact sheet on global warming from their Earth Observatory project. Hansen is now on the faculty of Columbia University, and the most current information listing his publications is on his web page.

NSDL users are surfing around like this every day to find the freshest resources and add them to their lesson plans. A beta version of OurNSDL will launch soon to give users an easy way to share what they have found.



Natural Sound Enhances Google Maps
Natural soundscape expert, Dr. Bernie Krause, and his Wild Sanctuary team has just launched 100 new audio components on Google Maps, bringing natural sound to the virtual world. Wild Sanctuary's all-digital audio archive is possibly the largest, and most comprehensive collection of species-specific and habitat-ambiant sound in private hands, today. Their research into biophony is revealing important new data about human, creature, and habitat health and well-being.

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Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants
The U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) invite applications to the Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants program. This program is designed to encourage innovations in the digital humanities. By awarding relatively low-dollar grants during the planning stages, the goal is to identify projects that are particularly innovative and have the potential to make a positive impact on the humanities. By having IMLS co-sponsor this grant opportunity with the NEH, our hope is to spark more collaborations among scholars, librarians, museum officials, and computer scientists. Application deadlines are October 16, 2007 & April 2, 2008. Grant guidelines are posted at For more information, please contact:

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Online Seminars on Web Content
A two-part web seminar on designing successful web content for colleges and universities is starting soon. Part I, "Changing Campus Culture For Successful Web Content," is scheduled for Wednesday, September 19th from 1 to 3 pm EDT. The session will cover models for content authoring and ownership; how to identify authors across the institution; instilling institutional goals and customer service at the authoring level; and how to keep authors on top of content long-term. Part II, "Web Authoring Principles For Focused And Effective Content," is scheduled for Thursday, October 25th. Seminar leader Eric Hodgson is an Interactive Consultant with Estrada, implementing specialized Web strategies and solutions for his clients ranging from small liberal arts colleges to four-year public institutions. Register by September 5 and save $50 off the regular price of $345 for both seminars. For more information, see

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A Nation's Teacher
Barbara R. Morgan, an elementary school teacher from McCall, Idaho, rode the space shuttle Endeavor into orbit shortly before 7pm on August 6. Morgan is also a trained astronaut and will devote only about six hours to education during her mission. "The main part of the educational program will happen when we return to earth," she says. Classroom resources, including a video from Morgan and lesson plans, are posted in the "educators" section of NASA's web site at

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Published from 2000 to September 2009, NSDL Whiteboard Report Archives provide access to prior issues of the bi-weekly newsletter published by NSDL. To subscribe to current news and information about NSDL, go to the NSDL Community Network site, register as a user, subscribe to and participate in selected features found there. For more information contact Eileen McIlvain