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

The Whiteboard Report
September 2007, Issue #121



Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears
NSDL’s Middle School Portal has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation International Polar Year (IPY) Program. It will collaborate with the Byrd Polar Research Institute, the Center for Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio, NSDL Core Integration, and other organizations to develop an online magazine entitled “Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears: Integrating Literacy and IPY into K-5 Classrooms.” Kim Lightle, PI of the Middle School Portal, first imagined the project when she observed that people of all ages are stumped by this riddle: Why don't polar bears eat penguins? The answer is that these species live at opposite ends of the earth, and the confusion reflects a shallow understanding of polar environments. The “Penguins and Polar Bears” project’s goal is to improve the quality of science teaching in K-5 classrooms. Each issue of the online magazine will be organized around a concept, such as Ice, Conservation, Biomes, or Populations. The project will also take advantage of NSDL’s semantic web infrastructure. For more information on the project, contact Kimberly Lightle at For more information on International Polar Year, go to
Related Link:

Open Access to Scientific Papers
Librarians are attacking a public relations campaign funded by the Association of American Publishers (AAP). The Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine (PRISM) was launched earlier this year with support from the AAP’s Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division to “ensure the quality, integrity, and economic viability of peer-reviewed journals.” Two weeks ago, an issue brief from the Association of Research Librarians said that the group’s real purpose is to oppose initiatives that ease public access to federally funded research, and to oppose “open access generally.” They point to the case of Peter Murray Rust, a chemist at Cambridge University, who found Oxford University Press's website demanding $48 from him to access his own scientific paper, in which he holds copyright and which he released under a Creative Commons license.

Related Link:

Virginia Requires Internet Safety Instruction
Virginia has become the first state to require schools to teach children how to avoid online pedophiles and scammers. Because the bad guys are known to lurk on social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Xanga, staffers from the Virginia Attorney General’s office are visiting classrooms to tell children to follow the same rules online as they would in any public place: don’t talk to strangers, don’t share personal information, and don’t agree to meet anyone who approaches you. Government officials in Connecticut, North Carolina, and other states have called for stronger government regulation of social networking sites, according to a September 17 report on National Public Radio’s "Morning Edition."

Related Link:

NSTA/NSDL Seminar #2: Everything Igneous
The second season of free web seminars offered by the National Science Teachers Association and NSDL begins tomorrow (September 20) at 6:30 pm Eastern time with an introduction to The FunWorks, a digital resource library designed by middle school students that encourages young people to explore math and science careers. If you can’t make it to that one, please consider participating in the second seminar at the same time on Tuesday, October 2. Dr. Anthony Koppers, Associate Professor of Marine Geology and Geophysics at Oregon State University, will join Dr. Chris Massell Symons of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to dive into the depths of volcanoes. “Everything’s Coming Up Igneous” is for anyone who wants to learn about or teach the formation of hotspots, mantle plumes, and LIPs (Large Igneous Provinces). Free pre-registration is required:

Related Link:

Answer Whiteboard’s Questions, Win $100
Whiteboard Report is planning a makeover and we seek your candid advice. Click on the link to answer a few questions and we will be ever so grateful. We will collect responses through the end of September. One randomly selected visitor will receive a $100 gift certificate to
Related Link:



National STEM Action Plan Next Month
In October, the National Science Board plans to release the final version of “A National Action Plan for Addressing the Critical Needs of the U.S. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education System.” Public comments on the draft version were collected in August. Although the official comment period is over, interested parties may contact Dr. Elizabeth Strickland at or 703-292-4527 for additional information.
Related Link:

Online Climate Course offers $500 Grants
The Paleontological Research Institution, in conjunction with the Earth System Science Education Alliance (ESSEA) is offering an innovative course in ESS education professional development “Global Climate Change and Informal Earth System Science” is a for-credit, 9 week online course in designing inquiry-based, Earth system science informal education. Upon successful completion of the course, the staff member's employing venue will receive a mini-grant for $500 for each participant, to be used toward implementation of his/her final project. Employing institutions will then be invited to offer the ESSEA K-12 teacher PD courses to local teachers.
Related Link:

Six Forces Affecting Education
The KnowledgeWorks Foundation and the Institute for the Future have released a map that forecasts six plausible trends and cultural shifts that are likely to affect education over the next 10 years. They are: Grassroots Economics; Smart Networking; Strong Opinions, Strongly Held; The Sick Herd; The Urban Wilderness; and The End of Cyberspace. The trends are presented as rows in a matrix, and they are paired with horizontal columns labeled Family & Community; Markets; Institutions; Educators & Learning; and Tools & Practices.
Related Link:


Hispanic Science
Seven Latin American countries mark their anniversary of independence in September and October. The Engineering Pathway is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, beginning September 15, with a collection of resources about and for Hispanic engineers and scientists. Resources include “The 10 Best Engineering Schools for Hispanics” and profiles of Hispanic women who are leaders in information technology.
Related Link:

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