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

The Whiteboard Report
October 2007, Issue #122



New Pathways Partner for Informal Learning
The National Science Foundation has announced a grant that will establish a new NSDL Pathways partner. The Science and Math Informal Learning Educators (SMILE) Pathway is focused on “rich, inquiry-driven learning experiences developed outside of the formal K-12 education system,” says principal investigator Darrell Porcello. He is the Creative Director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science. The project combines some of the best institutions dedicated to the growing field of informal education, including San Francisco’s Exploratorium, the New York Hall of Science, Science Museum of Minnesota, Children’s Museum of Houston, and the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC). Additionally, Co-PIs Sherry Hsi at the Exploratorium, and Eric Marshall at the New York Hall of Science, have previously led efforts to establish online resource hubs that include some of NSDL’s most popular resources. “SMILE is a particularly strong addition to NSDL’s array of Pathways,” says Kaye Howe, co-PI of NSDL. “We know how important, even critical, informal education is when it comes to attracting children to science and math. We also know that these wonderful and effective materials enter the classroom through the extensive use teachers make of them. We could not have a more talented group to work with. When we add to that their culture of collaboration, we can see a significant enhancement for all of NSDL.”

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JCE DLib Named “Best of the Web
Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News has high praise for an NSDL Pathways partner. In his “Best of the Web” column, Dr. Kevin Ahern says that the Journal of Chemical Education Digital Library covers its topic superbly. “Cutting a very broad swath through the subject, JCE’s site provides everything from the molecule of the month (rendered in 3-D) to numerous structures, classifications, rules for naming, online tutorials, practice test questions, QuickTime/Flash movies, videos (for sale), external links, and more,” says Ahern. “Though the site is aimed at instructors, I’m sure when word gets out among high school students about what is offered here for free, they’ll come in droves.”

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Federal R&D Funding Flat in 2006
Federal funding for research and development in academic science and engineering fields fell just short of inflation in fiscal 2006, marking the first inflation-adjusted decline in funding since 1982, according to university-reported data collected by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The 2.9 percent increase in R&D expenditures compared with an inflation rate of 3.0 percent. The federal government has provided over 60 percent of total academic R&D funds since fiscal year1972. The NSF’s annual survey measures five major sources of academic R&D funds, expenditures by major science and engineering fields, and science and engineering expenditures by the 20 largest academic institutions. Anyone want to guess which institution spent the most in 2006? The answer (if A equals O) is XCVBG VCDYWBG – or just click on the link above.

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Pathways Present at Black College Conference
Three NSDL Pathways are on the agenda at this week’s National Research Conference of the NSF’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program, held in Washington, DC. Presentations are scheduled by Bruce Mason, PI of the physics and astronomy Pathway ComPADRE; Michael Smith of the Engineering Pathway; and John Jungck, a collaborator with the BioSciences Ed Net (BEN) Pathway. In addition, BEN Scholar Terry McGuire will discuss his involvement with the public service group Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER). Over 300 students and more than 200 faculty from historically black colleges and universities are expected to attend.

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Whiteboard Reader Survey Winner
Congratulations to David Bigwood, a librarian at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas, who was randomly selected to receive a $100 gift certificate to for answering the Whiteboard Report Readers survey in September. The good news in the survey is that 50 of the 55 respondents found the news in Whiteboard helpful; three-quarters preferred that we continue delivering it via e-mail; and a majority wanted to continue receiving it once every two weeks. The bad news is that only seven respondents had visited our Whiteboard Talkback blog, and 40 percent didn’t even know it existed. Whiteboard Talkback is your chance to comment on the items you see here and add your own connections. Visit it to see the complete survey results:



New NSF Grants for Cyber-Enabled Discovery
The NSF has just announced a multidisciplinary, multi-year initiative called Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI). The initiative aims to create revolutionary science and engineering research outcomes made possible by innovations and advances in “computational thinking.” They seek “ambitious, transformative, multidisciplinary” research proposals in three areas: “from data to knowledge,” “understanding complexity in natural, built, and social systems,” and “building virtual organizations.” They describe a competitive proposal as one that promises “paradigm-shifting advances in more than one field of science or engineering.” Letters of Intent are due by November 30. For additional information about CDI and examples of transformative research, go to:

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The Gender Chip
The Gender Chip Project is a documentary film with companion materials designed to assist teachers, parents and mentors who are encouraging girls to the pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Although women are the majority of U.S. undergraduates, only 20 percent of them earn degrees in engineering and computer science. The film follows five women through four years of study in science, engineering and math at Ohio State University, as they find their own ways to navigate and succeed in worlds still dominated by men.
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SPARC Announces Mind Mashup
The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) is collecting entries for the SPARC Discovery Awards, a new contest to promote the open exchange of information. The theme is “Mind Mashup,” and contestants are invited to illustrate in short videos the importance of sharing ideas and information of all kinds. Anyone aged 15 or older is encouraged to send in their entry after considering this “inspiration quote” from George Bernard Shaw: “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange those apples, then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” The deadline is December 2.

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ALICE Legacy: 1m Downloads A Year
ALICE is an easy-to-use programming environment that teaches children the basics of software development. It was downloaded more than one million times last year. Recently a “final lecture” was delivered by its creator, Randy Pauch of Carnegie Mellon University, who is leaving his post due to illness. Streaming video of this event is available in two locations:

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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