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 #124



NSDL Gets Teachers’ Domain Treatment
As part of its Pathways grant, Teachers' Domain has added 100 new resources to its Life and Physical Sciences collections after adapting them from collections in the NSDL. Ten new lesson plans accompany the new resources. WGBH selected and developed these materials with the assistance of advisors from BSCS and the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. They adapted the media assets from a wide range of original sources in the NSDL, including museums (Exploratorium, American Museum of Natural History), universities (Nebraska, Utah, Colorado, Rutgers), organizations (AAAS, ChemThink, Texas Parks and Wildlife), and public television sources (“Dragonfly TV,” “Curious George,” “Design Squad,” “NOVA scienceNow.”) Free registration is required to view the new resources at the link above. More information is in an October 23 post to Expert Voices:

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Dave Fulker Honored By AMS
The American Meteorological Society (AMS) has given its Cleveland Abbe Award for Distinguished Service to Atmospheric Sciences to David Fulker, the first Executive Director of NSDL. The Award is given to those who "have contributed to the progress of atmospheric sciences or to the application of atmospheric sciences to general, social, economic, or humanitarian welfare." Fulker is cited for "almost a half century of pioneering work in the development of statistical applications providing service within the atmospheric sciences," Before he joined NSDL, Fulker spent 18 years directing the Unidata Program Center at the University Consortium for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). Among Fullker's many accomplishments there was to help create channels that provide real-time weather data through the Internet. Fulker will receive the honor at the AMS's 88th Annual Meeting in New Orleans in January 2008.
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CNLP To Put State Standards On Thinkfinity
Thinkfinity, a digital learning platform supported by the Verizon Foundation, has awarded a grant to the Center for Natural Language Processing (CNLP) at Syracuse University in order to assign state standards to their online content. Some of Thinkfinity's online collections are already connected to national education standards, but teachers often have difficulty comparing federal standards to requirements in their own state. The CNLP plans to hire 20 cataloguers to review and revise standards assignments that will be automatically generated by its software. Their tools were developed with NSF–NSDL funding and are available to other NSDL projects. For more information, contact Anne Diekema at diekemar AT

New In Microbe Library
Microbiology Education (FOME) that emphasizes grade school (K-12) outreach, and a new article in the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education (JMBE) on a student project to sequence, assemble, and annotate the Enterobacter cloacae P101 genome at the University of Florida. Two new curriculum activities and six new resources are also available for downloading from the Atlas-Protocol collection, which explains the history theory, and procedures of research protocols. Finally, eight new visual resources have been published.
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Engineering Pathway Honors Arcade
NSDL's Engineering Pathway has awarded the 2007 Premier Award for Excellence in Engineering Education Courseware to Kirk Martini of the University of Virginia for Arcade, a computer program that simulates and animates physical structures. Arcade uses a physics engine to model structural behavior and performs computations in real time, so that models respond instantly to input from the keyboard and mouse with a game-like interface. The Pathway also named two finalists for the award: Jeliot 3, an easy-to-use program animation system intended for teaching introductory programming and developed jointly by the University of Joensuu and the Weizmann Institute of Science; and JFLAP 6.1, a software tool for experimenting with finite automata, pushdown automata, Turing machines, grammars, parsing and L-systems. It was developed by Susan Rodger of Duke University and her students. More information is in an Octobr 23 post to Expert Voices:

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NSDL- NSTA Webinar News
"Studying Genomes," the fourth web seminar in a series offered by the NSDL and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), will be held on Tuesday, November 13 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Eastern time. Dr. Robert DeSalle, author and curator in the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, will speak on developments in genetic research and the new science of genomics. As researchers have mapped the genomes of hundreds of species (including the human genome), new insights have arisen that allow scientists to map the evolutionary relationships among organisms and use that knowledge to understand infectious diseases and genetic disorders. The seminar is directed at teachers of grades 7-12, and free pre-registration is required through the link below. Also, the successful web seminar "FunWorks: Inspiring Students to pursue Math and Science Careers" will be repeated through the New Science Teachers Academy, a new NSTA initiative that aims to support and encourage novice grade 7-12 science educators.
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An Alchemy of Collaboration
Kaye Howe, Director, NSDL Core Integration
Digitally immersed as we are, our highest value still seems to be the ancient human act of seeing each other, exchanging ideas and building relationships. That value is reflected in every NSDL Annual Meeting. What we have both witnessed and participated in over these years is the alchemy of collaboration and of parts coming together to build a greater whole-all in the service of STEM education.

Years ago I heard Gabriel Marcel say that the difficulty for human beings is that we think we have a problem and, often, it's a mystery. Words like "transformational" seem to resonate will all of us, but creating transformation takes hard and continuous work-work that cycles information back through an endless loop of learning, review and refinement that ultimately results in both warranted knowledge and enlightened practices. Our constant hope and belief is that the work of the entire NSDL network will continue to link classrooms to research, to see information transformed into the kind of learning that drives innovation and productive change, and that will begin to solve educational mysteries.

NSDL networks are growing. Multiple links and connections among people and organizations enable this ongoing alchemy of collaboration. There is great power in that, and we'll all experience transformation in action next week in Arlington, Virginia at the National Science Digital Library's Annual Meeting. I look forward to talking with many of you.

2007 NSDL Annual Meeting by the Numbers
205 Registered Attendees
73 First-time Attendees
36 NSF program officers registered
117 Projects Represented
59 Registered Posters
34 Sessions
20 Hours of scheduled meeting time
49 Hours of potential meeting time if sleep is not a factor
5 Average Number of Annual Meeting Haiku

Meeting Overview
Sarah Giersch, 2007 Annual Meeting Planning Committee, Chair
Over the past seven years, several metaphors have been applied to NSDL in an effort to explain what it is (many portals; one portal; different parts of an elephant). Then there are the metaphors that explain how we're getting there (building an airplane while flying, etc.). The plethora of metaphors persists in part because the people who have contributed to building NSDL proceed from a diverse range of disciplines, experiences, and motivations. Advancing NSDL Networks is appropriate, then, as meeting theme and also as metaphor describing not just what NSDL is (a distributed digital library of science and math resources) and where it's headed (to continue advancing STEM education and research) but how we get there: through a network of partnerships that connects researchers to teachers and learners and that supports NSDL users in becoming NSDL contributors, who individually strengthen and add value to the whole NSDL network.

The 2007 NSDL Annual Meeting was organized to reflect the diverse activities and needs of the projects funded under NSF's NSDL program. Meeting sessions are organized in 30-, 60-, and 90-minute blocks, which allow topics to be explored in varying depths (e.g., updates, panel presentations, or workshops). A new session-type was added this year. The five-minute Lightning Talk is a fast-paced, informal way to provide information or pose a question around focused topics.

Also, in the program and online schedule
, sessions are classified according to themes that suggested themselves during the proposal review process: content, technology, outreach, sustainability, evaluation, metadata, and project updates. Sessions are organized by theme or track throughout the meeting, which means it is possible to stay in one room and learn everything there is to know about the technology or metadata or evaluation or outreach activities occurring throughout NSDL projects. But we hope you won't do that.

Networking (the social type) has always been a high priority at NSDL meetings. To maximize attendees' time, breakfast (eggs and bacon, not just pastry and fruit) and lunch (wraps and hot deli sandwiches) are provided along with plenty of breaks (caffeine and cookies). Networking of the technical type is facilitated by free wireless in the poster room and lobby.

One of the most highly rated sessions from previous Annual Meetings is the poster session. These two-hour free-for-alls have the energy of a dog park on a crisp fall day. The intensity will only be heightened with the possible advent of the 36 NSF program officers registered to attend and with the definite appearance of hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar. Posters will remain available for quieter perusal through Wednesday at 3:00 pm.

Plenary Session Which brings us to the opening session. This is the only plenary session, and at just 45 minutes, will include presentations from: Cora Marrett, Assistant Director, Directorate for Education and Human Resources, National Science Foundation; Linda Slakey, Division Director, Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation; Lee Zia, Program Director, Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation, and; Kaye Howe, Director, NSDL Core Integration.

I have been poring over session proposals for five months now, and I am excited about each presentation. I think the program and poster session highlight the exciting activities occurring across all NSDL projects. Use the documents below to plan your time-and have fun!

Kudos to the Committee and to the National Science Foundation
Speaking of, I would like to thank the members of the Annual Meeting Planning Committee. Their hard work, experience and insight have helped bring this meeting to fruition. This truly is the most fun committee I have ever served on.

Finally, when organizing the program, it was interesting to note that a preponderance of projects' work is occurring around outreach and evaluation activities, while at the same time, work in such infrastructure areas as technology, metadata and content is being scaled for wider use. While innovative work in all areas continues, this meeting program reveals a set of projects whose collective energy is poised, ready for the next step.bAs always, NSDL would like to thank the National Science Foundation for its generous support and advocacy.

2007 NSDL Annual Meeting Planning Committee Cathy Lowe, Content Standing Committee
Anne Diekema, Education Impact & Evaluation Standing Committee
Rachael Bower, Policy Committee
Lois McLean, Sustainability Standing Committee
Jeremy Frumkin, Technology Standing Committee
Lutishoor Salisbury, NSDL Member-at-Large
Sharon Clark, Donna Cummings, Sarah Giersch (chair), Robert Payo, NSDL Core Integration.

Schedule Overview Westin Arlington, 801 North Glebe Road, Arlington, Virginia 22203
Phone: (703) 717-6200

Tuesday, November 6
3:00-5:00: Poster Setup
5:00-5:45: Opening Plenary Session
6:00-8:00: Poster Reception

Wednesday, November 7
7:30-8:30: Breakfast
8:30 - 5:30: Meeting sessions
5:30-8:00: Rooms available for additional meetings

Thursday, November 8
7:30-8:30: Breakfast
8:30-11:30: Meeting sessions
11:30-12:30: Lunch provided; meeting adjourns at 12:30
12:30-4:00: Rooms available for additional meetings

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Robert Noyce Scholarships
The Robert Noyce Scholarship program encourages talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers in high-need school districts. The program provides undergraduate and graduate scholarships and stipends through 16 institutions of higher education. South Dakota State University's program should create 24 new teachers in the state over four years; New York University's program matches students with mentors who work to keep them in the field. A complete list of granting institutions is at the link above.
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Cost of Copyright Confusion
In this report, the Center for Social Media shows that the fundamental goals of media literacy education—to cultivate critical thinking and expression about media and its social role—are compromised by unnecessary copyright restrictions. As a result of poor guidance, counterproductive guidelines, and fear, teachers use less effective teaching techniques, teach and transmit erroneous copyright information, fail to share innovative instructional approaches, and do not take advantage of new digital platforms. There are many ways copyrighted material can be legally used without permission or payment, but educators have no consensus around what constitutes acceptable fair use practices.
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Whiteboard Special Issue
The NSDL's Annual Meeting takes place next week (November 6-8) in Arlington, Virginia. Over 175 are registered. Later this week, we will send a special issue of Whiteboard Report containing more information about the posters and sessions planned for the meeting.
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Annual Meeting Information and Documents
Additional handouts will be part of the printed conference packet available at the registration desk.
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2007 NSDL Annual Meeting Program (.pdf)
--Poster abstracts (.pdf)
--Poster index (.pdf)
--Attendee list

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Can Cockatoos Really Dance?
Snowball the Cockatoo stomps and shakes his feathers to a song by the Back Street Boys in a video on YouTube. He has done it more than one million times since the clip went up last month. But is Snowball responding to the music, or to its owner? In the blog for the PBS show "Wired Science," ornithologist John Pepper writes that cockatoos "are intensely social and interactive birds. They are especially interactive with a person they know well. But even as a stranger you can easily elicit this kind of behavior. If you walk into a pet store and interact with any parrot, make eye contact, and talk to it, and then start bobbing your head, chances are good that it will start bobbing its head along with you. Try it! I suspect that in most cases, while the video is being shot, but outside the picture, the bird's owner is dancing along with the bird and encouraging it."

On the Road in Arlington: Add Your Thoughts about NSDL's Annual Meeting
Add your Annual Meeting reports, impressions, photographs and restaurant recommendations of the to the NSDL Road Reports blog. Contact Brad Edmondson , or Carol Minton Morris

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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