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

The Whiteboard Report
December 2007, Issue #127



New Collections Development Policy
NSDL's Policy Committee has approved a new organizational document on collections development. The document describes NSDL's mission; the communities it serves; resource ownership, management, and description; the scope of collections; quality guidelines; responsibility for selection, accessioning and de-accessioning collections; and terms of participation. The new policy and the Contribute Resources and Collections information on are especially helpful for resource and collection developers, providing official answers to many basic "what" and "how" questions about NSDL and contribution to the library: see

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eLucy's Guide to Human Origins
The team that made the popular site has launched a new project to support the American tour of Lucy, a partial skeleton of a 3.2 million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis. Lucy almost certainly walked upright and had many other human characteristics, and her bones are among the most important clues to the origins of the human race. The six-year tour has been controversial because the bones are extremely fragile. But the exhibit's opening at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in September drew huge crowds, and its six-year tour of the U.S. is an important opportunity for teachers of comparative anatomy. Using the format of Eskeletons, lets visitors compare the bones of Australopithecus with those of a chimpanzee and a modern human. Several activities for students and teachers are also available, and more are planned.
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Teachers & Students: Speak Up!
Speak Up is a national online survey where students, parents, teachers and school leaders participate in a dialog about key educational topics. Participating schools and districts will receive free online access to their results in January 2008. Since its inception five year ago, the project has collected the viewpoints of over 850,000 K-12 students, teachers, and parents from all 50 states. If you want to join the conversation, don't wait: this year's comment period closes on December 21st.
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Blog Posts and Dirty Water
A trio of computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University has designed an algorithm with an unusual dual purpose. It can identify how news spreads through the Internet, or how toxins spread through a water system. The Cascades Project is the creation of CMU professor Carlos Guestrin and graduate students Andreas Krause and Jure Leskovec. It uses the property of submodularity to analyze posts in 45.000 blogs, with the time stamps on each blog post determining where news items originated. It also determined the optimal number and placement of sensors for detecting the introduction and spread of contaminants in a municipal water supply. A video lecture (above) explains the process. The team is now focusing on detecting pollution in lakes and rivers, and the optimal placement for stations in citywide wi-fi networks.

NSDL/NSTA Web Seminar 6: Microbial Worlds
Bacteria are more than just "germs" or disease agents. The evolutionary, ecological, and economic importance of these microbes is not well known among the general public. Join our presenters Sarah Bordenstein and Dr. Seth Bordenstein from the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts as we explore the world of microbes and bring current study and research in biodiversity, molecular biology methods, bioinformatics, and molecular evolution concepts into your classrooms. The seminar will be held on Tuesday, January 8th from 6:30 to 8:00 pm Eastern time, and is designed for teachers of grades 9 to 12. Free pre-registration is required:

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Dr. Biology's NSDL Podcast
Dr. Charles Kazilek, aka "Dr. Biology," has been explaining life sciences to the general public for the last decade. He has also been making podcasts of half-hour interviews with scientists for the last several years. The 25th in the series describes NSDL, featuring interviews conducted at the Annual Conference with Kaye Howe and Carol Minton Morris from Core Integration; Lee Zia, lead program officer for NSDL at the National Science Foundation; and Samantha Katz, director of education and outreach at the American Academy of Biological Sciences and a staffer for the BioSciEdNet (BEN) Pathway . The podcast offers a lively introduction to NSDL, which Dr. Biology says is "as close to one-stop shopping for learning materials and activities as one can find on the Web today."
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How Green Was My Campus?
Many colleges and university Presidents have pledged to make their campuses "carbon neutral." Which ones are doing more than just talking about it? Sierra magazine recently highlighted ten schools that have taken significant actions. At the number one spot, Oberlin College, one-third of the food served in dining halls is produced locally, student activity fees subsidize public transportation, and half of the electricity comes from green sources. The Sierra Club also sponsors a page on Facebook where you can trade ideas on how to make campuses greener.
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Call For Papers: Distance Learning
Proposals are being solicited for The Annual Conference on Distance Teaching & Learning, which will take place August 5-8, 2008 in Madison, Wisconsin. Sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education, the conference gathers approximately 1,000 educators, trainers, managers, and designers from throughout the world who are involved in distance teaching and training. Online submissions will be accepted until January 15, 2008 at the link above. For more information, contact Kimary Peterson, distel2 AT
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Grants for Library-Museum Collaborations
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is accepting grant applications for the National Leadership Grant (NLG) program until February 1, 2008. This year's guidelines encourage projects that create partnerships between libraries and museums, integrate new technologies, and highlight the agency's focus on conservation and preservation. The five funding categories include Advancing Digital Resources, Library and Museum Collaboration, Collaboration Planning Grants, Research Projects and Demonstration Projects. Requests may range from $50,000 to $1,000,000, and planning grants of $40,000 are also available for projects involving more than one institution.
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Woods Hole Workshop for High School Teachers
The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), with support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), is offering a professional development workshop in science education for high school teachers. Discover the Microbes Within! The Wolbachia Project will take place April 11-13, 2008 at the Woods Hole Institute, one of the nation's prominent biology institutions in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The workshop will show teachers how to integrate inquiry, discovery, and contemporary research in biology into classroom labs and lesson plans. The deadline for applications is January 15th. For more information, contact Dr. Seth Bordenstein at sbordenstein AT, or go to their website.
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Annual Meeting Survey closes December 20th
Give your feedback on this year's Advancing NSDL Network Annual Meeting. Your responses will help shape next year's meeting.
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Give the $100 Laptop
Forty years ago, Seymour Papert and others began dreaming about small, easy-to-use computers that would bring worlds of knowledge to children. The dream device became the XO Laptop--it is powerful, durable, built for kids, priced at about $100, and in mass production starting last month. Nicholas Negroponte, who heads a not-for-profit group One Laptop Per Child, says that the group's aim is to give underprivileged children around the world a new way to pursue knowledge. Until December 31, a partially tax-deductible donation of $399 will buy you two XO laptops: one will be sent to empower a child in a developing nation, and one will be sent to the child in your life. Both the computers and the children are adorable.
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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