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

The Whiteboard Report
January 2008, Issue #129



DLESE Finds A New Home
A pioneer in the online delivery of educational resources has found a new home. Earlier this month, the National Science Foundation announced that the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) will be maintained by The National Center for Atmospheric Research. NCAR's library will assume development and curation responsibilities for DLESE, and its Computational and Information System Laboratory (CISL) will provide systems and operational support. The agreement means DLESE's popular collections will remain free, there will be no interruption in service, and the site will continue to grow and serve the needs of geoscience communities. Questions about DLESE and its collections should be directed to support AT

Memo to Parents: Teens Do Listen
Here's an effective way to attract people to a conference booth: play the call of a Weddell Seal loud enough to hear across the room, according to a January 16 post in the NSDL blog Road Reports. The post describes a highlight from a recent NSF Workshop and Exhibition held in conjunction with the US Governors Conference. The session described the successful public relations campaign slogan, math + science = success, which is promoted by the NSF-funded University System of Georgia Math and Science Partnership (MSP). According to their market research, many families have a significant communication gap. Children say they are most influenced by their parents' attitudes and advice, while parents feel that their children are most likely to listen to teachers and school administrators. Who knew they were actually paying attention?
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Web Seminar Explains Oceanic Wiggles
What causes reversals in the Earth's magnetic field? How does the magnetic field help scientists determine the age of the ocean floor and the movement of tectonic plates? A web seminar on January 29, Earth in Reverse: Magnetic Wiggles on the Ocean Floor, will show how anomalies in magnetic patterns (known as wiggles) reveal clues to the geologic past. Dr. Chris Symons of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Dr. Anthony Koppers of Oregon State University will host this seminar for teachers of grades 6 to 12. The seminar will run from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. In addition to talking about their experiences, Symons and Koppers will showcase resources from Enduring Resources for Earth Science Education (ERESE), which is supported by Scripps. NSDL and the National Science Teachers Association are the co-sponsors, and free pre-registration is required.

Blogs for Teachers Are Succeeding
Last fall, staff at NSDL's Middle School Portal began making weekly posts to two Expert Voices blogs. Connecting News With National Science Education Standards helps middle school teachers build lessons around a current news item by linking it to online resources; Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears helps elementary teachers become more knowledgeable about the polar regions while providing best practices on how to integrate polar concepts into their teaching. After four months, the Connecting Science blog is on track to have 1,000 page views in January. After three months, the Penguins blog is heading for 3,500 page views!

Verizon Grant to Achievement Network
A major grant from the Verizon Foundation will allow JES & Co.'s Achievement Standards Network (ASN) database of publicly available state academic standards to grow beyond science, technology, engineering and math subjects. The ASN is now adding standards in English language arts, social studies, economics, geography, and the arts. The Verizon Foundation's Thinkfinity project chose the inexpensive, widely-available ASN-based information over more expensive private sources to show how each Thinkfinity resource addresses their own state's academic standards. "Support from The National Science Foundation has enabled JES & Co. to be a key player in the U.S.'s efforts to improve educational standings in STEM disciplines," said Diny Golder, executive director of JES and Co. "With The Verizon Foundation's support, we can now offer support to resource providers in all subjects."

Shodor's Aid To Test Prep Season
Shodor and the Computational Science Education Reference Desk (CSERD) have released a new set of tools to help teachers and students use a more dynamic approach to assess student achievement in math skills. The Interactivate Assessment Toolkit includes more than 50 Explorers, Games, and Quizzes that allow students to tailor their assessment activity by selecting a problem type, level of difficulty, and allowed time for solution. These assessment tools also keep score, so students will be able to track their progress as they improve their computation skills and basic understanding of math concepts.
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Elemental Expertise: Periodic Table Wiki
One of the jewels in the Chemical Education Digital Library is Periodic Table Live! (PTL). It is a periodic table accompanied by pictures, movies, atomic structures, and more information about the chemical elements. The site also includes tools for sorting and graphing its numerical data. Visitors can contribute information about their favorite elements by using the Periodic Table Wiki, which is listed under Collections on the main page of the ChemEd Collaborative wiki site. If you have special expertise about one or more of the elements, please share it at the Periodic Table Wiki. Even if you don't want to contribute, you can listen in as a community of chemists and educators get elemental.
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Grants to Young Inventors
The Motorola Foundation has awarded $3.5 million to 106 programs that use innovative approaches to develop young peoples' interest in science, technology, engineering, and math. The 2007 Innovation Generation Grants place special emphasis on programs aimed at girls and ethnic groups, such as the Summer Engineering Experience for Kids program run by the National Society of Black Engineers. The company is launching a portal site to encourage grantees to collaborate, and also to provide access to the expertise of Motorola engineers and scientists.
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MacArthur Series on Digital Learning
New studies on digital media and learning are available for free download. The six-volume series is funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and published by MIT Press. It examines the effect of digital media on how young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life. Its release marks the launch of the new International Journal of Learning and Media, which will explore core issues facing young people in the digital age. To access the material, go to the MacArthur Foundation's site and look for the newsroom item dated December 12, 2007.
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The NSDL community will be well-represented at the upcoming American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting, February 14-19 in Boston. On Sunday the 17th at 8:30 am, a session entitled Faculty Collaborative Online Tools and Projects: Lessons from the NSDL will be held in Room 209 of the Hynes Convention Center. At 2:15 pm that day, NSDL will host a Digital Resource Showcase for K12 Science Education, also in Room 209. Both sessions are free and open to the public. Stop by and meet representatives from many of NSDL's partners, including BEN and AAAS (Biology), MatDL from Kent State University (Material Science), ComPADRE from AAPT (Physics and Astronomy), University of Wisconsin (Chem EdDL) , CSERD(Computational Science), University of California-Berkeley (Engineering) , WGBH Teachers’ Domain, Ohio State University (NSDL Middle School Portal ), Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, and the Education Development Center (EDC). For more information, contact Robert Payo, rpayo AT
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Learn to Teach With NASA's Data
NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA will host a workshop for teachers in grades 6 to 12 on June 22-27, 2008. The workshop will focus on developing lessons from Earth System Science data sets developed for the pre-college education community as part of the MY NASA DATA program. The data sets are derived from the archive of remotely sensed data retrieved from NASA's Earth Observing System satellites. Participants will go on field trips and benefit from the expertise of nationally recognized atmospheric researchers. Earth Science educators are particularly encouraged to apply. Applications must be postmarked by April 9, 2008.
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How Have You Changed Your Mind?
The Edge Foundation has announced its annual question for 2008: "Science is based on evidence. What happens when the data change? How have scientific findings or arguments changed your mind, and why?" Its website already contains answers from165 prominent thinkers. Keith Devlin, a mathematician at Stanford, says he used to believe that mathematical truths existed in some independent Platonic realm. But after several decades of studying and teaching, he says, "I now see mathematics as something entirely different, as the creation of the (collective) human mind. . . A Platonistic standpoint is essential to doing mathematics, just as Cartesian dualism is virtually impossible to dispense with in doing science or just plain communicating with one another. But ultimately, our mathematics is just that: our mathematics, not the universe's."
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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