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

The Whiteboard Report
February 2008, Issue #130



Teaching the Feb. 20 Lunar Eclipse
A total lunar eclipse will be visible in North America on February 20th beginning at 8:43 pm Eastern and 5:43 pm Pacific time. This prime-time celestial show should be an excellent teaching opportunity for young astronomers, and several good web resources are available. NASA's "Official Eclipse Home Page" is the most extensive, with downloadable diagrams for each time zone, a full discussion of conditions and special circumstances for this event, and a good set of links. The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute's site has a good one-page Frequent Questions sheet. And Sky and Telescope magazine has a guide to all four visible eclipses that will happen in 2008, including a total solar eclipse on August 1 that will run in a narrow swath from the Canadian Arctic to Mongolia. If that isn't your ideal vacation, just wait -- the next total solar eclipse visible in North America is scheduled for August 21, 2017.
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New BEN Resources
The number of peer-reviewed educational resources in NSDL's Biological Sciences Pathway (BEN) portal recently expanded by more than 20 percent. Among the 1,500 new items are lessons, laboratory exercises, journals, multimedia, and online interactive pages like the Video and Image Data Access (VIDA) collection for Science and Inquiry during Teacher Preparation. These are 199 annotated science video and images with content and language appropriate for K-8 science. A VIDA resource called Main Zones of the Intertidal Zone shows an area of the Central California coast where the tides rise and fall daily, alternatively submerging and exposing the shore to ocean water. The images discuss the important characteristics of each zone, and a link to the NSDL Strand Map system allows users to relate the resource to national educational standards and benchmarks. Descriptions of the new BEN resources will be posted each week on the NSDL Pathways News blog.
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Teachers Domain Polar Resources
The new Polar Sciences Collection from Teachers' Domain was funded by NSF as an education activity of the International Polar Year. Twenty new resources have been added, along with links to supplemental resources that are already on Teachers Domain. Nearly all the new resources are available in the site's Open Educational Resources section for public download and reuse. "We hope that these materials will help bring polar sciences into classrooms across the country and help to focus attention on the importance of the work taking place during International Polar Year," says Ted Sicker, PI of Teachers' Domain, an NSDL Pathways project. "We plan to expand the special collection later this year with the 40 new resources we'll be developing as part of another NSF-funded project called Engaging Alaska Natives in the Geosciences."
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Flower Bulb Science
There is nothing like a pot of tulips in the middle of winter to inspire young scientists. The Bulb Project is a new website that shows K-12 educators how to use flower bulbs to teach science, art, and history. It is also the subject of the next NSDL Web Seminar Series, which will be presented on Thursday, February 7th from 6:30-8:30 pm Eastern time. Marcia Eames-Sheavly of Cornell's Garden-Based Learning Program and others will explain the tricks of teaching students how to force bulbs out of season, control how tall the plants grow, create a digital collage, or spell out hidden messages on a lawn. Free pre-registration is required through the NSTA Learning Center.

It is not too late to register online for the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), to be held February 14-19 in Boston. You can also register in person. NSDL will be featured in two conference sessions on Sunday the 17th in Room 209 of the Hynes Convention Center. Faculty Collaborative Online Tools and Projects: Lessons from the NSDL is scheduled for 8:30 am, and at 2:15 pm NSDL will hold a Digital Resource Showcase for K-12 Science Education. Both sessions are free and open to the public (no registration required). Come and share ideas with representatives from many NSDL partners. For more information, contact Robert Payo (rpayo AT
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Journalism In Your Pajamas
The spreadsheet, word processor, web browser, digital audio and video, and blogs have all become valuable tools of journalism. Now Web 2.0 has forever altered the nature of software innovation, while at the same time the news industry undergoes historic change. The first meeting on Computational Journalism, Feb 22-23 at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, will bring together researchers and newsroom types, plus a freelancer or two who works at home in their pajamas. Half the seats are reserved for students and early-career folks in research, technology, and journalism.
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Call For Community Sourcing Proposals
February 22 is the proposal deadline for the spring conference of JA-SIG, an organization that promotes the use of open technology architectures and systems in higher education. Higher Education Solutions: The Community Source Way will be held April 28-30 in St. Paul, Minnesota. JA-SIG is looking for session leaders on the topics of community source management and governance, design and development, and deployment and integration. Special emphasis will be given to presentations that span multiple projects or audience types. To submit a 500-word abstract online, click the link at the conference's home page.
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Apply for BEN Scholars Program
NSDL's Biological Sciences Pathway (BEN) invites undergraduate faculty in the biological sciences to apply to the BEN Scholars Program before March 11, 2008. The goal of the program is to promote the use of digital library resources and student-centered teaching and learning methods in biological sciences lecture and laboratory courses, and in research training programs. BEN Scholars receive training in leadership and the effective use of digital libraries; resources to use in their own classrooms and to share with colleagues; travel support; and a small stipend. A National Leadership Training Institute is scheduled for July 9-12, 2008 in Washington, D.C. Questions may be directed to Shelia Clark (sclark AT
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Call for JCDL Tutorials
The annual meeting of the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL), Bridging Culture, Bridging Technology, will be held in Pittsburgh, PA on June 16-20. Friday February 8 is the deadline for tutorial proposals. Half-day and full-day tutorials should provide in-depth coverage of a single subject supporting one or more of the main conference themes. Proposals must include a title and short abstract plus a one paragraph definition of learning objectives, a minimum and maximum number of participants, the length of the tutorial, the target audience, and presenter bios. The title and abstract should be written to attract the target audience, since these components will appear in the conference program. For further information, contact Carl Lagoze (lagoze AT or Sandy Payette (payette AT
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OpeniWorld's first European event will be held in Lyon, France on June 24-27. Co-sponsored by the Lyon 2 University and MIT's Open Knowledge Initiative, OpeniWorld will be concerned with resource federation, one of today's key educational technology challenges. Federation offers much promise for inter-institutional collaboration towards more effective learning as well as significant market opportunities for providers and consumers of educational content and software. Proposals for papers and the Technology Showcase are due February 22.
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Ontology Summit Begins Thursday
In philosophy, ontology refers to the study of conceptions of reality and the nature of being. In information science, ontology refers to a data model that represents a set of concepts within a domain and the relationships between those concepts. Learn more at online events that will launch Ontology Summit 2008, a joint initiative by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Ontolog, and the National Center for Ontological Research. Three months of open online discourse will begin with a conference call on Thursday February 7 and culminate with a two-day workshop April 28-29 at Gaithersburg, MD. If you want to participate, please e-mail Peter Yim (peter.yim AT before the call.
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YouTube Delivers One Million Mobius Fans
Mobius Transformations Revealed is a short video by Douglas Arnold and Jonathan Rogness, two mathematicians at the University of Minnesota. It depicts the beauty of Mobius transformations, and it shows how moving to a higher dimension reveals their essential unity. It was one of the winners in the 2007 Science and Visualization Challenge and was featured along with the other winning entries in the September 28, 2007 issue of journal Science. The video, which was first released on YouTube in June 2007, has been watched there by more than a million viewers so far.
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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