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 #131



Indiana High School Goal: 1500 MPG
Student engineers in Midwestern high schools are preparing for mileage competitions where passenger vehicles regularly exceed 1,000 miles per gallon. Indiana's annual Super Mileage Challenge is scheduled for April 28 at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis. Last year, five of the 22 competing high school teams exceeded 1,000 MPG, and 16 of them exceeded 200 MPG. The Society of Automotive Engineers and The Shell Corporation hold competitions for collegiate and professional teams. The IMSTEA seeks inquiries from teachers in other states who would like to participate or set up their own Supermileage programs. Go to NSDL Highlights for more information and links, or contact James M. Thompson, jthompson16 AT

A Grammy in Mathematics
University of New Hampshire mathematician Kevin Short won a Grammy last week for developing an algorithm that helped a team of audio technicians restore the only recording of Woody Guthrie performing before a live audience. The wire recording was severely damaged and took more than a year to transfer into a digital format. Sound engineer Jamie Horwath used a constant hum on the tape to set algorithms that corrected variations in the original recording's speed. He called on Short, whose research focuses on the applications of nonlinear dynamics and chaos theory, to fill in missing sounds caused by breaks in the wire. The Grammy for Best Historical Album was awarded to "The Live Wire: Woody Guthrie in Performance 1949" on February 10.

New in Microbe Library
New resources have been added to The American Society for Microbiology's (ASM) MicrobeLibrary. They include a new issue of Focus on Microbiology Education that emphasizes bioinformatics and microbial genomics, and a new article in the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education on a student project to examine complex traits in Drosophila. Three new curriculum activities and three new visual resources are also available for downloading. The Microbe Library is looking for authors to submit appropriate resources, such as classroom activities and images of the microbial world. Submissions are due March 1, 2008. For more information, go to the website or contact MicrobeLibrary AT
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ConfChem 08 To Focus on NSDL
ConfChem is a free and open conference on topics in chemistry education that is presented entirely online. Its Spring 2008 session will focus on Chemistry at the National Science Digital Library and will open with a paper by Lee L. Zia, NSDL's program officer at the National Science Foundation. Presentations are also scheduled from three NSDL Pathways (ChemEd DL, CSERD, and Compadre). The conference opens on April 15th. Submissions and comments will be accepted until May 15th and will then be archived online. The conference is sponsored by the Committee on Computers in Chemical Education of the Division of Chemical Education of the American Chemical Society.
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Reports from AAAS
The largest science conference in the world ended on Monday, leaving behind vast amounts of fresh, free information for classroom use. The best blogs covering the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting are NSDL's Road Reports, where our correspondent focuses on deep-sea coral, the global movement to deliver $200 laptops to third-world children, and a call for freedom for federally-funded scientists in the US; Discover Magazine's Discoblog, with items on the future of sharks and tuna, a non-debate between Clinton and Obama on scientific topics, and new research on how imagination works; and the AAAS press division, offering a comprehensive array of releases, videos, and podcasts. Dive in!



A Conference On Convergence
The Maricopa Advanced Technology Education Center (MATEC) holds an annual meeting that provides national networking and collaboration between education and industry partners. The goal of the SAME-TEC Conference is to promote the viability of high tech industries through the development of a highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce. This year's conference, July 28-31 in Austin, Texas, will focus on how different technologies are converging. Areas of specialty include semiconductors and electronics, information and communications technologies, alternative energies, optics and photonics, mechatronics, nanotechnology, innovations in teaching and learning, and program building strategies.
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Literacy Grants for School Libraries
The US Department of Education Office of Elementary and Secondary Education will make about 100 grants of $30,000 to $300,000 to school districts to improve library materials. Allowed uses for the grants include buying new equipment for school media centers, holding professional development activities, and developing web sites. Only districts in which at least 20 percent of students are from families with incomes below the poverty line may apply. The application deadline is April 2.
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Communication Tips for Scientists
Scientists and engineers who can communicate their ideas in simple, clear language are essential to the goal of public engagement with science and technology. The AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology and the NSF have launched a website that provides resources to improve the abilities of scientists and engineers to communicate effectively with the public. The site includes online seminars, how-to tips for media interviews, and strategies for identifying public outreach opportunities. The AAAS Center will also hold in-person workshops in several cities.
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Voyagers Are Far Out
Nine years ago last Sunday, the Voyager 1 spacecraft passed Voyager 2 to become the most distant human-made object from the Sun. Voyager 1 was launched on September 5, 1977, passed Saturn in November 1980, and went through the zone of termination shock, where solar wind abruptly slows down, in December 2004. Voyager 2 passed termination shock in August 2007. Both craft are still transmitting data back to NASA scientists, who await their passages into interstellar space. Read more at the Today in History blog from Engineering Pathway, which reports regularly on milestones in science and engineering.
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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