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

The Whiteboard Report
March 2008, Issue #132



MacFound's First Digital Awards
A game that allows high school students in Los Angeles and Cairo to learn the real-time impact of air pollution in their neighborhoods is among the 17 winning projects in the first-ever Digital Media and Learning Competition. The competition, sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation and administered by HASTAC (the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory), awarded grants of up to $238,000 to winners from a pool of over 1,000 applicants. The winning projects either used digital media to create formal and informal learning environments, or they used digital media to spread new ideas related to the field of digital learning. Fifty judges scored the applications, and the winners were celebrated at an event in Chicago on February 21.
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Citizen Scientists Map Climate Change
Project BudBurst is looking for volunteers in the U.S. who will observe the time at which plant buds open and leaves become visible in their neighborhoods. One of the ways scientists measure climate change is by charting changes in the timing of phenophases, or stages in the life cycles of plants. These stages are affected by temperature, rainfall, and day length, so changes in their timing may indicate an effect climate change is having on nature. Each Budburst participant will check one or more plants beginning at least a week prior to the average date of budburst for their location. When they submit their records online, they can view maps of these phenological events across the United States.
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NSDL Policies on Privacy, Terms of Use
Two new documents describing important NSDL policies are complete and available to the public. A Privacy Policy describes the data collected by and outlines NSDL's efforts to balance the privacy of users with the library's need for information necessary to provide high-quality services. A Terms of Use statement describes the legal agreement between and its users. NSDL's resources are freely available for all educational uses, but some other uses constitute copyright infringement and are prohibited. The Terms of Use Statement describes the boundaries.

Showtime for Penguins, Polar Bears
The long-awaited first issue of the cyberzine Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is now available. The project's goal is to help elementary teachers learn about polar regions and integrate the best available resources on polar topics into their classrooms. The first issue, A Sense of Place, describes the geography and characteristics of the Arctic and Antarctica. April's issue will focus on the fossil record at the poles. An inter-disciplinary team based at Ohio State University and NSDL Core Integration will produce 20 issues of the magazine. An Expert Voices blog on the project includes additional information and gives readers a place to add their comments.

Search Engine Optimization Strategies
A new Expert Voices blog is capturing a lively discussion about strategies for search engine optimization (SEO). If you're new to this subject, you can drop in to learn a few sure-fire tricks that make any web page more visible to the bots that discover resources for Google and other search engines. One strategy is making posts to a blog that includes links to those web pages. Another is using titles, tags, and descriptions in the web page's HTML headers that specifically mention the key ideas in the page's contents. Check out the new blog for these and more ideas on how to build web pages that have maximum impact.
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NSDL on iTunes U: STEM Wherever You Are
After months of work behind the scenes, NSDL's site on iTunes U became available this week. iTunes U is a free service that gives users of Apple's iTunes access to audio and video from leading educational institutions. The Beyond Campus section of iTunes U includes museums, public radio and television stations, and other non-profit educational providers. The launch of NSDL on iTunes U Beyond Campus includes content from Pathways partners like AMSER, ChemEd DL, and the Exploratorium, plus material from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Popular materials include ChemEd DL's popular Chemistry Comes Alive! videos; interviews with NCAR scientists on the causes and evidence for global climate change; and a series by Dr. Stephanie Chasteen of the Exploratorium's Teacher institute on the impact of nanotechnology on science, art, and commerce. Content will be added on a regular basis, so NSDL projects and other providers who have multimedia material that may be appropriate for inclusion in the site are encouraged to contact Susan Van Gundy (vangundy AT
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Visualization Challenge Accepting Entries
An arresting visualization stops us in our tracks. A revealing visualization shows us more the more we look at it. But a winning visualization will help us learn something new as well. Create a science or engineering visualization that addresses all three of these elements and you could be one of this year's recipients of the International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge awards. The competition is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the journal Science. Winning entries will be published in Science, Science Online, and on NSF's website. The deadline for entries is May 31, 2008.
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Getting Ready for the NSTA Conference
The upcoming Annual Meeting of the National Science Teachers Association, March 27-30 in Boston, offers another chance to meet representatives of NSDL and many of its Pathways partners. Look for NSDL's booth at the Convention and Exhibition Center; representatives from Teachers' Domain, ChemEdDL, Engineering Pathway, ComPADRE, and the Middle School Portal are also registered. If you're new to NSTA, plan to attend a free web seminar on March 12 that will help you maximize the time you spend there. Free pre-registration is required.

Web Seminar: Using Microscopic Images
The next web seminar in the NSDL/NSTA series for Teachers in grades 5-12 will happen on Tuesday, March 11 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, eastern time. "Under the Microscope: Using Images to Enhance Inquiry" will be lead by Drs. Kristina Yu and Karen Kalumuck of the Exploratorium, San Francisco's noted science museum. They will introduce participants to a variety of online tools and images from the NSDL, including those from the Exploratorium's Imaging Station microscope exhibit. These lessons, images and videos will enhance classroom study of cells, genetics, and more. Free pre-registration is required.


The Gecko Bandage
February 18 release tells the story of a waterproof adhesive bandage inspired by gecko lizards that may soon join sutures and staples as a basic tool in operating rooms. Researchers from MIT and Harvard Medical School created a surface for the bandage that has the same nanoscale hills and valleys that allow geckos to cling to walls and ceilings. Layered over this surface is a sugar-based glue that helps the bandage stick in wet places, such as tissue cavities. The bandage is also biodegradable, so it does not have to be removed. The National Institutes of Health and the Materials Science program of the National Science Foundation funded the research.

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