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

The Whiteboard Report
April 2008, Issue #134



NSDL Program Solicitation Is Released
The National Science Foundation released the program solicitation for NSDL for fiscal year 2008 last week. Proposals are due by June 27 in four tracks: Pathways, Services, Targeted Research, and a NSDL Resource Center. Proposals for small grants that extend or enhance efforts supported by awards from all tracks except the Resource Center will also be accepted. "It was quite a relief to see the NSDL solicitation," said Kaye Howe, co-PI of NSDL's Core Integration division. "It gives the community the means to build on what we've accomplished and continue the momentum of the Pathways. There are some genuine challenges in making this work, but we all know how important the work is and that we must keep NSDL moving forward on behalf of STEM education."
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Dave McArthur on the future of NSDL
David McArthur, senior researcher at GoH and consultant to the National Science Digital Library (NSDL), discusses the benefits for continued investment in the National Science Foundation's maturing program in the cover story of the February issue of IEEE Computer (Vol. 41, Issue #2). The article outlines the past, present, and possible future for the NSDL. McArthur sees NSDL "growing both as a platform for improving the productivity of educational resource development and transforming education research, and also as a tool for creating and managing scientific knowledge about education and learning." On a large scale, he says, the NSDL could become a key part of a new cyber infrastructure for education and education research.
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Classic Articles in Context For Teachers
Classic Articles in Context (CAC) is a new feature on the NSDL Wiki that integrates seminal works of scientific inquiry into a dynamic learning space for teachers and learners. In the first CAC feature, science historian James Fleming introduces 21 papers on climate change and anthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse warming, from an 1824 essay by Fourier to a 1995 paper in the journal Climate Dynamics. Fleming’s introductory essays and links to the complete text of the papers give teachers resources they can use to portray science as a process that builds on discovery. CAC also gives academic publishers a free area to showcase articles that are normally available only to subscribers.
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Marcia Mardis, Mover & Shaker
Marcia Mardis, Assistant Professor at the Library and Information Science Program at Wayne State University, has been named a 2008 Mover and Shaker in the March 15 issue of Library Journal. Mardis has been a member of the NSDL community since the early days, most recently as a team member of DLConnect, a NSF-funded project involving several institutions that collaborate to disseminate the NSDL within school settings through development workshops. In the award description, a colleague calls Dr. Mardis "an unstoppable force, inspiring others to try new things and undertake new challenges." Congratulations Marcia!
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Surveying the Post-NIH Landscape
The April 2008 issue of Learned Publishing is devoted to the effects of new legislation requiring authors funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to make their research articles publicly available on the PubMed Central Archive within 12 months of their publication. Editor Priscilla Markwood writes that "institutional subscriptions, especially for niche journals, could soon be devastated." At the same time, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has developed a Web-based guide to assist research institutions in implementing the NIH's new Public Access Policy, which becomes effective April 7. The guide is helpful to a range of campus constituencies that may be involved in implementing the new policy, including research administrators, legal counsel, and librarians. The guide is freely available for download. The special issue of Learned Publishing is available through subscribing institutions.
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$1,000 For Teachers From Toshiba
Since 1999, Toshiba America Foundation has given grants to teachers in grades K-12. Elementary school teachers (K-6) are eligible for up to $1,000 to support their ideas for project-based learning in science and mathematics. Funded projects in grades 7-12 provide students with the opportunity to practice science in new ways that promise to increase their engagement with the subject matter and improve their learning. There is no funding limit for grade 7-12 applications, but most grants are for $10,000 or less. This year's application deadline for both programs is August 1.
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EdWeek Grades States On STEM
EdWeek, the news magazine for educators, is allowing free access to all the material on its website through April 7. The special report in its March 27 issue is "The Push to Improve Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics." The story includes detailed reports on STEM education in each state, as well as an interactive map that ranks states according to how well they provide access to STEM resources. In addition, the report includes stories showing how teachers are learning to incorporate technology across subjects; the new requirements states are putting in place to close the technology gap; and a review of the last decade in educational technology.
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Survey of Standards for Digital Repositories
Investigative Study of Standards for Digital Repositories by Muriel Foulonneau and Francis Andre (Amsterdam University Press, 2007) reviews current standards, protocols, and applications in the domain of digital repositories. The book, which is available for free download, pays special attention to the interoperability of repositories to enhance the exchange of data in repositories. It aims to stimulate discussion about these topics and supports initiatives for the integration of and development of new standards. The authors also take a look at the nearby future and ask which steps should be taken now in order to comply with future demands.
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August Library Assessment Conference in Seattle
The Association of Research Libraries, the University of Virginia Library, and the University of Washington Libraries are pleased to announce the second Library Assessment Conference. "Building Effective, Sustainable, Practical Assessment" will be held at the University of Washington in Seattle, August 4-6, 2008. The conference is geared toward library and information professionals and researchers with responsibility for, or an interest in, the broad field of library assessment with an emphasis on (but not limited to) North American academic libraries.
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NSDL Annual Meeting, Sept. 30 - Oct. 2
Save the dates for the 2008 NSDL Annual Meeting, which will be held from September 30 to October 2, 2008 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. The theme for this year's meeting is "STEM Research & Education in Action." In the next week, look for the Call for Proposals and the meeting website with logistics and travel information. We look forward to seeing you in the Fall!
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Numerical Disasters
Twelve years ago, after a decade of development, an unmanned Ariane 5 rocket launched by the European Space Agency exploded just after its first liftoff. The cause of this $500 million firecracker was a software error caused when a 64 bit floating point number relating to the horizontal velocity of the rocket with respect to the platform was erroneously converted to a 16 bit signed integer. Numerical disasters like these are one thread in a lively blog that supports the course "Introduction to Scientific Computing" at Cornell University. "One great thing about scientific computing is that anybody can do it, but that's also a downside since doing things well often involves getting the details right," says the course's professor, Doug James. "It reminds me of Carl-Erik Froberg's famous quote about scientific computing: 'Never in the history of mankind has it been possible to produce so many wrong answers so quickly!'"
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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