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

The National Science Digital Library Whiteboard Report

June 2008 Issue #136






Instructional Architect is Helping to "Design the Digital Classroom"

The Research Office at Utah State University recently profiled the work of Mimi Recker and her Instructional Architect research group at Utah State University, funded by the NSF NSDL program. This is an excerpt from the article:

"'The goal of digital libraries is to provide instant access to a growing network of high-quality, interactive, and free online resources for teaching and learning," said Recker. "These libraries give access to a collaborative network that allows teachers and learners to share knowledge freely. They offer tremendous potential for enriching and transforming classrooms."

The NSDL may be replete with knowledge, but synthesizing all of the information into an effective lesson plan isn't always the easiest task. Besides not having enough time, teachers may not know how to integrate the information they find on the NSDL into their lesson plans.

"America's youth were born in a digital world, so they are fluent with all kinds of technology," said Recker. "But teachers need support developing their capacity in regard to effective 21st-century teaching."'

Improving Critical Thinking in Higher Education

Bob Panoff, Shodor's executive director, presented "NSDL Resources to Support Critical Thinking" at the "Critical Thinking Through Technology" workshop at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) on May 20, 2008. The workshop is part of the Minority Science and Education Improvement Program (MSEIP) sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. During the workshop, several NSDL Pathways were explored in a hands-on, day-long session that looked at physics, chemistry, and biology resources, along with the interactive models and tools from the Computational Science Education Reference Desk (CSERD).

The Critical Thinking Through Technology program at ECSU is designed to provide professional development training to selected faculty representatives from ten (10) HBCU and minority institutions in teaching entry level mathematics and science courses using the conceptual framework of "Critical Thinking through Technology" (CTTT). The methodology developed by the Critical Thinking Group at Elizabeth City State University will be utilized in developing strategies for teaching, thinking and promoting intellectual Development through worldwide web (www) interactivity. All critical and scientific thinking occurs within and across disciplines and domains of knowledge and experience. It has been demonstrated that through experimentation, the critical thinking skills, that are necessary prerequisites to learn science, can be acquired. The Critical Thinking Group at ECSU has written and published a book titled "Critical Thinking through Technology in Science and Mathematics Education" in the spring of 2001. Many Institutions across the nation are using this book as a model in redesigning lesson plans, developing course materials and fostering content-driven, question-driven instructions through the use of Technology that empowers students to think their way to this knowledge and ability. Contact Dr. Ali Kahn for more information.

Developing Middle School Students' Conceptual Understanding and Scientific Habits of Mind

NSDL's Middle School Portal and the National Middle School

Association hosted a web seminar entitled, "A New Model of Science Curricula and Instruction" on Thursday, May 29, 2008. This webinar explored answers to the question, "Why do students still lack conceptual understanding and scientific habits of mind despite our best efforts?" A new model of science curricula and instruction was introduced that includes 1) core concepts; 2) learning progressions; and 3) the four strands of science proficiency. Also covered were what science topics to teach, when to teach them, and how to teach them along with a discussion about the ?why.' NSDL resources that support this new model were also examined.

This webinar hosted 43 partipants; 92% were individuals andthe rest were in groups of 2-5 people.

Traffic on the Middle School Portal was up to 10,794 page views from 551 users--almost 20 pages per user on the day after the webseminar. This finding seems to indicate increased interest in MSP resources Comments to the question, "Why do students sill lack conceptual understanding despite our best efforts?" were mixed and included dealing with student characteristics; teaching techniques and teacher characteristics; and curriculum characteristics.

Plug the NSDL Wiki into the NSDL Repository and Get. . . A Scholarly Publication

A new National Science Digital Library (NSDL) scholarly publication, Classic Articles in Context (CAC), was launched in April 2008 with an atmospheric science theme: "Climate Change and Anthropogenic Greenhouse Warming: A Selection of Key Articles, 1824-1995, with Interpretive Essays." Classic Articles in Context will present additional significant scientific questions of the Twentieth Century using landmark and important legacy papers in future issues.

Semantic models for scholarly communications should allow for the creation of new context about published works while mapping relationships to original sources and allowing for materials to be widely discovered and utilized. Classic Articles in Context (CAC) does just that by leveraging NSDL's NCore wiki plug-in to it's Fedora-based data repository to capitalize on NSDL's ongoing relationships with publishers. Classic Articles in Context (CAC) provides publishers with a way to contribute to the creation of new knowledge around published articles in support of teaching and learning.

To illustrate science as a process that builds, and often turns, on discovery and replication expressed in the archival literature of empirical findings, NSDL works with publishers to make the original, full-texts of select "classic" articles available to students whether or not their institution holds a subscription to the journals in which they appeared. Every article featured in a CAC topical concentration includes a narrative essay that provides an overview of the investigation suitable for introductory undergraduate science courses. The essays identify and/or explain particularly significant aspects of the studies (novel methods, for example) and place them within the context of the overall literature of their field (noting, for example, how a given set of findings influenced subsequent work).

The collection currently features 21 papers in full text. Four of the articles, the largest representation among 10 contributing publishers, appeared in AMS journals during the latter half of the 20th century. Narrative sections include hyperlinks to referenced resources within the National Science Digital Library Data Repository, and in Pathways discipline-specific collections as well as hyperlinks to information about the elements of scholarly publishing.

Currently Classic Articles in Context is being cited by Climate Change Education.Org, the American Meteorological Society, the National Science Teachers Association, and Fedora Commons

Francis Eberle Named Executive Director of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)

Francis Eberle, executive director of the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance (MMSA) and an NSDL PI, will take the lead at NSTA in August replacing Gerry Wheeler as NSTA's executive director. Wheeler will retire after 13 years with the association.

NSDL at Minnesota Independent Schools "Affinity Day"

Teachers from Minnesota schools recently came to Providence Academy in Minneapolis to hear Bob Panoff, Founder and Executive Director of the Shodor Foundation, share his ideas about "Resources and Collaborations Available for Teachers through the National Science Digital Library." Scott Lathrop, Director of Education and External Relations for the TeraGrid presented an "Overview of Recent and Current Education, Outreach, and Training Programs Supported by the NSF;" and; Susan Ragan, Project Director, Maryland Virtual High School of Science and Mathematics offered views on "Engaging with State, Regional, and National Programs to Enhance Teaching and Learning."

MAIS stands for "Minnesota Association of Independent Schools." MAIS is a non-profit organization of pre-primary, elementary, middle and secondary schools whose purpose is to support and connect independent schools in Minnesota.

Engineering Education History in Expert Voices

Engineering Pathway PI Alice Agogino regularly posts a "Today in History" item of interest in NSDL's blogosphere. This is a wonderful collection of information highlighting the role of engineers, the technologies they have contributed and their commitment to making the world a better place. Resources from NSDL's Engineering Pathway are also linked from blog posts. See all of Agogino's blog posts here.

NSDL Core Integration Staff Updates

Karen Henry, former NSDL Core Integration Technical Project Manager, and and Alex Chaux, former NSDL Core Integration Programmer have accepted positions with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).

See All the Way Around a Molecule

One of the newest, free resources at the ChemEd DL is a collection of molecular models called Molecules 360. Molecules 360 includes primarily small, inorganic molecules presented in three dimensions that can be manipulated and rotated by students. The main focus of this interactive resource is to teach students about molecular properties like molecular structure and motions, symmetry, dipoles, and molecular orbitals. This becomes more complicated in large molecules, which is why the collection focuses on smaller molecules. Using the Molecules 360 interface students can look at everything from the bond distances and angles, dipoles, to normal modes of vibration. Please send your suggestions about which properties you are interested in seeing. The ChemEd DL team will do their best to accommodate requests.


NSDL/NSTA Web Seminar: Enlightening Experiences with Energy

Get ready for labs, interactives, historical accounts, and lesson plans related to energy curricula on June 12, 2008, 6:30-8:00 p.m. ET--all at your fingertips! Brought to you by the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), this interactive seminar is designed for teachers of grades 5-12 and will explore energy in all its facets and perplexities-- providing examples and answers to your burning questions. Digital collections such as, a digital library for K-12 Physics and Astronomy, consist of carefully selected, exemplary materials. This collection aids the educator by reducing endless searching on the Internet and utilizing an organized structure with your curricular needs in mind.

Physics Teaching Resource Agent John Roeder and University of South Dakota Assistant Professor of Science Education, Dr. Cathy Ezrailson will demonstrate the many facets of energy using hands-on activities. AAPT is the lead organization for ComPADRE, the NSDL Pathway for Astronomy and Physics. Register for this free online web seminar today!

Summertime Fedora Commons User Meetings and Events

Fedora open source repository platform users are planning meetings and events in Canada and Europe throughout the summer and early fall. Take a look at upcoming opportunities to share ideas and information. Contact organizers for information about how to participate.

-Dutch Fedora Users will meet on June 19. Contact Lodewijk Bogaards.

-Scandanavian Fedora Users will meet on June 24. Contact Eva Muller.

-UK & Ireland Fedora Users will meet on July 8. Contact Richard Green or Chris Awre.

-The Red Island Repository Institute will be held on Prince Edward Island August 11-15, 2008. This 1-week hands-on workshop will be led by Sandy Payette, Fedora Commons Executive Director; Richard Green, Manager, RIDIR, REMAP and RepoMMan Projects, e-SIG, Academic Services, University of Hull, and; Matt Zumwalt, MediaShelf. Contact Mark Leggott.

-A Fedora EU inaugural event is planned for Sept. 19 in coordination with the 12th European Conference on Digital Libraries (ECDL) to be held in Aarhus, Denmark. Event details will be available soon. Contact David Flanders .

Moving To the "Next Level" of Materials Science Education

DRAFT Laura Bartolo, PI of NSDL MatDL Pathway, is co-organizer of an upcoming NSF supported Materials Science Education Workshop to be held August 3-5, 2008 in Washington, D.C. The workshop is sponsored by the NSF Directorate of Math & Physical Sciences, Division of Materials Research. The goal of the workshop is to bring together 40 invited representatives from the materials science education community for a two-day workshop to provide a roadmap to the "next level" of materials science education for the coming decade. A report capturing the major needs and opportunities identified in the Workshop will be prepared and presented to NSF.

Thank you for Your Annual Meeting 2008 Submission

The Annual Meeting Planning Committee and reviewers are reading proposals for presentations and Lightning Talks for the 2008 NSDL Annual Meeting to be held September 30 through October 2 in Washington, D.C. Presenters will be notified in Mid-June 2008. Results from the 2007 NSDL End-of-Meeting Survey are available here.

SPARC Institutional Repositories Conference

SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), in partnership with SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan/National Institute of Informatics, announces the SPARC Digital Repositories Meeting 2008, to be held November 17-18, 2008 at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.

Coming on the heels of two groundbreaking U.S. developments-a recent vote by Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences enabling the university to offer access to their articles in an institutional repository and implementation of a new National Institutes of Health public access policy-as well as unprecedented advancement in the international sphere over the past year, the meeting will enable stakeholders to explore next steps for the burgeoning open archiving movement.

Librarians, researchers, funders, administrators, government officials, publishers, and technologists from around the world will share their experiences and best practices in building and supporting institutional and disciplinary digital repositories. The focus will be on effective engagement with scholars and scientists to expand the sharing of research outputs via open repositories.

The program, developed by a diverse and expert program committee, will delve into four key areas: The Policy Environment, New Horizons, Campus Publishing Strategies, and Value-Added Services. These tracks will be supplemented with an Innovation Fair, where new technologies, strategies, and approaches will be highlighted, and a Practicum on marketing and advocacy.

The program committee invites proposals for presentations at the November meeting. Visit the conference Web site for details on the program and how to submit a proposal. The deadline for submissions is May 30, 2008.

Members of the 2008 Program Committee include: Jun Adachi (SPARC Japan), Raym Crow (SPARC), Richard Fyffe (Grinnell College), Susan Gibbons (University of Rochester), Melissa Hagemann (Open Society Institute), Karla Hahn (Association of Research Libraries), Bill Hubbard (SHERPA), Rick Johnson (SPARC), Michelle Kimpton (DSpace Foundation), Norbert Lossau (Goettingen State and University Library and DRIVER), Joyce Ogburn (University of Utah), Terry Owen (University of Maryland, College Park), Kathleen Shearer (Canadian Association of Research Libraries), Alma Swan (Key Perspectives Ltd.), Sean Thomas (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Susan Veldsman (eIFL), and Charles Watkinson (The American School of Classical Studies at Athens).

This is the first North American SPARC digital repositories conference since the organization's popular 2004 meeting, which drew hundreds of participants from around the globe and set the stage for some of the key developments of the past four years.

Registration will open in May. For more information, visit the conference Web site at Companies or organizations interested in conference sponsorship opportunities should contact Jennifer McLennan.

Climate Discovery Online Courses for Educators: Summer Session Now Accepting Registrations

Are you seeking a K-12 professional development opportunity that will enhance your qualifications, competency, and self-confidence in integrating Earth system science, climate, and global change into your science classroom? This summer The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) offers a series of seven-week online courses for middle and high school teachers that combine geoscience content, information about current climate research, easy to implement hands-on activities, and group discussion. The courses run concurrently beginning June 20 and run through August 15, 2008.

-CD 501 Introduction to Earth's Climate is designed to guide participants through the basics of climate science, integrating content, classroom activities, and community-building discussions to help middle and high school educators understand the answers to common questions about climate.

-CD 502 Earth System Science: A Climate Change Perspective explores Earth as a system from the perspective of climate and global change, describing the interactions between the various parts of the Earth system, including human activities, and how they all affect our climate.

-CD 503 Understanding Climate Change Today presents some of the current and predicted impacts of global warming on our planet and human societies. This course explores how climate models are developed and used to understand likely scenarios of future climate and how current scientific research is improving the quality of climate predictions.

There is a $200 fee per course. For complete course schedule and registration information, visit

Web Seminar Series to Feature "Math Tools in Action"

Find out how to add dynamic computations and visualizations to websites using webMathematica 2. The Wolfram Education Group announces its newest seminar series scheduled throughout June 2008, "S22: Overview of webMathematica". Presentions will be offered by a member of the Mathematica Kernel Technology group. These seminars demonstrate key and upcoming features in webMathematica. Seminars are free, but attendance requires advance registration. Spaces are limited.


Highlights From the June 2008 Issue of Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears

Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears, is the online magazine written for elementary educators. The theme of the June 2008 issue is "Weather and Climate: From Home to the Poles: What's the weather like today? The question is often heard in elementary schools, from morning meetings to science units. In this issue, we highlight ways to move from a study of the weather at home to the weather of the polar regions. We discuss how hands-on activity helps students build vocabulary, and how to provide extra support for English Language Learners. Through activity, reading, and discussion, students and teachers can compare the climates of the Arctic and Antarctica and learn about the effects of climate change." Check it out!

'Open Students" Seeks Guest Bloggers

'Open Students, an organization that represents "students for open access to research," accepts guests posts on any aspect of Open Access and welcomes guest posts by students, faculty, librarians, administrators, publishers, and others. Open Students: "We're students - the next generation of scholars. We believe that science should be open, for everyone to learn. We're changing the way that research is disseminated."

Future Libraries

The May/June 2008 Issue of D-Lib Magazine introduces a new JISC web site, Libraries of the Future, that addresses the provocative question, "In an information world in which Google apparently offers us everything, what place is there for the traditional, and even the digital, library? In a library environment which is increasingly moving to the delivery of online rather than print resources, what of the academic library's traditional place at the heart of campus life?"

Curriki: The Global Education & Learning Community's "Summer of Content"

Curriki is offering $500 per unit of instruction and $1600 per semester course to ensure strong curriculum coverage for all major subject areas in K-12. For their 2008 Summer of Content effort, Curriki is soliciting middle school content in English language arts, math, science, and social studies, and high school content in ELA and social studies. Do you have a unit or course you're proud of that you'd like to publish and get paid for? Interested in earning money this summer to develop a new unit that will be shared with a global audience?


The Story of Stuff

This site has presented over 2 million viewers with a multi-media description of all the "stuff" in our lives created by the industrial-consumer process-from its raw material extraction, manufacture, sale, use and disposal, along with how the "cycle of stuff" affects communities at home and abroad even though most of this cycle is hidden. "The Story of Stuff" is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns that exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues. "The Story of Stuff" calls for creating a more sustainable and just world, and may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

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