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

October 2008 Issue #140






The Periodic Table Live! from the Chemical Education Digital Library

"Periodic Table Live!" is a notable new resource from the Chemical Education Digital Library (ChemEd DL). Students and teachers especially are invited to interact with the periodic table, chose an element of interest, and learn all sorts of interesting information about that element--from details of its discovery, to its industrial uses and other characteristics. Users also learn about different physical (ie. boiling point, melting point, hardness) and atomic properties (ie. ionization energies, electronegativity, atomic radius) of elements. You can see pictures, view videos of reactions, and play around with 3-dimensional crystal structure(s) of elements. An additional function of the periodic table is its ability to chart and sort. You can choose a certain property (or many properties) of a selection of elements, and see how they compare based on where the element is on the periodic table. Periodic Table Live! is useful way to teach students about periodic trends.

Periodic Table Live! features excellent information about the elements, but you can help make it even better. Each element description is also available from the ChemEd Collaborative, the ChemEd DL wiki at as are the short chemist biographies at We invite you to collaborate with us through use of the wiki to make Periodic Table Live! as good as it can be by sharing your expertise. Currently images of minerals of the elements are being added to the wiki. Why not join the ChemEdDL team in helping to create the best periodic table on the Web?

Cyberlearning Updates, New NSDL Pathways

At their recent NSDL Annual Meeting National Science Digital Library partners met in Washington, D.C. Sept. 30 - October 2, 2008 to unveil new directions for the 8-yr-old NSF initiative designed to leverage online educational STEM opportunities for students and learners of all ages nationwide. Three new NSDL Pathways partners, which provide access to audience-specific views of appropriate NSDL resources and services, were introduced.

Math and Science Middle School Pathways Portal (MSP2)

Kim Lightle outlined the partnership between the Middle School Portal at Ohio State University, the National Middle School Association, and the Education Development Center to take the Middle School Portal to a new level of interactivity and web-based services. They will explore the integration of wiki spaces, Ning, Expert Voices, Shelfari (professional development network), and a community MSP users chat space on Tapped In. They will build a virtual professional learning community (VPLC) and utilize virtual learning experiences for youth using Web 2.0 tools. Two current very active project blogs include:
--Connecting News with the National Science Education Standards
--Exemplary Resources for Middle School Math and Science

Much of the NSDL Middle School Portal content appears in Google's Top 5 or Top 10 page rankings. The MSP2 will integrate resources, tools, and services across projects, devote a new section to middle school age youth and new resources directed to adolescent health, safety, and education, and strategies to promote experiential learning.

Sarita Nair of EDC summarized the work of EDC, a digital development center and non-profit for ed research and development in Newton, Massachusetts. Sarita was the PI on both the Gender and Science Digital Library; Access; and The Funworks. EDC will be responsible for content for students: the Virtual Learning Experiences (VLE) for students. These will be highly interactive, engaging, and connect STEM content to student interests and career information. They will assemble a youth design team to pilot and test both design and content, and will be involved in dissemination and outreach.

Mary Hinton, of the National Middle School Association explained that NMSA is a professional association for anyone involved in education of young adolescents, ages 10-15. It has an open membership; the majority of memberships are school based educators. NMSA will provide Professional development for teachers; contribute to discussions about appropriate pedagogy, and inquiry-based learning for that age group. NMSA will develop the 21st Century Teacher Leaders projects, oversee all NMSA content on MSP2, and lead development of communications and dissemination plans.

The NSF abstract for MS2 is available here.

Collaborative Project: Ensemble: Enriching Communities and Collections to Support Education in Computing

Ensemble team members (Lillian (Boots) Cassel, Villanova University, Lois Delcambre, Portland State University, Rich Furuta, Texas Engineering Experiment Station, Ed Fox, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Gregory Hislop, Drexel University, Peter Brusilovsky, University of Pittsburgh) jointly presented a summary of the Pathway goals: to provide a comprehensive, single portal to support the variety of computing communities, while preserving and leveraging their efforts. Computing fields include: computer engineering, software engineering, information science, information systems, and information technology. An outgrowth of the CITIDEL project, an early NSDL-funded content project, the Pathway will extend existing digital libraries and educational tools from prior NSF-funded projects, including tools that support reuse, reorganization, and wider use of resources and parts of resources in varying granularities. The project is a collaborative project with six institutions, several professional societies, companies, and publishers, and multiple PIs.

Computing science has suffered a major decline in undergraduate students while job openings are increasing. The project will be reaching out to groups and organizations in complex computing disciplines, address multiple community needs while maintaining the distinct characteristics of each. Villanova University has committed to permanently housing and supporting the Ensemble distributed project. The project will utilize and support the work of the Computing Ontology project, which has defined a common understanding of definitions across the discipline. The project will also integrate social software into the computing portal.

The NSF abstract for Ensemble is available here.

Quantitative Social Science Digital Library Pathway (QSSDL)

Bill Frey and J.P. DeWitt gave a joint summary of the goals of the QSSDL for PI George Alter. Based at the University of Michigan, the QSSDL project takes advantage of two existing organizations at Michigan: the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) (Alter), the premier social sciences data archive; and the Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN) (Frey), which makes US Census and other data available to educators and undergraduate students. Additional partners include the American Sociological Association (ASA), the American Political Science Association (APSA), and the Association of American Georgraphers (AAG)-all advocates of the enhancement of quantitative training in the social sciences; and the Science Education Resource Center (SERC) at Carleton College-providing the evaluation component for the project.

Frey noted that quantitative reasoning at the post-secondary level is not well infused; typically only statistics and probability courses are the general background level, rather than real data analysis in core curriculum. The QSSDL will provide a single portal for user-friendly, data-driven instructional materials in the social sciences primarily though not exclusively directed to undergraduate education instructors. Main features will include teaching modules linked to data, analysis and visualization tools (e.g. Social Explorer; Data Ferret), automated data extraction connected with data analysis tools, pedagogical resources, and subject area-specific communities. The project aims to improve quantitative literacy among students, expose them to engaging empirical research, assist instructors in the development of content, serve as an attractor to foster new instructors in the social sciences, and to collaborate with NSDL Pathways, libraries, and service providers.

The NSF abstract for QSSDL is available here.

The Future of Networked Information

Over the past two years the Open Archives Initiative (OAI), in a project called Object Reuse and Exchange (OAI-ORE), has gathered international experts from the publishing, web, library, repository, and eScience communities to develop standards for the identification and description of aggregations of Web resources. These standards provide the foundation for applications and services that can visualize, preserve, transfer, summarize, and improve access to the aggregations that people use in their daily Web interactions: including multiple page Web documents, multiple format documents in institutional repositories, scholarly data sets, and online photo and music collections. The OAI-ORE standards integrate both with the emerging machine-readable web, Web 2.0, and the future evolution of networked information. Production versions of the OAI-ORE specifications and implementation documents are now available to the public, with a table of contents page at


Upcoming NSDL Web Seminars: Beyond Penguins and Polar Bear Series, October 29th and November 13th

The next two free seminars in the NSDL series feature online professional development programs for elementary educators, K-5. These seminars will highlight resources from Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears, a cyberzine that helps educators integrate science and literacy with a focus on the polar regions. More information and registration is available here.

Tune in to the Honeywell Nobel Minds Laureate Lecture Series

Join students and teachers worldwide on October 27, 2008 at 10am CST for a lecture by Professor Mario J. Molina, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His lecture is part of the Honeywell Nobel Minds Laureate Lecture series. The lecture will be given at Tecnologico de Monterrey, in Monterrey, Mexico. You can watch it LIVE at:

Designed to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists, The Honeywell Nobel Initiative establishes a forum for students worldwide to learn directly from Nobel Laureates in Chemistry and Physics through a combination of live on-campus events, interactive content and broadcast programs that expand upon's educational outreach efforts. This innovative partnership seeks to teach students the complex science behind Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry while encouraging their highest aspirations in ways that are motivating and engaging.


Speak Up Survey

Join 319,223 students, 25,544 teachers, 19,726 parents and 3,263 administrators who have participated in Speak Up Day annual national educational research surveys facilitated by Project Tomorrow. The 2008 survey closes December 19, 2008.

"Moving Toward Web 2.0 in K-12 Education" Blog Post

Steve Hargadon, Educational Technology Consultant and Entrepreneur, writes about K-12 educational technology and topics related to the future of education. He boils down the Web 2.0 to the simple idea that it is "a two-way medium" as it applies to education in this recent blog post.

Speaking of Something Interesting: NSDL Blogosphere Highlights

There is always something interesting being discussed in NSDL's blogs: National Chemistry Week: What Works? by Erica Jacobsen, High School Editor, read her post here; Evaluating Information by Pat Viele, read her post here; and, Discovery of the structure of DNA by Alice Agogino, read her post here.

Gaming Company Seeks Input from Teachers

Ramo means "play" in Gujrati, and is the name of a new gaming company This gaming site is targeted at kids and is founded by Sumir Meghani a Harvard Business School graduate and Yahoo! alum along with others who have experience with companies like Electronic Arts, Thomson Learning. Meghani is seeking input from teachers about what might be useful in classrooms in this survey.

Time for the Sparky Awards, from SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition)

Campus MovieFest, the world's largest student film festival, is a new sponsor of the 2008 Sparky Awards, a contest that recognizes the best new short videos on the value of sharing information. The competition invites students to consider the issues and creatively express their views around the 2008 contest theme "MindMashup: The Value of Information Sharing." Submissions must be received by November 30, 2008.


National Student/Parent Mock Election; October 30

The National Student/Parent Mock Election seeks to turn the sense of powerlessness that keeps young Americans and their parents from going to the polls into a sense of the power of participation in our democracy. One of the most important ways to increase students' sense of significance - and power - is to use the Mock Election to take them out of the classroom and into the real world. Curriculum materials including guides to presidential election issues such as energy and education and multimedia presentations are part of the "Voter Education Portal: Teaching Materials and Activities" on the web site.

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