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

March 2009 Issue #145






NOW AVAILABLE: NSDL EduPak 1.0: An Open Source Digital Library Services Platform for Education

National educational organizations and institutions focused on establishing specialized digital collections, conducting educational research, or providing students, teachers and instructors with discipline-oriented pedagogical products and tools require basic technology to build educational digital repositories that support their work. To help meet a national priority expressed by the National Science Board (NSB) in January 11, 2009 recommendations to the Obama Administration in which they stated, "Our national economic prosperity and security require that we remain a world leader in science and technology," the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) is pleased to announce the premiere release of NSDL EduPak 1.0. Specifically designed for education, EduPak packages technology for digital storage, access and workflow into a convenient bundle designed to to jump start the essential "behind-the-scenes" framework that enables innovation in teaching and learning. NSDL EduPak may be downloaded through NSDL at NCore and through Fedora Commons.

NSDL EduPak is a publicly available, lightweight version of NCore, established in 2008 as an open-source digital library platform of technology and standards that create a dynamic information layer on top of library resources. Based on Fedora open source repository software, NCore provides users, developers, information managers and decision-makers with systems for description, organization, interrelation and annotation of resources. Built using NCore components, EduPak is an all-in-one, open source, education digital repository solution bundle that provides a general platform for building digital libraries united by a common data model and interoperable applications. EduPak services include:

Digital Repository: The Digital Repository (DR) uses Fedora open source repository software version 2.2.4 to model and manage digital objects such as resources, metadata and agents. Fedora provides digital object and repository administrative functions as well as flexible, extensible views of the repository and its digital objects via web services.

NSDL Collection System: The NSDL Collection System (NCS) creates and manages collections of metadata within a DR. The NCS is a flexible XML-driven tool that provides a full-featured metadata editor, collection work flow processes, and a role-based permission system in support of distributed and collaborative collections management. The NCS transparently writes metadata and collection-level information to a DR using the NCore Application Programming Interface (API).

Search: The search application consists of the Digital Discovery System (DDS), which provides search and retrieval services for resources that reside in a DR. The service is optimized to support the rapid construction of audience-specific portals and applications and can be flexibly configured to search over any XML schema structure. A range of information retrieval features is available from the service including textual and field-based searches such as audience, subject, resource type or content standard. DDS also supports geospatial search capabilities and can be integrated with Web 2.0 services and APIs such as Google Maps.

NCore EduPak may be freely used to create a robust repository with search, harvest, and management components, or to boost current digital library systems. For more information or to download it, please visit NCore.

Future Releases

NSDL EduPak 1.0 is the first release of a bundled educational technology package through the network of NSDL and Fedora Commons open source communities of developers. The next planned release of NSDL EduPak 2.0 will feature a Digital Repository (DR) based on Fedora open source repository software version 3.0 content model architecture.

We Want to Hear from You

Please submit general feedback, bug reports and queries.

For additional information and training opportunities regarding the NSDL Collection System (NCS) or Search please contact Karon Kelly at 303-497-2652. For more information about the digital repository (DR) please contact Carol Minton Morris at 607-255-2702. A series of small, focused NSDL Technical Summits will begin in 2009 to engage open source education technology developers from NSDL communities and others in designing features and improvements for future releases of the NSDL EduPak digital library services platform for education.


To encourage adoption of NSDL EduPak and other NCore Tools and Services, a web seminar training program has been established to help NSDL grantees, NSF grantees and others understand what tools are available through NCore, how to contribute a collection to NSDL, and how to create a portal to a digital library with EduPak. Schedules and downloads of prior web seminars are available here. For more information contact Karon Kelly.

About NSDL

In 2000, the National Science created the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) to provide organized access to high quality resources and tools that support innovations in teaching and learning at all levels of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. In addition to providing an organized point of access to high-quality STEM content, NSDL also provides open-access, non-proprietary tools to stimulate new ways to access and use scientific information in an easily accessible online environment.

NSDL EduPak is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0840744. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Submitting a grant to NSF?

Are you submitting a grant to an NSF-funded program? Want to know more about NSDL's Technical Network Services (TNS) and the outreach/professional development and partnership opportunities with the NSDL Resource Center (RC)? Find out how to collaborate with NSDL and use NSDL's EduPak technologies? Start your information search by going to the homepage and follow the banner link titled "Submitting a grant to NSF?". You'll find all the information you need about the RC and TNS, tools and services available, and who to contact for additional information.

NSF's National STEM Distributed Learning (NSDL) funding program solicitation details the available funding tracks for building services, tools, and disciplinary or audience-focused portals to STEM content and services for the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). Proposals to the NSDL solicitation are due to NSF by April 15, 2009.

The National Science Digital Library is operated jointly by the NSDL Resource Center and NSDL Technical Network Services. Together with partner digital libraries known as Pathways, and other NSDL projects, NSDL provides multidisciplinary and multi-audience learning resources, services and tools in support of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at all levels. NSDL welcomes collaboration with grantees from other NSF programs such as the Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program; Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST); Advanced Technological Education (ATE); Communicating Research to Public Audiences; Discovery Research K-12 (DR-K12); Research and Evaluation on Education in Science and Engineering (REESE), as well as other NSF directorates and programs that intersect with the goals of NSDL to promote and advance STEM teaching and learning.

Statistical and Thermal Physics (STP) Collection from ComPADRE

ComPADRE, NSDL's Physics and Astromomy Pathway announces the Statistical and Thermal Physics (STP) Collection of web-based resources for teachers and students of statistical and thermal physics. The resources in this Collection include curricular materials, theory, problems, and simulations on topics ranging from thermal equilibrium to the Ising model. The STP Collection is organized by topic and resource type and highlights sample collections of materials for classroom use. Registered users of the library (registration is free) can build personal collections of materials, comment on resources, and submit materials for consideration by the STP Editors.

Integrating Social Networking into Middle School

"When you hear the words "social network" what comes to mind? We all have social networks - our friends, family, work colleagues - but what about your online social networks? Do you network professionally with colleagues through LinkedIn? Do you keep track of high school buddies on Facebook and MySpace are two of the most famous (or infamous) social networking sites."... (Read more)

Education Week

Education Week's Technology Counts report, titled Breaking Away From Tradition: E-Education Expands Opportunities for Raising Achievement, examines why e-learning is critical to reshaping the way K-12 education is delivered. Analyses include tips and advice about where to find quality content on the Web. William R. Thomas, the director of educational technology for the Southern Regional Education Board says, "You can spend an inordinate amount of time surfing around and getting lost out there in the abyss, but there are places out there you can go to that can clearly save you a huge amount of time." NSDL is highlighted as a place where topical resources suitable for a particular grade levels can be found.

TeraGrid and Shodor "turn on" HPC training and education resources through High Performance Computing (HPC) University

Teragrid and Shodor have combined forces and resources to bring the HPC University portal to life. HPCU provides the global high performance computing (HPC) community with a clearinghouse of HPC resources including training and education materials and events. The portal was developed in short order by the Shodor team by building on the strong foundation established by the Computational Science Education Reference Desk (CSERD), a Pathways portal of the National Science Digital Library. The HPCU portal was first announced at SC08 in November, 2008 with over 200 HPC resoures available to the community. The Shodor team in collaboration with the HPC University team has continued to augment and enhance the functionality and content offered by HPCU. Now available are resources and opportunities from across the HPC community of high performance computing centers and universities for engagement and support for all students and faculty. A special feature of the site is a "Challenge of the Week" for students to develop their problem solving skills, along with information on internships and fellowships. HPC University is driven by community needs and requirements and welcomes feedback, contributions and recommendations from the community to further enhance the portal. For more information contact Scott Lathrop, Blue Waters Technical Program Manager for Education and TeraGrid Area Director for Education, Outreach.

Teachers' Domain Pathway Presents: Inspiring Middle School Literacy: Reading & Writing in Science & History

Teachers' Domain is pleased to announce the new Adolescent Literacy Special Collection: Inspiring Middle School Literacy: Reading and Writing in Science and History, funded by the Leon Lowenstein Foundation. These self-paced classroom activities are designed to enhance the literacy skills of struggling readers in grades 5-8. Each activity uses videos, interactive activities, note-taking, reading, and writing to present students with an engaging science or history topic. All 15 activities promote a range of literacy skills including monitoring comprehension, synthesizing, asking questions, developing vocabulary, connecting prior knowledge to new learning, and developing a topic in writing.

Science topics in this collection:
Continental Drift: From Idea to Theory
Exploring the Everglades Environment
Newton's Third Law: Action-Reaction
Reproductive Strategies
Snake Jaws: A Lesson in Evolution
Surviving Winter
Transitional Fossils

Social studies topics in this collection:
Alexander Hamilton
Building the Erie Canal
Debating the Constitution
Perspectives on the Land
Resisting Slavery
The Story of Pocahontas
The Three Branches of Government
Writings of the Ancient Maya

Teachers' Domain is a digital library of free media resources and fee-based professional development courses developed by WGBH - Boston's PBS station - drawing from the best in public broadcasting. Gain access to thousands of standards-based science and humanities resources with free registration. Visit Teachers' Domain Pathway to explore the complete list of subjects and collections.

NSDL Materials Science Pathway (MatDL) Presenter at The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society Annual Meeting

The MatDL Pathway and The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society (TMS) held presentations and roundtables on Computational Materials Research and Education on February 18 and February 19 as part of the 2009 TMS Annual Meeting. The joint sessions for educators and researchers focused on two research codes, FiPy and Gibbs, and their use in undergraduate materials curriculum. FiPy, developed and administered at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is a partial differential equation solver, written in Python, based on a standard finite volume approach and written mainly for materials science continuum modeling, such as the phase field method. Gibbs, developed and administered by Opennovation, Purdue University, and Texas A&M, is a multi-component thermodynamics calculation and visualization suite. The MatDL/TMS Roundtables were part of the two-day Symposium on Progress in Computational Materials Science and Education co-chaired by MatDL PI Laura Bartolo, Anter El-Azab, Florida State University, G.B. Olson, Northwestern University, and Katsuyo S. Thornton, University of Michigan


NSDL/NSTA Web Seminar: Arctic and Antarctic Birds

On Tuesday, April 21, 2009 at 6:30 pm ET, join Jessica Fries-Gaither, Project Director and Elementary Resource Specialist for the Ohio Resource Center at Ohio State University and staff from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as we share free digital resources, lesson plans, and children's literature from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears cyberzine. This seminar is designed for K-5 educators. Register today!

(MSP)2 Webinar Series

(MSP)2 Webinars are free, and presented as part of the Math and Science Middle School Pathways Portal - a collaboration between NMSA, The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology, and the Education Development Center. (MSP)2 Webinars will have a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) focus and are presented by experts in their fields.

March 31, 2009, 3:30pm EST
FunWorks: Inspiring Students to Pursue Math and Science Careers!
Sarita Pillai, Director, Gender and Diversities Institute, EDC
Motivate your students to consider careers in math and science! The FunWorks is a digital resource library designed to encourage middle school students to explore math and science careers by showing how these subjects, often perceived as "geeky," have real-world connections in art, games, music, sports, and other things that interest kids. What does physics have to do with how Venus Williams holds her tennis racket? What does designing video games have to do with ratios and proportions in algebra? This seminar is designed for teachers of grades 6-9. Register for this free Webinar

April 7, 2009, 3:30pm EST
Getting to the Good Stuff: Online Resources for Middle School Math and Science
Robert Payo and Kim Lightle
With huge volumes of materials on the Internet, how can teachers find the good stuff? We'll explore how the National Science Digital Library and the Middle School Portal Math and Science Pathways addresses this question. We'll show you how to find quality materials through organized collections, bundled resources that build teacher content knowledge, and online tools that facilitate better alignment of resources to teaching and promote broader community discussion through social networking. Register for this free Webinar


"Sciencegeekgirl" Now Featured in the NSDL Blogosphere

sciencegeekgirl, Dr. Stephanie Chasteen, modestly describes herself as a "geek of many flavors" whose endeavors include science education and communications with a particular flair for podcasts and radio. She has a postdoc appointment at the University of Colorado where she is working on reforming college physics courses to help students learn more. Stop in and see her web stylin' at "the intersection between science, education, communication, and me."

Activities for afterschool play with video demonstrations

Simple activities for afterschool play with video demonstrations and "how-to's" from the Exploratorium on NSDL and iTunesU.


The Practice of Education at the Speed of Thought

Connexions seeks to change the way information is delivered to students and teachers around the world. Over 8,000 content modules, 450 collections, are used by over 1 million monthly visitors. Connexions is a place to view and share educational material made of small "knowledge chunks," licensed by Creative Commons, called modules can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc. Anyone may view or contribute.

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