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

April 2009 Issue #146






NSTA-CBC Reviews of Outstanding Science Trade Books for K-12 Students

Recently, Michael Luby, Editor, NSDL Primary Articles Learning Environment (PALE), attended the Sixth ITEST Summit in Washington, hosted by the Educational Development Center (EDC). Among the issues explored during the Summit, Luby learned about EDC work that seeks to integrate science and literacy. Luby's long-standing work with with publishers on behalf of NSDL led him to consider what publishers had to offer in addition to textbooks, journals, software, and reference materials?

A visit to a large chain bookstore provided him with a clear answer: a large selection of trade titles about fascinating scientific fields and personalities. He wondered which among these stacks of books might best enrich K-12 curricula or inspire self-directed exploration of topics in science?

A quick search of NSDL on the phrase "science trade books" revealed that each year a list called Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12, is compiled. And who better than the National Science Teachers Association and the Childrens Book Council to create such a list?

What follows is the list of Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12, 2009. Included with each bibliographic citation is a link to the NSTA-CBC review (reviews and alignments to relevant National Science Content Standards are prepared by a panel of experts) along links to each book's page on the publisher's website, providing additional information and purchase options; links to the book's record in the WorldCat, allowing patrons to easily find the works at their nearest library; and level-appropriate resources held in the NSDL central and/or Pathways Collection. Selections for the NSTA-CBC 2009 list were published by Candlewick Press, Charlesbridge, Dorling Kindersley; Farrar, Straus, and Giroux; Henry Holt, Holiday House, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Lerner Publishing Group, Marshall Cabendish Benchmark Books, Mikaya Press, Peachtree Press, Picture Window Books/Capstone Publishers, Scholastic, Viking Children's Books/Penguin, and Walker Books.

Shodor to Help Lead the Way For the World's Largest Supercomputer

The world's largest and most powerful supercomputer is coming online in 2011, and Shodor is helping to lead the way. Shodor has developed NSDL's Computational Science Education Resources (CSERD) Pathway and will manage a $1.3 million education program to bring supercomputer brain power to college classrooms nationwide.

The project is called "Blue Waters" and is led by the University of Illinois and its National Center for Supercomputing Applications in partnership with IBM. Shodor will help educate the next generation of users of the world's first sustained "petascale" computational system dedicated to open scientific research.

According to Dr. Robert M. Panoff, Shodor's executive director and one of the team members who helped prepare the successful supercomputer proposal that led to a $208 million grant from the National Science Foundation, this petascale computational system will be "about a million times faster" than the fastest desktop or laptop computers in today's world and about a thousand times faster than the quickest university computers used for research.

What makes it a petascale supercomputer? Panoff explained, "For example, rather than waiting for three hours for a supercomputer to analyze data to track the projected path of a hurricane, a petascale supercomputer will have that information in about 10 seconds." Shodor's leadership will serve to prepare the next generation of young scientists to use the new computing environment as they pursue careers in science, math, engineering and medicine. "Shodor's involvement in this project will give college and high school students in the Triangle unique opportunities to contribute to the most important supercomputing education ?build out' of this era," Panoff said.

These students will work with Shodor scientists and educators to develop the new curriculum and computer models that will be used in classrooms across the U.S. Shodor is nationally known for its effective use of computational tools in education to bring students into dynamic research opportunities. Its Web site,, is largely made of interactive math and science educational tools, and receives more than 3-million page views per month. "Shodor's dedication to - and success in - improving education through computational techniques will be a very crucial part of the Blue Waters Project and the Great Lakes Consortium for Petascale Computation," said Dr. Thom Dunning, director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Blue Waters project. "Shodor will lead our systematic program of curriculum development, faculty workshops and student internships for undergraduates."

Dunning added, "Tomorrow's researchers have to be comfortable with petascale thinking" not just petascale computing. Shodor will help ensure that." Shodor's core $1.3 million funding from the NSF will be spread over three years and must focus on the national scale, so only a few local students will be able to participate in the project immediately. Shodor is now working to raise matching funds to extend this opportunity to many more students in the Triangle area through its apprenticeship and internship programs. To learn more about making contributions and how you can make a difference, contact Panoff at 919-530-1911 or e-mail him at

"As we celebrate the opportunity with Blue Waters, we want to ensure our Triangle youth-focused programs can take full advantage of this national project," Panoff said. "I am passionate about involving students in our work - we are not just about computation and machines. We're helping kids build their own future."

Shodor, a national resource for computational science education, serves local students and both educators and students nationwide. Its online tools such as Interactive, the Computational Science Education Reference Desk, and a Pathway Portal of the National Science Digital Library, are used internationally to improve the teaching and learning of math and science subjects. In addition to developing and deploying interactive models, simulations, and educational tools, Shodor serves students and educators directly through workshops and other hands-on experiences. Shodor offers innovative workshops helping faculty and teachers incorporate computational science into their own curricula or programs. This work is done primarily through its National Computational Science Institute in partnership with TeraGrid, NCSA and other NSF-funded initiatives. For Triangle students from middle school though undergraduate levels of education, Shodor offers workshops, apprenticeships, internships and off-site programs that explore new approaches to math and science education through computational science. Registration for Shodor's summer workshops is now available at - where students from grades 6-12 and their parents will find more workshops than ever before and new themes this year, including Programming Concepts and Web Design Skills. Other workshop themes are: Biomedical Explorations; Computational Chemistry; Engineers in Training (at Sigma Xi); Graphics and Visualization; Forensics; Math Explorations; Modeling Your World; and a two-week intense program called Shodor Scholars.

Shodor is located in the Durham Centre in the downtown area. The organization was founded by Panoff in 1994.

"Vrroooom-vroom" Goes Green

Driving less, biking more, paying attention to vehicle fuel efficiency, and looking for economical transportation options are all worthy endeavors, especially right now. American's love affair with cars, however, and their utility as a platform for studying environmental engineering challenges is far from over. Two springtime events-- Indiana Super Mileage Challenge (SMC) and the 2009 Green Grand Prix in Watkins Glen promise to highlight advances in auto engineering to make them run better, faster and farther on less.

On April 27 Indiana high school students competed in the Indiana Super Mileage Challenge (SMC) to help engineer solutions for our nation's energy needs. The SMC is sponsored by the Indiana Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Alliance took place at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis where SMC High School students applied Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) principles to design, engineer, construct, test and evaluate vehicles that obtain the highest MPG. Check their web sites below to find out how they did:

On Saturday May 2 Hybrid & Alternative Fueled Vehicles will run the only the official Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Time-Speed-Distance Road Rally for Hybrid and Alternate Fuel Vehicles in North America. The Fourth Annual Green Grand Prix rally is hosted by the International Motor Racing Research Center will be run over 60 miles of scenic roads concluding in the streets of Watkins Glen. The first official Green Grand Prix was run by 34 cars following a course around the 78 mile perimeter of Seneca Lake in western New York State in 2006.

Post-rally activities are centered at the Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen. The Wayne Technical and Career Center in Williamson, N.Y., will showcase a student-made portable energy lab, which includes solar panels and a wind generator. Also featured will be an Electrathon electric race car from Baker High School in Baldwinsville, N.Y. Cars on display will include The Woods Electric Dual Tiller, a production electric vehicle built in 1914.

A panel discussion will address sustainability issues, and Cornell University's X-Prize Team, which has been working on a 100 mpg mass-producible car, is expected to do a presentation on its project. Winners of the AFV design contest for young students, now in its third year, will receive their awards, as will participants in the morning road rally.

Introducing "NSF Special Reports" Collection in NSDL

National Science Foundation (NSF) Special Reports online feature topics that highlight scientific discoveries accomplished with NSF support. Topics include weather, evolution, mathematics, visualization, technology, polar, infectious disease, robotics, wild animals, earthquake engineering, cyberinfrastructure, tsunami, arctic and climate. Special reports are available as interactive resources or text only versions. This collection has recently been added to NSDL.

NEW PODCAST: Deep Sea Thinking: Exploring the World's Ocean

A new Podcast is now avaialble from the Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears, May 2009 issue on Oceans: Episode 6: Deep Sea Thinking: Exploring Our World's Ocean. Most of our oceans still remain a mystery. Dr. Chris Massell Symons shares how scientists are exploring the depths to uncover their secrets. Also: find out about a fun song to "lure" your students into learning about our One Big Ocean.

iTunesU link

Podcast page

May BP issue - available May 1st

PRISMS Records Now Updated with Strand Map Service (SMS) Identifiers

PRISMS (Phenomena and Representations for the Instruction of Science in Middle Schools; NSF DUE 0435217 - Page Keeley, P.I.) is a collection of reviewed phenomena and representations that can be used to help students understand essential science ideas. Resources have been carefully screened for their alignment to content standards and their instructional quality using a subset of the evaluative criteria from AAAS Project 2061's curriculum-materials analysis procedure. Reviews can be accessed directly through the PRISMS web site at or via text searches at Atlas of Science Literacy (AAAS, 2001, 2007). The most recent enhancement to the PRISMS records is the addition of a second Dublin Core conforms. To element that explicitly associates a record to a Strand Map Service (SMS) identifier. Assignment of an SMS ID causes the appropriate PRISMS records to be more prominent and to appear in the Top Picks tab of the information bubble that is displayed when a science concept (benchmark node) is clicked. This has the added benefit of highlighting resources whose content alignment and instructional quality have been determined by trained analysts. Each PRISMS review includes a summary, comments on the strengths and weaknesses of the resource and, where applicable, pointers on how to make it more effective for instruction. Reviews of online resources are available for the following topics: (1) Astronomy, (2) Biological Structure and Function, (3) Earth, (4) Ecology, (5) Energy, Force and Motion, and (6) Matter. Middle school teachers have found that the instructional support embedded in the reviews were helpful for their lesson planning and that the resources were well aligned with their state standards.


Blogging & Tweeting Academia

As the tools necessary for creating blogs and other forms of micro- publishing (podcasts, videocasts, microblogs) have become more readily available, many academics have been quick to embrace these new forms of communication. However, academics blog for many different reasons, such as disseminating scholarship, demystifying the inner workings of the academy, or promoting themselves in an uncertain job market. Many academics are employing blogging in the classroom, assigning podcasts as required reading, creating collaborative class blogs, and experimenting with Twitter to develop classroom community. In this forum we will be discussing the theory and practice of academic blogging. The academy has not yet settled on the role that digital scholarship will take in relation to more traditional forms of scholarship, and for this reason scholars are still struggling with questions about the role that bloggers play in spreading disciplinary knowledge, and how this kind of activity should be measured. Likewise, the pedagogical value of blogging, let alone "best practices" guidelines for incorporating blogging into the classroom, are still somewhat up in the air. Join us as HASTAC Scholars John Jones and Ramsey Tesdell facilitate a discussion about such questions as:

John Jones is a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin where he studies rhetoric and technology. Currently he is an Assistant Director of the Department of Rhetoric and Writing's Computer Writing and Research Lab.

Ramsey Tesdell graduated from the University of Washington after writing his thesis, entitled "An Ecology of New Media in Jordan," through which he explored how various new media technologies are being utilized for collective actions. He now lives in Amman, Jordan and writes for

NSDL Brown Bag: Community Report

NSDL community members and friends are invited to join NSDL principal investigators Kaye Howe and Tamara Sumner for this update on NSDL's April 2009 site visit to the National Science Foundation, and the emerging vision of NSDL as a cyberlearning platform for STEM education.

This 90-minute session will be recorded and archived for later viewing after the web conference, via link provided from the NSDL Brown Bag web page.

Inquiries about this web seminar or other NSDL services may be sent to

Meeting Details:
Title: NSDL Community Report
Date: Thu, May 7, 2009
Time: 1:00 PM EDT
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Host(s): Eileen McIlvain

Meeting Description:
This 90-minute NSDL Brown Bag will feature highlights of the April 2009 NSDL reverse site visit to staff of the National Science Foundation's Education and Human Resources Directorate and Division of Undergraduate Education. The presentation frames the role of NSDL with respect to the NSF report: Fostering Learning in the Networked World: The Cyberlearning Opportunity and Challenge. 30 minutes will be devoted to questions and answers.

Access the complete set of presentations used at the NSF site visit.

Click here to register for this meeting.

2009 Sixth Annual Games for Change Festival in NYC

The 2009 Sixth Annual Games for Change Festival will take place May 27 - 29, in New York City. This is the only event dedicated to the exciting new movement of video games for social change--games about poverty, global conflict, climate change. Called "the Sundance of video games" for "socially-responsible game-makers." Games for Change is building a new genre of video game--games to change the world--for the better.

This year's festival features an Opening Keynote by Pulitzer-Prize winning author and world-changing New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof who will give us a sneak peek into his new book, television show and video game.

Other festival highlights include a fireside chat with preeminent games and learning scholars Jim Gee and Henry Jenkins; an interactive game design session by leading game designer Eric Zimmerman; and a closing keynote by Lucy Bradshaw, Executive Producer of Spore, and one of the 10 Most Influential Women In Games.

And don't miss the Games Expo, where festival-goers can see and play new games in a lively and media-friendly reception. And this year will see the first-ever Knight News Game Award, sponsored the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Come see how games are being used to address key events and issues in the news.

Back by popular demand "Let the Games Begin: 101 Workshop on Making Social Issue Games," the pre-festival day-long workshop for newbies on May 27th. (2008 MacArthur Foundation's DML Competition award-winner) This workshop is a soup-to-nuts tutorial on the fundamentals of social issue games. Vital to those who are new to designing learning games but passionate about social issues, the workshop features leading experts on game design, fundraising, evaluation, youth participation, distribution, and press strategies. The 101 Workshop on Making Social Issue Games is made possible through the generous support of the AMD Foundation.

A recent Pew Report showing that 97% of teenagers playing games, noted that "some particular qualities of game play have a strong and consistent positive relationship to a range of civic outcomes" making games perhaps one of the most powerful media of our day for learning and civic engagement. The Annual Games for Change Festival brings together the world's leading foundations, NGOs, game-makers, academics, and journalists to explore this potential and how best to harness games in addressing the most critical issues of our day, from poverty to climate change, global conflicts to human rights. And some of these new games are being played by (literally) millions of people of all ages.

For more information, visit Games For Change is offering 10% off registration--discount code for discount registration is 125489HS.

Call for Submissions - 2009 Premier Award

Have you developed courseware - interactive websites, simulations, tutorials, case studies, software environments or tools - designed to enhance engineering education? We want to see it! The Engineering Pathway digital library is proud to host the 2009 Premier Award for Excellence in Engineering Education, an annual international competition to recognize high-quality, engaging, non-commercial learning innovations designed to enhance engineering education. For eligibility and submission information, please visit Engineering Pathway at . The winners will be announced at the Frontiers in Education: Imagining and Engineering Future CSET Education conference.

NSDL/NSTA Web Seminar: APS: Studying the Human Physiological Limits of Exploring Mars

Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Time: 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm Eastern

In partnership with the American Physiological Society (APS), NSDL features presenter Dr. James Pawelczyk, Associate Professor of Physiology & Kinesiology for the College of Health and Human Development at Pennsylvania State University and an established NASA life scientist and former payload specialist astronaut. He will answer the question of whether or not human biology will limit our ability to travel through the solar system. This seminar is for educators of grades 7-10. Register today for the last seminar of this school year's series!


Repository-on-an iPhone

ArXiview is a new iPhone application billed as "a very easy way to surf the last few weeks of arXiv postings."

Developed by Paul Gingspar then of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and now of Cornell University, provides "Open Access to 534,588 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance and Statistics." [04-24-09].

arXiview was designed by Dave Bacon, a theoretical physicist at the University of Washington, ...

Features and Functionalities

President Obama at the National Academy of Sciences 146th Annual Meeting

In this webcast presentation President Barack Obama addresses members of the National Academy of Sciences gathered at its annual meeting. Introducing Mr. Obama are National Academy of Sciences President Ralph J. Cicerone and John P. Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. President Obama reminded the audience that President Abraham Lincoln signed the law that created the National Academy of Sciences during the Civil War.

He noted that when scientific research pays off, it usually benefits everyone which is why he favors more federal funding for science.

MERLOT Africa Network mailing list

The MERLOT Africa Network mailing list has been set up to send announcements, share information and discuss topics related to communication, ICTs, open educational resources (OER) and open access to scholarly publications (OA), and the development of networked partnerships across the globe. These activities are all dedicated towards sustainable social and economic development on the continent of Africa.

MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching) is a leading edge, user-centered, searchable collection of peer reviewed and selected higher education, online learning materials, catalogued by registered members and a set of faculty development support services. MERLOT's vision is to be a premiere online community where faculty, staff, and students from around the world share their learning materials and pedagogy.

The mission of MERLOT Africa Network is to facilitate communities of eLearning expertise and capacity-building for open education, scholarship, and development in Africa.

If you are interested in subscribing to this listserv, please go to

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

NSDL 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.

Engineering Pathway Themes for April and May

The April theme on the Engineering Pathway was Sustainable Engineering. You still have time to view our resources on Renewable Energy, Green Design and Sustainability or visit our Green Design and Sustainable Engineering community page.

May is Asian Pacific Heritage Month. In honor of this year's celebration, the Engineering Pathway considers the art of origami in engineering endeavors. Whether origami is an indigenous Japanese craft, or if it arose earlier in China, it is the Japanese form of paper folding that is best known today. For centuries, it was a modest domestic decorative craft, but today, the techniques of origami can also help engineers improve everything from maps and camping gear to airbags and space telescopes. See our origami engineering resources, as well as those on Asian American engineers and scientists.

On the NSDL Blogs . . . "Could We Love Our Earth to Death?" asks Mary LeFever in her post to Connecting News with National Science Standards in an interesting look at the impact of ecotourism on the environment. This month sciencegeekgirl suggests that in the interest of being resourceful in challenging economic times we consider a culinary treat cooked up by some Exploratorium chefs: "Cow eye Tacos. Yum!" NSDL and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair are working to spread the word about more than 1200 student science projects. Finally read a Road Report about NSDL's trip to the NSF:"Innovation in Cyberlearning: NSDL Progress Report at NSF."


In Celebration of Teaching and Learning

A notable "World's Fair of Education," or Celebration of Teaching and Learning 2009 was organized by public television Thirteen/WNET, WLIW21 in NYC Mar. 6-7, 2009. Conference content was focused on contemporary educational challenges--Technology, English Language Learners, Literacy, Math, Science, Global Awareness, and Autism bringing together keynote speakers from government, industry and entertainment.

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