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

The Whiteboard Report
October 2004, Issue #61



New Pathways to the National Science Digital Library
October 2004 -- Philadelphia kindergarden teacher Varnelle Moore pioneers teaching new concepts using resources and hands-on support from The Math Forum @ Drexel. Moore's students learn to understand spatial experiences, story content, and talk out ideas with their very young kindergarten colleagues. The National Science Foundation has funded Pathways Projects to add user-tailored access to the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) making it simple for Moore and other teachers to take full advantage of the new bridge between math, science, and education in a context that makes sense for them.

Four NSDL Pathways Projects were funded by the National Science Foundation: Internet Scout Project; WGBH Teachers' Domain; The Mathematical Association of America; and The Shodor Education Foundation. In addition NSDL has funded the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse (ENC) to develop the NSDL Middle School Portal. The NSF awarded 19 additional NSDL NSF-NSDL grants to develop services ranging from an "Online Psychology Laboratory" from the American Psychological Association (, to a project that will give students and teachers the ability to create personal collections from Case Western Reserve's New Media Studio ( A full list of projects and awards are available at

National Science Digital Library Director Kaye Howe emphasizes, "We have pledged public education to each other in this country and know that education has always gone out from the great libraries." NSDL partnerships with Pathways digital library projects continue to leverage NSDL's impact on public education by extending the reach of this key piece of STEM educational infrastructure.

The National Science Digital Library (NSDL) was established by the National Science Foundation as an online library of exemplary resources for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and research. NSDL provides organized access to collections and services from resource contributors that represent the best of both public and private institutions including universities, museums, commercial publishers, government agencies, and professional societies. NSDL supports teaching and learning at all levels, from preschool through adult, with materials ranging from journal articles and lesson plans to interactive animations, and from real-time data sets to technology-based tools.

With a mission to support national improvements in STEM education and an emphasis on innovation, NSDL began in the fall of 2000 to build the technical infrastructure of the Library, coordinate access to resources from a wide range of providers, and build relationships with key stakeholders in the research and education communities. Access to NSDL collections and services began with the launch of the website in December 2002.

Dr. Tom Dreschel, Program Manager, NASA Spaceflight and Life Sciences Training Program at the Kennedy Space Center has been an avid partner in NSDL's Ask a Scientist or Engineer reference desk service, "Ask NSDL," answering 110 questions for students and teachers. Dr. Dreschel finds that, "As a scientist and science education specialist for the NASA space biology outreach program, I find that it is very important for students to be able to interact with scientists. This helps to create a real-life connection, for the student, to science topics that they learn in school. The National Science Digital Library's "Ask NSDL" service is actively promoting this and has been providing this link between students and scientists.

I am excited about NSDL's new partnerships with the NSF-funded "Pathways Projects". These relationships promise to have a significant impact on STEM education by providing web portals where teachers can go to find specialized resources in NSDL."

NSDL holds a wide range of materials to support learning at all levels. Many users require portals and services tailored to their needs. Pathways partners provide those portals and services, and act as reference librarians for their communities. These partnerships are important not only to enhance the educational character and value of NSDL by targeting specific audiences of users and contributors, but also to demonstrate the value of NSDL in a variety of educational settings.

More information about NSDL Pathways Projects will be available in general and concurrent sessions at the NSDL Annual Meeting to be held November 14-17, 2004 in Chicago, IL. The full press release is online at
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Automated Metadata Improvement
October 2004 -- With help from INFOMINE/iVia colleagues Steve Mitchell, Johannes Ruscheinski, and Gordon Paynter, NSDL has harvested item level metadata from iVia's server for five collections that did not include detailed metadata. The collections are: UF/IFAS Best of the Bugs Award Site, New Scientist WebLinks, SCORE Science-Kids Corner, Monarch Watch, and CHEMINFO.

Using iVia's Expert Guided Crawl Service, the NSDL production team submitted a URL to the service, reviewed results to delete dead or irrelevant sites, and harvested the data into the Metadata Repository using OAI. The records will be available to users the week of Oct. 15.
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Invitation to the NSDL Community to Join Education Resource Special Interest Group
October 2004 -- An Education Resource Special Interest Group (ER-SIG) for those "interested in best practices and practical applications for managing learning resources" is being initiated by JES & Co, an organization involved with educational technology at the state and federal levels ( The ER-SIG is envisioned to become a working group comprised of individuals and representatives from corporations and education agencies along with K-20 educators and education experts. Initially, ER-SIG will serve as an advisory group for the recently funded NSDL:ASN project that will provide access and registry services to learning standards and alignments for all NSDL collection holders and service providers. The purpose of the group is to discover and define appropriate business cases, use cases, recommendations, and application profiles that relate to a range of issues surrounding the cataloging and use of online educational resources including vocabularies, classification systems, annotations, alignment to curriculum standards, interoperability, and search. The group will meet virtually beginning in October to establish a shared vision and organizational structure. For more information, please contact Bruce Fulton at JES&Co (
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NSDL Annual Meeting November 14-17, 2004, Chicago, IL
October 2004 -- The final schedule for the rich array of sessions for this year's meeting has been posted to the meeting website at under the Advance Program tab. If you are presenting please confirm that your most current session title, abstract, and list of presenters is accurately displayed and report any required changes as soon as possible to Susan Van Gundy (

This dynamic event is traditionally sparked by lively formal and informal exchanges over a three-day period. Details can be found at the NSDL Annual Meeting Web site: Be sure to plan for submitting a poster for the NSDL Annual Meeting by October 22.

Several pre-conference events will take place on Sunday, November 14th. An orientation for new projects/new people will provide an overview of NSDL and its history, technical infrastructure, outreach and communications efforts, and community leadership. The orientation will be held at the Hyatt from 3:00 -6:30. Pre-registration is required and participation is limited to 125 people ( Attendance is mandatory for PIs new to NSDL, but the orientation is also open to other interested members of the community on a first come, first served basis.

The Content Reusability and Interoperability Workshop is also being offered on Sunday, November 14 from 8 am to 5 pm, in conjunction with the 2004 NSDL Annual Meeting. To attend this workshop, please register for it by sending an email with your name, email address and phone number to, or to Geoff Collier at The workshop is limited to no more than 25 participants.

The workshop explores guidelines and practices intended to increase the value and impact of digital learning resources by making them easier to reuse in multiple contexts and in multiple learning environments. The workshop is targeted at individuals and teams who design, develop and create learning resources and at organizations that aggregate and disseminate these resources.

Participation is free. A grant from the NSF provides support for workshop participation expenses for individuals involved with NSDL projects.

More information about the NSDL Content Reusability and Interoperability project is available at
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Upcoming Conference Dates
ACST 2004: The IASTED International Conference on Advances in Computer Science and Technology
November 22-24, 2004

Technology + Leadership + Learning Conference
October 27-29, 2004, Denver, CO

Educause 2004 "The Premiere IT Event in Higher Education"
October 19-22, 2004, Denver, CO
NSF-NSDL National Visiting Committee member Diana G.Oblinger, Vice President of Educause, will address the conference in a talk entitled "Educating the Net Generation."
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Advancing the Science of Learning
October 2004 -- Boston University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Washington have received National Science Foundation (NSF) awards totaling $36.5 million over the next 3 years to establish Science of Learning Centers. The new centers will engage in basic research and serve as hubs for a national network of research focused on learning.

"Basic research about learning is immensely important. In the midst of today's complex and quickly transforming environments, fundamental understanding of the processes of learning will help develop the knowledge base necessary to prosper in our ever-changing world," says NSF Acting Director, Arden Bement.
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October 2004 -- Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children in family-centered, informal learning environments.
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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