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

The Whiteboard Report
March 2005, Issue #69



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Post your project news to Whiteboard Report and at Submissions are reviewed and posted at the next day. Whiteboard Report submissions will appear in the next issue.
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Reciprocal Net: A Distributed Molecular Database
Reciprocal Net: A Distributed Molecular Database The Reciprocal Net project is rapidly nearing completion and all indications are that it will provide a continuing resource for researchers and educators.The Reciprocal Net project is a collection project of the NSDL. Reciprocal Net has developed software that is being deployed in research laboratories world-wide that determine molecular structures using X-ray crystallography. Each laboratory maintains an independent server that communicates with all other servers in the network. The software is useful to the participating laboratory because it provides a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) that is of value to the local researchers. A comprehensive graphics package is part of the software allowing users to interactively examine completed structures using only a web browser. Since the servers are under local control the data is not released to the public until the researchers publish the data or decide that the information should be released. To date there are twelve servers on-line with eight other laboratories in various stages of adopting the system.

Of particular interest to most educators is a section of the Reciprocal Net called "Common Molecules." Based on user requests and discussion with K-12 teachers over 500 molecules have been selected for inclusion in this collection. Each of the entries can be examined using the graphical tools described above, and each has a short descriptive paragraph giving information about the molecule shown. The Common Molecules site received a Scientific American 2004 Science and Technology Award as one of the top 50 science and engineering sites on the web and receives nearly 1,000,000 hits per month.

While the Common Molecules section will undoubtedly continue to be heavily used by the K-12 community, the general collection will become increasingly useful to teachers and researchers in post-secondary education. There are currently over 10,000 molecules that are entered into the system, with over one third available to the public.

The Reciprocal Net main portal is and the Common Molecules section can be found at
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NEEDS Digital Library Focuses on the Future with the NAE Engineer 2020 Project
NEEDS Digital Library Focuses on the Future with the NAE Engineer 2020 Project Alice Agogino, of the NEEDS.ORG engineering education digital library, is pleased to announce new Engineer 2020 monthly themes based on the National Academy of Engineering's report titled "The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century", of which she is one of the co-authors.

The January theme was an overview of the report with an opportunity to catalog futuristic educational strategies and comment on the report. February focused on diversity issues highlighted in the report with a "Celebration of African American Engineers" in honor of Black History month. March will highlight "Service Learning -- Engineering in the Interest of Society."

Professor Agogino would like to encourage the continuation of this dialogue and invites you to view and share comments about the Engineer 2020 report and other resources. Please visit
Related Link: http://NEEDS.ORG

NSDL Collection Development Monthly Report February 2005
NSDL Collection Development Monthly Report February 2005 Each month CI Collection Development gathers information about resources that are being added to the NSDL Repository. For more information about specific documents, or a listing of specific resources added please contact John Saylor at

Collections (as of February 28)- 431
Collections with Item Records (as of January 31) - 85
Collections supplying OAI metadata- 79
Number of Item Records (as of February 28) - 797,877
Registered NSDL Selectors (as of February 28)- 21 (18)
Collections with machine-generated metadata (ie IVIA augmentation as of February 28)- 5
Resources Recommended by General Public during February 05-5 Resources Selected by NSDL Selectors during February 05 - 47
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NSDL at the American Physical Society March Meeting 2005
NSDL at the American Physical Society March Meeting 2005
Don Sadoway, MIT, and Laura Bartolo, KSU will present "MIT's 3.091, NSDL Materials Digital Library and Virtual Labs: Investigating the Role of Digital Libraries in Freshmen Introductory Science Courses" in a session entitled "Issues in Undergraduate Education" at the APS March Meeting to be held March 21-25, 2005
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AAAS Plenary Lecture: Rover's Year on Mars
AAAS Plenary Lecture: Rover
Presenting the final AAAS plenary lecture on Feb. 18 in Washington D.C., Steve Squyres captivated his audience with the latest pictures from the twin Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Squyres, a Cornell Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy and the principal investigator for the NASA mission, led the overflow audience through the events and discoveries of what was intended to be a 90-day mission to Mars, but which, for Spirit, is now over 400 days.
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2005 MERLOT International Conference - "Engaging the Global Community - Looking Over the Horizon"
The deadline for proposals is March 14, 2005. Information on submitting a proposal:
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NSDL: Supporting Math Instruction in New York
NSDL: Supporting Math Instruction in New York How are digital resources changing teaching and learning? The New York Project "NSDL: Supporting Math Instruction in New York" is designed to demonstrate the value of NSDL in an educational setting. The project developed by NSDL Core Integration, NSDL collaborating projects, and New York State educators has three goals:
- To engage teachers in using NSDL resources, services and technology in the classroom
- To identify how using NSDL in the classroom produces changes in the practices, attitudes, and knowledge of participating teachers
- To develop a scalable and repeatable process that enables NSDL to be disseminated to teachers at regional, state and national levels.

The Project will kick off with the first NSDL Summer Institute in August, and will continue during the 2005-06 school year. Participating teachers and media specialists will be introduced to pedagogy concepts associated with digital resources, receive instruction on searching for resources and compiling them to use in math instruction, and establish a network for communication and support during the project and beyond.

This Project addresses the math teaching needs of a core group of New York in-service elementary and middle school teachers and school media specialists, supports their use of standards-aligned math resources in the classroom, and empowers them to share experiences, resources, teaching strategies and technology skills with other New York teachers. Read the plan here For more information please contact Sarah Giersch at
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It's All About the Standards
" . . . This is a content area where informal categories are a red herring, because over the past few years, every public school teacher in the country has had their attention focused on a very formal method of classifying and describing lesson plans: academic standards."--eSchool News, Feb. 2, 2005
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Think of it as metadata vocabularies with every term allowed.
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The "Buster" Issue
In the controversial PBS Buster the Bunny episode, he is taught about farm life and maple sugaring in Vermont, by young children from two families that each have two mothers. Vermont offers civil unions to gay couples. In this children's educational series, funded in part by the Department of Education's Ready to Learn initiative, Buster meets actual people who teach him about things that are special in their state.
"PBS Chief: Buster Didn't Boot Her" by Lisa de Moraes (The Washington Post, Feb 17, looks into PBS CEO Pat Mitchell's decision not to seek a third three-year term as a possible consequence of the "Buster" issue.
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Novel User Interface: Pick-up a Container and Listen to What it Has to Say
Millions of Americans have such poor eyesight they can't read newspaper type, and thus struggle with medication bottles that put the drug's name, dosage and important safety warnings in even smaller print.

Call them talking drugs: If pilot testing goes well at two Chicago hospitals, blind and elderly Americans could soon begin buying prescriptions with "smart labels" that read aloud the potentially lifesaving fine print.--SkyeTek RFID Engineering
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The Video Search Race
Google's video search feature is different from that of Yahoo's. In Yahoo, the video search feature allows users to search for a video by entering a phrase in the search box. The results from the video search are displayed as still images with links to download the clipping. Once the user selects a relevant video it is saved on the computer to be viewed in media software.

Google however does not offer any video clippings right now. It lets users to search through indexed television programmes based on the words or phrases spoken in a particular programme. The results are displayed as still images, which correspond to the exact point whether phrase or word was spoken in the programme. The search also allows one to know the exact timings of the programme aired based on the zip code. --
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Fractal Expressionism: Art About Science
Fractal Expressionism: Art About Science
The recent AAAS meeting in Washington D.C. packed almost everything about science into five short days, including art. A fractal is a geometric shape or curve that repeats itself irregularly, like a mountain range or a coastline. Columbian artist Mauricio Zárate's paintings are often bright and dramatic, conveying a sense of dynamic growth and evolution. He classifies himself a "fractal expressionist," after the term coined by physicist Richard Taylor at the University of Oregon in Eugene. He explores the boundary between science, mathematics and art, appealing to the viewer's senses, emotions and intellect at once. "Evolutiva" featuring roughly 30 photographs and paintings will be on display through the end of April in the atrium and gallery at AAAS, 1200 New York Ave. NW in Washington.
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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