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

The Whiteboard Report
April 2006, Issue #93



Digital Libraries Go To School: Increasing and Measuring Impact of NSDL Classroom Use
Utah State University, NSDL Core Integration, and SUNY-Cortland recently received a a grant through NSF's Teacher Professional Continuum (TPC) program.The TPC program addresses critical issues and infrastructure needs regarding the recruitment, preparation, induction, retention, and life-long development of K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers. Its goals are to improve the quality and coherence of teacher learning experiences across the continuum through research that informs teaching practice and the development of innovative resources for the professional development of K-12 STEM teachers.

"Digital Libraries Go to School" project collaborators Mimi Recker, Kaye Howe, Sarah Giersch, Susan Van Gundy, Rena Janke, and Andrew Walker take the view that teaching is a creative and constructive process in which online resources such as those found in NSDL can play a key role. Project goals include helping teachers learn to design learning activities with NSDL resources, contributing teacher-designed content to NSDL, and measuring impact of project activities on teaching practice. For more information please contact Mimi Recker (
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Public Information and K12 Education: NSDL's GROW Resources Gain Usage
Interactive animations developed as part of the Geotechnical, Rock and Water Resources Engineering Education Digital Library (GROW) are increasingly used to inform the public as well as K12 and higher education audiences. Recently an animation entitled "Danger of Flowing Water" ( was used by WYFF News 4 in South Carolina to educate the public on the danger of flash floods in the television station's South Carolina Severe Weather Awareness Week feature. "Ocean Phenomena" ( was used by Centro Ciência Viva de Algarve, a science museum in Portugal.
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Resource Creation and Review in NSDL
A report from an online survey conducted by NSDL Core Integration assesses the progress that NSDL as a program has made towards creating and/or reviewing exemplary digital educational resources. The survey asked respondents (a) if their projects had been involved in the creation and/or review of library resources, (b) whether they had used guidelines/rubrics to help them in these tasks, (c) whether they could describe and/or supply copies of these guidelines, and (d) how they would rate the help that they received from NSDL in carrying out their tasks.

Respondents to the survey found the tasks of resource creation and review to be somewhat harder than expected, but not too hard. They also reported that they had also received support in carrying out these tasks from NSDL, with this help being rated 'adequate to good' rather than 'good to excellent.'

The most popular sources of help for projects were personal and face-to-face in nature, and included other contacts in NSDL, and NSDL Annual Meetings and workshops. Online sources of help provided by NSDL, including wikis and e-mail lists, were not highly rated, and several respondents requested that NSDL provide simple and easy to understand sets of online guidelines to support project activities.

The survey indicates that the NSDL program has a strong community, and that NSDL projects have sets of formal and informal practices in place for ensuring the overall quality of NSDL resources. This suggests in turn that NSDL resources are themselves of a certain quality. At the same time, however, there are no standardized, program-wide definitions of quality that NSDL developers and users can consult. Generating such a standardized set of resource creation guidelines and best practices would support both developers and users in their interactions with NSDL, and help assure the quality of future NSDL resources. To receive a copy of the preliminary report please contact Mick Khoo .
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NSDL Collection Development Report, March 2006
584 Collections accepted
111 Collections with Item Records
1,247,900 Resource URLs represented
29 Registered Resource Selectors

Resources Recommended by Selectors (March 06)
Annals of Research on Engineering Education
Are you into Heavy metals? Online Research Model
Chemcases - General Chemistry Case Studies
Earth to the Edge of the Universe
Exploratorium Digital Library: Welcome Educator!
Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembered
Investigating Isotopes Online Research Model
Live Animal Kits from Nature Gift Store!
Mathematical Equations - EqWorld
NanoHub- Online simulations and More
Online Psychology Laboratory (OPL)
Powerhouse Museum | Sydney Australia
PubMed Central
SPACE TODAY ONLINE - Space Today Online covering Space from
The Arizona Electronic Atlas Home Page
The Electrochemical Society (ECS) Digital Library
The Macaulay Library
The Science Inquiry Toolkit. A Facilitator's Guide to Professional Development in Inquiry Teaching.
The Splice of Life Online Research Model
Total Solar Eclipse: Live from Turkey in 2006
Trinity Remembered
What's in a Wave? Online Research Model
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Educational Impact and Evaluation Standing Committee (EIESC) to Discuss Evaluation Documentation
The volume, variety, and barriers to evaluation, as well as access to exemplar evaluation instruments may be useful information for individual projects, NSDL as a whole, and NSF. On Wednesday, April 12 the Committee will discuss a proposal for CI and EIESC to document the amount and variety of evaluation that has taken place within NSDL projects; to make available exemplar evaluation instruments and report excerpts from those activities; and to survey project PIs about evaluation in their projects. Both the survey, as well as submission of instruments and reports will be online, and will be accessed through a URL sent out by e-mail. The EIESC would present results of the initiative at the Annual Meeting and other appropriate venues. Data will also be reported in the NSDL 2006 Annual Report. To participate in the teleconference please contact Laura Bartolo .
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Archive of Standards Alignment Tool Time Web Conference Now Available
The Community Services Standing Committee hosted its second Tool Times web conference on March 16, 2006. Anne R. Diekema of Syracuse University presented her work with natural language processing and machine learning for assigning educational standards to learning materials, and Holly Devaul of the DLESE Program Center shared how the Content Alignment Tool is being used with DLESE resources. An archived version of the 60-minute presentation is available to download and view at the Community Services page of (
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NSDL Resource Kudos: For Teachers and Students
"KMODDL (Kinematic Models for Design Digital Library) is truly incredible. As a machine geek, kinetic sculptor, author, and kinetic arts educator this is an amazing resource. In all my travels I seek out machines and mechanisms both for my work, and for my students, but here it all is, in my browser . . . simply astounding . . . I don't have the words to adequately express my reaction. A thousand thank yous to everyone involved!!! I am about to send the URL to all of my students, present and former, and to all of my colleagues as well."
--Christopher T. Palmer, Faculty, San Francisco Art Institute,, and The Crucible Arts Education Center,
Related Link: Feature Watch
This week on's homepage "How Much is Too Much Polar Ice Loss?" offers pointers to sources for more information about recent reports of retreating polar ice including the EPA's Global Warming Kid's Page.
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Call for Student Participation--2006 Summer Grid Workshop
Undergraduate or graduate students in computer science, physics, math, and other sciences are invited to a hands-on training workshop in distributed computing techniques to be held June 26-30 at the University of Texas facility on South Padre Island (off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico) June 26-30, 2006. Applicants should have at least intermediate programming skills (one to two semesters of hands-on experience in C/C++, Java, Perl, and/or Python), and hands-on experience with UNIX or Linux in a networked environment.

Workshop participants will work with some of the world's leading experts in Grid computing through a blend of lectures, discussions, and hands-on computing exercises.

Full or partial scholarships are available for students, subject to evaluation of their applications. Students from Minority Serving Institutions are strongly encouraged to apply. The deadline for applications is April 23, 2006. For more information and an application form, please visit our website, or contact Student Development Coordinator, Ms. Martha Casquette at 956 882-6765.
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New Vocabulary: Wiki, Swiki, Blogs, "Blooks"
Books are springing out of blogs like tulips after a spring rain, it seems, and now these creations have a name -- blooks. The winners of the first annual Blooker Prize will be announced April 3. The prize is sponsored by Lulu, a print-on-demand book company.
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Chemistry the Game
Gabriela Weaver, an associate professor of chemistry at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, is building a computer game about chemistry "weaving science and content together." She hopes her prototype (built at a fraction of the cost) will be as appealing to students as commercial counterparts such as Sims developed by companies like Electronic Arts.
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New in the Library: The Science of Spectroscopy
The Science of Spectroscopy is a Spectroscopy education project including a wiki and films focusing on light, spectroscopic techniques, theory and applications in NASA, space science, astronomy, medicine and health, environmental research, and consumer products. The project has been supported by NASA since its inception in 1999.
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Teaching Aids: Signing Science
For researcher Judy Vesel of TERC and her partners at Vcom3D, developer of the Signing Avatar® assistive technology, Tech in the Works-funded research demonstrated that a preliminary, 300-word version of the Signing Science Dictionary raised science achievement among students with hearing impairment. In the dictionary, words and definition on one side of the page face an "avatar," an animated 3D character, signing the word or definition when called upon to do so in ASL or Signed English on the other side.
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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