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

The Whiteboard Report
May 2006, Issue #95



Teachers: Warmer Planet More Hurricanes?
Take an in-depth look at how hurricane size and strength correlate to ocean temperatures, and what that might mean for the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season in an NSDL Online Science web seminar entitled Hurricanes. The event is co-sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association and will take place on May 16, 2006 at 3:30-5:00 pm PT, 4:30-6:00pm MT, 5:30-7:00 CT, and 6:30-8:00pm ET.

The 90-minute program begins with a 30-minute introduction on how to use web tools for the presentation. Web conferencing tools allow participants to learn science concepts while interacting with presenters using tools that mark or stamp answers to questions posed on the screen, and to take part in group discussions. Once participants are acquainted with web tools background information about hurricanes and methods for incorporating digital resources about hurricanes into the classroom will be presented with highlights from the rich resources available through the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE)

NSTA Web Seminars have become increasingly popular with teachers because they offer high-quality stay-at-home professional development opportunities with partners such as NOAA and NASA. NSDL's partnership with NSTA premieres with Hurricanes which is part of eleven NSDL Online Science programs scheduled through June of 2007. As the series goes forward NSDL will seek input from various NSDL partners to deliver outstanding classroom resources to teachers.

For more information please contact Susan Van Gundy at, or Robert Payo at You may register online at the NSTA website:
Related Link:

Educational Impact of Teacher Professional Development
Dr. Robert Panoff, Shodor Foundation, gave a presentation about NSDL Pathways Projects and NSDL resources to 28 enthusiastic teacher-coaches from the SUNY-Brockport/Rochester, NY Scollarcity Math and Science Partnership (MSP) . Scollarcity focuses on computational science, math and associated technology. At the conclusion of the presentation the attending teachers strongly recommended that their summer training institute this year fully explore resources such as the ones Panoff demonstrated from NSDL--or at least as much time as is spent teaching them how to use modeling tools.

A physics teacher commented, "I thought Bob's talk was excellent . . . I really think the value of being able to find and use models that already exist exceeds the value of learning how to use a particular tool to build models, just because the benefit-to-time-spent ratio can be so much greater, where the benefit is measured in student learning, which we want to maximize, and the time spent is teacher time, which is a precious resource which must be conserved."

The Department of Education's Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) program is intended to increase the academic achievement of students in mathematics and science by enhancing the content knowledge and teaching skills of classroom teachers.

The Scolarcity MSP began in 2003 with the aim of teaching middle and high school math and science teachers from the Rochester City and Brighton School Districts in Rochester NY how to provide their students with a better understanding of fundamental principles in math and science topics by:

-Stressing that these subjects are not disparate, but in fact are closely related and interconnected with each other
-Providing them training in the use of various computer modeling software tools (AgentSheets, Stella, Geometers SketchPad) to help them more clearly explain topics in math and science and to assist with incorporating mathematics into the discussion of science topics and vice versa. Teachers receive laptop computers, graphing calculators and support from SUNY Brockport faculty in the implementation of what they learn in their classrooms.
-Working with their students on a large project that integrates math and science in a manner that is aligned with New York State education standards and which fits into the curriculum of the course

In three years the project has provided training to 250 teachers. In addition, at the request of the teachers, Scolarcity has incorporated a third year of training/participation that was not originally planned for.

The project has been successful in increasing student scores on New York State Regents Examinations in math and science. Results from the second year of data indicate that students who were instructed by a teacher participating in the Scollarcity project performed an average of 4-8% better on these examinations than students whose teachers were not participants. Further, students whose teachers have received 2 or more years of training perform better than those whose teachers have received only 1 year of training.

Given the feedback from the teachers who attended Dr. Panoff's presentation, Scolarcity plans to integrate exploring content available from NDSL into this summers' workshop.
Related Link: Adds NSDL To Collection
The nation's "go to" Web portal for government science information recently added the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) to its collection. This means that users can search all the science databases and more than 1,800 science Web sites at, plus the 1.1 million records of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education resources at NSDL, with just one click.

This one-stop search is free of charge, free of ads, and returns only reliable science information.

"I think teachers and students are going to be especially pleased," said Eleanor Frierson, Alliance co-chair and deputy director of the National Agricultural Library. " already is widely used by the education sector; the NSDL addition expands and enhances our science education emphasis."

In addition to science education, the collection includes approximately 50 million pages of research and development results from a wide range of categories. These include agriculture and food, applied sciences and technologies, astronomy and space, biology and nature, computers and communications, earth and ocean sciences, energy and energy conservation, environment and environmental quality, health and medicine, math, physics and chemistry, and natural resources and conservation.

NSDL was created by the National Science Foundation to provide access to exemplary resources for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and research. NSDL is designed primarily for K-16 educators. is a collaboration of 12 federal science agencies: The Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, and the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Government Printing Office, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation, with support from the National Archives and Records Administration. The Web portal is hosted by the DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI).
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Tune in to NSDL on Educause Live! on May 8
Dean Krafft, Principal Investigator, NSDL Core Integration Project at Cornell University will discuss "Building a National Science Digital Library" in a free hour-long web seminar. Educause Live presents critical technology topics in higher education.

Register early if you are interested in joining the discussion via audio and video through your web browser with Dean Krafft and Educause Live! host Steve Worona here:

Since 2000, the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Core Integration team has been creating the infrastructure for a digital library of science, technology, engineering and mathematics resources. That library now contains over a million resources from approximately 100 collections. In this talk, I will give a short historical overview of the NSDL and describe the current NSDL community and participants. I will then review the technical underpinnings of NSDL 1.0, a library built on metadata harvesting, and describe some of the challenges we've encountered. For the past year, we have been working on NSDL 2.0, a new version of the library built on the Fedora repository architecture. For the last part of the talk, I will describe this new library architecture and explain how it supports creating context for science resources, how it enhances selection and use of library materials, and what these capabilities mean for users of the NSDL.
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Pathways Outreach to Materials Science and Engineering Centers
MatDL Pathway PI Laura Bartolo was invited to give a brief presentation about the NSDL and Pathways projects at the NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC) Directors and Education Directors Annual Meeting at the University of Chicago in April. MRSECs are flagship centers for collaborative materials research funded by the NSF. There are currently 29 MRSECs at universities around the country. MRSECs also serve as focal points for materials education activities and are involved with a range of outreach and public education activities.
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NEW Learning Resources From the Exploratorium
The Exploratorium, a hands-on museum of science, art, and human perception located in San Francisco, California has added an exciting new collection of exhibit-based teaching and learning resources to the National Science Digital Library. Digital learning resources have been selected from interactive museum exhibits, demonstrations, hands-on science activities, museum magazine articles, Exploratorium web sites, the Children's Education Outreach program, the Exploratorium Teacher Institute, and the Institute for Inquiry. Learn more about Exploratorium collections at the project website:

Here is a sample of resources from the Exploratorium's Digital Library Learning Resources Collection for you to contemplate adding to classroom activities, or to try at home:

Do a virtual cow's eye dissection:
[search at using key words: cow eye]

Find out what you have in common with a kiwi fruit in the activity "Fruitful DNA extraction:"
[search at using key words: kiwi extraction]

Make an eddy current exhibit at home to demonstrate the changing magnetic field created by a falling magnet:
[search at using key words: eddy currents]

Contact the Exploratorium staff at for more information.
Related Link:

Road Report: NSDL at NSTA
The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has changed the name of its annual conference to the National Conference on Science Education to focus on NSTA's role in science education beyond K-12 education and into science education at all levels--K to gray. Approximately 13,000 participants attended this year's conference held April 4-9 in Anaheim, CA. Attendees were predominantly K-12 teachers who taught at the secondary education level. This is the third year that NSDL has participated in the conference.

NSDL partners took center stage with opportunities to showcase projects at both the exhibition booth and at the NSDL breakfast reception where invited teachers, administrators, digital resource developers, external NSDL partners, and key NSTA representatives gathered to hear updates on NSDL development including Expert Voices, and new web site with audience-specific resources. NSDL's participation in the NSTA Teacher Professional Development Web Seminars was also introduced There was an overall feeling of excitement and enthusiasm within the group with appreciation of good networking opportunities.

Read more here:
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From the NSDL Expert Voices Blogosphere, "Boneyard Science: Investigating Forensics"
Anthropologist and Archaeologist from the University of Texas Lauri Thompson, Lois Kenick, a retired high school physics and chemistry teacher from Maine, Elizabeth Abernathy and members of her Introductory Forensic Science Middle School class are having a conversation about about forensics. They are asking and answering questions, offering additional sources and discovering why it is interesting. Read the posts and comments from students.

Lois Kennick, reports that Nature, a PBS program is presenting "Crime Scene Creatures" during May. It airs in the northeast on Sunday, 5/7 at 8 PM and repeats on Saturday, 5/13 at 11 AM. Check local listings. The program uses actual and hypothetical crimes to show how insects, plants and other animals are used to determine when and how a person died. There will also be a segment on the false evidence that creatures might create on a body.
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NSDL and International Fedora Applications to be Presented at Fedora Users Conference
Registrations for the Fedora Users Conference to be held at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville June 19-20, 2006 are limited to 200 so please register as soon as possible if you would like to attend. Contact Rhonda Grizzle for more information.
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Google Librarian Newsletter
"Librarians and Google share a similar mission: to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. We support librarians who work each day to further that mission."
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How Would YOU Describe NSDL?
Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that crops up increasingly as a source of information on everything from nuclear fusion to love. Visit NSDL's entry and add your comments and changes. Note that the history of NSDL descriptions in Wikipedia may be viewed under the "history" tab.
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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