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Category: Websites

Jul 01 2014

Websites of Interest

Biodiversity Heritage Library: The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) “is a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize and make accessible the legacy literature of biodiversity held in their collections.” Partnering with the Internet Archive, these wonderful items have been brought together for consideration by the general public. All told, there are over 79,000 items in this collection and visitors can browse around by title or author or even look over the Recently Reviewed Items list for suggestions. The Most Downloaded Items list is quite revealing, as it contains some fine items such as “Fish hatchery management” and “Bergey’s manual of determinative bacteriology.” Visitors can also use the tag cloud to get started.

BioInteractive: The Origin of Species: The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) produces a range of free resources for science education as part of its BioInteractive series. This recent addition is called The Origin of Species and it deals with two primary questions: How do new species form? and Why are there so many species? On this site, visitors can look over three excellent short films that address these matters. The first is a 30 minute exploration into the epic voyages of Charles Darwin and his initial period of discovery and revelation. The second film, “The Beak of the Finch,” looks at four decades of research on finch species that live only on the Galapagos Islands. The final work looks at the ways lizards have adapted to several common habitats with rather interesting results.

Expeditions at the Field Museum: Amazonian Birds: Want to take a trip up the Rio Japura with world renowned ornithologists? It is completely possible with this lovely site from the Field Museum in Chicago, documenting the conservation expeditions of John Bates, Jason Wechstein, Alexandre Aleixo and their team. Visitors can make their way through six different sections, including Meet the Team, Photo Galleries, and Videos and Interactives. Be sure to check out the Latest Updates featured on the homepage to explore follow-ups from post-expedition findings, along with information about the team’s published research and related videos and podcasts. The interactive map offered in Videos and Interactives is another great feature, allowing visitors to follow in the scientists’ footsteps as they track over two dozen bird species and catalog their sounds and activities along the way.

NOVA: Journey of the Butterflies: Where do butterflies journey each year? Many in North America end up in a sanctuary in the highlands of Mexico and NOVA has the complete story on this remarkable migration. To capture this story, NOVA’s filmmakers used a helicopter, ultralight, and hot-air balloon for amazing aerial views along the transcontinental route. Visitors can watch the entire program here, as well as a number of great bonus features. Near the bottom of the site, visitors can make their way through fun activities, including Pick the Pollinator, and an interview with filmmaker Nick de Pencier about how this documentary was made.

Jun 02 2014

Websites of Interest

Data Sources and Teaching Resources (Lesley University Library): Teaching science can be a daunting endeavor. However, whether you’re a first-time teacher or a seasoned veteran you will find much to appreciate on this website from Lesley University. Created by subject librarians, the site includes data sources for those working with upper level high school students as well as advanced undergraduates and includes teaching resources for students of all ages. On the Teaching Resources side, visitors can look over high quality sites, such as the Biology Corner and Living Things, which offer up worksheets and lab activities in biology and the natural sciences. On the Data Sets side of the site visitors can look over resources such as the Internet Bird Collection and the very useful Fish Base, which is a global information system on fishes that caters to scientists, fisheries managers, and zoologists.

Institute for Environment and Sustainability: As one of the seven scientific institutes of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES) works “to provide scientific and technical support to European Union policies for the protection of the European and global environment.” Located in Ispra, Italy, its work brings together multidisciplinary teams to create data sets, working papers, and key briefing documents. In the Documentation area, visitors can look over press releases, presentations, and hundreds of papers on everything from tsunami preparedness in the Solomon Islands to sustainable business partnerships. In the Data Portals area visitors can explore a large number of portals that provide information on marine environments, global CO2 emissions, and much more.

NOAA Education Resources: Data Resources for Educators: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has created this site to help educators find data resources that range from classroom ready, student-friendly interfaces to raw real-time and historical data. The resources here are grouped into several topic areas, including Classroom Ready, Oceans & Freshwater, Climate, and Visualization. This last area is definitely worth a look as it includes the Global Science Investigator. This tool lets viewers choose between different data visualizations including plate movement, human impacts on the ocean, and marine debris. Within Oceans & Freshwaters viewers will find another great resource with Estuaries 101 Real-time Data. The curriculum models here offer a mix of real time data that will help students learn about the world of estuaries around the United States.

May 01 2014

Websites of Interest

BioInteractive Virtual Labs: The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has created this remarkable set of virtual laboratory activities for scholars of all ages. Designed as part of its BioInteractive series, the labs cover bacterial identification, cardiology, immunology, and even stickleback fish evolution. Each one of the labs has a tutorial, along with a set of activities designed to help scientists learn more about the biological processes involved with each one. Visitors can browse the offerings here by topic or search all of the labs for specific details.

Nature Soundmap: What does a humpback whale sound like? Or perhaps the White-cheeked Gibbon? The Nature Soundmap provides snippets of these sounds and much, much more. Visitors will find an interactive map of the world, complete with markers that allow audio wildlife travel from Central America to Central Asia a snap. Symphonies of animal noises can also be found here, as visitors can click on Greece to listen to “Summer Ambience” or France to find “Dawn in the Lezardrieux Forest.” Each marker includes information about the animal or setting profiled, along with a link to More Info for the generally curious.

World Food Clock: How much food is being consumed around the world right now? It’s a vast question that can be answered by the World Food Clock. This interesting website draws on information provided by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and presents a streaming set of data on global food consumption, global food waste, and other informative topics. It’s visually arresting and users can scroll down to look through different “clocks” that track statistics such as the land used to grow wasted food and the stages of food waste, which include production, processing, and consumption. This is a wonderful tool for folks with an interest in food security, environmental studies, public health, and international relations. It could also be used in any number of design courses to illustrate a range of techniques and visualization strategies.

Apr 01 2014

Websites of Interest

ATTC: The Global Bioresource Center: The American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) is a professional science group based in Manassas, Virginia. Its Learning Center page is a great way for interested parties to learn about upcoming research and scientific projects. The ATCC Newsletters area offers another great place to start and users can peruse two newsletters entitled, “Cell Passages” and “Micro Scoop.” The Resources for Cell Biology area allows visitors to explore a range of cell culture guides and online video guides, including assay training films and webinars. The site also includes a link to upcoming events and conferences that will be of interest to those in various life science fields.

Biodidac: Biodidac is a bank of digital resources for teaching biology, courtesy of the great folks at the University of Ottawa. First-time visitors will note that the materials are contained within three thematic areas, including Histology and Organismal Biology. Visitors can click on each area to view high quality resolutions of various cells and bodies that can be used to create study guides for public health, medicine, and other related health fields. The What’s New? area is a great way to learn about the latest additions to the site. Additionally, an Information section brings together details on the site’s focus, various reports, and funding information. Finally, visitors can click on the Images area to learn more about specific images and animations of the fungi, animalia, and the structure of a mitochondrion.

Earth Day Network: The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. This website shares information about the Earth Day Network and its activities and programs, including A Billion Acts of Green, The Canopy Project, Earth Day India, and the Green Schools and Green Cities campaigns, to mention just a few.

NSDL Science Literacy Maps: Science literacy maps are a great new concept that continue to garner significant attention by teachers, students, and the general public. This specific site was created by the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) and features concept maps that illustrate connections between thematic science and math concepts, including “The Living Environment” and “The Nature of Mathematics.” The Getting Started area provides a fine tutorial on how to use these materials, along with several short, helpful videos. Additionally, there is a purely text-based version for those interested in the subject matter, but a little wary of diving into the literacy maps themselves. Once brave enough to jump in, there are over 12 sections to explore.

Feb 03 2014

Websites of Interest

The Field Museum Science Podcasts: As one of Chicago’s great scientific institutions, the Field Museum offers up everything from public lectures on paleontology to visiting exhibits on the legacy of the Columbian Exposition. As astute visitors already know, you don’t have to be walking across the Museum Campus to experience its fabulous wealth of knowledge. For example, its Science Podcasts site is a veritable cornucopia of learned and fun commentary on the museum’s in-house research, exhibits, and much more. There are three podcast and video series here, including The Field Revealed, Science at FMNH, and What the Fish? Visitors may want to start with “The Brain Scoop,” which features “chief curiosity correspondent,” Emily Graslie, in a weekly video series about the great work that’s going on at the Field. As mentioned above, What the Fish? is another great component of the site. Through this biweekly podcast series, the museum’s self-proclaimed “former fish nerds” dive into various topics surrounding the biodiversity of fishes, including discussions on general biology, ecology, and evolution.

A Mathematical Way to Think About Biology: Created by David Liao, this site offers a way for scientists, educators and others to investigate biological systems using a physical sciences perspective. On the site, visitors will find video tutorials, classroom fact sheets, and a set of helpful illustrations. First up, is the section dedicated to providing resources for folks interested in pre-algebra, algebra, geometry and pre-calculus. Here they can find slides, videos, and resources dedicated to edifying people about variables, polynomials, and combinatorics. Moving on, the site also offers the same resources for subjects that include linear algebra, evolutionary game theory, and more. Given the weighty nature of the materials, the site is rounded out by a Digest for Busy People section that offers some concise meditations on the merger between mathematics and biology.

National Invasive Species Information Center: What’s an invasive species? It’s a great question and one that is much more complex than one might think. The United States Department of Agriculture has created the online National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC) to bring together key resources on these types of species in the United States as well as other corners of the world. On the site, visitors can Browse by Subject to find Aquatic Species, Plants, Animals, and Microbes. In each of these areas, visitors can read the legal definitions of these species and also use the search feature to look for additional resources. The Spotlights area also contains a useful interactive learning module, a calendar of related conferences, government bills, and funding resources.

This Week at USDA: What’s going on at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) you ask? It’s a good question and each week the communications team at the USDA shares some of the key announcements, activities, and current events related to their ongoing projects. In any given week, visitors might learn about how they are making air travel safer by helping to reduce bird-aircraft collisions or read about preparation equipment that’s being distributed to schools. Visitors can look over the latest News Releases and also sign up for specific topical email newsletters. Additionally, the Reports and Publications area contains direct links to complete agency reports and some of its data sets.

Dec 01 2013

Websites of Interest

A Plan for a Comprehensive National Coastal Program: This 30-page plan for a comprehensive national coastal program was crafted by the U.S. Geological Survey and it addresses how to best develop “effective solutions to coastal problems.” The executive summary here is a tightly written synopsis of the many issues and goals related to the broad pattern of coastal change across the country, including shoreline erosion, declines in living marine resources, and problems surrounding chemical contamination. Moving on, the document contains regional maps of the United States that identify critical issues for each geographic region, along with proposed study projects. Additionally, the document provides some more detailed information on projects in the San Francisco, Tampa, and Chesapeake Bays. Near the conclusion of the document, visitors can learn about proposed timelines for these various research activities.

ARKive: There is little more fascinating than the overwhelming variety of life on our planet. This variety is represented in dazzling detail by a team of wildlife photographers, filmmakers, conservationists, and scientists who have partnered with wildlife charity Wildscreen to create “an awe-inspiring record of life on Earth.” Visitors to the site can browse a library of images, videos, and information about over 15,000 species, from extinct to vulnerable. ARKive also allows users to browse by place and conservation status, for those users who are interested in finding out about endangered species close to home. The Educate tab provides materials for teachers, all of which are sorted into appropriate age categories. Finally, a Fun section adds a little levity to an otherwise very serious topic, offering a blog, activities, games, quizzes, and other options for those who enjoy learning through play.

EcoMOBILE: If you’re not scared off by the acronym, the Ecosystems Mobile Outdoor Blended Immersive Learning Environment (EcoMOBILE) is a fabulous learning device. Developed at the Harvard Graduate School of Education with funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, EcoMOBILE is a fairly remarkable initiative that allows students to explore a virtual pond and extend their learning through one or more field trips to a local pond environment. Students can access and collect information and clues about the virtual environment via a mobile device. Then, students can extend their learning to the real world by using environmental probes that allow collection of real-time data. On the site, visitors can learn about the application via a short video, project data, and information about the primary investigators.

PlantingScience: Planting Science is a collaboration of international scientific societies, scientists, educators, and education research organizations that work together to increase young people’s interest in science. The community’s work includes this website, which is designed to provide access to open education resources for student-centered plant investigations that meet national science education standards. On the site, visitors can look over the What’s Happening area to learn about newly added resources and upcoming seminars. The Featured Projects area contains user-generated classroom materials from science educators around the United States. The Teacher tab provides a roadmap for starting investigations and a great Communicating Science area. Here visitors can learn about crafting lab notebooks, making presentations, and sketching in science classes.

Nov 01 2013

Websites of Interest

Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections: Texas A&M University has crafted this unique and wonderful collection of materials for use by the scientific community and anyone else with an interest in natural history and other matters. The collections here are maintained by staff and faculty at the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and they are updated on a regular basis. On the site, the Collections area contains separate links to thematic collections such as Fishes, Mammals, Parasites, and Genetic Resources. Each of these areas includes details about the collection, along with a link to the relevant database which contains detailed records about each specimen. The Database Search is a one-stop shop where visitors can perform detailed searches across all of the databases. Before leaving the site, News and Happenings is worth a visit, as it contains information about ongoing research activities, seminars, and outreach efforts.

BioSystems: The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) provides integrated access to biological systems and their component genes, proteins, and small molecules. It’s a remarkable resource for persons interested in the biological sciences and the Using Biosystems area is a great place to get started. The About area provides a nice introduction to the records contained within this database along with some great examples, such as “find the pathways in which a given gene or protein is involved” and “retrieve 3D structures for proteins involved in a biosystem.” The BioSystem Tools area features primers on some very powerful statistical tools made available here, including FLink, which handles large quantities of input and output data. The site is rounded out by the Other Resources area, which includes links to other databases, such as PubChem and BioAssay.

Modeling and Simulation Tools for Education Reform: Created by the Shodor Education Foundation, Inc., the Modeling And Simulation Tools for Education Reform (MASTER) provide useful educational tools that help students and teachers learn through observation and modeling activities. The Shodor Foundation worked in tandem with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, George Mason University, and other educational organizations to craft these tools and visitors can access all eight of them here. The Fractal Modeling Tools are a good place to start as visitors can download the required software or take in some instructional materials, such as the interactive fractal microscope and the snowflake fractal generator. Other notable areas here include The Pit and the Pendulum, which offers the work of Edgar Allan Poe as a way to learn about better reading through computation. They also have a beginning collection of models and materials in medicine and biosciences, and environmental science.

Sep 01 2013

Websites of Interest

Cellular Neurobiology: Offered as part of MIT’s Open CourseWare initiative, this course serves as an introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system. The course was developed by Professors Troy Littleton and William Quinn with an emphasis on “the cellular properties of neurons and other excitable cells.” The materials are divided into six areas, including Lecture Notes, Readings, Syllabus, Assignments, and Exams. The Lecture Notes include concise notes on topics that include the biochemistry of synaptic transmission and neurons as conductors. Additionally, interested parties can look over the assignments and exams from past versions of the course. Overall, it’s a great overview of this fascinating subject and one that visitors can dip into at their leisure.

Foundations of Nutrition Science: Dietitians and nutritionists already know the importance of nutrition science. Now, others can learn more about this field through this course from Tufts University’s OpenCourseWare Initiative. This particular course was offered through the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and was designed with working professionals in mind. The course was developed by Diane McKay and the materials here include the syllabus, a course calendar, and lectures. The course meetings cover sixteen topics, including vitamins, proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. In the Lectures area, visitors can find overviews of each meeting, along with the audio content for six of the meetings. All in all, it’s a nice overview of these critical topics and users will appreciate the accessibility and compelling nature of the course and its delivery.

GeneEd: Genetics, Education, Discovery: The GeneEd website was created by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a helpful resource for the teaching and learning of genetics. On the site, visitors can find labs and experiments, fact sheets, and teacher resources on topics including DNA forensics, genetic conditions, evolution, and biostatistics. First-time visitors will want to start their journey by looking over the Topics tab at the top of the page. There are 40 different thematic areas here consisting of articles, video clips, webcasts, and links to additional quality resources vetted by the GeneEd web team. The Labs & Experiments section includes virtual labs that explore the genetics of different organisms as well as links to resources provided by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

UCSF Tobacco Industry Videos: University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Tobacco Industry Video collection contains over 3700 items documenting the advertising, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and scientific research of tobacco products and other materials gathered and produced by tobacco control advocates. Some of the items covered include historic ads for cigarettes, recordings of cigarette focus groups, corporate communications, and recordings of television news coverage on tobacco issues. Visitors can browse around by subject or keyword and they can also look at the “Most Downloaded Items Last Week” area to get a sense of what other folks are finding particularly interesting.

Aug 01 2013

Websites of Interest

Anatomy Arcade: Anatomy truly gets interactive via these collections of fun and engaging games, videos, and other multimedia excursions. The site was created by Ben Crossett, a science teacher in Australia. Several years ago, he decided to craft some new resources like “Poke a Muscle” and “Whack-A-Bone” that would be both entertaining and educational. Visitors can look at the Games By Body System to get started, or they can also look over the Games By Type area. The types of games here include jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, word searches, and the nice catch all Just For Fun. The activities are also made interesting by the mere fact that they contain catchy visuals and jaunty tunes. The site also includes a place where teachers can offer feedback and an area just for students.

Get Body Smart: The Get Body Smart site was created in 2000 by Scott Sheffield. He’s been teaching human anatomy and physiology for over 20 years and the site is an important source of high-quality information on both fields. As it is an online textbook, the subject areas here on the homepage include Skeletal System, Nervous System, and Histology. Each of these areas includes an introductory tutorial, along with short quizzes designed to test the visitors on each topic. The site also includes a specific area dedicated just to quizzes, and it’s quite useful for teachers seeking a way to keep students up-to-date. The site is rounded out by a social media section, along with a short selection of Related Links.

Methods in Biostatistics I: The field of biostatistics, which combines a number of different disciplines, is one that more people seek to enter. The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health’s Brian Caffo created these course materials for his Methods in Biostatistics I class. As the site notes, these materials present “fundamental concepts in applied probability, exploratory data analysis, and statistical inference, focusing on probability and analysis of one and two samples.” Visitors can look over the syllabus here, check out the original course schedule, peruse the lecture materials, and look over the readings. The lecture notes cover set theory basics and probability, expected values, random vectors, distribution, and confidence intervals. The site is rounded out by the Other Resources area, which includes links to free statistical software programs and other supplemental items.

Jul 01 2013

Websites of Interest

Classic Illustrated Zoologies and Related Works, 1550-1900: The homepage of this delightful digital caravan features a colorful image of the surmulet fish. It’s a nice way to introduce this collection of classic illustrated zoologies. The books here are culled from the New York Public Library’s vast holdings and include works from 18th century France, 19th century America, and the magisterial 1837 work The Birds of Europe. These marvelous works are both scientific documents and illustrative repositories of reproductive printmaking from a time before photomechanical processes became the primary method of producing book illustrations. The introductory essay, adapted from a work by Miriam Gross that originally appeared in Biblion: The Bulletin of The New York Public Library, is a great way to get started. Students of art, zoology, and other related fields will find much to wonder and think about here as one can engage in a bit of comparison by looking at these unique volumes side by side.

Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network: The Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) offers a fine range of educational materials for educators hoping to build their students’ “understanding of the core ideas in climate and energy science.” Visitors can look over the What’s New area to learn about updated lesson plans, classroom activities, and featured resources like “Soil Microbes and Global Warming.” Users shouldn’t miss the Browse the Reviewed Educational Resources area. Here they can learn about scientifically and pedagogically reviewed digital resources for teaching about climate science, organized by resource type and grade level. Some of these activities include “What is the fate of CO2 produced by fossil fuel combustion?” and “Paleoclimates and Pollen.” Additionally, visitors can sign up to join the CLEAN community and access more webinars and workshops, become a CLEAN reviewer, or learn about new resources as they are released.

Phenomena: A Science Salon Hosted by National Geographic Magazine: In the 19th century, the height of a learned experience might be taking part in a salon in the grand quarters of a beautiful manse. In our own time, it’s much easier to take part in such erudite explorations. This online Phenomena salon is “a gathering of spirited science writers who take delight in the new, the strange, the beautiful and awe-inspiring details of our world.” Hosted by National Geographic’s Jamie Shreeve, the site includes thought-provoking essays, reader feedback, and an ongoing conversation about the very broad and deep world of science. Visitors can search all of the entries, or they can look through sections that include The Loom (which houses work by Carl Zimmer) and Only Human (written by Virginia Hughes). Recent entries include “With Alzheimer’s Comes Empathy” and “For the Love of Dinosaurs.” Overall, the material is accessible, thoughtful and well worth a close look.

USDA: The People’s Garden: The People’s Garden was started in 2009 in order to challenge USDA employees to create gardens at USDA facilities. It’s a rather neat idea; as the website notes, “the simple act of planting a garden can help unite neighborhoods in a common effort and inspire locally-led solutions to challenges facing our country.” On the site, visitors can learn about the various gardens at USDA sites, check out recipes, and find a myriad of gardening resources. The Latest Blogs area contains links to recent updates from member gardens on subjects that include cotton cultivation, key plant pollinators, and success stories from around the United States. Visitors can use the Find a garden in your area option to find their own local garden. Finally, users will want to read the story of the Abraham Lincoln tomato, which is the heirloom variety created by the W. H. Buckbee seed company of Rockford, Illinois.