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Category: Websites

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.

May 01 2013

Websites of Interest

Insects.org: The tagline of this website is “Studying Earth’s Most Diverse Organisms.” Anyone interested in entomology will find the images, descriptions, and activities here to be most edifying. Visitors can click on Class: Insecta for classroom activities that profile butterfly and moth wing patterns, and a delightful collection of insects as they appear on stamps from countries all over the world. The Entophiles area features over 150 images of insect macrophotography combined with detailed descriptions. The Ants, Bees & Wasps area is remarkable; visitors shouldn’t miss the thread-waisted wasp or the formicid ants. The site also contains select issues of the Cultural Entomology digest, which includes articles like “The Insects of M.C. Escher” and “Butterflies of Ancient Mexico.”

Scitable: Scitable is a completely free science library and personal learning tool created by the Nature Publishing Group. The work is currently focused on genetics and cell biology and covers topics such as evolution, gene expression and “the rich complexity of cellular processes shared by living organisms.” At the Inside Scitable area, visitors can browse ad search hundreds of science articles, use the discussion board, build an online classroom, and also contribute and share content. First-time visitors should head on over to the Spotlight area, where they can read quality pieces on World Teacher’s Day, nanotechnology, and other topics. Also, visitors shouldn’t miss the Labcoat Life area, which contains musings on topics like “Tackling Mental Illness in Africa” and “Is Global Warming Chiefly Manmade?”

Spongelab: Build-A-Body: Are you curious about how the human body works? If so, the Build-A-Body site may pique your interest in the world of the body’s organ systems. The site features a drag and drop game where players are tasked with assembling an organ system and making their way through the nervous, skeletal, excretory, and reproductive systems. The site also contains a set of case studies about the various conditions that each system may encounter over the lifespan. The site is a fine tool for teaching basic concepts of human physiology and anatomy.

Teacher to Teacher: Critical Thinking in the College Classroom: How do educators teach critical thinking to college students? It’s an important task, and one that can be done creatively and in a fashion that speaks to a wide range of learners. This website created by the University of Texas at Austin’s Teacher to Teacher initiative compiles fourteen modules: ten focused on specific critical thinking skills and four on specific teaching methods. The Explore tab can be used to look around the modules as organized by class size, type of module, or location (such as in class or out of class). Each module contains a definition and exploration, an annotated bibliography, real classroom footage, and reflective commentaries from teachers. The modules are divided into four sections dedicated to critical thinking and metacognition.

Apr 01 2013

Websites of Interest

Book of Insect Records: Everyone knows about the Guinness Book of World Records. But does everyone know about the Book of Insect Records? Based at the University of Florida and maintained and edited by Thomas J. Walker, the work “names insect champions and documents their achievements.” The book is divided into chapters, so visitors can use the Table of Contents to get started on their journeys. In total, there are 40 chapters, including Most Tolerant of Cold, Shortest Generation Time, and Smallest Eggs. Each chapter can be downloaded for easy access and there’s ample documentation for each record. This work could be used in any number of general biology or entomology courses and it is quite a find.

Evolutionary Biology Digital Dissection Collections: This remarkable collection was created to serve the illustrative and narrative needs of the students in the University of Buffalo Evolutionary Biology course. It is designed to “offer opportunities for unlimited interactive engagement with the laboratory content.” Visitors can browse through the collection at their leisure, and may use the drop-down menu to look at the various species covered here. Some of the animals include mice, grasshoppers, sand dollars, snails, and earthworms. Each profile includes clear anatomical labels, a variety of cut-away shots, and additional details. First-time visitors shouldn’t miss the crayfish, as it is well-photographed and exquisitely documented.

Microbe Library: Visual Media Briefs Collection: The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) has a vast online Microbe Library that provides access to educational resources and activities for educators seeking to edify their students about everything from the germ theory of disease to laboratory techniques. This particular corner of the Library site features a host of visual media briefs. These briefs feature slides accompanied by brief introductory essays, descriptions of methodology, and discussions of the various conditions and procedures associated with each exploration. All told, there are over 40 visual media briefs here, including “Cultivation Media for Bacteria,” Metagenomic Soil DNA Analysis,” and “Soil Fungi.”

Women in Science: The goal of the Women in Science Project is “to provide full and partial text access to the written works of several female scientists accompanied by biographies written by leading historians of science and talented Michigan State University undergraduates.” Currently, the site includes access to texts such as Ellen H. Richards’ “The Chemistry of Cooking and Cleaning: A manual for housekeepers” (published in 1882) and works by the marquise Du Chatelet, a 19th century mathematician and physicist. The accompanying essays here are quite good. One notable essay profiles Eliza Burt Gamble, who contributed to evolutionary debates by publishing a feminist critique of Darwinian theory. Along with the biographical essays on these women, visitors can also access the Resources area. Here visitors will find links to the Canadian Women in Science website and the HEARTH website at Cornell University, which features works in home economics from 1850 to 1950.

Mar 01 2013

Websites of Interest

Agriculture in the Classroom: The Agriculture in the Classroom initiative is designed to “improve agricultural literacy.” The organization’s work is supported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which works to develop the classroom programs, including fact sheets, lesson plans, and interactive activities. Visitors can make their way through five sections on the homepage, including State Programs, Teacher Center, and Student Center. In the Teacher Center, visitors will find lesson plans, state agricultural facts, and current and back issues of “AgroWorld.” This publication brings together helpful information for students and teachers seeking to learn about integrated science, Earth systems, and family and consumer science. Moving along, the Student Center includes fun activities for younger children in the Kids’ Zone, such as games that allow students to learn about farm activities and the world of agricultural science.

Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology: The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology is based in Germany and their work encompasses a wide range of inquiry into the relationships between everything from bugs and symbiotic bacteria to odor activation in drosophila. Visitors can wander through the News area to get a sense of the ongoing research projects and overall mission. In the Institute area visitors can learn the basics of chemical ecology, the management of the Institute and their cooperative agreements with other like-minded organizations. The Departments area contains information about separate research groups, which are focused on entomology, bioorganic chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular ecology. Scientists and others will want to look over the Publications area, as it contains hundreds of research papers which can be searched by department, year, or citation number.

National Science Foundation: Science of Innovation: This eleven part series, created by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and NBC Learn, explores the science of innovation. Narrated by newscaster Ann Curry, each segment is approximately five minutes. The offerings include “What is Innovation?” “Biofuels,” “3-D Printing,” and “Electronic Tattoos.” First-time visitors may wish to start by viewing the “Self-Driving Cars” which profiles the work of software engineers at Google as they work on creating a fleet of driverless cars. It’s easy to see how this series could be used in the high school or college classroom and it offers a creative approach to talking about this fascinating concept.

Weed to Wonder: Human ingenuity never ceases! This wonderful website from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory tells the story of how a common Mexican weed (teosinte) was slowly manipulated by humans until it transformed into corn. As an introduction, users might want to start by watching a 2 minute and 50 second video of maize plants growing at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. After that, it’s a good idea to look over the six separate sections here, which include Domestication, Hybrid Vigor, Genome Sequencing, and Jumping Genes. Each area contains explanatory text, photos, primary documents, and thoughtful explanations of complex scientific ideas.

Zoonotic Diseases: Work Smart, Stay Safe: Field staff who often work with or around wildlife in various situations face a variety of risks. One risk in these situations is potential exposure to zoonotic diseases: diseases transmitted between animals and people. To provide information on potential risks and biosafety measures, the USGS National Wildlife Health Center presented a 90-min seminar titled ‘Mammalian Zoonotic Diseases: Work Smart, Stay Safe’. This seminar is an update of one presented last spring. Topics covered include: Overview of basic disease concepts, common routes of disease exposure and biosafety recommendations. Mammalian zoonotic diseases to be discussed are rabies, plague, baylisascaris, tularemia, Hantavirus, Lyme disease, giardia and echinococcus.