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Category: Websites

Mar 03 2015

Upcoming Social Media Event for Garden Lovers!

You are invited to participate in the Biodiversity Heritage Library / BHL’s “Garden Stories” campaign, which will occur March 23-27, 2015.

“Garden Stories” is a week long social media event for garden lovers. The campaign will explore the fascinating world of gardening, from the rise of agriculture to the home garden and the mail order gardening phenomenon. Content for the campaign will include gardening tips, history, and plant factoids, using the over 13,000 seed and nursery catalogs in BHL to help tell these stories and provide this information.

Content will be published via the BHL Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Pinterest,
with additional posts through the Smithsonian Libraries’ Tumblr.

All content will be tagged with #BHLinbloom.Creation Stories

For more information, go to:

Feb 01 2015

Websites of Interest

NSF Science Now: Hosted by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Dena Headlee, NSF Science Now is a weekly newscast that covers some of the latest innovations from NSF-funded projects around the country and the world. For instance, a recent episode focused on increased plant productivity, the activity of the brain during reading, manufacturing a more reliable prosthesis, and better predicting earthquakes and tsunamis. At three to five minutes long, each video is fast-paced and entertaining. NSF Science Now is a great way to track what the NSF is sponsoring and how those projects are breaking new ground in everything from astrophysics to zoology.

The Salt: What’s On Your Plate?: NPR’s The Salt is an extraordinarily entertaining food blog with an eye toward “food news from the farm to the plate and beyond.” The site updates daily. Recent articles have covered such topics as faux fish made from plants, an investment fund that is bankrolling environmentally sustainable fish farming, and a debate about whether oranges or orange juice are more nutritious. The articles are fresh and punchy, highlighting the simultaneous seriousness and absurdity of food and food culture in sparkling prose.

The Untold History of Women in Science and Technology: The White House provides this website, a set of largely unknown stories of female pioneers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, dating from the 19th to the 21st centuries. Examples include Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) who, in 1843, wrote the first computer algorithm for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. Lovelace’s story is read by U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Megan Smith. Other women in STEM who appear on the site are astronaut and physicist Sally Ride, environmentalist Rachel Carson, molecular biologist and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) at Cytonome/ST Lydia Villa-Komaroff, and geneticist Barbara McClintock, the only woman to win an unshared Nobel Prize for her work. With women from across the Administration sharing stories of their personal heroes, this website is intended to inspire girls to go into the STEM fields.

Zooniverse: The Zooniverse provides an extraordinarily popular venue for citizen science projects. To explore what’s on offer, readers may click on projects, then select either science or laboratory. Dozens of possibilities present themselves, from programs that examine how galaxies form to projects that study the lives of the ancient Greeks. Readers may join a project and start contributing to data analysis of various kinds, from coding British World War I diaries to monitoring the wildlife of urban Chicago. Teachers will appreciate the extensive Education resources on the site, found within the Community tab. Zoo Teach, a companion website, can be explored by subjects (sciences, math, humanities, arts) as well as ages (from middle school through higher education). This is where readers will find lesson plans and activities to brighten a wide range of related topics.

Dec 01 2014

Websites of Interest

Anatomical Atlas of Flies: This interactive anatomical atlas is a great resource for educators who are teaching the anatomy of flies. Built by scientists from the U.S. and Australia, the user friendly interface allows users to click on body parts to discover the name, or to click on a name to identify the correct anatomical region. The site opens with an explanation of the project. From there, select Access the Anatomical Atlas to open crystal clear photographs taken using a stereo microscope. The four major fly groups can be explored in great detail. This is a gem of a resource with snappy visuals and meticulous anatomical precision.

Future Climate Change: With more than half of the current congress skeptical about climate change despite overwhelming scientific evidence for rising temperatures, sea levels, and severe weather patterns, it’s nice to know that at least the Environmental Protection Agency still has a head on its shoulders. This website offers clear indications of how global warming will impact our food supply, water resources, infrastructure, ecosystems, and health. The hidden gem is a series of slideshows answering the question: How do climate models work? Readers can learn about models and scenarios, how they are tested, and how they diagnose the past and estimate the future.

Introduction to Technical Communication: What if you could take a technical communication class with a world class professor at a leading university? What if it was all laid out for you – the readings, the lectures, the assignments? And what if the only thing you had to pay for was a couple of books? That’s exactly what Dr. Donald N.S. Unger and the MIT Open Courseware system are offering here. On this site, viewers can browse the syllabus, have a look at the required readings, and ponder the ten assignments that form the foundation of this writing intensive class. Self-directed learners who want to improve their technical and scientific writing need look no further than this web-based adaptation of an MIT classic.

LabWrite: Improving Lab Reports: This National Science Foundation funded site from North Carolina State University “guides you through the entire laboratory experience, from before you walk into the lab to after you get back your graded report.” Start with How to Use LabWrite for a comprehensive Powerpoint overview of the program. Then, navigate slowly through the steps of PreLab, InLab, PostLab, and LabCheck, each of which provides careful instructions on everything from formulating a hypothesis to presenting results. Teachers will especially recognize this tool as a welcome supplement to in class discussions of best lab practices.

Nov 07 2014

NC Launches Major AgBio Marketing Push

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center branded the state’s globally leading agricultural biotechnology hub as the AgBio[sphere] at a November 5th rollout event. NCBiotech President and CEO Doug Edgeton explained that the AgBio[sphere] brand will provide a recognizable identity to North Carolina’s complete value package for all facets of the industry. Those include academic research, workforce development, business support programs, a strong agricultural sector and a massive $59 billion-a-year biotech industry involving some 650 companies, more than 80 of which are ag biotech firms. Several state ag leaders made commitments during the rollout event to use the brand as a global recognitiion tool in corporate recruitment and other promotional activities. For the full WRAL TechWire story, go to:

Nov 03 2014

Websites of Interest

bioRxiv: The Preprint Server for Biology: In a time of instant information, many scientists wonder why the publishing process still functions at such a glacial pace, with the time between submission and publication of articles sometimes taking half a year or more. bioRxiv (pronounced “bio-archive”), a preprint server for biology published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, seeks to remedy this situation by posting preprints of studies. While these papers will not be peer-reviewed, and it will therefore be up to the reader to judge their validity, proponents of the new system argue that it could be a support to the slower peer-reviewed process as it will at least allow scientists to examine one another’s results quickly. The site is easily searchable by subject area, date, author, keyword, and title. Equally easy and straightforward is the submission process for those interested in adding to the archive.

eLife: This highly thought of open access journal promises a speed and ease of publishing unheard of in most traditional life science journals. Initial decisions on a manuscript are usually made within days. Post-review decisions are made within weeks. Most articles only go through a single round of revisions. For the reader, this means that the results you’re reading are hot off the lab bench. Best of all, unlike most scientific journals, which can cost upwards of $20 for a single article, the 842 (and counting) articles on this site are completely free. The eLIFE podcast is also available for easy download, online listening, or subscription.

Encyclopedia of Earth: Biodiversity: The Encyclopedia of Earth, a project by the National Council for Science and the Environment, was launched in 2006 as a “free, fully searchable online resource on the Earth, its natural environments, and their interaction with society.” Over 1,400 scholars from around the world have contributed to the site to make it one of the most reliable sources for environmental and policy information on the web. This link to the Biodiversity section of the Encyclopedia opens a small universe of insights into the diversity of life on our planet. Featured Articles are forefront on the site, with topics such as Coral Reefs, Crustacea, or Habitat Fragmentation. Each category opens to dozens of loosely related articles. The Recently Updated section is another great place to start for those daunted by the variety of conceivable subjects related to biodiversity.

Long Term Ecological Research Network: Established in 1980 and funded primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF), The Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTER) is committed to providing “scientific expertise, research platforms, and long-term datasets necessary to document and analyze environmental change.” The site is arranged for four broad types of users: Researchers, Educators & Students, Media Professionals, and Decision Makers. Information for researchers includes a link to the LTER data portal (a separate site, and instructions on how to write a data plan for an NSF grant. Similarly, the Educators & Students area links to the LTER Education Digital Library, also a separate site ( ), with a searchable collection of lesson plans. Press releases make up the majority of the Media Professionals section, while the area for decision makers is populated with LTER Key Research Findings. These are presented as short reports with citations and are designed to be easily built into the talking points of a public presentation.

Sep 01 2014

Websites of Interest

The DNA Files: The DNA Files are a series of award-winning radio programs hosted by John Hockenberry with consultation from a panel of expert scientists. From 1998 to 2007, the Soundvision team produced nineteen one-hour radio programs that explored the science of genetics, along with its ethical and social implications. On this site, visitors can take an aural trip through their work by listening to the programs in full, exploring the transcripts by keyword, or looking over the Big Ideas section. All of the episodes can be found within the Radio Programs section, including “Designing the Brain,” “Minding the Brain,” and “Beyond Human.” Moving on, the site also includes a Community Outreach area that brings together projects providing resources that help educators use the programs more effectively in the classroom.

RealClimate: Climate Science from Climate Scientists: Looking for quick, trustworthy information on climate change? Look no further. This winner of the Scientific American Science and Technology Web Award delivers up-to-date, empirically solid articles, commentaries, and data sources about the global climate situation. To begin, click the Start Here link, and peruse articles divided by level of expertise. “For complete beginners,” for instance, lists links to the National Center for Atmospheric Research and NASA, among others. “For those with some knowledge” includes links to 20 more advanced articles on climate change, while “Informed but in need of more detail” showcases actual reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

SciShow: The Sci Show, an entertaining series of quirky YouTube videos, tackles topics ranging from “How Do Polarized Sunglasses Work” to “Strong Interaction: The Four Fundamental Forces of Physics.” Most episodes are less than five minutes long, but they pack a wallop of handy science info. Anyone short on time but long on big questions will benefit from the series. Episodes will be helpful to teachers and parents looking to spark enthusiasm in young minds. Viewers may want to start with recent episodes like “Today’s Mass Extinction,” “World’s First See-Through Animal,” “What You Need to Know About Ebola,” and “How Do Animals Change Color?” before digging into the archives for gems like “The Truth About Gingers” and “The Science of Lying.”

Aug 01 2014

Websites of Interest

Alvin’s Animals: Alvin’s Animals is just another fabulous scientific offering from the talented people at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The “Alvin” in question is one of its deep sea exploration vehicles and this collection offers up high-quality engaging images of the various benthic-dwelling creatures it has found during its travels. Here, visitors can look over these items by topical heading such as “Benthic Life,” “Sharks & Other Fish,” and “Underwater Vehicles.” Clicking on one of these headings brings up dozens of images, organized by date. Each image contains detailed bibliographic information, and in some cases, short essays that provide additional context.

National Academies of Science: Literacy for Science What will the future of science literacy look like? That’s the subject of this study based on a panel of experts convened by the National Academies’ Board on Science Education. Brought together for a workshop held in February 2014, these scholars looked at how Common Core education standards work to achieve various federal school guidelines as well as the areas where the standards may intersect between subjects and disciplines. This 80-page document summarizes the findings from this workshop and includes a detailed appendix and list of additional resources. Policy makers and other education analysts will find much to ponder here. blogs: This site brings together all of the blogs for the Nature Publishing Group, including discussions on public health, genetics, chemistry, and other interesting topics. First-time visitors can glance over recent meditations from British physicians on new and improved surgical operations and the Higgs-Boson particle. Visitors can read through one or all of the fifteen blogs or scroll down to the New Comments and Popular areas. In this last section, visitors can get a sense of the Most Read, Most Shared, and Most Commented items by other readers.

PLOS Blogs Network: The Public Library of Science (PLOS) is a wonderful project that brings high-quality scientific research to anyone with an Internet connection. On this site, visitors can explore three different drop-down menus: Staff Blogs, Blogs Network, and Community. Staff Blogs offers readers a variety of chatty and interesting internal blogs, such as PLOS Biologue, along with several dozen independent blogs, such as Mind the Brain. Next up, in Blogs Network, readers will find a plethora of blogs written or commissioned by members of the PLOS Journals editorial staff with topics ranging from DNA science to paleontology. There’s a little bit of everything here, and savvy visitors might opt for helpful word tags to focus in on posts of note.

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.