Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Facts About Nations

For quick access to general maps and basic facts, try the CIAO database (Columbia International Affairs Online). On the left you'll see a link to "maps/county data." From here you can find basic statistics like a nation's GDP, its military expenditure, death rate, and population. You can also compare the statistics of up to three countries. (All stats from from the CIA World Factbook.)

If you really want to study a nation's statistics in depth, head to NationMaster.com. This constantly updated site takes data from various governments and NGO's (e.g. UN, WHO, OECD) and makes them available in comparable bar graphs, pie charts, and maps. Note that this is a private site with advertisements. A wide variety of likely and unlikely stats, like: working time to buy a car, age at first marriage for women, roller coasters per capita.
Source and definitions are available for each data set. From the homepage to get started, choose "Select Category" under Facts and Statistics. Note that you can generally choose to compare a "total" or a "per capita" statistic. You can also see correlations between statistics, (e.g. the inverse relationship between the number of McDonalds restaurants per capita and the number of couples with children) but remember: correlation does not necessarily mean that one trend causes another.

Human Development Index.
The U.N. pubishes each year a Human Development Index. Rather than traditional economic figures like GNP, it tries to assess the quality of life for a nation using factors like life expectancy, literacy, and education. See Wikipedia's page describing the index's formula and this year's rankings at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Development_Index

The Happy Planet Index
The Happy Planet Index measures, among other factors, a nation's ecological impact.
"People can live long, happy lives without consuming large amounts of the Earth's resources, a survey suggests. The 178-nation "Happy Planet Index" lists the south Pacific island of Vanuatu as the happiest nation on the planet, while the UK is ranked 108th. The index is based on consumption levels, life expectancy and happiness, rather than national economic wealth measurements such as GDP. The study was compiled by think-tank the New Economics Foundation (Nef)." --from the BBC
The full BBC article is located here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5169448.stm
The Happy Planet Index is located here:

GapMinder provides free very cool software to visualize nation statistics.
"...Gapminder, a Stockholm-based non-profit. Their extraordinary interactive graphs help you visualize complex global trends -- like the distribution of poverty, in different regions of the world, over time. The raw statistics would bore you to tears; the web graphs -- dynamic, colorful and clear -- are utterly compelling. They're worth a look -- not only for their particular content -- but for the possibilities presented by this marriage of technology, information and design. --June Cohen, TedBlog, 2005

Available at: http://www.gapminder.org

Confused by all the acronyms? This glossary, provided by World Bank, might help you out:

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Here's another site to help you with your Science Fair Project, courtesy of Mr. Keenan. It has a "Topic Selection Wizard" that attempts to match you with an area of science that will most interest you. It also has a step-by-step guide on "How to do a Science Fair Project." You can also post a question on the site's "Ask an Expert" page. Located at http://www.sciencebuddies.org/

Don't forget to look at these past posts for other science fair web sites:
here and here.

Library Thing

Library Thing allows you to catalog your home collection of books. Because you put the catalog online, you can connect and share with users who have the same interest/books. Plus it has the easiest registration page ever. If you're not quite obsessive enough to catalog your personal collection, you can still use Library Thing to browse and find book recommendations based on other people's collections.
"Your profile connects you to people who share your books. With over 79,000 users and 5.6 million books in the system, you'll find some 'eerily similar' libraries."

Here's their intro tour:

Hot technology trends

The below is from "It's all good" -- a blog from five OCLC Online Computer Library Center staff "about all things present and future that impact libraries and library users."

The Innovation Lab is in Denmark and refers to itself as "the Nordic observation post for the technologies of the future" ...So, here is IL's "Hotlist" ...and I am excerpting so go there and read the whole thing because it's worth it."

1. CUSTOMERMADE When customers and users "infiltrate" the product-development work of companies or organisations and begin to design and create their own products and services.

2. GEO-AWARENESS The filling station knows you're on your way, and – via the navigating system in your car or your mobile – it will send you an offer on the petrol, and at the same time it will advertise the dish of the day in the station's cafeteria.

3. THING CONNECTION Thing Connection is the keystone of the 4A concept – Anytime connection, Anywhere connection, Anything connection – by Anyone. Otherwise known as ”An internet of things” – in other words: when things communicate with each other.

4. VIRTUAL WORLDS Welcome to another reality! Close to 400,000 people have already settled in the virtual world Second Life. Here, BBC has arranged a major concert, and Harvard University has held a conference. There are more alternative digital worlds in the offing…

5. WEB APPLICATIONS - THE NEXT GENERATION The Web, and not the PC, constitutes the new centre of the universe. This entails a shift from software to web-based applications where the overt and the social will come to play an increasingly substantial part.

6. DIGITAL PRODUCT PLACEMENT Digital and virtual advertisement pillars. The digital billboard of the future will be blank space – to be filled in with messages directed at specific target groups. Thus, a major sports event attracting different viewer groups will, simultaneously, be showing ads for the local bakers as well as for an international online bank – and on two different TV stations.

7. WEB VIDEO Show me – see me! At first we had Google in the lead. Then they were overtaken by MySpace. Today they have both been left behind by the video-sharing web site YouTube, which is right now the most visited site in the world. Moving pictures has taken pole position.

8. MIXED REALITY The fusion of digital, virtual and physical products is near. The remote control of tomorrow will juggle the programmes; and, at the smallest flick of your wrist, your new telephone will scroll through the menu – and then it can also be used in a virtual game of table tennis .

9. EXPANDED SEARCH Search engines are becoming more than just a match of words and numbers in a colossal database. More "intelligent", meaningful and automatic searches are starting to gain foothold.

10. HUMANITARIAN TECHNOLOGY Profit-generating technologies and humanitarian aid in one! Too good to be true? Probably – but it's nevertheless a reality. A perspicacious neo-philanthropy is immanent.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Research Beyond Google: 119 Authoritative, Invisible, and Comprehensive Resources


Got a research paper or thesis to write? Want to research using the Internet? Good luck. There's a lot of junk out there — outdated pages, broken links, and inaccurate information. Using Google or the Wikipedia may lead you to some results, but you can rarely be sure of accuracy. And what's more, you'll only be searching a fraction of all of the resources available to you.

Google, the largest search database on the planet, currently has around eight billion web pages indexed. That's a lot of information. But it's nothing compared to what else is out there. Google can only index the visible web, or searchable web. But the invisible web, or deep web, is estimated to be 500 times bigger than the searchable web. The invisible web comprises databases and results of specialty search engines that the popular search engines simply are not able to index.

Do you think your local or university librarian uses Google? Sure, but certainly not exclusively. In order to start researching like a librarian, you'll need to explore more authoritative resources, many of which are invisible. Note: Although some of the following resources are visible and indexed, they have all been included here because of their authoritative nature.

The full list of resources here.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Need Science Fair Ideas? Try these...


Exploratorium: Online Activities
Need some Web-based science activities in a hurry? Here you’ll find almost 60 projects for ages 10–18 on a wide variety of topics. Most take little prep time (“Common Cents,” for example) but a few activities, especially those for older students, are more involved (such as “Build a Solar System”). Created by: The Exploratorium Museum, San Francisco, CA. Don’t Miss: For all you baseball fans, there’s “Scientific Slugger,” a great way to learn the physics of hitting home runs. And for some tasty fun, visit the “Pickle Lab” and make some yummy virtual gherkins.

SEED: Science Lab
www.seed.slb.com/en/scictr/lab/index_virtual.htm The Science Lab offers up 13 online activities related to geology, physics, and space. Geared for ages 10–18, all of the projects come with a background lesson and most require minimal prep time. Created by: Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development, New York, NY. Don’t Miss: If you like the “Will It Float?” segment of the David Letterman show, be sure to check out the “Buoyancy Explorer.”

Thursday, October 19, 2006


IPL: Science Fair Project Resource Guide
"Are you looking for some help with a science fair project? If so, then you have come to the right place. The IPL will guide you to a variety of web site resources, leading you through the necessary steps to successfully complete a science experiment. If you have never done a science fair project before, it has been a while, or you just want to be sure you do a really great job be sure and look at the following websites for tips on what makes a good project before doing anything else. This way you will know ahead of time what will be expected of you..."

The Discover Channel's Science Fair Resouce Page
"Creative investigations into the real world." This site provides a complete guide to science fair projects. Check out the 'Handbook' which features information from Janice VanCleave, a popular author who provides everything you need to know for success. You can even send her a question about your project. [From IPL.]

Thursday, March 09, 2006


What is Plagiarism?
Follow the above link to get definitions of plagiarism and related words from various web sources. Merriam-Webster's definition states, plagiarism is to "present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source."

The Consequences of Plagiarism
Real-life examples of plagiarism's consequences: a student's admission to Harvard gets rescinded; presidential hopeful Senator Joe Biden's campaign derailed by accusations of plagiarism; university presidents are forced to resign; journalists lose their credibility and jobs.

Avoiding Plagiarism
Purdue's Online Writing Lab has created a great webpage on plagiarism.

Are you a plagiarist? Take this self test.
A teacher, David Gardner, at the University of Hong Kong has created this excellent website, which includes a test to evaluate if you know how to avoid plagiarism. [Note: the use of the single quotation mark is British usage; American usage is to use the double quotation mark. Please ask if you've any questions about this.]

NPR story on Plagiarism
"Guest Host Melissa Block talks with Thomas Mallon, author of Stolen Words: Forays into the Origins and Ravages of Plagiarism, about the discovery of plagiarism by well-known authors such as Steven Ambrose, and research techniques which should help avoid the problem. (4:30)"

What is copyright?
What is Fair Use?
But I'm using it for "educational" purposes. Am I ok?