Alleviating the high cost of science textbooks with Open Educational Resources

OER Global Logo by Jonathas Mello is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Unported 3.0 License

Academic institutions are searching for ways to alleviate the financial burden that the increasing cost of textbooks places on their students. The average student spends $1200 annually for books and supplies, according to the Open Textbook Network.  Science textbooks are especially expensive, but OERs, or Open Educational Resources, are gaining acceptance as alternatives to traditional textbooks (Open Textbook Network, 2017).

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Apps: What are engineering students using?

one smartphone with colorful application icons (3d render)A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in the fall of 2016 reports that 80% of US adults with some college and 89% of US college graduate own a smartphone.   (Pew Research Center, January 11, 2017).  Not surprising as the smartphone is the go-to for recent news, connecting with friends and family, and learning new things.  We know that smartphones are popular with the college population but how are college students using them in support of their study, in particular engineering students?

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MathSciNet

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MathSciNet is the premier index and reviews database for mathematics and related literature. It contains and continues from Mathematical Reviews (print), published from 1940 to 2012.  Produced by the American Mathematical Society, MathSciNet is international in scope, covering over 1800 current journals with more than 3.3 million publications ranging from 1810 to the current day.  Over 20,000 expert reviewers produce more than 80,000 reviews each year for MathSciNet.  These add tremendous value to the more than 100,000 new citations added annually.

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NGMBD, The National Geologic Map Database, a resource for everyone

In October, 2012, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced a new generation of the National Geologic Map Database, the index to United States maps.  It has resulted from a partnership between the USGS and the AASG, the Association of American Geologists.  Its antecedent directed searchers to regional map depositories, but now many maps and publications are freely available for downloading.  Some maps must still be purchased or otherwise obtained.

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MedlinePlus: Worth Its Weight in Gold

MedlinePlus is a free health information resource from the United States’ National Library of Medicine. This post is not a comprehensive review of the entire site, but will give a general overview and highlight some of my favorite areas. MedlinePlus is geared to provide information for patients and the general public. Most of the information has been written at the 5th to 8th grade level. It is intended to be a consumer-based resource and not for medical professionals. The information within MedlinePlus provides selected links to reliable healthcare web sites and information generated at the National Library of Medicine. It contains links to over 975 medical topics, including links to the A.D.A.M. medical encyclopedia and the Merriam-Webster medical dictionary. The statistics page of the website reports that there is Information from over 1,000 organizations containing over 35,000 links to authoritative health information. Continue reading

Locating Nuclear Energy Data using U.S. Energy Information Administration

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Nuclear energy is the energy contained in the nucleus of an atom. When the atoms are broken apart in the fission process, the energy released can be used to generate electricity. The most common element used in nuclear fission is uranium.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is a one-stop shop for all data and statistics on nuclear power. Topics covered include nuclear operable units, electricity generation, storage of radioactive waste, and state of operating nuclear power plants. While the focus of this data is on nuclear power in the United States, there is also data provided for yearly international nuclear electricity generation.

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NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

The NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT) allow researchers to explore projects funded by the US National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

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Scholarly Communication and the History of Flight

Letter to the Smithsonian Institution, 1899
Letter to the Smithsonian Institution, 1899

Powered, controlled flight is a scientific and engineering achievement rich with examples of scholarly communication. Background sources provide a foundation. Correspondence provides insight into challenges and developments in a field. Experimental findings shared via professional meetings and journal articles encourage wider discussion and further exploration. Scholarly conversations between the Wright brothers and Octave Chanute preserved in digital collections at the Library of Congress provide a rich exemplar for students learning about scholarly communication. Continue reading