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National Science Digital Library

Posted by Diego Fonstad
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on Thursday, 07 April 2011
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NSDL LogoThe National Science Digital Library (NSDL) is a national network of digital envirionments dedicated to advancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teaching and learning for all learners, in both formal and informal settings. NSDL is the locus of activity for the National STEM Distributed Learning program.

NSDL receives the majority of its funding through the generous support of NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE), Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR).

NSDL advances teaching and learning by providing:

  • High quality, interactive resources that help educators bring cutting-edge, real-world science and math into their classrooms and stimulate excitement for science in today's digital learners
  • Web-based applications that help teachers and learners to optimize their experiences with digital content
  • Professional learning opportunities for college faculty, K12 teachers, and other science educators
  • Software tools and services to help school districts, museums, educational non-profits and other digital learning enterprises to organize, manage, and disseminate digital educational content
  • Research-based findings and best practices on teaching and learning with digital content
  • Partnerships with STEM stakeholder groups, organizations, and coalitions that promote the dissemination of educational technology use and digital content expertise


  • The NSDL Resource Center (RC) provides partnership building, community support and communications services, outreach and professional development services, and needs and trends analysis supporting best practices development for projects. The NSDL RC is hosted at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), in Boulder, Colorado.
  • NSDL Technical Network Services (TNS) provides software tools and services to help the NSDL and broader education community organize, manage, and disseminate digital educational content to advance STEM teaching and learning.The NSDL TNS is a partnership between the Digital Learning Science (DLS) program at UCAR, the University of Colorado, and Cornell University.

NSDL Network

The NSDL network includes several hundred STEM research and education organizations, providing openly available digital resource collections, services, partnering opportunities, distinct audiences, and connections with multiiple communities of faculty and teacher practice, and student users. The primary website for the network is NSDLnetwork.org, where news, information, discussion forums, evaluation and impact issues, information for developers and potential proposers to NSF-funded programs, and new initiatives are featured.

NSDL Pathways are stewards of content and services for specific, large communities of users. They are education-level or discipline-specific views of NSDL, built by trusted organizations to provide resources, tools, services, and professional development to meet a range of audience needs. NSDL’s Pathways projects represent dozens of universities, professional societies, educational foundations, several educational and research organizations, science centers, and two public television stations.

There are eighteen NSDL Pathways projects (as of October 2010):

  • AMSER - Applied Math and Science Education Repository (community and technical colleges): University of Wisconsin Internet Scout Projects; Merlot; NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) projects; American Association of Community Colleges; Morrill Solutions. View resources in NSDL.
  • BEN Pathway - BiosciEdNet Biological Sciences Pathway: Amerian Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and a collaborative of 26 other biological sciences professional societies. View resources in NSDL.
  • ChemEd DL - Chemistry Education Pathway: University of Wisconsin, Madison; a partnership of the American Chemical Society, the Journal of Chemical Education, the ChemCollective at Carnegie Mellon University. View resources in NSDL.
  • ComPADRE Physics & Astronomy Pathway - University of Oklahoma; a partnershp of the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Physical Society, Society of Physics Students, American Astronomical Society, and the American Institute of Physics. View resources in NSDL.
  • CLEAN - Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network Pathway - TERC; in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NOAA); the Science Education Resources Center (SERC) at Carleton College; CIRES at the University of Colorado; National Renewal Energy Laboratory. A newly funded Pathway for climate science literacy, middle school through undergraduate, and informal learners. (Collection in development).
  • CSERD Pathway: Computational Science Education Reference Desk: Shodor. View resources in NSDL.
  • DLESE: Digital Library for Earth System Education: provided by the National Center for Atmospheric Research Library. View resources in NSDL.
  • Ensemble Computing Pathway: Villanova University, and a partnership of Virginia Tech, University of Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Portland State University, Drexel University, Bentley College, and the Computer Science Teachers Association. (Collections in development).
  • Engineering Pathway, University of California Berkeley; a partnership of UC-Berkeley, the University of Colorado; Colorado School of Mines, American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE); Duke University; Oregon State University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute; and Virginia Tech. View resources in NSDL.
  • ICPALMS Portal for Standards-based Instruction - Florida State University. The newly funded ICPALMS Pathway (September 2010) will provide a widget-based portal and sustainable infrastucture to content, services, professional development, research, and dissemination supporting individual and collaborative standards-driven instructional planning with K12 NSDL resources. A test bed project utilizing teacher practice in Florida, the ICPALMS project includes rigorous alignment with state content standards, transitioning to use of Common Core standards. (Collection in development).
  • MathDL - Mathematics Pathway - Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and a partnership of 15 additional mathematical collaborators. View resources in NSDL.
  • MathPath Pathway for elementary mathematics, newly funded (start January 2010) - Maryland Public Television (MPT). (Collection in development).
  • MatDL - Materials Digital Library Pathway - Kent State University; Purdue University; National Institute of Standards; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Iowa State University; University of Michigan. View resources in NSDL.
  • MSP2 - Middle School Portal Math & Science Pathways: Ohio State University; National Middle School Association (NMSA); Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC). View resources in NSDL.
  • TeachingwithData Pathway for quantitative literacy in the social sciences - University of Michigan; a partnership between the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and the Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN). View resources in NSDL.
  • SMILE Pathway - Science and Math Informal Learning Educators Pathway - University of California Berkeley; in partnership with the Exploratorium, New York Hall of Science, the Science Museum of Minnesota, Children's Museum of Houston, and the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC). View resources in NSDL.
  • Teach the Earth: SERC Portal for Geoscience Educators - provided by the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College. View resources in NSDL.
  • Teachers' Domain Pathway of multimedia resources for K12 and university levels - WGBH, Boston.View resources in NSDL.

NSDL also includes projects funded by the National Science Foundation to develop and evaluate innovative new applications and services and to conduct targeted research on teaching and learning with digital content. See the list of current NSDL funded projects.

References: http://ndsl.org

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