12.3 USENET and Bitnet
Big Dummy's Guide to the Internet

Go to Table of Contents. Visit Gifcom.

     There are numerous Usenet newsgroups of potential interest to
teachers and students. 
     As you might expect, many are of a scientific bent. You can find
these by typing l sci. in rn or using nngrep sci. for nn. There are now
close to 40, with subjects ranging from archaeology to economics (the
"dismal science," remember?) to astronomy to nanotechnology (the
construction of microscopically small machines).
     One thing students will quickly learn from many of these groups:
science is not just dull, boring facts.  Science is argument and standing
your ground and making your case.  The Usenet sci. groups encourage
critical thinking.
     Beyond science, social-studies and history classes can keep busy
learning about other countries, through the soc.culture newsgroups.
     Most of these newsgroups originated as ways for expatriates of a
given country to keep in touch with their homeland and its culture.  In
times of crisis, however, these groups often become places to
disseminate information from or into the country and to discuss what is
happening.  From Afghanistan to Yugoslavia, close to 50 countries are
now represented on Usenet.  To see which groups are available, use l
soc.culture. in rn or nngrep soc.culture. for nn.
     Several "talk" newsgroups provide additional topical discussions,
but teachers should screen them first before recommending them to
students.  They range from talk.abortion and talk.politics.guns to
talk.politics.space and talk.environment.
     One caveat:  Teachers might want to peruse particular newsgroups
before setting their students loose in them.  Some have higher levels of
flaming and blather than others.
     There are also a number of Bitnet discussion groups of potential
interest to students and teachers.  See Chapter 5 for information on
finding and subscribing to Bitnet discussion groups.  Some with an
educational orientation include:
 
biopi-l     ksuvm.bitnet        Secondary biology education
chemed-l    uwf.bitnet          Chemistry education
dts-l       iubvm.bitnet        The Dead Teacher's Society list
phys-l      uwf.bitnet          Discussions for physics teachers
physhare    psuvm.bitnet        Where physics teachers share resources
scimath-l   psuvm.bitnet        Science and math education

     To get a list of ftp sites that carry astronomical images in the GIF
graphics format, use ftp to connect to nic.funet.fi. Switch to the
/pub/astro/general directory and get the file astroftp.txt.  Among the
sites listed is ames.arc.nasa.gov, which carries images taken by the
Voyager and Galileo probes, among other pictures.