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Announcement: The operation of NSDL has been transferred to ISKME's OER Commons (effective December, 2014) - Read the news release.

This documentation describes the policies, procedures, and services that existed while NSDL was operated by UCAR.

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The Strand Map Service (SMS) APIs provide the ability to build custom interactive strand map interfaces for a variety of applications. There is a Javascript API that lets developers insert interactive Strand Maps into Web pages, display NSDL resources aligned to the learning goals, and place custom content into the maps, and a REST API that lets developers search and navigate the Strand Map information space and access objects and visualizations in number of formats including XML, OWLLite, SVG, PDF, PNG, TIFF, and JPEG.

The APIs access a database based on the learning goals from the AAAS Benchmarks for Science Literacy and the visualizations from the AAAS Atlas of Science Literacy (AAAS Project 2061), which demonstrate the connectedness of ideas and skills that students should develop over time.

The SMS is produced by researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder and Digital Learning Sciences, and is based on the strand maps developed by Project 2061 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science and published in the Atlas of Science Literacy, Volumes 1 and 2 (2001 and 2007, AAAS Project 2061 and the National Science Teachers Association).

What's Happening

See it in Action

Latest Releases

SMS v1.2.9

Development Team

  • Tamara Sumner, Executive Director and Associate Professor
    • DLS, Institute of Cognitive Science - University of Colorado at Boulder
  • John Weatherley, NSDL Technical Lead
    • DLS and NSDL at UCAR
  • Sharon Clark, Web Developer
    • DLS and NSDL at UCAR
  • Lynne Davis, HCI Engineer and Instructional Designer
    • DLS at UCAR

Get Involved

  • For suggestions, questions, and more information, please send your inquiry to NSDL via the contact form


  • Overview - Overview of the SMS technology including how to harvest the benchmarks using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting.
  • Javascript API - The JavaScript API lets developers insert interactive Strand Maps into Web pages and place custom content into the maps.
  • REST API - The Concept Space Interchange Protocol (CSIP) REpresentational State Transfer (REST) API lets developers search and navigate objects and visualizations in the the Strand Map information space. Developers can access objects in the concept map space in number of formats including XML, OWLLite, SVG, PDF, PNG, TIFF, and JPEG.
  • Resource Alignment - How to align resources to benchmarks so they will be discoverable from the Science Literacy Maps.
  • Technical Training - All available technical training documentation including an FAQ.

Examples and Demos in Use



  • Javascript enabled browser


  • Requirements are dependent on intent. Since the API is called from a central location on NSDL servers, it is possible to make a functional interface with a server to host the webpage, HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. More complex functionality may require a server-side web technologies and/or a database. For more information see theSMS JavaScript API implementation instructionsand theexample code.

Additional Information



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