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We were interested in student learning and perceptions of their summer school experience in life sciences majors courses in a five-week format taught at a four-year institution in the United States. Students were given the opportunity to complete a post-course survey about their summer school experiences. We report that these students like summer school courses and feel they are an effective way to learn. Indeed, several students indicated that they prefer summer school learning, as then they just focus intensely on one topic at a time. Grade comparisons between students who took summer school and those who took classes in the spring semester indicate that students who take summer school classes do as well in their subsequent biology class as those who took the classes in the regular semester. This article indicates that, for many students, summer school is an effective learning environment and should be considered by faculty as a legitimate method of instruction to enhance flexibility for undergraduate students.
The purpose of this study was to measure the airborne concentrations of PM10 and eight metalloids and metals (arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, and nickel) in the southern Tucson metropolitan area, and to evaluate possible stationary and mobile sources. Over 200 quartz filters from a PM10 network located at six schools in the Sunnyside Unified School District were analyzed. The network was established primarily to detect any airborne beryllium in the vicinity of a ceramics-processing facility, and we were able to analyze the samples for additional metals, at little additional cost. The results show that the study area has good air quality with respect to PM10 and metals, with ambient concentrations meeting US Environmental Protection Agency and World Health Organization standards. Beryllium was detected only once (during a dust storm) and was ascribed to natural-occurring beryllium in the suspended soil. This study was not able to apportion those few metals that were detected to any particular source or sources.
Vegetation response to precipitation variability is an important climate-ecosystem-hydrology feedback. Anthropogenic impacts coupled by changes in seasonal and annual precipitation patterns can have a dramatic and large spatial effect on ecosystem structure and functioning, especially in water limited environments. While the natural Sonoran Desert is water limited, Phoenix metropolitan area is constantly being irrigated to support human activities. The aim of this research is to study how urban areas differ from their natural surroundings ecosystems in their phenology and response to summer water inputs. Rain use efficiency (RUE), inter-annual and intra-annual vegetation phenology, and aboveground net primary production (ANPP) of the two land-cover types and their response to summer precipitation have been analyzed. In addition, a soil water balance model is used to simulate the Horton index (H) as a measure land-cover response to climate variability. Results show that the urban environment has a year-round constant, high productivity with high variability in RUE. The desert has lower productivity and responds strongly to summer water. Furthermore, the desert ecosystem convergences towards H=1 and RUE∼133 MJ/m2*hr mm-1. Based on the RUE and ANPP it was calculated that 295 mm of water input are necessary to sustain the urban tree biomass. Unlike natural ecosystems, urban areas RUE do not converges to a common maximum value, suggesting that inter annual variability in hydrological partitioning over urban and desert land-cover is consisted with the water use efficiency concept.
In this paper, I describe inexpensive and fun kindergarten science activities that scientists can bring into the classroom; each activity is aligned with Arizona state science standards. Additionally, since science often gets little time in kindergarten as teachers are focusing on early literacy and math skills, all science activities described are “value-added,” as they also incorporate a literacy or math standard as well. I describe simple assessments for each activity as well. Overall evaluation of activities is difficult because most kindergarteners are pre-writers and so we could not assign writing activities; however oral feedback that students were excited to perform science experiments and the teachers were happy to see that the students engaged in open ended thinking exercises.
Previous research has suggested that the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) teleconnections have a large impact on precipitation across the Desert Southwest. El Niño years, particularly those that occur in concert with the warm phase of the PDO, have been associated with increased precipitation while La Niña years have had the opposite effect. There has been very little research examining the impact of teleconnections on pollution in the Southwest. Here, we examine the impact of both ENSO and PDO on winter pollution levels in Phoenix. By first examining the impact of precipitation events on pollution, and then by determining the impact of ENSO and PDO on the number of precipitation events, we can estimate the role of these two teleconnections on winter pollution in Phoenix. We find that ENSO and PDO have a large impact on pollution, with some pollutants increasing over 10% during La Niña compared to years experiencing El Niño.