Archive | October 2013

My Choice

  1. How can what you have learned in class be applied to you career goal, both in obtaining that goal and after the goal has been obtained? How can you “market” what you have gained in this course to future employers/educational programs?


I’m hoping that what I learn in this class can be easily applied to outside the class and be a good addition to my applications for grad school. I think it will make me a more competitive candidate to have this experience. Heinz Reiske writes in “Getting into and Surviving Graduate School” that one of the best things a student can have on their application is research experience. You should take advantage of any opportunities your university has. I feel concerned about my GPA and I see this whole experience as confidence building because I am able to demonstrate my abilities beyond testing.

Lara Pacifici and Norman Thomson talk about what students really get out of their college extracurricular experiences in “What Do They Expect? A Comparison of Student Expectations and Outcomes of Undergraduate Research Experiences.” They asked students about what they wanted to get out of their research experience and how they felt once they finished. Expectations were greater than reality in knowledge gain, peer connections, faculty connections, and publishing. What matters most is that students are getting an example of its really life to work in a lab. Students are looking for real people or what Pacifici and Thomson call a “real life” example of what it is like to do research. I feel like that’s what drew me to this class is I’m getting to apply everything I have learned and getting to decide how I feel about teaching. So this class, for me, is definitely about narrowing my options and focusing on finding a career route. I need to decide between the research and teaching before I start getting serious about graduate school. 

Reiske finishes his advice article with “Lastly, have a life.”  It is important for students once they reach that graduate level to be able to step away from their research and de-stress. It made me really happy to read this advice after all the other points about things I have to do. 

Reiske, Heinz. “Getting into and Surviving Graduate School.” Bios 72.3 (2001): 100-02.JSTOR. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

Pacifici, Lara B., and Norman Thomson. “What Do They Expect? A Comparison of Student Expectations and Outcomes of Undergraduate Research Experiences.”Journal of College Science Teaching 41.1 (2011): 54-59. Academic Search Complete. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

China’s Smog

China's Smog

China’s smog seen from space. Clicking the photo should link to the article.


Screen shot 2013-10-23 at 11.47.56 AM

Hypothesis 1: The bacteria will survive longer than the algae in the DOC consumption experiment.

Justification: Since we are incubating the bottles and cutting off their light source, the algae will only be able to live off the DOC they have stored, whereas the bacteria do not need light and can live off the DOC available until they consume all of it.

Hypothesis 2: The forested mesocosm samples will experience a greater loss in DOC than the sunny mesocosm.

Justification: Since the algae is likely to die off in the sunny mesocosm samples, I predict that the forested mesocosm samples will experience the greatest loss in DOC. The forested mesocosm after the leaves fall would have the most available DOC to feed the bacteria, but my hypothesis is just from our two samples.

Hypothesis 3: There will be more DOC remaining in the sunny mesocosm samples after our 28 day experiment than in the forested mesocosm.

Justification: I’m going to guess that there may be DOC remaining after we have tested on the last day due to the death of the algae, because they will stop consuming the DOC and release the carbon they had stored. The data from previous years suggests that the sunny mesocosm starts out with more DOC as well.

PSA: Apples!


Cider Week is coming up soon (and then way later in the spring Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival will happen). So, I decided to make my post this week about apples. Apples are by far my favorite fruit, and I wanted to see what’s going on with them. I come from Winchester, where the Apple Blossom Festival takes place, and apples and apple products are local and abundant. So I was surprised when I found out that most of our apple juice is made in China and then shipped over. Why is our apple juice produced in China? I looked it up, and it’s hard to find anything in the news about apples that isn’t about IPads or IPhones, but about the fruit. IPods and IPhones are also Apples that are made in China and shipped over (Ha, ha).

 NPR suggests that there may be less fruit being picked due to lack of seasonal workers. Apple picking is a physically demanding job that hasn’t yet been replaced by a machine, though one is being tested. New technology is used outside of picking, though. This NPR story shows how apples are rinsed, and scanned to see size, coloration and any defects. Growers have also been taking out older apple trees and replacing them with smaller ones so that they are closer together, and easier to pick and maintain. Still, if every state in the US grows apples, but are there not enough for juice?

The Christian Science Monitor published earlier this year that sixty percent of US apple juice comes from China. The Chinese government started a plan in 1994 to start growing apples, and since American farmers have struggled to compete with their prices of juice from concentrate. Currently, China is the world’s largest producer of apples. And now that China wants to sell its apples in the US, many US growers are pushing for country of origin labeling (NY Times). It seems like updating the Farm Bill would benefit US farmers- and the environment! All that trade must produce a lot of CO2. 

The Tyndall Centre for Climate Research has already looked into the matter. China’s cheap labor affords them the ability to produce a lot and afford to ship it, too. The NYT article states that the apple juice is made and shipped to New York for less than farmers can harvest it and process it in the US. The Tyndall Centre has tried to calculate China’s CO2 emissions from products imported and exported. Their report brought up an important point: Countries ‘avoid’ emitting CO2 themselves by importing products (the emissions are just from some other country). Whereas countries are seen as responsible for the emissions they create while production and shipment of exports. That might not be the best way to calculate emissions, but its what Tyndall used. Trade does produce a lot of carbon emissions, and it really varies due to product. It takes much more energy to ship cars from Japan than it does to ship apple concentrate from China.

Do you think updating the farm bill is a good idea to help US Farmers and to reduce emissions? Or should consumers make an effort to choose products made in America? “Made in America” has become a popular slogan used alongside “Buy fresh, buy local” but is it effective; or is cost really the deciding factor? Are people more likely to pay more for the local products or just choose the cheaper imported ones? 



How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses

How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses

Paloma Noyola: The Face of Mexico’s Unleashed Potential

When a report came out last year that a girl from one of Matamoros’ poorest neighborhoods had attained the highest math score in Mexico, some raised doubts. But it wasn’t fake. Her name is Paloma Noyola, and what most reports failed to mention is that almost all of her classmates also scored very high on the national math test. 10 in her class scored in the 99.99% percentile. Paloma and her classmates also scored in the top percentile in language. Something special was happening at José Urbina López primary school in Matamoros, and Wired went to take a look.

The high test scores turned out to be the work of a young teacher who also came from humble beginnings. Sergio Juárez Correa was tired of the monotony of teaching out of a book and wanted to try something new to help engage his students when he came across the work of a UK university professor who had created a new teaching style  he calls SOLE, or self organized learning environments. What do you guys think about his teaching style?