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The eastern United States is well known for its widespread show of vibrant foliage each autumn. But western states grow more than just evergreen pines and palms; they also display some spectacular fall color.

In a May morning, a gray-haired woman counts the opened blooms on the bud clusters of a lilac branch that is just starting to release its sweet fragrance. She then goes into her house to access an Internet site, where she logs today as the "first bloom" date of her lilac plant.

Students analyze historic plant growth data (i.e., peak bloom dates) of Washington, D.C.’s famous cherry blossom trees, as well as atmospheric near surface temperatures as evidence for explaining the phenomena of earlier peak blooms in our nation’s capital.

Students play the role of nitrogen atoms traveling through the nitrogen cycle to gain an understanding of the varied pathways through the cycle and the relevance of nitrogen to living things. 

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