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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.