P996: Investigating the fate of agrochemicals in the Mississippi delta: Place-based soil chemistry with dual enrollment students

Author: Lacey S. Fitts, Delta State University, USA

Co-Author: Paxton W. Fitts, Mississippi State University, USA; S. Ryan Fulgham, Delta State University, USA

Date: 8/7/14

Time: 11:30 AM11:50 AM

Room: MAK A1117

Related Symposium: S70

The Mississippi Delta is a rural agricultural region with over 80% of land use dedicated to row crop farming. Agricultural overuse of urea fertilizer negatively impacts the environment and production costs. When applied under non-ideal conditions, up to one third of topical urea may be converted to ammonia and lost to the atmosphere via volatilization. Although this process is known, the extent of volatilization varies greatly depending on soil type and interplay of environmental conditions. Soil samples collected from fields adjacent to school property were characterized, and volatilized ammonia was trapped in boric acid containing methyl red indicator. The samples were back titrated at 7 and 14 days with sulfuric acid to determine the percent nitrogen lost. Oven-dried soils were used as controls and exhibited near zero losses. Both acidic and alkaline soils exhibited lower losses than neutral soils, and all soils at field capacity moisture exhibited nitrogen losses. The highest losses were observed in a Brittain silt loam soil with over 30% of applied nitrogen lost to the atmosphere. Student-designed follow up projects investigated the effects of temperature, polymer coatings, and soil pH on ammonia volatilization losses. The results were disseminated through science fair projects and communications with local farmers, and students reported high levels of engagement with this place-based project.

P347: Equipping chemistry teachers in high-poverty rural areas: An approach in the Mississippi Delta

Author: Lacey S. Fitts, Delta State University, USA

Co-Author: Alline P. Somlai, Delta State University, USA

Date: 8/4/14

Time: 2:45 PM3:05 PM

Room: MAK A1161

Related Symposium: S32

The Mississippi Delta is the nation’s largest pocket of persistent rural poverty. The region has a critical shortage of highly qualified teachers in STEM fields, unequal distribution of resources across school districts, and many schools are classified as failing. In an attempt to clarify and quantify the needs in the secondary science programs, a survey of science teacher’s perceived needs was distributed. Qualitative and quantitative data was collected and analyzed, and needs were correlated to regional science learning outcomes. A database of programmatic, material, and training needs in each school district has been developed, and is being used as the foundation for building relationships and equipping teachers for success. Teachers’ self-reported needs and faculty efforts to alleviate those needs have led to innovations in the university course offerings, workshops made available to teachers, and grant funded project applications.