Hitting the sweet spot

Arielle Bodine, an applied math and economics double major, recently researched why professional golfers receive endorsements through the Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Experience at Missouri S&T. She’s shown here at the S&T Golf Course. Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T

Arielle Bodine, an applied math and economics double major, recently researched why professional golfers receive endorsements through the Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Experience at Missouri S&T. She’s shown here at the S&T Golf Course. Sam O’Keefe/Missouri S&T

While some undergraduate students peer through microscopes or write computer programs for their research projects, senior Arielle Bodine made the world of professional golf her laboratory. The applied math and economics double major recently took an eagle-eyed look at the factors that led Phil Mickelson and 46 other top professional golfers to pick up valuable endorsements. Her research was part of the Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Experience at Missouri S&T.

“Professional golfers make a significant portion of their yearly earnings from sources that are not tournament purses,” says Bodine. “In fact, many golfers make more money from endorsements and off-course appearances than they do from golfing in tournaments.”

Bodine, of St. Charles, Missouri, credits Dr. Michael Davis, associate professor of economics and an expert in sports economics, with opening the door for her to tackle a research project.

“I was taking his Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory class and he asked me if I had ever done an OURE project,” she says. “I thought it would be cool but had never pursued it. Now I’m absolutely glad I did.” [Read more…]

Rethinking thinking

Bekah Davis observes students at John F. Hodge High School in St. James, Missouri.

Bekah Davis observes students at John F. Hodge High School in St. James, Missouri. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

For many Missouri S&T freshmen, Chemistry 1310, General Chemistry, is a tough hurdle in their academic careers. Many students struggle with the academically rigorous and demanding course. When the faculty who teach General Chemistry approached Daniel Reardon, assistant professor of English and technical communication at S&T, about testing the effectiveness of the course, he had the perfect student in mind to complete the research.

Reardon chose Bekah Davis, then a senior in English education, to help complete the project. As part of an Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Experience (OURE) project, Davis aligned Chemistry 1310 exam questions with Norman L. Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) Levels to study how well S&T students performed on each type of question. Webb’s four knowledge levels range in difficulty from recall and reproduction questions, DOK level 1, to extended thinking questions, DOK level 4.

“After aligning the scores of exams, I looked at the average scores on a problem-by-problem basis,” says Davis. “I discovered a large drop in the average student score when the questions required critical and strategic thinking, DOK level 3, or extended thinking.”

Based on her work, Davis concluded that many of the students in General Chemistry are not equipped to answer level 3 and level 4 questions – and Davis thinks she knows why.

“This problem may be caused in part by standardized testing because those tests do not ask level 3 and 4 questions, so students never learn how to approach them,” she says. “This is an important topic in need of further study to bring about needed and effective changes to education.”

Davis completed her student teaching this past spring before graduating in May. She currently works as an editor at the U.S. Geological Survey.

“I hope that my research will spur my colleagues and peers to continue this research and encourage other scholars to contribute to this discussion on standardized testing,” she says. “I want to continue this research and I’m excited to see where it goes in the coming years.”

By Arielle Bodine


Taking the Earth’s temperature

Since installing 144 geothermal wells on campus over the past two years, Dr. Curt Elmore, professor of geological engineering, has led a couple of ongoing geothermal research projects.

Since installing 144 geothermal wells on campus over the past two years, Dr. Curt Elmore (center), professor of geological engineering, has led two ongoing geothermal research projects. Photo by Sam O’Keefe

On the surface, it looks like nothing more than a turf-covered soccer field. But the ground beneath Missouri University of Science and Technology’s intramural field houses a complex system of 144 wells, each one 400 feet deep, that supply the campus’s Gale Bullman Building with heating and cooling using geothermal energy.

That well field is also home to two ongoing geothermal research projects led by Dr. Curt Elmore, professor of geological engineering at Missouri S&T. The first project is designed to monitor possible long-term changes in the Earth’s temperature that could result from the operation of a large-scale geothermal system.

With funding from the geological engineering program and in partnership with the physical facilities department, Elmore and his team outfitted one of the wells in the center of Missouri S&T’s intramural field with eight pairs of thermocouples placed every 50 feet to measure temperature at various levels throughout the 400-foot well.

Wires connect the sensors to a small flush mount vault that looks like a water meter you might find in your yard. Nearly every day, Charlie Smith and Jordan Thompson – two students working with Elmore on the project – connect equipment to read the temperature measurements that the sensors recorded. An additional well, drilled 20 feet from the geothermal well field, provides baseline readings for comparison. Thompson, a junior in geological engineering, is working on the project as part of the Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Experiences program (OURE).

Before the geothermal system went live, the researchers collected about six weeks of background temperature data. Once the system was operational, they began to notice a change in the ground temperature.

“We observed that the average temperature did increase over the course of the summer as energy from the building was transferred to the subsurface,” says Smith, a Ph.D. candidate in geological engineering. “We are now observing the cooling of the subsurface as energy is being removed to assist in the heating of the building. We would like to record data during several full heating and cooling cycles to fully see any long-term overall warming or cooling trends.”

Over time, changes in ground temperature could effect the performance of a geothermal energy system, Elmore says.

“A ground source geothermal system works by taking heat from the air and sending it into the ground,” Elmore says. “Or we take heat from the ground and send it into the air. Here, cooling is predominant. If the ground is warmer, it can’t take on as much heat and that could effect the performance of the geothermal system,” he says. “Let’s say you want to chill a bottle of Coke, for example, and you’re used to putting it in cold water for 10 minutes. If your water gets warmer, it will take longer to cool your Coke. If it’s really cold, it will cool faster.”

An expert in groundwater remediation, Elmore is also working on a project to see if geothermal energy could be used in place of electricity to treat water as a part of an innovative desalination process.

“Geothermal energy has the potential to heat and cool water during the treatment process, thus reducing the amount of water wasted and reducing the amount of energy required to treat the water,” Elmore says.

To pilot the project, Elmore is designing a small desalination system that will fit on a utility trailer towed behind a pickup truck.

Elmore is working on the project with Dr. Mostafa Elsharquawy from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia. They hope to build a water treatment facility that uses geothermal energy.

“Saudi Arabia spends millions of dollars every year changing sea water into drinking water,” Elmore says. “Geothermal energy could provide a much more cost-effective treatment system.”

Missouri S&T’s geothermal energy system – one of the most comprehensive in the nation – provides heating and cooling to 17 buildings on campus and chilled water to the majority of campus buildings. Completion of the system allowed S&T to decommission its World War II-era power plant last spring. The system is expected to cut energy usage by 50 percent and reduce the university’s carbon footprint by 25,000 metric tons per year.

By Mary Helen Stoltz

Championing STEM for minorities

Championing STEM for minorities

Electrical engineering junior Emily Hernandez wants to see more diversity in the engineering fields and she is doing her part to help.

Emily Hernandez didn’t wait until college to start recruiting fellow minorities to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. She started as an eighth-grader during a University of Memphis camp called Girls Experiencing Engineering near her Germantown, Tennessee, hometown. [Read more…]

Superior time manager

Senior Ashley Koesterer is preparing to graduate this spring with two degrees. Photo by B.A. Rupert.

Senior Ashley Koesterer will graduate this spring with two degrees in three years. Photo by B.A. Rupert.

Not every student could handle taking 18 credit hours, serving as student body president, playing intramural sports and being involved in Greek life. But Ashley Koesterer, a senior in business and management systems and economics with a minor in information science and technology, has no trouble doing all of this and then some.

[Read more…]

From life in Greece to Greek life


Samantha Kempker spent a semester studying abroad in Greece last spring. Photos submitted

While studying abroad in Greece in the spring of 2012, Samantha Kempker visited the Oracle at Delphi, took a day trip to the ancient city-state of Sparta, feasted on genuine gyros, and visited the Lions Gate in Macedonia and the Temple of Poseidon. She rode on public transportation for the first time in her life, and she stayed in the same apartments that housed the 2004 U.S. Olympic team. She studied about 30 minutes from the center of that spring’s unrest in the Greek capital of Athens.

[Read more…]