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  1. Cleaning painted surfaces of their grime, aged varnishes, and discolored overpaint is one of the most common interventive treatments for art conservators. Carefully concocted solvent mixtures navigate the solubility differences between the material removed and the original paint underneath. However, these solutions may be altered by differential evaporation rates of the component solvents (zeotropic behavior), potentially leading to ineffectively weak cleaning or conversely overly strong residual liquid capable of damaging the underlying paint. Azeotropic solvent blends, which maintain a constant composition during evaporation, offer a promising solution. These blends consist of two or more solvents combined at precise concentrations to function as a single solvent. Additionally, pressure-maximum azeotropes feature higher vapor pressure compared to other mixtures, further minimizing contact time and sorption of the solvents into artworks. This study examines azeotropes of isopropanol with n-hexane and 2-butanone in cyclohexane, which have been used previously in art conservation. The evaporation behavior at room temperature of these boiling point azeotropes was assessed using vapor pressure measurements, refractive index determinations, gravimetric analysis, and gas chromatography. Results showed changes in composition during evaporation and found that the actual room temperature azeotropic composition can vary between 1 and 10% v/v in concentration with those commonly reported at their boiling points. Art conservators should be cautious when using azeotropic blends reported at boiling points significantly higher than room temperature. To ensure the safety and efficacy of these mixtures, it is recommended to determine individual azeotropic cleaning blends experimentally before their use.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2024
  2. This investigation sought to elucidate the influence of students' academic legacy on their prior knowledge and course outcomes providing crucial insights for educators who teach general chemistry. This six-semester analysis involved 6,914 students enrolled in classes across nine Texas universities. Explored were personal circumstances associated with students' successes and failures that influenced performance in on- and off-sequence, first- and second-semester general chemistry (Chem 1 and Chem 2). Students' academic legacy based on their categorization as first generation (neither grandparent nor parent/guardian with a 4-year bachelor's degree), second generation (at least one grandparent or parent/guardian with a bachelor's degree), or third generation (at least one grandparent and at least one parent/guardian hold a bachelor's degree) was investigated. Of the students in the dataset 33.8% (n = 2,340) self-identified as Hispanic. Results for Hispanic and non-Hispanic students indicated that first-generation students struggled more with Chem 1 and Chem 2 than students in the other two legacy groups. As students' academic legacy extended, they were more apt to succeed in general chemistry. Second- and third-generation students demonstrated stronger prior high-school chemistry backgrounds and were enrolled in more advanced mathematics courses. As expected, students with stronger academic backgrounds in chemistry and mathematics scored higher on the diagnostic MUST (Math-Up Skills Test), had greater self-efficacy relative to their preparation to succeed, and reported fewer paid work hours. First-generation students on the average entered with lower diagnostic MUST scores, felt less prepared to succeed, and disclosed a greater need to be employed. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 15, 2024
  3. The STEM Center at Sam Houston State University (SHSU) has received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF - IUSE) and was established in 2017. The STEM Center seeks to increase the number and quality of STEM graduates by establishing a strong foundation for learning using innovative teaching practices, supporting students in finding research and internship opportunities, and building lifelong skills needed for advancement and leadership in STEM careers. The center is in one of the STEM buildings with two fully equipped classrooms and office space for full-time staff members. The center staff collaborates with university-wide programs to promote STEM education and contribute to the university’s quality enhancement plan (QEP). The paper shares details regarding faculty and student involvement, the development of preparatory courses, institution-wide resources, and student outcomes from the project with the academic community. 
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  4. Academic bridge courses are implemented to impact students’ academic success by revising fundamental concepts and skills necessary to successfully complete discipline-specific courses. The bridge courses are often short (one to three weeks) and highly dense in content (commonly mathematics or math-related applications). With the support of the NSF-funded (DUE - Division of Undergraduate Education) STEM Center at Sam Houston State University (SHSU), we designed a course for upcoming engineering majors (i.e., first-year students and transfer students) that consists of a two-week-long pre-semester course organized into two main sessions. The first sessions (delivered in the mornings) were synchronous activities focused on strengthening student academic preparedness and socio-academic integration and fostering networking leading to a strong STEM learning community. The second sessions (delivered in the afternoons) were asynchronous activities focused on discipline-specific content knowledge in engineering. The engineering concepts were organized via eight learning modules covering basic math operations, applied trigonometry, functions in engineering, applied physics, introduction to statics and Microsoft Excel, and engineering economics and its applied decision. All materials in the course were designed by engineering faculty (from the chair of the department to assistant professors and lecturers in engineering) and one educational research faculty (from the department of chemistry). The course design process started with a literature review on engineering bridge courses to understand prior work, followed by surveying current engineering faculty to propose goals for the course. The designed team met weekly after setting the course goals over two semesters. The design process was initiated with backward design principles (i.e., start with the course goals, then the assessments, end with the learning activities) and continued with ongoing revision. The work herein presents this new engineering bridge course’s goals, strategy, and design process. Preliminary student outcomes will be discussed based on the course’s first implementation during summer 2021. 
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  5. Wendy Rubin (Ed.)
    This study is an exploratory comparison of 69 Hispanic students enrolled in first-semester general chemistry (Chem I) who attended either a Hispanic-Serving or emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution and were not successful in Chem I. Students’ automaticity skills (what can be done without the aid of a calculator) in arithmetic and quantitative reasoning were analyzed based on students’ personal characteristics such as gender, prior knowledge in chemistry and mathematics, entry college (i.e., STEM or not), and parents’ academic background. Findings indicate that without basic automaticity skills, students enter Chem I at a deficit, but these at-risk students can be identified early in the semester to help them succeed. Results also indicate that arithmetic automaticity is more influential than quantitative reasoning in predicting academic success. A suggested high-impact practice is presented as a possible correction for these deficits. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    Bridge courses are often created to provide participants with remediation instruction on discipline-specific content knowledge, like chemistry and mathematics, before enrollment in regular (semester-long) courses. The bridge courses are then designed to impact student’s academic success in the short-term. Also, as a consequence of the bridge course experience, it is often expected that students’ dropout rates on those regular courses will decrease. However, the bridge courses are often short (ten or fewer days) and packed with content, thus creating challenges for helping students sustain their learning gains over time. With the support of the NSF funded (DUE - Division Of Undergraduate Education) STEM Center at Sam Houston State University, we are designing a course for entering chemistry students that consists of a one-week pre-semester intensive bridge component, which then flows into a one-month co-curricular support component at the beginning of the semester. The primary goals of the bridge component of the course are to strengthen student academic preparedness, calibrated-self-efficacy, and to foster networking leading to a strong learning community. The goal of the co-curricular extension is to help students sustain and build upon the learning gains of the initial bridge component. We plan to extend the co-curricular portion of the course in future years. A key measure of success will be improved participant course grades in the introductory chemistry courses for majors. Our design process has been centered on weekly meetings that alternate between literature review and course design. The design process was initiated with backward design principles and continues with ongoing revision. The goals, design strategy, and design process of this new course will be presented along with the achieved student outcomes during the implementation of the past summer 2020. 
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  7. null (Ed.)
    Bridge courses are often created to provide participants with remediation instruction on discipline-specific content knowledge, like chemistry and mathematics, before enrollment in regular (semester-long) courses. The bridge courses are then designed to impact student’s academic success in the short-term. Also, as a consequence of the bridge course experience, it is often expected that students’ dropout rates on those regular courses will decrease. However, the bridge courses are often short (ten or fewer days) and packed with content, thus creating challenges for helping students sustain their learning gains over time. With the support of the NSF funded (DUE - Division Of Undergraduate Education) STEM Center at Sam Houston State University, we are designing a course for entering chemistry students that consists of a one-week pre-semester intensive bridge component, which then flows into a one-month co-curricular support component at the beginning of the semester. The primary goals of the bridge component of the course are to strengthen student academic preparedness, calibrated-self-efficacy, and to foster networking leading to a strong learning community. The goal of the co-curricular extension is to help students sustain and build upon the learning gains of the initial bridge component. We plan to extend the co-curricular portion of the course in future years. A key measure of success will be improved participant course grades in the introductory chemistry courses for majors. Our design process has been centered on weekly meetings that alternate between literature review and course design. The design process was initiated with backward design principles and continues with ongoing revision. The goals, design strategy, and design process of this new course will be presented along with the achieved student outcomes during the implementation of the past summer 2020. 
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  8. null (Ed.)
    Immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have become the worldwide huge technological innovations impacting human life significantly. While the VR is an enclosed environment separated completely from the real world, AR allows users to merge the digital and physical worlds and enable the interaction between them. The wide usage of AR has led researchers to investigate its potential capability in several areas including STEM-related fields. Previous research shows that AR assisted courses tend to enhance students’ learning, spatial cognition, increase the students’ motivation and engagement in the learning process. In this study, the researchers have developed an AR application to assist students with spatial cognition and remote course engagement independently. The ARCADE tool enables students to not only visualize the isometric product from its orthogonal views, but it also provides short tutorial clips on how a specific feature was developed and what tools were used. The students can perform basic modifications on the 3D part in the ARCADE such as section views, details views, scale, rotate and explode the assembly views. Although this project is a work in progress, the preliminary pretest and posttest results show there is a significant improvement in students’ spatial cognition when the proposed tool is used to assist the course. 
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  9. The Project-Based Scientific Research is a new interdisciplinary course developed by the National Science Foundation (NSF - IUSE) funded STEM center at _______ State University. The implementation of this new course was one of the major three goals for this five year grant to strengthen the STEM undergraduate research community at ______ State University by helping undergraduates who are interested in hands-on and/or scientific research. The course is designed to introduce undergraduate junior and senior science, engineering technology and math students to the vibrant world of real research; to build foundational skills for research; to help STEM students meet potential mentors whose research labs they might join with the goal of gaining experimental research experience while on campus. On top of course content and requirements the following goals are aimed for the student and faculty mentors to strengthen the research community; (1) helping undergraduate students who are interested in research connect with faculty partners who are committed to mentoring undergraduates in research, (2) to guide students in reading through papers that introduce the type of research being carried out in a faculty partners lab, (3) to guide students in drafting a mini-review of 5 papers relevant to that research, (4) to guide students in identifying and writing up a research proposal which they will complete in the lab of the faculty partner. The learning objectives for the students in this course are summarized as; (a) by the end of this course, all students build a foundational understanding of the principles of STEM research through the exploration and discussion of important historical interdisciplinary projects; (b) interact with faculty researchers who perform projects across STEM disciplines; (c) be able to describe the similarities and differences between experimental and theoretical STEM research; (d) explore and present several possibilities for future research topics; (e) design and present a research prospectus, complete with a review of some of the relevant literature; (f) and be prepared to continue a research project with a chosen faculty mentor or mentors. First year, six academic departments out of eight participated this new course by offering a cross-listed course for their students under one major course taught by one of the PIs at the STEM Center. All the details such as challenges faced, outcomes, resources used, faculty involved, student and faculty feedback etc. for this course will be shared with academia in the paper. 
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