Mount Pleasant High School
Syllabus for Advanced Placement Environmental Science (A.P.E.S)
Teacher: Tony Verde
Length of Course: One semester – Spring 2017 (block scheduling)
Meeting Time: The course is scheduled for 18 weeks with 90-minute class periods 5 days a week
Grade level: 11 – 12
Prerequisites: Students who wish do well and enroll in the AP Environmental Science course should have completed an honors course in Biology and Chemistry or Physics with an A or B grade. Completion or current enrolled in geometry is advised. Students with an A in the standard courses will be considered.
The A.P. Environmental Science course is designed to be the equivalent of a one-semester, introductory college course in environmental science. AP Environmental Science is a rigorous, inter-disciplinary course with a focus on the application of scientific concepts and principals to the understanding and methodologies regarding solution of environmental issues from a sociological or political perspective rather than a scientific one. The course includes lecture, laboratory and field components through which students will learn about environmental issues while developing and applying critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills.
For a full description of the AP environmental Science please visit:
The student will:
- Identify and assess human impact, both directly and indirectly, on local and global ecosystems
- Be able to understand and apply ecological concepts (i.e. Carrying capacity, sustainability, thermodynamics, biogeochemical cycles, biodiversity)
- Be able to invoke the scientific method and design experiments to test proposed solutions to problems
- Be able to address the relationship between nature and humans and our role in the biosphere
- Become aware of global environmental issues through the study of current events
- Make use of technology for scientific research.
- Be able to express their ideas in written form in a coherent, logical manner
Textbook and Supplemental Materials:
The text for the course is the eighteenth edition of Living in the Environment: Principles, Connections, and Solutions, by G. Tyler Miller. Ext. The class will also use supplemental resources such as additional textbooks, lab manuals, periodicals, case studies and internet resources.
Material needed by students
- 2 – 3 ring binders
- 1 binder to be sectioned off into class notes, chapter questions, definitions, quizzes and lab notes
- 1 binder to be used as a current event notebook in which mounted articles will be displayed
- College rule filler notebook paper
- Pencils/pens (blue or black ink only)
- There is a $25.00 fee for lab supplies.
- Access to or ownership of the following book(s):
o The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
- (Link to NY Times Book Review)
2017 A.P. Test – Monday, May 01 morning session
Every student in this A.P. course is expected to prepare for and take the A.P. Environmental Science Exam on Monday, May 01, 2017. By achieving a high score on Advanced Placement (AP) exam a pre-enrollment credit can be granted towards a college course. The exam is three hours in length and consists of two parts: a multiple-choice section comprised of 100 questions and forming 60% of the exam grade, and a free-response section comprised of four questions and forming 40% of the exam grade. The multiple-choice section is designed to cover the breadth of your knowledge and understanding of environmental science and includes thought-provoking problems and questions based on fundamental ideas from environmental science as well as questions on the recall basic facts and major concepts. The number of multiple-choice questions taken from each major topic area is reflected in the percentage of the course as designated in the outline of topics. The free-response section emphasizes the application principles in greater depth; you will need to organize answers broad questions, demonstrating reasoning and analytical skills, as well as the ability to synthesize material from several sources into cogent and coherent essays. There are three types of free-response questions; data analysis, document-based, and synthesis and evaluation questions. A lot of information on this and other AP programs may be found at: http://collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/about.html
Assignments/Homework (May include but not be limited to)
Assignments in this class will include a variety of projects and labs. Labs and lab reports, poster projects, Power point, and/or video projects are assigned throughout the year. All assignments should serve as a best work sample you have for this class. A list of expected projects and labs are listed at the end of this syllabus. However, the project list subject to change depending upon current events.
Laboratory and Field Investigations
Both lab and field work may be (a) open-ended, inquiry based, (b) long-term, running for 8 to 10 weeks, or (c) field studies experiments designed to complement the “indoor” classroom/lecture/discussion portion of the course. These will provide opportunities to learn about our environment through firsthand observations, test concepts and principles which have been introduced in class, explore specific issues and problems in greater depth, and gain an awareness of the importance of variables which exist in the real world. Investigations will be diverse. The labs will invite the students to develop and conduct well-designed experiments and to think critically while observing environmental systems. Students will compose a formal lab report for each lab. Most labs will be completed as a team where each person will be responsible for the formal lab report. The team grade issued will be divided based upon the individual performance and work completed by the group.
Tests: Students will be evaluated through performance on topic/chapter exams, quizzes (announced and unannounced). Tests will generally be given after every other chapter, about every two - four weeks, and will be worth 100 points. At the beginning of the year the test will be multiple choice only. Essays will be given as homework assignments. Later in the semester, testing will be similar to the AP Exam. Possible essay topics will be given to you before the test to allow you to outline your answers. Final exams will be given at the end of each semester and will count as two tests.
Quizzes: Weekly math and/or vocabulary quiz week on the current topic of study.
Writing assignments (such as essays, responses and critiques of assigned essays and articles) and other individual and group projects. Notebooks will also be a part of the grade.
Tests/Quizzes = 65%
Labs/Projects = 25%
Classwork/Homework = 10%
Letter grades will be on a traditional scale:
90-100=A, 80-89.9 1=B, 70-79.9=C, 60-69.9=D, below 59.9=F.
A.P.E.S. Course Outline
1st Semester Units of Study
Unit of Study
Introduction and History of Environmental Science
What is environmental science? What is the scope of the science?
Scientific Methods and Principles
Critical thinking, modeling, data collection and presentation
Matter and Energy
Systems, forms and quality of energy, physical and chemical changes, law of energy conservation
Food chains and webs, energy flow, net and primary productivity, matter cycling (biogeochemical cycles)
Evolution and Biodiversity
Evolution and adaptation, niches, speciation, extinctions, biodiversity causes
Climate, biomes, and aquatic ecosystems
Weather and climate, global air and ocean circulation patterns, El Nino, biogeography, specific biome ecosystem types and characteristics
Community processes and population dynamics
Species interactions, types of species, population characteristics, limits to population growth, factors affecting change in ecosystems
Biodiversity and conservation
Threatened and endangered plants and animals, land use and management, aquatic biodiversity, sustainability of biodiversity, prevention of species loss
Plate tectonics, rock cycle, earthquakes, volcanoes, soil structure, formation, and degradation, desertification
2nd Semester Units of Study
Unit of Study
Risk and Toxicology
Risk, probability, and hazards; bioaccumulation and biomagnification, toxicology testing, transmissible diseases, and epidemiology
Demography and population structure and distribution, problems and solutions
Food Resources and Pesticides
Foods production techniques and environmental consequences of various food production types and techniques, sustainability of resources
Energy: renewable and non-renewable
Energy and mineral resources, alternative sources of energy, environmental effects of energy production, what can be done, sustainability of energy resource use
Atmosphere and Air Pollution
Outdoor and indoor air pollution, monitoring, health and environmental effects, prevention and clean-up
Global warming and ozone depletion
Global climate change causes and effects, ozone depletion causes and effects, monitoring, management and solutions
Water Resources and Pollution
Supply and use of water, improving water storage including dams, water transfer projects, groundwater, types and sources of water pollution, monitoring, preventing and cleaning up water pollution
Solid and hazardous waste
Waste disposal and management, environmental and health problems related to waste
Environmental politics, economics, and ethics
Environmental policy and public planning
AP exam review and AP test
Comprehensive review and then the AP test
Laboratory and Field Investigations
Laboratory experiments and field investigations are designed to complement the
“indoor” classroom/lecture/discussion portion of the course by providing opportunities to learn about our environment through firsthand observations, to test concepts and principles which have been introduced in class, to explore specific issues and problems in greater depth, and to gain an awareness of the importance of variables which exist in the real world. Investigations will be diverse.
Students will develop and conduct well-designed experiments and think critically while observing environmental systems. Labs will be both quantitative and quantitative. Students will routinely use mathematical techniques to analyze and interpret results from data. At least one class period per week is devoted to lab activities.
1st Semester Labs and Projects
Lab or project
Ranking Environmental Problems
Students rank environmental problems and present reasons for rankings
Tragedy of the Commons Simulation
Students simulate the Tragedy of the Commons experience via a “fishing” lab. Students evaluate the concept of sustainability of resources.
Salinization of Soil Lab
Students design and carry out an experiment to
investigate the effects of salt on seed germination. Students analyze and interpret the data and offer suggestions for soil improvement. Results will be presented in a lab report with data tables and graphs
Students complete a food web of local organisms, identifying interactions
Long term monitoring of student-built bottle biology EcoColumn, investigating ecosystem components and their interrelationships, collecting water quality data of aquatic chamber.
Primary Productivity Lab
Grow grass seed and calculate primary and net productivity
Seed Crowding Lab
Grow seeds in varying densities, analyze and interpret results using graphs of data
Use Excel to construct graphs of temperature and rainfall data for a city in at least six biomes. Use the graphs to identify the biome.
Carrying Capacity Lab
Collect tree diameter data (simulation: assume all trees measured to be oaks), then calculate acorn production and carrying capacity of trees for squirrels.
Capture/Recapture Lab (simulation)
Use a capture/recapture tagging technique to calculate the estimated population (seeds in a bag) using the Lincoln Index formula
Shannon-Weiner Diversity Index Lab (simulation)
Count “species” of cars in faculty and student parking lots and calculate the Shannon-Weiner diversity of each lot
Wildlife Observation Lab – Bird Feeder Project
Students do long-term wildlife observation of bird species and their interactions at a student built platform bird feeder. Students document results in a lab notebook and with photos.
Soil Analysis Lab
Analyze soil texture, temperature, water percent, and pH data from soil samples.
Earthquake Epicenter lab
Determine earthquake magnitude and epicenter locations from USGS seismogram data.
2nd Semester Labs and Projects
Lab or project
Students count tree rings on a disk of tree trunk and determine relative width of rings to interpret climate changes during tree growth
Particulate Analysis Lab
Students study air pollution by placing particulate collectors at various places at home and on campus and bring to class to analyze under a microscope, count particulates per square inch and draw conclusions from data
Acid rain and seed germination lab
Make serial dilutions of acid and analyze and interpret the relationship of problem of acid concentration to seed germination.
Risk Perception Survey
Gather data via survey of personal risk perception and graph results compared to actual data. Interpret data to draw conclusions.
Students collect data from local cemetery and calculate age cohort survivorship percentages, graph results by sex and by time period of death or birth, and interpret results
Field trip to local mountain watershed to collect water quality data above and below a small mountain town using Vernier probe ware, analyze results and compare against results from previous years (multi-year class study). Students research ways that the town can improve water quality.
Home Water Use Audit
Students collect on their home after use and analyze and interpret home water use. Recommend ways to save water.
Recycling Analysis Lab
Students collect aluminum cans, calculate can use for average family size and determine energy needs to produce cans
Classroom needs: Students often request that these items be available for their use in class. Donations of these items would be appreciated. Thank you so much for your generosity.
- Hand sanitizer
- Glue sticks
- White board markers
- Colored pencils
- Copy Paper!