AP Environmental Science
Text
Miller, G., Spoolman, S. (2012). Living in the Environment. Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning. 17th edition.
Other Resources
In addition to the textbook, we will draw information from supplemental environmental science textbooks, lab manuals,
periodicals, readings/case studies, and the internet.
Course Description
This AP environmental science course is a full year course designed to fulfill the requirements of a one semester
introductory college course in environmental science. It is interdisciplinary in nature and frequently draws from a wide
variety of fields including geology, biology, environmental studies, chemistry, geography and environmental science.
This course is designed to be rigorous and the laboratory/fieldwork is an fundamental part of our studies. The reoccurring
themes that we will investigate throughout the course are how science is a process that constantly changes the way we
understand the world and that energy conversions underly all ecological processes. Scientific principles and disciplines
are an integral part of the course. Students are encouraged throughout the course to consider scientific principles and
disciplines when completing activities, and laboratory and/or fieldwork. All laboratory/fieldwork includes an analysis and
interpretation component.
The goal of this course is to provide students with the skills needed to methodically identify and analyze environmental
issues both natural and man made, evaluate the risks correlated to these issues, examine alternative solutions to resolve or
prevent them, and develop their own views on these issues.
Course Goals
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Students will learn methods for analyzing and interpreting experimental data and draw valid conclusions.
Students will learn methods for analyzing and interpreting information.
Students are taught methods for identifying and analyzing environmental problems and learn how to identify
resolutions, prevention, and sustainability.
Students will learn scientific principles to understand the interrelationships of the natural world
Students will prepare for and hold in class debates and discussions on case studies examining solutions for
preventing and resolving ecological and human health risks.
Students will learn methods for analyzing and interpreting mathematical calculations
Homework
May include but is not limited to:
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Reading the current unit content and answering questions
Reviewing lecture notes or videos (PowerPoint)
Readings and case studies
Making and studying flash cards for unit tests and quizzes
Lab write ups
Essays
Creating posters, surveys, etc.
Tests
Tests will be given at least two to three times per grading period and will be composed of both AP style multiple choice
and free response questions. During the first nine weeks, tests will be multiple choice only. Free response
questions/Essays will be given as homework and feedback provided in class. After the first grading period, free response
questions will be incorporated into the tests.
The majority of multiple choice questions will come from lecture notes, reading questions, and selected videos. We will
work our way to 100 questions as the AP exam approaches. You will be given four free response/essay questions on the
AP exam. To complete these questions in the 90 minutes, you will need to organize your thoughts and construct an essay
in 22 minutes. We will work frequently with timed writings to incorporate into tests. Possible free response topics will be
given to you before the test to allow you to outline your answers.
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Students must pass a safety test before participating in labs.
One quiz and one test are given per unit.
Students must maintain an in-class interactive notebook and Lab journal for the class in separate bound
notebooks.
Students will keep a 3 ring binder for the APES notebook containing current events and summaries (these may be
kept in class or at home)
A list of required materials will be found on my teacher webpage as well as course documentation and policies
Semester Projects
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1st Semester-APES notebook containing environmental science articles and summaries will be kept in a 3 ring
binder with a running table of contents.
2nd Semester- Environmental Science Book Report- students will choose a book from a list of approved books
dealing with environmental science and bring the book to class to share and avoid summaries from the internet.
Laboratory/Fieldwork
Students will spend a minimum of one class per week engaged in laboratory and/or field work throughout the course.
Students must pass a safety quiz before participating in labs/fieldwork. A variety of laboratories/fieldwork will be
performed and include data collection, the application of mathematical analysis by the student and data interpretation. The
laboratories and fieldwork includes identification and analysis of environmental problems. Students discuss possible
resolutions to the problem and sustainable ways in managing the environmental problem.
Students will be expected to maintain a lab journal to record any and all necessary information during the labs or field
work. This can be a critical component in providing colleges with documentation of the courses rigorous nature. Each lab
with be associated with a lab write up, the format will be available on the teacher webpage. Students will typically have
one week from the conclusion of the lab to turn in lab write ups.
Course Outline
Unit 1 Topics- Introduction to Environmental Science (2 Weeks)
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History of Environmental Movement
Environmental Issues and Sustainability
Assigned Readings: Chapter 1 and 25
Internet Activity:
 Environmental issues in the news- research and presentation
Labs/activities:
 Wants and needs activity
 Biosphere design for sustainability
 Mark recapture lab-introduce potential challenges environmental scientists face
Videos:
 The Lorax- lessons learned reflection
Unit 2 Topics - Science Process, Matter, Energy and Cycles (2 weeks)
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Scientific Method and Processes (statistics, scientific notation, conversions)
Matter and Energy Review (chemistry and thermodynamics)
Cycles (systems, feedback loops, nutrient cycles- C,N,P,S, H2O)
Assigned Readings: Chapters 2 & 3
Internet Activity:
 Build an atom simulation-PHET simulation reviewing atomic structure
Labs:
 Biological diagrams- Students learn procedures for diagramming living organisms through direct
observations.
 Can Mosquitos transmit hepatitis- Students are tasked to design an experiment to test whether
Mosquitos can transmit hepatitis between monkeys.
 Nutrient cycle simulation- Students will use a simulation to follow and analyze nutrient flow
through an ecosystem.
Unit 3 Topics - Ecosystems, Biomes, and Climate (3 weeks)
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Species Interactions (symbiosis, competition, predation)
Ecosystems (Populations, communities, food chains and webs, trophic levels, energy transfer, ecological
pyramids, photosynthesis and cellular respiration)
Ecological Succession (primary and secondary, impacts)
Biomes (terrestrial and aquatic, factors)
Climate (weather vs. climate, atmospheric circulation and the coriolis effect, el Nino, solar intensity and
latitude)
Assigned Readings: Chapters 3, 5, 7
Internet Activity:
 Climate study- Students will examine climate data to determine the variables that factor into
different climate regions.
Labs:
 Field of beans- Students will examine the food chains, webs, tropic structure, random sampling,
biomass calculations and population estimation based on a simulation.
 Clouds, cockatoos- Students will define and compare abiotic and biotic factors in differing
ecosystem biomes.
 Modeling succession- Students will create a model to demonstrate the differences between
primary and secondary succession
Field Activity:
 Quadrant sampling of forest tree populations- Student will use appropriate lab equipment, random
sampling and sample size to facilitate quadrant sampling in a section of wooded area.
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Insect collection creation- students will begin collecting, identifying, and exhibiting insects found
in the area by creating a working display and journal of specimens.
Videos:
 Yellowstone after the fire
 Strange days on planet earth: the one degree factor
Unit 4 Topics - Biodiversity, Evolution and Species (2 weeks)
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Importance of Biodiversity (genetic variability)
Natural Selection and Evolution (adaptations, genetic drift)
Speciation (species formation, disruptive, )
Species Diversity (ecological niches, indexes, edge effects, keystone and indicator species, invasive
species)
Endangered Species/Extinction (genetic viability)
Sustaining Biodiversity (Conservation efforts)
Assigned Readings: Chapters 4, 9, 10
Internet Activity:
 Bunny Simulation: Students will use simulation to examine the effects of genetic mutations and
adaptions to a bunny population.
Labs:
 Bean bunny- Students will simulation genetic drift in a population of breeding bunnies to explore
a lethal gene.
 Caminacules- Students will classify and name organisms based on traits and create a phylogenetic
tree.
 Endangered species- What's happening?, Who cares? - Students will conduct research about an
endangered species and present findings to class.
 Invasive/endangered species research presentations
Field Activity:
 Christmas bay sampling and diversity index calculations- Students will travel to experience field
sampling techniques including seining, soil sampling, benthic index, and population indexes.
Unit 5 Topics - Population Growth and Human Populations (2 weeks)
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Population Growth (carrying capacits, reproductive strategies, survivorship)
Human Population Dynamics (Historical population size, distribution, fertility rates, growth rates,
doubling time, demographic transition, age-structure diagrams)
Population size (strategies for sustainability, national policies)
Impacts of Population growth (hunger, disease, economic, resources, habitat use and destruction)
Assigned Readings: Chapter 5 & 6
Internet Activity:
 Baby dice island population simulation- Students will simulate population growth and factor in
birth/death rates and environmental effects.
Labs:
 Deer simulation- Students will simulate deer population growth using a spreadsheet simulation to
compare growth patterns.
 Earth carrying capacity for humans- Students will construct age pyramids using census data to
compare current population trends and predict a carrying capacity for Earth.
Field Activity:
 Duckweed growth lab- students will examine the growth rate of duckweed plants to predict
unrestricted population growth size, and compare to populations with limiting factors.
Videos:
 Naked science: the human family tree
 The History Channel: The plague
Unit 6 Topics -Earth Systems and Resources (Soil) (4 weeks)
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Geologic Processes and Hazards (plate tectonics, volcanism, earthquakes, rock cycle, geologic time scale)
Mineral Resources (mineral formation, extraction, global reserves, laws and treaties)
Soil (formation, composition, type, physical properties, chemical properties, erosion and conservation
Food, Soil and Pest Management (human nutritional requirements, types of agriculture, green revolution,
genetic engineering and crop rotation, irrigation, deforestation, sustainability, types of pesticides, cost and
benefits of use, IPC, laws)
Assigned Readings: Chapters 12, 14
Internet Activity:
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Dynamic earth- Students will examine global features to illustrate patterns in geologic events
from different scientific perspectives.
Mineral rights in US and TX- Students will explore legal perspectives on the rights of property
owners in the US and TX.
Virtual plate tectonics- Students will examine the short term and long term effects of plate
tectonics.
Risk analysis of GE crops- Students will conduct a risk analysis on the use of GE versus heirloom
crops for food production.
Labs:
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Mineral mystery-Students will explore mineral identification through a variety of procedures.
Relative dating- Students will use geomorphic positioning to determine the age of fossils.
Porosity and permeability- Students will compare the characteristics that affect the porosity and
permeability of a soil.
Soil sampling- Students will collect and analyze soil samples to determine soil type.
Soil salinification effects- Students will explore the effects of excess salt, like after an ocean
inundation on plant life.
Surface mining lab- Students will explore the effects of surface mining on surrounding
environments.
Soil compaction lab- Students will use agricultural practices to examine the effects of soil
compaction.
Field Activity:
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Fossil hunting- Students will participate in a field fossil hunt by researching how and where the
best locations to find samples.
Demo:
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Stream table- Students will examine the effects of erosion on a small scale model.
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Groundwater model- Students will examine the effects of surface water pollution on groundwater
systems through the use of a model.
Videos:
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History of GE crops
End of 1st Semester
Semester 1 Term Project
Unit 7 Topics - Land Use and Pollution (2weeks)
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Forest Resources (tree plantations, old growth forests, forest fires, forest management, national forests)
Grassland Resources (overgrazing, deforestation, desertification, rangeland management, federal
rangelands)
Solid and Hazardous waste (transportation, disposal and cleanup)
Assigned Readings: Chapter 10 and 21
Internet Activity:
 EPA research of ground contaminants- Students will be assigned a ground contaminant and
perform preliminary research into the effects on people and the environment including LD50,
acute and chronic doses and effects, and remediation techniques.
Labs:
 Soil contamination lab- Students will examine the effects of soil contamination on plants through
a simulation with live plants.
 Landfill simulation- Students will create a landfill and examine the effects of different designs on
the environment.
 Topo maps and hazardous material impacts- Students will explore and map out contaminant spills
based on topographic features and then recommend remediation procedures.
Unit 8 Topics - Energy Resources and Consumption (2 weeks)
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Energy Consumption (History of industrial revolution, exponential growth, crisis, present global energy
use, future energy needs)
Nonrenewable Energy
o Fossil fuels-Oil Natural Gas, coal, and synthetic fuels- hydraulic fracturing, purification, reserves,
demands, advantages, disadvantages
o Nuclear energy- fission and fusion, electricity production, nuclear reactor types, safety issues,
radiation and human health, wastes, advantages and disadvantages
Renewable Energy (solar, hydropower, wind power, biomass, geothermal energy, and hydrogen)
Assigned Readings: Chapter 15 and 16
Internet Activity:
 Energy timeline
 Renewable energy research efficiency of solutions
Labs:
 Home energy audit- Students will investigate their personal energy use and explore methods that
could be utilized to reduce energy use.
 Solar oven design- Students will design a solar oven that will cook food to an appropriate
temperature for consumption.
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Debate: Dam or not?- Students will research and present findings at a mock city hall hearing to
explore the political side of environmental events.
"Watts" the cost? - Students will research the impacts of creating new light bulbs to the
environment.
Fossil fuel extraction lab- Students will simulation the extraction process in a small scale
simulation to explore the complications and possible environmental effects of extraction methods.
Oil spill lab- Students will respond to an oil spill and research as well as test some remediation
methods for cleaning up those events.
Videos:
 Fracking
 Gas land
 Crude awakening
Unit 9 Topics - Water Resources and Pollution (4 weeks)
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Aquatic Biological Resources (freshwater and marine ecosystems
Threats to Aquatic Ecosystems (fishing techniques, overfishing, aquaculture, laws and treaties)
Drinking water availability and Issues (desalinization, purification)
Water pollution (groundwater and surface water pollution)
Ocean acidification (atmospheric and ocean interactions
Waste water treatment (process and impact on environment)
Water conservation (techniques and efficiency)
Assigned Readings: Chapter 8, 11,13, 20
Internet Activity:
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Water conservation proposals- Students will research and present a method for conserving water.
Labs:
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Tragedy in the making- Students will explore the political, cultural and economic aspects of
ocean resources.
Water quality testing- Students will perform a variety of water sampling techniques to evaluate
the health of a water sample.
Groundwater contamination- Students will explore the effects of groundwater contamination
through small scale simulations.
Life on the James- Students will replicate benthic organism sampling through a paper simulation
and use various indexes to measure the health of the ecosystem as well as explore point vs. nonpoint pollution.
Is dilution the solution to pollution? - Students will visually explore the level of water
contamination to visual contaminants on a ppm and ppb scale.
Desalinization/water treatment design- Students will design a treatment plant to remove the salt
from ocean water.
Water treatment – Students will research methods for treating water in water treatment facilities
in preparation for the field activity.
"Water" we gonna do? - Students will explore the actual volumes and types of water available for
organisms.
Runoff research – Students will conduct research into the different aspects of run off and what
can change run off patterns.
Saltwater intrusion- Students will explore the effects of salt water intrusion on plants and animal
life.
Field Activity:
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Waste water treatment plant trip
Videos:
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South African sulfur event examination
Unit 10 Topics - Atmosphere, Global Climate change and Air Pollution (3 weeks)
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The atmosphere and air pollution (atmosphere structure and composition, outdoor air pollution, acid
deposition, indoor air pollution, clean air regulations)
Climate change and Ozone (formation, disruption, impacts, anthropogenic sources, natural sources,
processes)
Assigned Readings: Chapter 18 and 19
Labs:
 Air particulates analysis-Students will perform air quality sampling to detect particulates in a
variety of locations.
 Greenhouse effects-Students will explore the greenhouse effect through small scale modeling.
 Debates-Students will be selected for the side of a debate involving current air pollution issues.
 Climate change impacts – Students will research the potential impacts involving climate change.
 Ice core sampling in Antarctica research- Students will investigate how ice core sampling is able
to give scientists a glimpse of Earths previous atmospheric conditions.
 Detecting air pollution lab- Students will explore and test techniques designed to detect air
pollution.
Videos:
The 11th hour
Unit 11 Topics - Toxicology and Human Health (1 week)
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Biological and Chemical Hazards
Risk Analysis
Assigned Readings: Chapter 17
Labs:
 LD50 brine shrimp- Students will calculate the LD50 dose of a brine shrimp population.
 Risk analysis- Students will explore the risk analysis process to determine the level of risk of
some daily activities.
 Herbicide toxicity study- Students will study the toxicity of common household chemical on
plants.
Unit 12 Topics -Cities, Economics, Politics and Sustainability (2 weeks)
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Urbanization
Transportation
Management of Public and Federal Lands
Assigned Readings:
Labs:
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City planning (sim city) - Students will engage as city planners to create an ideal urban
environment.
We "auto" drive less lab- Students will examine the effects of automobiles and explore possible
options to reduce urban air pollution from cars.
Habitats: the choice is yours- Students will explore current research into sustainable methods to
reduce ecological footprints.
Videos:
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Ecopolis video series
Unit 13- Post AP Exam
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Ecopolis Exploration
 Students will explore the effects of population growth in a future society, design and evaluate
possible solutions to problems faces by a future megalopolis.
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AP Environmental Science Syllabus