AP Environmental Science Syllabus for Sharyland High School 2015-2016 Class Profile Section size of the class has been 25-30 students in the past and this year the number is in that range. The course is scheduled for the fall term and will begin August 24th and the exam is scheduled for May 2nd, 2016. Our school is currently using an accelerated block schedule for most the classes. A block is 90 minutes five days a week. This term is 16 weeks long and has 79 instructional days. Course Prerequisites Our students are required to take Biology I, Chemistry I, Physics I, and one more upper level science course to qualify for the Distinguished Academic program seal, and also for the Texas Scholar seal, therefore, all the students in the Environmental Science AP course will have at least the three first year courses completed or be taking Physics I concurrently with the Environmental Science AP course. Four courses of Mathematics are also recommended for our graduates including Algebra I and II, Geometry, Pre-calculus, with Calculus I or Calculus AP-AB offered to advanced students. Course Overview The course will follow all the objectives set forth in the Course Description for Environmental Science which is designed to be equivalent to one semester of introductory college level environmental science and well include classroom lecture as well as laboratory and field investigations. Emphasis well be placed on the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems both natural and man-made, to evaluate the risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving and prevented these problems. The class will maintain a laboratory manual, and submit formal laboratory reports as assigned. The class is expected to complete the assigned readings, from the handouts, plus supplemental readings and case studies appropriate to the topics being covered. Examinations will be approximately every third week or as needed to check on understanding. The exams will use the format as used in the [email protected] Environmental Science course study guides and reflect the level of difficulty and content as listed in the Topic Outline. A wide diversity of students have registered for the course so a variety of strategies and approaches to topics will be used to present the information and evaluate the progress of the students as well as the examinations. Projects, presentations, labs, field trips, are all planned to develop as broad of an experience as possible in the time we have for the course. Textbooks Miller, G. Tyler. Working with the Earth. 18th edition 2015. Cunningham, Environmental Science a Global Concern. 13th edition 2015 Molles Jr, Manuel. Ecology, Concepts and Applications. 3rd edition 2005. McConnel. Environmental Issues, Looking Towards a Sustainable Future. 4th edition 2013 Laboratory Manual Other sources more current and appropriate for laboratory work will also be used as needed to fulfill the laboratory requirements. Course Schedule/Planner Week 1 Topics: Earth Systems and Resources Earth structure to include the layers of earth, dynamics of crust, plate tectonics, rock cycle, erosion and weathering, soil formation, geologic time scale, and our place in solar system. This will be a short review of earth science and will be reviewed as we progress through the other units. Short outdoor walks and surveys will be done to enrich our understanding of the topics explored this week. Week 2 Topics: The Atmosphere The composition and structure of the atmosphere; gases present and why each is important. Weather and climate and what the differences are and what influences climate. Atmospheric circulation and the various wind belts and the Coriolis effect on winds. Special concerns of the atmosphere such as el Nino and la Nina. Exam 1 will be given on the material covered to date. Weeks 3 - 4 Topics: The Hydrosphere Freshwater and Saltwater; abundance of each, physical and chemical properties of each type. Ocean circulations and types of currents, relate Coriolis effect, temperature, salinity and location and their effects on land masses. Sea level rise, and global warming concerns regarding the oceans. Freshwater abundance; availability, uses of; such as agriculture, industry, and domestic needs. Surface and groundwater issues, and how its effects are being examined. A variety of laboratory activities will be used; thermohaline currents are studied, and water treatment processes, testing water for quality and various nutrients are planned during this unit. Weeks 5-6 Topics: Ecosystems Many familiar concepts of ecology will be covered, niches, competitions, definitions key words and expressions used in environmental science will be covered in this unit. Biomes, succession, pyramids for energy, biomass, producers and consumers, and a review of biological processes, like photosynthesis and respiration, are planned to be studied. Importance of biodiversity and selection processes will be reviewed as well. Various repeating trends or patterns over time will be examined, such as heating and cooling periods, major extinctions and other ecosystem changes. Evaluation will be done with presentations by students on major biomes and their biotic and abiotic characteristics. Exam 2 will be given this week. It will be comprehensive and be formatted in the style of an AP exam to give students practice for the May exam. Week 7 Topics: Natural biogeochemical cycles The carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, sulfur, water, rock cycles will be studied and a general understanding of the finiteness of earth should be gained by studying these processes. Week 8 Topics: Populations and Resources Population concepts such as carrying capacity, fertility rate, mortality rate, statistics, growth rates across the globe, demographic studies of developed and undeveloped nations, age-structure diagrams and potential problems associated with various regions and continents in sustaining the status quo, national policies and concerns regarding population size. Impacts of human population growth on the use of resources, and the effects on other species, habitat destruction, and land and water use are presented. Agricultural issues; food for the world, green revolution, use of pesticides, fertilizers, energy demands of the growing human population, sustainability of present practices will be discussed and a project on food and the underdeveloped nations will be done by the students to make it clear that there are problems in feeding an exponentially growing population. Discussion on solutions will be presented. Other natural resources such as forestry practices and misuse of the world’s forests and grasslands and rangelands are topics for studying. Major topics of land use and misuse will be presented and many of the problems of these misuses, like urbanization, transportation infrastructure, mining, deforestation, desertification, wetland loss, and garbage wastes will be presented to students, along with legal and political case studies relevant to the myriad of issues are used for a better understanding of this broad topic. Exam 3 will be given. Semester 1 Final Exam is also administered during week 8 of the semester! Weeks 9-10 Topics: Energy This unit will be an examination of energy consumption, its growth since the industrial revolution, world’s reserves and how a world’s growing population will use the reserves. In the same unit we look at alternative sources, such as renewable energy sources, ways to conserve energy, and innovations that may relieve our fossil fuel dependency. Global warming and degradation of the environment by the search for and the burning of fossil fuels will be an ongoing topic of study and concern in the class. Many issues covered in the previous 8 weeks of the course are integral to this topic and will have been introduced previous to this particular time frame, but a more thorough examination of energy will be given this week. Exam 4 will be comprehensive and follow the format of the AP exam. Weeks 11 - 12 Topics: Energy and Pollution As we progress in our understanding of energy and the need for energy to exist, the issues of what to do with all the wasted heat and byproducts of energy consumption logically leads to a study of pollution. The students will look at the fallout of our present uses of energy in the many forms of pollution it has thrust upon the environment. Pollution from many causes will be studied in this unit. Water, air, solid waste, noise, and thermal pollution will be studied by the class and ‘cause and effect’ and remediation attempts will be offered. Laboratory activities will be used to show the impact oil pollution has on the environment and a method to break down oil spills by bacterial action will be done by the class. Water contamination will be looked at and tests for certain common contaminants in a water sample will be analyzed. Certainly, the ozone depletion by CFC’s and the high levels of heavy metals in fishes and other environmental crises will be gone over by the students. Case studies of specific disasters will be investigated. (We have an EPA group in our city disassembling a Vietnam era chemical factory that made ingredients for agent orange. That brings this subject very close to home. Our total water supply is from the Rio Grande which is considered one of the top ten most polluted rivers in studies.) To study this unit we only have to get up in the morning! Weeks 13 -14 Topic: Global changes As the world’s population grows changes in the environment are inevitable. In this uit we will study the many impacts humans have had on the world and discuss health issues caused by malnutrition, disease spread by poor sanitation practices, lack of medical resources faced by much of the world, the proliferation of chemicals in our environment, global warming, loss of habitat and subsequent loss of species (loss of biodiversity) Exam 5 will be a comprehensive exam over all the AP Environmental Science objectives in preparation for the exam. Weeks 15- 16 Topic: Final thoughts and preparation for the AP exam These weeks represents the time when the AP Environmental Science exam occurs. Any time available will be in preparing the students for the exam with a review of all the topics covered in the course and practice exams. Teaching Strategies: Lecture A course of this nature presented in a college would have a lecture component to it and so it will be used in this course as well. Information of factual or conceptual nature is easily presented with lecture and the students are responsible for this information. Graphics and other visuals are presented with a computer/projector combination and use of the internet is used extensively to find the latest information regarding most of the topics in the course. The text book is used modestly, mostly for a source of definitions and terms applicable to the course and exam. A typical lecture will have a lot of discussion and questioning so it is rather informal. Small Groups Since the class is expected to be rather small in number, small groups are easy to use in doing projects, posters, presentations, Internet research, and working on assignments. In previous AP classes I have taught the small group approach works for lab activities as well. Laboratory Component Texas Education Association requires up to 40% lab time. In the situation I have with accelerated block lab experience is more in the line of 20% or once a week. Some laboratory activities I will do are: Population study of plants by transect and random methods. Capture and recapture of butterflies for population sampling methods Thermohaline currents and Greenland’s glacial melting and its potential effect on the Gulf Stream. Lab on light and latitude, frequency (color) of light and its effect on temp. and the absorption of heat. Water quality and measure of nutrients and contaminates with a LaMotte water test kit Soil nutrients and soil profiling lab Water studies at a local park, study of physical conditions like temp, turbidity, dissolved gases, Secchi disk readings, pH, other parameters affecting pond water as we can with the equipment available. Water treatment using primary and secondary methods and how water filters compare in treating or purifying drinking water. Global warming computer simulation to predict the future of the world’s climate. Student Evaluation The students are graded for the course as follows: Major examinations and presentations are 60% of the grade. Small projects, laboratory reports, classwork, and homework/written assignments are 40% of the grade. Lab reports are written in a dedicated lab manual and at least one per three weeks will be presented this way. Examinations are scheduled so one major exam occurs every third week as well. That follows our block schedule grading report periods. Homework and classwork is more frequent and weekly assignments are expected.